Cardinals QB situation in disarray after loss

Cardinals QB situation in disarray after loss

Credit: Getty Images

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Ryan Lindley #14 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass against the Atlanta Falcons prior to fumbling the ball from pressure by John Abraham #55 and Kroy Biermann #71 at Georgia Dome on November 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. The fumble resulted in a Falcons' touchdown. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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by Bob Baum, AP Sports Writer

azfamily.com

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 9:32 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The quarterback situation for the Arizona Cardinals is in disarray again following the benching of John Skelton early in the team's 23-19 loss at Atlanta.

Rookie Ryan Lindley replaced Skelton and had a difficult day as Arizona managed to lose despite six turnovers by the Falcons, five of them on Matt Ryan interceptions.

Asked Monday if he would stick with Lindley, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he and his staff will "sit down as a staff and look at what we're trying to get done and make that evaluation."

"I've just watched the film right now," Whisenhunt said, "and we're looking at a lot of things, not just the quarterback position. We're going to do what we think gives us the best chance to win going forward. That's not something where we have to make that decision right now."

Whisenhunt said he expects Kevin Kolb, out with a rib injury, to work back into practice this week. But Kolb's return from an injury that has sidelined him for four games could still be a ways off. Kolb is 3-2 as a starter this season and engineered the game-winning drive in relief of the injured Skelton in the opener.

The Cardinals have lost six straight after starting the season 4-0.

Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, said he didn't know any more than reporters did about whether he would start when the Cardinals play at home against St. Louis on Sunday.

The offense's woes were glaring against the backdrop of Arizona's outstanding defensive performance on Sunday, an effort that almost always assures success. The Falcons' Matt Ryan was the first quarterback to throw five interceptions and no touchdowns yet win the game since Bart Starr did it for Green Bay 45 years ago.

Arizona even got its running game, ranked last in the league entering the contest, in gear, with LaRod Stephens-Howling gaining a career-best 127. But the passing game was awful. Skelton had a string of bad throws, culminated by missing a wide open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, before he got the hook. He went to the sidelines having completed 2 of 7 for 6 yards.

Lindley, wide-eyed in his first NFL appearance, wound up 9 of 20 for 64 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

"Statistically, obviously, there's nothing to write home about," Whisenhunt said. "But he did a nice job I thought in a lot of areas, managing the game, handling the noise, doing some of the things that he needed to do in the pocket, made some good throws. That throw he made on fourth down to Larry (Fitzgerald) was a big-time throw. With that position, you're going to miss some, but I thought he handled himself well."

When the team went into its bye week, preceding the Atlanta game, Whisenhunt had vowed to make changes when he thought they were warranted, and he said on Monday that the quarterback was not exempt from that process. Skelton got the hook shortly after the bad pass toward Fitzgerald, leading the team to settle for a field goal that put Arizona up 13-0.

"We're playing against a really good football team - best record in the NFC, in their place, and with where we are as an offense right now playing so many young guys, having two rookie tackles, you can't miss plays that you have to make," Whisenhunt said. "You can't miss those. So going forward in that position where we were in the game, we had to see if we put in a player that wouldn't miss those."

He said Lindley had impressed during practice, filling is as the No. 2 quarterback and the scout-team quarterback after first Skelton, then Kolb went down with injuries.

"He's really stood out making throws in those periods," Whisenhunt said. "When you talk about that position and looking at the way he's handled himself mentally, the way he's worked physically, there's a lot of things you like about it."

The coach has made it clear that his patience has worn thin. He diminished the role of five-time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, taking him out when the Cardinals went to their "nickel" defensive package.

"Adrian's a real pro and he handled it well," Whisenhunt said. "That's where we are as a team. We felt like James (Sanders) and Rashad (Johnson) deserved a chance. They played very well against Philadelphia when Adrian didn't play, and we're trying to win games. We're trying to get better and those guys played well yesterday."

During the game, he benched Michael Floyd after the rookie wide receiver lined up wrong and cost the team a timeout.

"With where we are offensively, you've got to create a sense of urgency with our guys to make plays and to be held accountable for that," Whisenhunt said, "but if the guy's not doing it, you've got to put someone else in and give him the opportunity."

Running back Beanie Wells, who expects to return from a turf toe injury and play against the Rams, has watched as the no-nonsense coach made his recent moves.

"It's the way it should be," Wells said. "We get paid to play football and we get paid to play football the right way. When you're not doing it right, you have to come out. We're here to win games. We're not here just to go out there and play a game and have fun. If we're not going to do the things necessary to win games, then things have to be changed."

With the loss, Arizona has had losing streaks of at least six games in each of the three seasons since the team made the playoffs two years running and Kurt Warner retired.

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