By now I'm sure the majority of Vikings fans know John Skelton, not Kevin Kolb, will be the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.
Two weeks ago, after watching Kolb take a beating in a loss against St. Louis, I wrote that he might not be in one piece when the Cards met the Vikings on Oct. 21 at the Metrodome. That's turned out to be the case.
Skelton is a mystery to me. I've never seem him play. But his careers stats say a great deal and suggest the Vikings defense will be facing the lesser quarterback this week – even though Skelton won the Arizona starting QB job out of training camp only to hurt his right ankle in the first game, have Kolb replace him, and then watch Kolb win the job back.
In 12 career starts, the Cardinals have managed to go 8-4 in games Skelton starts. But that's where the positive numbers end. Skelton's completed just 51.7 per cent of his passes and he's thrown 18 interceptions to go with 13 touchdown passes in his short career. His interception percentage is 4.1 and his sack rate is seven per cent, which is very bad (to give you an idea of how bad, former Vikings QB Gus Frerotte, who we all thought threw too many INTs and took too many sacks, had a career interception percentage of 3.4 and a sack rate of 6.2.
Twelve games is a small sample size, still those stats are almost Spergon Wynn-like. Skelton also won't be getting much help from his running game – the Cardinals are averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season. He'll also be playing behind an offensive line that's given up 22 sacks in the past three games. There is no reason why an improved Vikings defense shouldn't produce a tonne of three-and-outs in Sunday's game. I'll be disappointed if they give up more than 10 points.
However, points could be at a premium for the Vikings offense as well. The unit hasn't been held under 20 points yet this season. But this could be one of those games. Arizona's defense has given up 20 or more points just once in six games – in a 24-21 win over Miami – and the Vikings passing game isn't dynamic enough (I'm being kind here) to give Minnesota the balance on offense to keep a very good Cardinals defense on its heels.
This could be a game very similar to the Detroit contest, where the Vikings offense doesn't do a great deal, but doesn't hurt itself with turnovers while the defense and the special teams do the heavy lifting. And part of that heavy lifting will require the defense to force Skelton into the kind of (poor) production that's been the hallmark of his young career.