Cardinals rookie QB not likely to turn tables like Kaepernick, Wilson
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org December 22, 2012 12:58AM
Quarterback Ryan Lindley and the Cardinals beat the Lions last week, but the Bears aren’t quivering. | Paul Connors~AP
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:43AM
Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton doesn’t know the name of the Arizona Cardinals’ rookie quarterback and doesn’t want to know.
He just wants to hit him.
‘‘I don’t want to know his name. I don’t even know his number,’’ Melton said. ‘‘That’s all I’m going to aim for.’’
For the record, Ryan Lindley is a rookie from San Diego State who will make his fourth NFL start Sunday, when the Bears play the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Playing behind an offensive line that has allowed an NFL-high 52 sacks this season, Lindley hasn’t fared any better than veterans Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. He has completed 72 of 141 passes (51.1 percent) for 611 yards, no touchdowns and six interceptions for a 45.0 passer rating.
‘‘He’s got good mobility,’’ Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said, doing his best to accentuate Lindley’s positives. ‘‘He’s got a nice arm. He’s working to take care of the ball.’’
The Bears have had hit-and-miss success against quarterbacks with whom they are unfamiliar. Simply, the good ones embarrass them. The bad ones get dominated.
The Bears thought they were ready for the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, who was making his first NFL start when the Bears played the 49ers on Nov. 19 at Candlestick Park on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’ But Kaepernick strafed them from the start, completing 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns for a 133.0 passer rating in a 32-7 victory. It’s Kaepernick’s highest passer rating of the season.
They say the tape doesn’t lie. But Marinelli acknowledged that Kaepernick was better in person than he was on tape.
‘‘Yeah, he was fast,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘We knew he was fast. But what was really impressive was the touch on the ball. He has a really nice touch.’’
Sometimes you have to see an opponent live to get a true idea of what you’re up against.
‘‘Especially with a guy with that speed,’’ Marinelli said, referring to Kaepernick. ‘‘It’s kind of like when people play us on defense. You see us on film. But we’re faster on game day. It’s like, ‘Whoa — these guys are fast.’’
The Bears had similar problems adjusting to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. They had seen read-option plays and faced mobile quarterbacks before and thought they were prepared. But they were not. Wilson was 23-for-37 for 293 yards and two touchdowns for a 104.9 passer rating in the Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime win on Dec. 2 at Soldier Field. He also rushed for 71 yards on nine carries.
Lindley, though, is not near the threat that Kaepernick or Wilson are. He’s a sixth-round draft pick playing on an offense ranked last in the NFL.
The Bears are more adept at handling that kind of unknown challenge. The Minnesota Vikings’ Christian Ponder and Joe Webb. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyler Palkow — though he still burned them for a Hail Mary touchdown pass last season.
‘‘I don’t think we’ll put [Lindley] in the Colin Kaepernick category,’’ Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘But I’ve never played against him. We’ll see. That’s the quarterback the Cardinals are going with, so we need to be prepared for him.’’
The Bears don’t seem too concerned about facing Lindley. Asked if he had heard his name before this week, Briggs turned jocular.
‘‘I’ve heard of Lindley,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve heard of a few Lindleys. I actually went to a school with Lindsay Lindley. I know a Kevin Lindley from Sacramento, but that’s about it.’’
Of course, Lindley does have Larry Fitzgerald on his side. So you never know. But the Bears are confident this is an unknown factor they can handle. The common denominator among the inexperienced quarterbacks who have burned the Bears is speed. But Lindley is not a threat to run. He has rushed for seven yards on four carries, with a long gain of eight yards.
‘‘We prepare for the quarterback position,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘It hurts you if you’re playing an option team or something like that. But when you’re playing a prototype NFL quarterback, most of them are in the same area.’’