Now going into his fourth season in the NFL as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Matt Leinart has found himself no closer to the starting spot than he did on that fateful April 2006 day when the Cardinals took the best remaining player in the draft at number 10.
Sure he had the starting spot for five games in 2007 before he got injured. Sure he was named the starter before the 2008 training camp got started, only to lose it to Kurt Warner halfway through camp.
The only way Matt Leinart may see a starting job again is with another team, even if Warner gets hurt this season or next. That’s because Brian St. Pierre, the Cardinals third quarterback, doesn’t expect to roll over and play dead and accept the third string job once again in 2009.
St. Pierre knows the system. He played in coach Ken Whisenhunt’s system as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers a few seasons back. He played impressively during the 2008 preseason. I would not be surprised to see him find real game action in 2009.
A lot of it, is certainly not for the lack of effort or trying on Leinart’s part. Unfortunately he has been a victim of circumstance. After he was injured in St. Louis in 2007 five games through the season, Warner found a re-birth and hasn’t let the reins go since. This is also not to say Leinart hasn’t found himself in situations he shouldn’t have been, bringing his maturity level into question, say his pool part pics from last season.
He was named the starter in the off-season between 2007-2008, for the 2008 campaign. Whisenhunt employed the same thought I had, that a player should not lose his job due to injury. However, given the way Warner was playing, how could you keep him off the field. Clearly, it was the right move.
No matter what your feelings are about Leinart or how you feel he has been treated, you do have to think he may have a hard time finding the playing field in 2009. For his part, he has accepted the backup role, at least publicly. Privately, it must be eating at him. I don’t blame him.