Breaking Down Arizona Quarterback Kevin Kolb's Improvement in 2012

Andrew NordmeierContributor IIIOctober 10, 2012

Kolb drops back to pass against the Rams.
Kolb drops back to pass against the Rams.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Kevin Kolb has made great strides for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. He first started out in a training camp battle with John Skelton for the starting quarterback job. 

It looked bad for Kolb early on, going 5-for-15 with 47 yards passing, no touchdowns and an interception in the first three preseason games. He also absorbed four sacks and took a hit that gave him a rib injury in the Hall of Fame Game against New Orleans

Kolb finally looked to hit his stride against Tennessee with a 17-of-22 effort with 156 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions and was sacked twice more but was able to connect with his receivers. 

Through the preseason, it looked like neither player seized the job, and it was left until after the fifth preseason game against Denver before head coach Ken Whisenhunt made his choice.

Skelton won out in the end, and Kolb was relegated to the bench until Skelton got hurt. Skelton was carted off with an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of the season-opener against Seattle.

Kolb came in with 11 minutes to play and engineered the game-winning drive going 6-of-8 for 75 yards and a touchdown to Andre Roberts in the 20-16 win. 

He got the start against New England the next week, but he didn't put up spectacular numbers. A passing line of 15-of-27 for 140 yards, one touchdown and a lost fumble doesn't look like much. Kolb also had five rushes for 17 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. 

The Philadelphia game was his best all-around game of the season. In the 27-6 win, he hit on 17-of-24 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He beat his former team for the second time in as many seasons and led Arizona to a 3-0 start for the first time in nearly 40 years. 

Kolb was also able to really connect with Larry Fitzgerald who reeled in nine passes for 114 yards in the win. It was a vast improvement for the Pro Bowl wide receiver who had just one catch the week before in New England. 

The offensive line started to sour quickly for the Cardinals thereafter, and Kolb wound up taking a beating in the next two games. Kolb was sacked eight times against the Miami Dolphins but still put up impressive numbers. 

His 29-of-48 effort for 324 yards with three touchdowns was his best game in terms of yardage and completions, and he needed all of them in the 24-21 overtime win over Miami. Arizona's running game also went south as well; the Cardinals couldn't get anything going and put more pressure on Kolb to make the throws he needed to. 

Kolb was able to convert a fourth-and-goal on the 15-yard line with 22 seconds left to hit Roberts with a touchdown pass to tie the game. It showed the kind of poise Kolb has and gave the Cardinals reason to believe they had found their starting quarterback. He looked like the quarterback that Arizona traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick for two years ago. 

The St. Louis game wound up being Arizona's first loss of the season, and Kolb had the same difficulties against the Rams as he had against the Dolphins. 

The Rams got to Kolb nine times, and Arizona lost running back Ryan Williams to a shoulder injury that eventually put him on injured reserve. He still finished with 290 yards passing and fell just short of consecutive 300-yard games. 

Kolb was able to distribute the ball well as he connected with nine different receivers in the losing effort. He proved that he can work the tight ends into the mix and not just rely on Fitzgerald to be their go-to guy.

Kolb will face Buffalo this week, and their fierce pass rush could pose problems. Either way, he's still growing and improving week by week and looking like the quarterback Arizona has been seeking.