Ryan Lindley gets chance to spread his wings again with Arizona Cardinals
When NFL teams give the ball to a rookie quarterback, calamity is almost inevitable.
For reference, just look at the Johnny Manziel experiment last week in Cleveland. It was the same story in Arizona two years ago when an unknown Ryan Lindley was called on by the coach Ken Whisenhunt to replace an ineffective John Skelton.
Lindley appeared in six games – with four starts – and threw for 752 yards with zero touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was also sacked 12 times.
It is fair to say that Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State the year before, should not have been leading an NFL team that season.
The Cardinals lost 11 of their final 12 games and then Whisenhunt was sacked.
At the same time, it would be unfair to assume that Lindley, at the wise old age of 24, has not improved as a passer since then.
“It’s night and day,” he told the team’s official website of the difference between him now compared to 2012. “I have learnt a lot and I have grown as a person in two years.
“Because of guys like [Cardinals coach] Bruce Arians, Carson [Palmer] and Drew [Stanton], I’m a totally different person and totally different player from that point.”
The Cardinals (11-3), who will turn to Lindley today against the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) and their top-ranked defence, are hoping so. They really have no choice in the matter.
Lindley, the team’s No 3 quarterback, is in action only because of injuries to Palmer and Stanton.
He made his first appearance of the season in last week’s 12-6 win over the St Louis Rams, completing four-of-10 passes for 30 yards in the process.
It was not an effort that would light up any Fantasy Football scoreboards, but at the same time, he did not come in and cost the Cardinals the game.
Heading into a matchup with Seattle that could determine who wins the NFC West and gains home-field advantage in the play-offs, Lindley’s responsibility will not change much.
“Just be himself,” Arians said of what Lindley will need to do today. “Just take the game plan and execute it. Throw it accurately and don’t try to be a hero and force things. But, don’t play scared – play smart.”
In other words, avoid mistakes and allow your teammates to help pick up the slack while also being ready and able to make a play when necessary.
“Ryan does a great job of handling his business and leading the huddle,” Arizona left tackle Jared Veldheer said.
“He does a great job. A great professional.
‘That’s a guy who knows how to run the offence, run the huddle and make the throws. So we know he’s going to step in and fill that ‘next man up’ mould. No question.”
But a December bout with a division rival such as Seattle, the defending Super Bowl champions, should leave just a few worrisome thoughts.
If the Cardinals win, they will clinch the NFC West title and the top overall seed in the NFC, which will give them a bye week to start the play-offs.
They would also have a perfect 8-0 record at home and would not have to play anywhere else in their quest to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
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Published: December 20, 2014 04:00 AM