(AP) — The honeymoon didn't last long for Kevin Kolb in Arizona. Fans already are calling local sports talk shows to complain that trading for the quarterback was a mistake.
That's after a grand total of four games. Talk about a lack of patience. Fans have short memories, failing to recall that Kurt Warner didn't exactly get off to a rousing start to what became a magnificent career-ending run with the Cardinals.
Having played in Philadelphia, Kolb said he doesn't pay attention to such critics, yet he acknowledges he has plenty to work on to master the Cardinals offense.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it goes with the position. When a team struggles, the quarterback gets the blame, and Arizona is 1-3 going into Sunday's game at winless Minnesota.
Overreaction is the norm for fans when it comes to the NFL.
"I have been around long enough to know that everybody has doubts," Kolb said after practice on Wednesday. "It's the same thing if we were going the other way. If we were 4-0, we'd be going to the Super Bowl, which isn't the truth either. Good or bad, I've learned to not listen to it and have faith in my own ability and what we have as a team."
Kolb and Whisenhunt often have referenced the career of Aaron Rodgers, who had a 6-10 record in his first season as starting quarterback in Green Bay.
"Once again, I'm not comparing, but I remember the first year that Aaron stepped in, it was a little bit uneven as well," Whisenhunt said. "I remember that there was a lot of talk at that time and that was a number of years ago, and now he's at the top of the league as far as quarterbacks go."
Kolb, 27, said that if there's one difficulty that stands out is his gaining familiarity with the traits of his receivers, something he's had to do in a hurry since the player lockout left no offseason workouts.
"I'd say one of the biggest things is just the timing of the routes and how they come out in the game," he said. "Those full 100 percent bullets that you are taking in the game with the receivers running a certain tempo, just that timing. Whenever you see those offenses like (Tom) Brady's and Drew Brees' and those kinds of guys, they are hitting people right in stride. That's what you want to get to. We will get there and we have confidence that we will."
Kolb ranks 12th in the NFL in yards passing and 14th in quarterback rating at 87.0. He's thrown for five touchdowns with four interceptions. His struggles are magnified at the end of close games. Arizona's three losses have come by a combined eight points and the Cardinals have had the ball late with a chance to win each time.
In the first loss, 22-21 at Washington, the late failure was no fault of his. He completed a pass to Chansi Stuckey, who was stripped of the ball. But the following week, in the rain and wind of Seattle, he threw an interception and Arizona lost 13-10. Then last Sunday at home against the New York Giants, his short pass to Larry Fitzgerald on fourth-and-2 at the Giants' 30 was broken up and the Cardinals fell 31-27. Two plays earlier, he failed to get rid of the ball on a screen pass to Beanie Wells and was sacked.
Fans tend to remember those plays, not the solid performance that had built a 27-17 lead with 5:16 to play against New York before Eli Manning rallied the Giants with two quick touchdown drives.
The Cardinals, he said, have to be able to win one of these close games at the end.
"That's a step for us and that's a step for myself," Kolb said. "We need to keep working on it and get better at it. I would hope that the guys have confidence in me that we are going to do it every time, and I think they do with the way the sideline reacts. It's pretty obvious that our games are going to come down a lot of times to the last minute and a half, two minutes of the game, so we have to be able to go win the game regardless of what happened before that in those last two minutes.
"Again, that's our mentality and we'll try to get better at it."