In NFL, not just about the QB

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,Jeffrey Tomik

While the New Orleans Saints entered the season with a Super Bowl winning quarterback under center, the Arizona Cardinals waited until just days before Week 1 to decide who would be their starter.

But it's the Cardinals who are 3-0, while the Saints remain the only winless team in the NFC.

The two surprising starts by Arizona and New Orleans prove that having stability around the quarterback is more important than having an elite passer.

The Saints may have Drew Brees, but the bounty scandal shook up their coaching staff and front office, and their defense has allowed an average of 34 points a game against three teams that haven't beaten anyone else.

Meanwhile in Arizona, a poor preseason by both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton led to uncertainty at quarterback. The Cardinals decided to go with Skelton, who started Week 1 but left with an injury. Kolb stepped in and led Arizona to a comeback victory over the Seahawks.

But the Cardinals' success isn't about Skelton or Kolb. It's about supporting their passer with one of the best receivers in the NFL (Larry Fitzgerald), a coach who has led the franchise to its first Super Bowl (Ken Whisenhunt) and most importantly a dominant defense.

In Week 1, Arizona stopped Seattle on the 4-yard line in the final seconds to hold on for a 20-16 win. In Week 2, the Cardinals' defense held Tom Brady and the Patriots to just one touchdown in a 20-18 victory. And on Sunday, Arizona allowed six points and 308 total yards to the Eagles, who entered the game averaging an NFL-high 471 yards a game.

By looking at the list of Hall of Fame passers who have won Super Bowls, it's hard to argue against the NFL being a quarterback-driven league. But just like a passer can raise the play of a supporting cast, pieces surrounding a quarterback can elevate a team. Arizona is proving that with every win.

- Jeffrey Tomik

jtomik@washingtonexaminer.com

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