Quarterback Drew Stanton is 3-3 as a starter for the Cardinals this season.
A little less than a month ago, Bruce Arians declared that Drew Stanton was "more than capable of doing and finishing the job that this team has started."
That was the belief on multiple levels, not only with the performances Stanton already had turned in this season but in the reality that Carson Palmer was out for the season and a raw rookie sat behind Stanton on the depth chart.
Nothing has changed.
The Cardinals have lost two in a row, yes. And Stanton has struggled in those losses, although he has plenty of company in that regard, especially on offense. There will be no change in quarterback, though, nor should there be, and the mere suggestion brings a smile to Arians' face. That's what happened when considering a potential change was broached during Arians' Sirius XM NFL radio
segment Tuesday night.
"That's the dumbest damn question I've heard in my life, swear to God," Arians said Wednesday, chuckling. "I had to laugh when I heard it on the radio. Really?
"That put a smile on my face. The guy is 3-3 as a starter in the National Football League and has played very well. He's had a tough two games and the guys around him haven't played very well. That's part about being a quarterback and a coach. I'm surprised they're not blaming me more. They should. I haven't given (Stanton) enough stuff to win with. I take the blame for that, not Drew."
Stanton knows he must play better. The Cardinals have turned the ball over too much – Stanton has thrown three interceptions the past two games, after having just one in his first four -- and the Cardinals have not scored enough. After leading the Cards to touchdown drives on the first two possessions against the Lions, the offense stalled. There was not another touchdown scored for 28 straight possessions spanning almost 11 quarters before Stanton threw a touchdown pass to running back Stepfan Taylor late in the Atlanta game.
That goes toward the third-down conversion issues. Over the past two games, the Cards have converted just 4-of-19 on third downs. In that time, Stanton has completed 38 of 65 passes overall for 443 yards, the Cardinals have scored 14 points on offense and fans start asking on social media about changing the quarterback.
"It comes with the territory," Stanton said. "You get too much (credit) when you are winning, and then everybody points the finger,
but rightfully so. That's what comes with playing this position, but it's why you want the ball in your hands every single time on every single snap.
"For me, it's a learning experience every time I step out onto the field. I've only got a handful on starts under my belt, but at the same time I feel like I'm progressing, I'm learning and seeing everything unfold. The biggest thing is not letting these mistakes grow and really cost us."
Arians goes down a laundry list of things the Cardinals must do better to help Stanton, pointing out the pass protection, the dropped passes, plays like Michael Floyd's fumble after a long-gain catch.
Churning quarterbacks also isn't conducive to winning. It's the sign of a team that's gone off the rails, which the franchise is all too familiar with – a ragged 2012 season that ultimately cost Ken Whisenhunt the head coaching job and opened the opportunity for Arians.
Ryan Lindley was part of that ugly season as a rookie, one of the four quarterbacks – with Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Brian Hoyer – shuffled in and out of the lineup in desperation.
"For everybody, whenever you know where you stand with the coaches and you are confident and solidified in that knowledge, that gives you confidence as a player," Lindley said. "To know you aren't on a short leash and you can let it loose."
Lindley knows the feeling both of being the backup some want to see on the field and as the guy struggling on the field. "Anytime the offense isn't doing well, you are looking at that guy, regardless of who the quarterback is," Lindley said.
Stanton didn't carry a ton of experience into this season, but he has played a lot more – and a lot better – than Lindley has in Lindley's brief career. Lindley didn't even re-sign with the Cards until Palmer got hurt. Rookie backup Logan Thomas, who struggled mightily in his lone appearance this season when Stanton suffered a concussion, is not ready to helm the offense.
Having the offense try to fix its problems – having Stanton try to fix his issues – is the most logical solution as the Cardinals head into their final four regular-season games and their playoff push.
"Drew is still Drew," wide receiver John Brown said. "He's that same person, in that mindset where he is ready to work. I believe in him and I'm sure everyone in this locker room believes in him. When we have needed him he stepped up big time, so I know he'll do it."