Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 8/17/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- We cant help but wonder if Kevin Kolb compared notes with the Raiders' Matt Leinart on Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. One presumed-then-deposed Cardinals starting quarterback advising another. Theres no point in denying it anymore because theres no way to defend Kolb anymore in his struggle to keep the job for which he was acquired. There is only one meaningful preseason game left, and Kolb wont be starting it. Theres not enough time to reverse the evidence. John Skelton must be the Cardinals' starting quarterback on Sept. 9 when the season opens against the Seahawks. It may not last -- if weve learned anything about the NFL, its that quarterbacks come and go each season, whether through injuries or ineffectiveness -- but it has to happen. Maybe the benching will do Kolb some good; perhaps he'll get his head on straight. Aside from one glorious opening drive against the Raiders, complete with the triumphant return of running back Ryan Williams, Kolb has done nothing but hurt his chances. Lets insert some important counterpoints here. Kolbs protection was awful on Friday. Again. Experimental right tackle DAnthony Batiste nearly got his quarterback killed all by himself, and running back Javarris James also whiffed on a block that led to a sack. You look back and watch the film and maybe see that I could have gotten the ball out quicker, Kolb said. It happened quickly. I dont really know exactly what happened. Part of Oaklands sustained pressure may have come because Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt and line coach Russ Grimm have opted to leave the tackles unprotected in the preseason to see what they can handle. But that wasnt always the case Friday. They did get some help. They just needed more of it. A lot more. The Cardinals inability to handle stunts or edge pressure was glaring, and it will only get worse if left tackle Levi Brown is out for an extended period of time after sustaining a triceps injury. That would be awful, said good friend and center Lyle Sendlein, who like the rest of us will know more about Browns injury Saturday. Hes out there on an island all the time. If we lose him, people will understand how much he does. If that happens, the Cards would probably have to slide Jeremy Bridges to the left tackle spot he played in 2009 when Mike Gandy got hurt. That leaves Batiste, D.J. Young or rookie Bobby Massie as possibilities on the right side unless the Cards sign someone. Those names do not inspire confidence in pass protection. Then again, maybe all it takes to get better protection is to insert Skelton. Its impossible to explain why the line performs better for Skelton -- Sendlein called it pure chance -- but its glaringly obvious. Skelton led the Cardinals on a touchdown drive in the second quarter by making three easy throws with no pressure. He did not play again because the starting offensive line left. Whisenhunt declined to name a starting quarterback after the game. I think Ill have to get John some extended time (next week), Whisenhunt said, noting that Skelton only took four or five snaps Friday night. Without a large enough sample of throws from the preseason, Skelton looks like a runaway for the job. But the troubling reality is that to watch Skelton at camp every day is to understand that he is a long way from polished. He still has trouble with his reads and accuracy. He still stares down receivers. The Cards' offense will be a work in progress with him at the helm. But what choice do they have? Kolb has been ineffective. He hung in the pocket more Friday, as his coach demanded, but he got killed when he did. And he wont have enough time next week to reverse what is now apparent. If this competition had not been declared open from the start, maybe Whisenhunt could have shrugged off Kolbs ineffectiveness because its the preseason. But theres no way you can evaluate the two side by side and say Kolb has won the job. That means a guy form whom the Cardinals gave up a 63 million contract, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick -- a guy for whom Whisenhunt lobbied hard -- will be sitting on the bench when the season opens. That wont sit well with team president Michael Bidwill. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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