Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has stated several times that he is very pleased with the things he’s seen from the Cards thus far. The team has made great strides and ran the ball well in the opener against Oakland last week. But what was really surprising (and unexpected) was the shaky start to the Cards air attack in which second year QB Matt Leinart went 1 – 4 with on 13 yards passing. He eventually finished 5 for 11 for 50 yards and showed some definate zip on the ball during his last series, but it was obvious that Leinart wasn’t nearly as ready as everyone around the league had previously thought.
He looked nervous, anxious, maybe even a little rattled at times. When his progressions were there he had trouble with accuracy. When he was accurate he was late, leading to a broken up pass by defenders. Twice he tossed up terribly underthrown passes to WR Larry Fitzgerald, turning him into a defender to prevent an interception.
Now I’m not saying anything bad about Matt, these are just some observations. The receivers looked good, their routes were crisp, Fitz blew by his defender on multiple occasions, Bryant Johnson showed off his speed on a 58 yard TD reception from back up QB Kurt Warner, and Anquan Boldin was his usual self and played well too. But I think Matt rushed a lot of his throws and was feeling some of the pressure associated with all of the hype he has been the recipient of this off season.
Despite the talk about Coach Whisenhunt’s plan to establish the run game and Russ Grimm’s work with the offensive line, Coach Whisenhunt knows that the bread and butter of this Arizona Cardinals offense is its passing attack. He has said several times that he plans to go to the air early, create a good lead with the team’s excellent corps of receviers, and then defend the lead with a time-consuming and aggressive running game. It is a strategy that will work and be effective, but is entirely dependant on the left arm of Leinart. Matt has to get in a rhythm early in order to make the accurate throws and the good decisions the offense needs him to do to win.
Again, it was the first preseason game so it’s not that big a deal. But it will be very interesting to see how Matt rebounds against the Texans at home on Saturday.