The perfect storm was building for the Arizona Cardinals.
After an impressive offensive showing against Tampa Bay, including the unveiling of a "new" offense led by Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals were riding high heading into their game against first place Los Angeles. Of course, all the momentum and buzz created by the Peterson trade, and the subsequent fireworks against the Buccaneers, went by the wayside in a 33-0 loss to the Rams. Now the Cardinals are at a crossroad. With franchise quarterback Carson Palmer out for the foreseeable future, Bruce Arians has entrusted the offense--for now--to Drew Stanton.
While some have called for Blaine Gabbert, I think Arians is making the right decision to go with Stanton first. I get that many people want to see what Gabbert can do, but Blaine has actually started three
times as many games (40) as Stanton (13) in his NFL career. It's true that Gabbert hasn't played a regular-season game in Arians' system, but I don't think the timing is right just yet. After all, Stanton has been a reliable backup and presence in the locker room since his arrival. The coaches have faith in him and his teammates know what they're getting. Drew has won several important games for the Cardinals, and his physical and mental toughness is equal to Palmer.
Gabbert is intriguing in terms of the future. However, Arians isn't worried about developing Gabbert for next year as much as he is trying to find a quarterback who can win games this year. Arizona, at 3-4, isn't done yet, despite how it may feel after the sting of Sunday's loss in England and the injury to Palmer. If the Cardinals can win next week in San Francisco, they're back to .500, with a Thursday night home game against the Seahawks on deck.
Last year when Stanton stepped in for Palmer against the 49ers, Drew did what was asked of him by the coaching staff. He managed the game on the road, and got the victory. He only completed 11 passes, but two were for touchdowns, and he didn't throw an interception. In 2014, when the Cardinals lost Palmer for the season with a knee injury, Stanton won five games as a starter.
His career numbers may not be eye-popping, having thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, but he has a winning record as a starter at 8-5. Based on the Cardinals' current standing, and with nine games remaining in the season, Stanton is the right guy for the Cardinals.