|Kolb has been sacked 17 times (AP)|
After the Saints, the Cardinals are the biggest surprise in this young season. No one expected a 4-0 start, especially since their options at quarterback were Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Coach Ken Whisenhunt settled on Skelton coming out of the preseason. But a Week 1 injury forced Kolb into the lineup, and that's where he has been ever since.
But what happened Thursday night in the Edward Jones Dome at the hands of the Rams' front four made it clear the Cardinals aren't yet in the "teams to beat come playoff time" conversation. That Arizona lost convincingly isn't the problem (hey, it happens, even to good teams); it's the abysmal state of the offensive line. Yes, Kolb struggled with accuracy at times, but that's a predictable side effect to getting blasted two seconds after the snap on virtually every snap.
The Rams sacked Kolb nine times (!) and he went down eight times against the Dolphins in Week 4. That type of beating isn't sustainable, but Whisenhunt does applaud Kolb for his toughness.
"I think he answered a lot of questions about that," the coach said Friday, via The Associated Press. "People were questioning his toughness or his ability to play in one of those kinds of games. He certainly did that."
To be fair, critics were questioning everything about Kolb up to and including his toughness. But this is what happens when you've signed to a $63 million extension and are outplayed by the backup. Kolb has also had some bad luck; last season, he appeared in nine games before a toe injury and a concussion kept him on the sidelines. But our concern wasn't whether he could withstand the physical punishment that comes with playing in the NFL; we had doubts about his ability to play quarterback. And while Kolb has shown improvement in recent weeks, it remains an issue.
"A lot of people said he wasn't tough. He'd been knocked out of a couple of games. He'd gotten some shots put on him," Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge said. "But he's willing to stand in there and get a bloody nose. He's proved that, and we want to keep fighting for him. We take that personal. We want to protect him."
And Kevin, no doubt, wants your protection, Daryn. The problem: the Cards' upcoming schedule. They face the Bills, Vikings, 49ers and Packers before their Week 10 bye. By that point, Arizona might not be able to put Kolb back together again.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.