If you believed for one second that Matt Leinart had any shot at being the Arizona Cardinals quarterback at any point once Ken Whisenhunt walked into the building as the new head coach then you need your head examined.
Leinart had as much of a shot at being the man in Glendale as I do at playing professional football. None.
From the moment he stepped foot in the door Whisenhunt made it clear that Leinart was not his guy and that he wasn’t much for caring where Leinart was placed on his depth chart. To him Leinart was just an expensive leftover from the Dennis Green regime that he was taking over and it was the one part on the field that he couldn’t get rid of… Just put in the back somewhere next to Emmitt Smith’s unfortunate year there and the David Boston era.
Was Whisenhunt’s decision to start Kurt Warner the right one? Absolutely. Warner led the Cardinals to a near Super Bowl victory over Whisenhunt’s ex-employer the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43. However his handling of The Leinart situation has been unfortunate and near-sighted.
It was widely believed that Leinart was to be the man to relieve Warner of his duties once he retired, that’s why he was drafted in the first place. Yet Whisenhunt after the second preseason game decided he had seen enough of Leinart and made Derek Anderson his number one quarterback.
(that sound you just heard was Cleveland fans laughing under their breath.)
The widespread reasoning was that Anderson was leading the offense better than Leinart. However, here are a few things to consider:
1. Larry Fitzgerald was no where near the football field during the preseason games. So I don’t know maybe that’s why the offense wasn’t running well.
2. The preseason offensive schemes are so vanilla it’s silly.
3. You’re judging a qb off of four offensive series in two games. FOUR!
Also while Anderson did put points on the board (3 points against Tennessee. OOOOOHHHH.) Leinart had a better completion percentage and QB rating than Anderson. So in reality Leinart was a better QB.
Unfortunately for Leinart it wasn’t enough to save his job as a starter or with the team. Leinart was released this weekend by the Cardinals and now if Anderson isn’t the guy Whisenhunt thinks he is he’ll have Second year man John Skelton and rookie Max Hall to choose from. No bueno indeed.
Whisenhunt said that Leinart being put in a position to succeed was “up for debate” and that a fresh start was probably a good thing for Leinart and the Cardinals. In other words the one inheritance from that he didn’t want want from the Denny Green era was finally gone and he can run the show his way from top to bottom now.
For Cardinals fans you can only hope that Whisenhunt’s overzealousness to get rid of Leinart was the right move. While Anderson is a very capable quarterback his accuracy is a major concern. Also with Anquan Boldin out of the picture Larry Fitzgerald will see a lot more double and while Steve Breaston is an excellent slot receiver it’s yet to be determined if he is a capable number two receiver.
Whatever happens I hope Whisenhunt is happy with his decision. There are two knowns in the NFL:
1. Good quarterback play leads to good job security.
2. Getting to a Super Bowl only grants you a limited grace period among fans an the organization (ask Lovie Smith and Bill Callahan).
Whisenhunt he has a lot riding on Derek Anderson. If the Cards continue to win it’ll be no big deal. However, if they don’t then then organization will be disappointed that it lost 40 million on a quarterback without ever seeing what he was capable of and it will fall all on Whisenhunt’s head. For his sake, I hope he’s right because if not then he might be looking for a new job after next year.