TEMPE, Ariz. -- Maybe Sunday night will be different.
But most likely not.
When quarterback Drew Stanton went down with a right knee injury that's been reported as a Grade 2 ACL and MCL sprain, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was faced with one of the toughest decisions of the season. Go with a third-year quarterback with limited experience, or a rookie slinger with eight career pass attempts? Neither Lindley nor Logan Thomas were ideal candidates to start Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks, with home-field advantage and the NFC West title on the line.
Arians had to pick one. And, to his credit, Lindley was the right choice. But if Sunday's game would've been tough to win with Stanton under center, it'll be nearly impossible with Lindley, whose career record as a starter is 1-3.
Lindley enters the game with 181 pass attempts without a touchdown, the most in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. For a team that's scored two touchdowns in its past four games, that's not the news Arizona wants to hear. The Seahawks have allowed just two passing touchdowns and intercepted four passes in their past five games -- which included Arizona in Week 12.
Since 2012, Lindley has the worst completion percentage (51.4), fewest yards per attempt (4.3), least amount of touchdowns (0) and lowest total QBR (9.1) among 60 quarterbacks with a minimum of 150 pass attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Arians won't change how he calls a game -- that was evident Thursday night. But he will tailor his game plan to Lindley, who came out of college with a reputation for having a strong arm but making poor decisions. In 2012, Lindley had three passes that ended up 25 yards or longer -- but only one of them was thrown for more than 20 yards in the air. On Thursday night, after taking over for Stanton in the third quarter, Lindley threw five passes of 13 yards or longer (13, 14, 16, 24 and 39), but all of them fell incomplete.
Yet, there's hope.
As a rookie in 2012, Lindley liked the middle of the field, where opposing quarterbacks have been successful against the Seahawks this season. He was 43-for-68 (63.2 percent) on passes between the numbers from 0 to 19 yards, per Pro Football Focus. This year, quarterbacks have completed 68.1 percent of their passes of any distance between the numbers against the Seahawks for eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
On paper, Lindley doesn't look like the quarterback who can clinch the Cardinals' first NFC West title since 2009 and keep them home throughout the playoffs.
On the field, he may end up looking like the same man.