Cardinals would be much better off with Orton than Kolb

Posted July 11, 2011 @ 11:22 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Let's get right to the point.

Is Kevin Kolb really the best option as the Cardinals' next starting quarterback?

Since late April, spicy rumors have persisted that Arizona was ready pull the trigger on a deal with the Eagles for Kolb, who has been relegated to second fiddle behind a rejuvenated Michael Vick in Philadelphia but is considered by some league observers to be another Matt Schaub in the making — if given the right opportunity.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid has stuck to his guns in at least requiring a first-round draft pick in exchange for Kolb, a second-round draft pick in 2007 who remains a relatively unproven commodity at the pro level despite a few impressive flashes here and there, most notably his three-TD, 326-yard effort (on 23-of-29 passing) in the Eagles' 31-17 win over Atlanta in Week Six last season.

Deservedly or not, Reid probably will get a first-round pick and more, with a bidding war quite possibly developing between the Cardinals and Seahawks, who have been rumored in some circles to be offering a first- and a second-round draft pick for Kolb.

Memo to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll: You might want to reconsider that plan of attack, as you would be doing the Cardinals a huge favor you really could end up regretting down the road.

Enter Kyle Orton, the best of at least five much better Cardinal QB options than Kolb in my opinion.

The new braintrust out in Denver continues to promote a spirited competition for the Broncos' starting QB job in 2011 between the incumbent Orton and former first-rounders Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn. But recent fan polls showed that more than 80 percent of the Broncos' fan base preferred Tebow, Denver's top pick last year, to Orton.

If ever there was the foreshadowing of a bleak future in Denver for Orton, it came during the best performance of his career in the Broncos' 49-29 slaughter of the division-rival Chiefs last season in Week 10, when his career-high four TD passes and 131.5 passer rating ended up being a sidebar to Tebow's TD run and three-yard score on his first-ever pass at the pro level in the same game.

Truth be told, Orton has been lost in the shuffle for whatever reasons much of his career despite numbers that merit much more serious recognition — especially when matched up against those of Kolb.

In 61 starts over six seasons, the 28-year-old Orton has a career won-loss record of 32-29. He has posted winning records in every season in which he has played except last season, when he passed for more than 3,650 yards for the second consecutive season and registered a career-high 87.5 passer rating with an excellent 20-9 TD-interception ratio.

Meanwhile, in seven starts over four seasons, Kolb has a 3-4 record as a starter with a very forgettable career 11-14 TD-interception ratio.

Orton fares better statistically than Kolb in every major passing category except completion percentage (Kolb's 60.8 mark is slightly better than Orton's 58.1) and has been a lot better than average for prolonged stretches as the starting QB in both Denver and Chicago, where he was never quite the same after hurting his ankle.

If I were Ken Whisenhunt or Rod Graves, I would forget about Kolb and shift gears in the direction of Orton, who just happens to have reportedly spent a little time this offseason playing catch with Cardinals ace WR Larry Fitzgerald.

And if Orton wasn't available, Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, Baltimore's Marc Bulger, Cincinnati's Carson Palmer and even Tennessee's Vince Young, who is being strongly endorsed by Cardinals DE Bertrand Berry, all would be on my radar ahead of Kolb, who is not worth as much as he will probably end up bringing in trade.

After the Cardinals opted for a running back (Ryan Williams) despite much greater needs in the second round of this year's draft and inexplicably ignored the offensive line altogether, I don't have much faith in them seeing the light that Orton would provide at the end of the NFC West tunnel.

I have a bad feeling that a commitment to Kolb probably will keep them buried in the NFL's most nondescript division.