Well, as promised, here is my second posting as we take a look at the QB battle that is already dominating headlines here in the desert as the Arizona Cardinals wrapped up mini-camp this past weekend. Earlier in the week I discussed starter Matt Leinart’s claim to the job, making a case for his hold on the position. I received alot of good feedback from our dedicated reader HardHat (he came up with that name, not me) and if you get a chance you should definitely read our comments to each other, lot of good stuff. Remember boys and girls, I’m just offering opinions here.
This go ’round it’s Kurt Warner’s turn to receive my take on why he deserves a nod at the starting position. Once again, my top 5:
1. Football Intelligence
This is really a no-brainer, I mean the way Kurt runs the offense and in particular the no-huddle scheme is a throw back to the early 90′s when Jim Kelly ran it to perfection with the Buffalo Bills. Warner is one of the best in the league at coming up to the line and being able to disect what the defense is giving him. He makes good reads and knows where he wants to go with the ball. This is something that was gained through his years of experience, something that can’t be taught. Which leads me to #2…..
Again, not Leinart’s fault. How is a man supposed to get experience if he doesn’t get a shot? This is true, but Leinart’s lack of experience with the Pro game no huddle package is what led to Kurt splitting time with him starting with the Baltimore game. Kurt picked it up after Matt went down with his injury and really got the offense clicking. Most back up QBs in the league are just roster fillers who may be good enough to fill in for a half of football, but Arizona has a guy who is not far removed from being the top QB in the league. A two time MVP, Super Bowl winner, and proven commodity in big time situations. Sometimes, experience can trump youth.
3. Arm Strength
Between the two of them, Kurt’s arm strength will win out every time. He has got a cannon of an arm and is good for 30-50 passes a game. From his days in St Louis with the pass happy offense of Mike Martz, Kurt is completely comfortable airing the ball out every chance he gets. The velocity on his passes is light years ahead of Matt’s and he can put the ball onto any spot on the field. Many people will tell you that the most important throw a QB has to be able to make is the “OUT” route. Basically, it’s a simple pass pattern in which a receiver will come straight off the line and cut 90 degrees to the sideline at either 5 or 10 yards. But for a QB, that is actually a 20-30 yard throw, and it has to be made quickly and accurately. People question Leinart’s ability to make this throw, but no one can question Kurt’s.
4. Poise & Composure
Very rarely do we ever see Kurt lose his cool. He is just a very calm, collected individual who inspires confidence in the huddle. When Kurt is on the field, he doesn’t get rattled, or doesn’t get shaken by a bad play. If he throws an INT on one drive, you know he’s going to come back out and fire away the very next chance he gets. This is also something that can’t be coached or taught, it has to be learned on the football field when the pass rush is coming at you and you have to make those split second decisions. This difference between the two was never more obvious than during the Baltimore game last year, when Leinart seemed ill equipped to handle the stunting Ravens defense and Warner stepped right into the teeth of that blitz. Seemingly unphased, he threw for over 200 yards and two TDs in a near epic comeback.
Look, I want to say it so there is no confusion: I don’t feel that Matt having a party at his house affects his ability to be our starting QB. Having said that, the perception is that his teammates and the organization aren’t sure about his committment to the team. But with Warner there is no question. He is a model for every NFL player, on and off the field. From his charity work with his foundation, to the way he works out in the off season, to how he prepares each week during the season, you’re not going to find a player who is more professional than Kurt Warner. With Kurt, no one can question his committment to the game. You know you’re going to get 100% effort every down, every game, and that is leadership by example. Also, something you cannot teach, you’ve just got to have “IT”.
So there it is, a case for Kurt Warner to be the starting QB in 2008. 27 TD passes and 3400+ yards in basically 13 games is nothing to sneeze at, THAT IS PRODUCTION OF THE HIGHEST CALIBER! I’m really glad that I don’t have to be the one to make this decision because as you can see, it is not an easy one to make.
Three more months to until the start of training camp, anything can happen…….