No QB Controversy Here – Leinart is the Starter
Everybody is very quick to turn on Arizona Cardinals QB Matt Leinart this week, and I can understand why. After the second straight sub par performance on the road, Leinart was replaced by Kurt Warner who did an excellent job running the team’s no huddle offense and nearly brought home a win. It’s easy to look at Kurt’s numbers and get caught up in what he was able to accomplish out there on Sunday, but let’s keep things in perspective people. Everyone in the Cards nation was so quick to turn on Warner last year after an awful 3 game stretch in which he turned the ball over 8 times and clamored for Leinart to step in at QB.
Now we have a little role reversal going on out there, but here are 5 reasons why Leinart needs to remain the starter:
1. Matt Leinart is a franchise QB. He has all of the tools to be a star and has had some excellent performances. Are we forgetting about last week’s home victory in which he went 23-37 for 299 yards and a TD? This franchise is being built around his abilities and the rest of the team (including Warner) knows that at only 24 years old, Matt is the future.
2. This is a new offensive system, brought in by new head coach Ken Whisenhunt. We have to remember last season when Leinart had some awful road performances against Green Bay and Oakland, it was all new to him then and he was still learning Denny Green’s system. Now he is working with Whisenhunt’s offense and we are only 3 games into the season. Leinart will adjust and get his timing.
3. Leinart is more mobile in the pocket than Warner, allowing him to make more plays. While the O-Line is much improved since last year, eventually protection will break down and a QB will have to make things happen with his legs. Whether that is rolling out to try and find a receiver in space or taking off with the ball on a scramble, these are things that Leinart is better suited for than Warner. While Leinart will never be a ‘Steve Young-esque’ running QB, he certainly has more ability in that department than Warner does.
4. Matt has thrown for either 200+ yards or a TD in 13 out of 14 starts in his short pro career. Now I don’t care who you are, that is production. Every QB has bad games: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb (ring any bells) and so on. Any player can get overwhelmed by a defense and have an off day. But the good ones come back from it by practicing hard and playing well, which is what we have seen from Leinart in his dramatic improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.
5. Matt Leinart has the support of his teammates, including Kurt Warner. Everyone recognizes him as the stater, they see him as a leader and they trust him in the huddle. Continuity is a huge factor that plays out during a team’s season, and his teammates trust that Leinart can do the job, so we as fans need to do the same.
You can probably read ten different articles by ten different football analysts who will offer up their opinions about Leinart and Coach Whisenhunt’s decision to start Warner in the second half. Second guessing, agreement, disagreement, whatever. But we have to remember that the NFL regular season only consists of 16 games, that’s all you get. It’s not like MLB or NBA games where you can have a couple throw away games and make a surge late in the season, every game matters. Whisenhunt’s in-game decisions are about trying to get more notches in the W column, that’s it!! It’s not about someone’s ego or about anything like that, it’s about doing what you can to get the W.
So now, we move in to week 4 with the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town. Matt Leinart is the starter, and his head coach, his back-up QB & friend, and all of his other fellow teammates are behind him. He is going to be hearing noise all week about how people may be wanting a change because they have the mindset of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” so he is going to have to deal with that, but everytime he has had an off day this year, pre-season or regular season, he has rebounded well. I have seen what he can do on the field and I know he is winner.
This is Matt Leinart’s team, and we need to rally behind him.