Someone has got to say it, so I guess I will: Ken Whisenhunt just doesn’t like Matt Leinart. No, not because of his play on the field. This has to go beyond that. He has a personal issue with the “franchise” quarterback.
If you remember he didn’t draft Leinart, Dennis Green did. As soon as Whisenhunt came in he brought in “his” guy, Kurt Warner, to take the reigns of his football team. It worked out, and Leinart wasn’t ready to take over the franchise anyway, so no big deal. That was then, and this is now.
Then, Leinart took a backseat to arguably a future Hall of Famer, learning, patiently waiting to eventually do what they drafted him for: To become the future of the franchise. I heard no outburst from Leinart. No division in the locker room. No negative remarks towards Warner. Matt was a model teammate as far as I could tell. Sure, he wanted to play. But who wouldn’t? I know I wouldn’t want a guy on my team who didn’t think he should be starting. Nevertheless, Matt waited…
Now, it should be his time. With Warner retired and years of understudy, one would think the torch would be passed on to the man the Cardinals spent first-round money on. The one they toted as the future of the franchise. But no, Coach Whisenhunt has other plans in mind. In the off-season he brings on former Cleveland Browns quarterback, Derek Anderson, to “push” Leinart and compete for the starting job.
What?! Are you kidding me? Anderson is a viable backup, that’s for sure. But to bring him in to take Leinart’s job before Leinart even gets a chance to play his way into the starting role is ridiculous. And still, Leinart kept quiet. That’s more than I would’ve done.
Alright, fine coach, let’s play your game. We’ll see who plays better on the field to determine the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. And after three pre-season games, this is where we stand:
Leinart – 19/23 (83%) for 161yds, 1 TD -0 INT, QB Rating: 110.3, 8.47yds per completion
Anderson – 31/53 (58%) for 287yds, 2 TD -2 INT, QB Rating: 70.3, 9.26yds per completion
Seems like a no-brainer to me. Leinart is out-playing the journeyman quarterback in every category and it’s not even close. I know Leinart has had a lot of check downs and hasn’t really unleashed a down field bomb, but to be fair, he hasn’t had the chance. Anderson has been on the field more than twice as long as Leinart. What Leinart is doing, however, is not making mistakes. He’s not turning the ball over and he’s making sound decisions on the field. Last time I checked, that’s a good thing. The confidence to throw the long ball comes with repetitions and game time, both of which he’s lacking, both of which are not his fault. Quarterbacks have to get into rhythm too, it’s not just a running back thing.
Bottom line, Matt Leinart has waited for at least a fair opportunity to get the starting job. He’s even played his way into the role. Coach Whisenhunt, for whatever reason, just doesn’t want Leinart on his team.