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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Nov 21, 2012 - 3:46 pm

ESPN's Clayton believes switch to Ryan Lindley is a mistake

ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton has one word to describe Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt's decision to name rookie Ryan Lindley the starting quarterback.


Clayton, who was a guest of Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Wednesday, noted how bad John Skelton played Sunday in Atlanta.

The quarterback completed just 2-of-7 passes before being yanked, but even though he was erratic enough to have Clayton say "I'm surprised they might have had people warned in the stands, duck if the ball is coming your way", the analyst thinks it was the wrong move then and now.

"You're going to put in a rookie quarterback with a rookie wide receiver and two rookie tackles, it's like what are you doing," Clayton said. "And now to come back and do this, I think it's a very dangerous move and it's a move that I don't endorse, sorry."

Clayton said Whisenhunt is one of the brightest and best coaches in the NFL, but views this move as one of pure desperation.

"He's given up on John Skelton, obviously, and he's looking for accountability, obviously, but also is this a move that's going to give this team the best chance to win," Clayton asked. "Sometimes you have to suck it up and say 'OK fine, let's just go with John, I know you didn't do a good job.'"

Clayton is concerned starting the sixth-round pick will lead to the offense being even more limited than it has been, and facing a Jeff Fisher-led defense could lead to a rough afternoon for Lindley Sunday in Glendale.

"It's, to me, a rush job," Clayton said. "Maybe in some ways John Skelton was rushed into the job when he was young...but to me this puts a very tenuous position for this rookie quarterback to succeed."

And if he doesn't, Clayton said Whisenhunt would have to be on the hot seat with regards to job security.

"It's a shame because first off, if anything happens to him in Arizona he would move toward the front of the list in a year where there's going to be seven to 10 coaching changes," he said. "He will not be out of work long, he's too good of a coach."

Clayton added it is looking like the Cardinals will be forced to address the quarterback position in the draft, though the QB crop this year is not nearly as good as it has been in the past. Still, it may be a better option than looking for a passer in free agency or via trade.

"The thing that I think you have to do, you're not going to get anything great in free agency," Clayton said, while acknowledging San Francisco's Alex Smith could be available and an option. "I did another stat on trades. The last 10 trades for quarterbacks, and that includes Kevin Kolb and includes Charlie Whitehurst, have now gotten to the point where not one of the 10 has produced one playoff game, and only two have produced guys with winning records in their first year."


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