Bliss, Bruce Arians admitted, would be naming a starting quarterback “tomorrow.”
That’s not going to happen, of course, not with players still weeks away from getting on the field and the draft more than a month away. But the Cardinals coach made clear Tuesday, while speaking at the annual NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL onwers meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, his perspective of the team’s quarterback situation carries with it optimism.
Not once has the idea crossed Arians’ mind that he might not be able to find a quarterback this season, because, in free agent signee
“We found one I trust and feel comfortable with,” Arians said. “Whether we find another one we feel more comfortable with is to be determined. But I feel comfortable with Drew as our starter, being able to win and go to the playoffs and win the championship.”
It was, without outright calling Stanton his starter in 2013, as close to an endorsement as Arians could get on a March morning months from training camp. But it fits his view of picking a quarterback as soon as possible and certainly before training camp begins – which will be in direct contrast of the previous regime, when Ken Whisenhunt held camp competitions at quarterback in three of his six seasons.
In order to avoid a competition, however, a staff has to have confidence in a single player above others. Maybe that’s why Arians reiterated often how much confidence he has in Stanton.
If one doesn’t stand out, “it’s a problem,” Arians said. “You don’t have a quarterback. When you’ve got two you don’t have one. That’s been my philosophy all these years. If we’re out there competing to see who the quarterback is, we’ve got a problem.”
Arians has yet to attend any pro days, which included the recent West Virginia workout of Geno Smith. Arians was complementary of Smith, but said no one in the QB draft class made him think, “Wow.”
When asked if it was a rough year – because of a weak college class – to need a quarterback, Arians didn’t hesitate. “I don’t think we need one.”
Stanton has an easily seen advantage over the other three quarterbacks on the roster –
Arians has already been able to do that with Stanton last season. It’s one of the reasons, because of Kevin Kolb’s bulky contract with a deadline roster bonus, Arians said the Cardinals decided to part ways with Kolb.
The Cardinals will draft a quarterback somewhere, but Arians – in the thick of the admittedly hazy days of draft misinformation and smokescreens – emphasized the Cardinals were not going to force a pick in someone they didn’t believe in.
If it came to Stanton as starter, Arians sees a comparison in his former Cleveland backup Kelly Holcomb, who had some good days for the Browns when Arians was on staff there. Arians has coached Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, but quarterbacks like Stanton and Holcomb “are the guys you hang your hat on as coach,” Arians said. “God made those other guys.”
Stanton has shown Arians enough in practice to make him believe he can succeed.
“There are guys who don’t have the hype who can play the position,” Arians said.
Arians wasn’t specifically talking about Stanton, but he might be. If things stay as is, the coach acknowledged, Stanton will start. But a lot can happen over the next few weeks, whether it is the draft, Arians finally seeing something he likes from another quarterback on the roster, or another interesting veteran coming available.
But the importance of naming that starter, even if it isn’t tomorrow, resonates with the head coach.
“We don’t want different factions of the locker room politicking for guys,” Arians said. “I’ve always been a one-quarterback guy.”