Shutdown Corner - NFL

Former NFL quarterback and current co-host of ESPN's "NFL Matchup" Ron Jaworski probably watches more game tape now than he did when he was playing; that's part and parcel of his job in what has long been the best NFL breakdown show out there. On Thursday, Jaworski went on Phoenix radio station KTAR and gave the Cardinals faithful a dose of hard reality about the abilities of Arizona Cardinals rookie undrafted free agent quarterback Max Hall(notes).

"The attributes you have to be able to have to be successful week in and week out over a long period of time is the ability to throw the football accurately and with velocity. And clearly, when I look at the tape, I don't see either of those.

"I don't see the ball going down the field. You see the bubble screens, the bootlegs, throwing the ball in the flat, nothing down the field. You just don't see a skill set that projects to be a consistent NFL quarterback. Things don't look good when you're on the field with Max Hall. It's that simple. I'm sure he's a wonderful guy giving everything he's got, but the skill set just isn't there."

Jaws then went into how he doesn't see the Arizona receivers finishing their routes, and dropped this bombshell about receiver Larry Fitzgerald(notes), who will be a free agent after the 2011 season:

"Larry Fitzgerald with 29 catches [on the season] is somewhat of an embarrassment for someone with that skill set. He's gonna look at his team and say, ‘Hey, this probably isn't the place for me' and you know what, he might just be right if this is the way it's going to continue. They just don't have any quarterback in waiting that you can say ‘this team is going to win right now'. We're talking about Derek Anderson(notes) being the savior now and giving you the best chance, and I'm clearly not going to put him in that role. In all likelihood I think Larry Fitzgerald is going to be gone."

Jaws has forgetten more about quarterbacking than I will ever know, but this seems a bit premature to me. One can (and should) criticize the Cardinals for failing to have a better plan after Kurt Warner's(notes) retirement (betting everything on Derek Anderson is just plain goofy), but damning Hall to the scrap heap after just four NFL games seems extremely premature. What we do know is how far Arizona's passing game has fallen off without Warner, but that would have been the case had Anderson been the starter all along. When Anderson came in for Hall in the Seattle game after Hall was knocked out of the game in the third quarter by end Chris Clemons, he completed his first four passes and then connected on just four of his final 13.

Hall isn't the only problem -- Arizona's offensive line isn't very good at all, and the team misses Anquan Boldin's(notes) presence more than anyone cares to admit. The simple fact is that unless you're Bill Walsh and you have Steve Young in cold storage for five years, replacing a Hall of Fame quarterback is just plain hard to do.

Perhaps Jaws should go back and review his first professional season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1974 -- in five games, he completed 10 passes in 24 attempts for just 144 yards and a pick. He rebounded to play in a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl later in his estimable career. It's common among rookie quarterbacks, no matter where they're drafted or what their standing may be, to struggle early on.

It was clear in watching him against the Seahawks that Hall was in over his head -- he was throwing the ball all over the place, and there were a couple of throws where I seriously wondered if he was trying to complete passes to Seahawks rookie safety Earl Thomas(notes) -- but these things do take time. The Cardinals painted themselves into the proverbial corner by not grabbing a better Warner replacement; they'll probably be better off giving Hall a few more weeks to see if things can improve.

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