That’s not my opinion, it’s the opinion of head coach Ken Whisenhunt .
Whisenhunt told XTRA Sports 910’s Bickley and MJ yesterday that he wasn’t ready to name Leinart the starter but that he has “a great deal of confidence” in him.
Much has been made about the comment but it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Whisenhunt rarely names starters before the preseason is underway. Leinart knows that first hand.
In 2008, the Whiz held an open competition between Leinart and Kurt Warner for the starting job even though Warner threw more touchdown passes the previous season (Hat Tip to Darren Urban).
Whisenhunt is kind of like the Elin Nordegren of NFL coaching: He gives millionaire players a chance no matter how bad they’ve been in the past.
While a quarterback competition is obviously on the docket (or should it be spelled Dockett when talking about the Cards?) there is one problem, Leinart is the only QB on the roster.
Although many will argue that Leinart has been in competition with himself and his potential for years, Rod Graves and Whisenhunt will need to add at least one veteran quarterback with experience as a starter this off season.
Names like David Carr, who was recently signed by the 49ers to mentor Alex Smith on the finer points of being a big time No. 1 pick bust, Jake Delhome, Marc Bulger, and Charlie Batch have all been mentioned as possible competitors for Leinart.
The problem is, Delhome and Bulger are older injury-prone quarterbacks past their prime and I’m not sure Charlie Batch ever had a prime. He hasn’t started more than two games in a season since Jake Plummer was the Cardinals Quarterback (2001) and he promptly went 0-9 for the lowly Lions.
If the Cards want an actual competition and not one just in theory—like any reality show on television—they’ll have to turn to someone who doesn’t have one foot in their proverbial NFL grave (Sorry Cards’ fans, Whisenhunt and Graves were only allotted one miracle QB resurrection but they can still turn Gatorade into wine if you’d like).
There is one name on my list, which ironically was the case for most of my birthday guest lists as a child, and that guy is Derek Anderson.
Anderson, who was recently released by the Cleveland Browns, came into the league the same season as Leinart; has started more games than him; has shown more potential and even played in a Pro Bowl. He has thrown for over 7,000 career yards and has 46 touchdowns.
Overall, Anderson’s numbers don’t look significantly better than Leinart’s, but that’s before you take into consideration that he played for the Cleveland Browns.
Not only did he have to deal with the elements in Cleveland but his best receivers in his time there were Joe Jurevicius, Donte Stallworth, and Braylon Edwards (whose vast potential was outweighed only by the vast number of easy catches he dropped).
Oh, and he had to live in Cleveland and deal with Cleveland fans for four seasons.
I’m not saying that Anderson would automatically be better than Leinart.
I’m not even saying that he’d be the starter come September.
What I am saying is that Anderson could offer the most competition of any quarterback on the market and, if he did prove to be worthy of the starting job, he is young enough to be part of the team’s future.
|G||GS||Record||Cmp||Att||Cmp %||Yds||TDs||INTs||LNG||Yds/Att||QB Rating|
|Matt Leinart |
If the stats weren’t compelling enough to consider Anderson, his quotes, written in an e-mail to a Cleveland paper after being released by the Browns, certainly were (a paper that is most certainly on it’s way to lining the floor of the “Dawg Pound” next season).
"The fans are ruthless and don’t deserve a winner. I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured. I know at times I wasn’t great. I hope and pray I’m playing when my team comes to town and (we) roll them."
Even his “apology” was great:
"This was out of character for me. I wasn’t taken out of context but I was speaking with frustration.”
I don’t know about you, but a guy willing to be honest and show some fire is a guy that I want on my team. It’s a rare thing in sports that a guy will speak his mind and vehemently express a desire to prove his doubters wrong.
That kind of passion is exactly the kind of thing that would create the kind of competition the Cardinals need to find the successor to Kurt Warner . Plus, if the Cardinals sign Anderson and Joey Porter to go along with Darnell Dockett and Kerry Rhodes, they’ll create competition in the NFL for the team with the best postgame sound bites.
Anderson’s proved on the field that he has what it takes to be a good NFL quarterback, more than can be said for Leinart. His 2007 season, 10-5 record with over 3,700 yards, 29 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl appearance, showed he has the talent.
If there ever was a coaching staff that could help him cultivate it, it’s this one. (They just turned Antrel Rolle from first round cornerback bust, to highest paid free safety. They can do anything.)
That talent, or at least the threat of it, could also push Leinart to new levels. A situation that would benefit everyone involved.
The Cardinals can’t fulfill Anderson’s prayer of playing Cleveland, at least not this season, but if they’re smart, they’ll give him a chance at some serious playing time under center.