Kevin Kolb gets some slack for rough start

Quarterback Kevin Kolb could have played better during his brief 2012 exhibition debut for the Arizona Cardinals.

In taking a closer look at the Hall of Fame Game from Sunday, however, it's clear coach Ken Whisenhunt was right about protection problems putting Kolb in tough situations.

Right guard Adam Snyder appeared to have trouble in particular.

A quick review of the four pass plays featuring Kolb behind center:

  • Pass play No. 1: Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis beat Snyder quickly and was bearing down on Kolb while the quarterback attempted a pass to the left side. Kolb did not appear to see cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who picked off the pass. Pressure did not appear to be a primary factor on the play.

  • Pass play No. 2: The protection appeared solid here. Kolb looked right and threw for Andre Roberts' back shoulder. Quarterback and receiver did not appear in tune on this play. It was tough to assign blame to one over the other. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock thought Roberts needed to show greater awareness.

  • Pass play No. 3: This was a third-and-12 play, a tough situation for offensive linemen. Defensive end Cameron Jordan used a violent club move to rock Snyder off balance. Snyder's feet crossed over as he moved backward. Jordan, with a clear path toward Kolb, forced the quarterback from the pocket. Kolb got rid of the ball.

  • Pass play No. 4: The Saints rushed six, but only two of the rushers were aligned against the right side of the offense. That left Snyder and right tackle Jeremy Bridges in one-on-one situations. Bridges blocked defensive end Will Smith. Ellis beat Snyder initially, then trailed Smith around the outside. Snyder couldn't recover in time to factor on the play, especially with Smith blocking his path. Fullback Anthony Sherman released into a pass pattern. Halfback LaRod Stephens-Howling picked up the blitz on the other side of the formation. Kolb had to move, and he did. Kolb threw accurately against intense pressure, completing the pass to Sherman. Ellis hit Kolb and landed on him, knocking Kolb from the game.

The net effect was a negative one for Kolb. He suffered another injury and wasn't able to help his cause in competition with John Skelton for the starting job. But in looking closely at what went wrong, we see shared blame for what happened.

Snyder's performance will be important for the Cardinals this season. The team signed him from San Francisco to a five-year deal averaging $3.5 million per season. For all the scrutiny left tackle Levi Brown has attracted, the Cardinals' biggest question marks on the line originate on the right side.