The great quarterback debate rages on in Flagstaff. But it’s become plain enough already that if Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are going to need seven weeks and five preseason games to decide who will wind up behind center in September, the Arizona Cardinals better not count on either to lead them back to the playoffs.
Look what you’ve done, Peyton Manning. Ah, life would have been so simple...
When the Cardinals reached the Super Bowl in 2008, it was all about a quarterback that covered for everyone else’s mistakes. This time, it’s going to have to be the rest of the team covering for the quarterback.
No matter how good Michael Floyd becomes as a wide receiver, no matter how cohesive the offensive line becomes at protection, this team is going to go as far as an improved and youthful defense and what should be a strong running attack takes it. Having Larry Fitzgerald on your team begs you to throw the ball, but if the Cardinals are in a position where either Kolb or Skelton are forced to try to win games through the air like Kurt Warner... remember the first two months of last season.
Skelton is the people’s choice because the Cardinals won games he started last year. That makes perfect sense. But he has never won a game the team really had to have, with more implications that “Hey, we won... that’s cool.”
Kolb deserves one more chance to lead this team. But the fact that he hasn’t made that fact obvious during team workouts and early in training camp is concerning, and a signal to the rest of the team that only a rising tide will lift this boat. While Kolb and Skelton fight it out over the next month, watch the defense and the running backs — that will tell you what kind of season is in store.
Here Come the Suns
*I’m not deluded into thinking that Wesley Johnson will turn into the next Joe Johnson, but I continue to give a thumbs-up to the off-season moves of the Phoenix Suns.
Turning two bad decisions — Hakim Warrick’s bloated contract and Robin Lopez’s ill-conceived draft selection — into Johnson, a conditional draft pick and more cap flexibility doesn’t significantly improve Phoenix’s chances of making the playoffs for just the second time in the last five years. But it is one more step out of the hole that this franchise has so deftly dug for itself.
The NBA is powered by stars, and the Suns don’t have any as currently configured. It’s hard to fight “The Big Three” imitations that have popped up all around the league when you don’t even have a Big One. But the way to acquire stars is through cap flexibility and draft assets, and Phoenix has $7 million to spend this year and running gleefully short on albatrosses.
The Suns have basically erased much of the ill-conceived summer of 2010 — Warrick, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu are now off the books, and Channing Frye’s deal, while unsightly, is palatable. They turned Childress into Luis Scola, Warrick into (fingers-crossed) Johnson and are suddenly a draft player instead of uninterested bystander. Now, the organization has to re-establish its flair for deft drafting.
Wake up... Stop Dreaming
Trying to inject some interest in what should be — OK, make that better be — a boat race to another gold medal, LeBron James has jumped aboard the Kobe Bryant bandwagon in saying that the current Team USA unit could beat the 1992 Dream Team in a head-to-head battle.
Bryant’s boast made Charles Barkley roll his eyes, Michael Jordan laugh out loud and President Obama shake his head. And while I think Kobe, LeBron and the gang could certainly give the Dream Team a run for its money, I would wait until I had something else that Dream Team has — a gold medal — before calling for a computer simulation to settle a bet.
World competition is better. The days of the 60-point blowout are past. And if this is indeed the last time the NBA stars will represent the U.S. in Olympic basketball, this gang had better make sure it takes care of business and avoids an embarrassment that will be impossible to live down.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.