Originally Published: December 19, 2017 10:50 p.m.
TEMPE — Drew Stanton will be back at starting quarterback for Arizona when the New York Giants come to the desert for the Cardinals’ final home game of the season on Sunday.
Coach Bruce Arians announced the move Monday, benching Blaine Gabbert after five starts.
“I just think Drew’s going to give us a better chance to win this game this week, and that’s all it’s about,” Arians said. “We’re not going to throw our hands up and say, ‘Hey, let’s lose the games, get a better draft pick.’ ... We’re going to take the guys we think can win this game and go win this game.”
The colorful coach added an expletive to describe what he thinks of losing games on purpose.
Arians went out of his way to avoid direct criticism of Gabbert.
“It’s hard,” the coach said. “I think Blaine is a player. I really do. I think he has a great future. Some of those things, he’s experiencing for the first time, and it’s not a lack of talent. It’s just a lack of experience in this offense.”
But Arians said he decided to make the quarterback switch “after watching the film today.”
Gabbert, signed in the offseason as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, completed 16 of 41 passes for 189 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception in Arizona’s 20-15 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Arians’ announcement came the same day that general manager Steve Keim issued a public apology to fans for the team’s lack of success. The Cardinals fell to 6-8 with the loss to Washington, assuring themselves their second straight non-winning season after three winning campaigns under Arians.
“I apologize to our fans and everybody in our organization,” Keim said in his weekly radio appearance on Arizona Sports 987 in Phoenix. “Moving forward, we have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a busy offseason. We’ll continue to evaluate this team the last two games and I promise the product on the field in 2018 will finish much stronger.”
Stanton inherits an offense that has not scored a touchdown in 10 quarters, dating to the second quarter of Arizona’s 32-16 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 3. They got four field goals (in five tries) from Phil Dawson in a 12-7 win over Tennessee two weekends ago and five field goals (in five tries) from Dawson for all the Cardinals points in the loss at Washington on Sunday.
Stanton took over as starter in the bye week after Carson Palmer broke his left arm in the 33-0 loss to the Rams in London in Week 7. Stanton went down with a knee injury after two starts, turning things over to Gabbert.
Stanton, who has been in Arians’ system for six years, is 7-4 as a starter for Arizona, 1-1 this season. This year, Stanton has completed 48 percent of his passes for 540 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Gabbert has completed 56 percent of his passes this season for 1,086 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
“Like I said, it is no fault of Blaine,” Arians said. “I think Blaine is going to be a hell of a player, but Drew already knows all those scenarios. He’s healthy enough now, and it’s just a matter of us getting those touchdowns that are there from experience and trying to win this game. But, it is in no way an indictment on Blaine.”
Wide receiver Brittan Golden is the latest Arizona player headed for injured reserve after breaking an arm against Washington.