Arizona Cardinals Position Battles: Quarterback
Now that I've had a chance to go through the projected starters for the Cardinals, it's time to point out some positions that will be decided in training camp.
Why don't we start with arguably the biggest position?
Quarterback wasn't a question last year. But if you remember just two years ago, it was a surprising battle between Matt Leinart, who was supposed to win the position over an aging veteran with fumble issues, and Kurt Warner.
At that time, my money was on Leinart. No point in going with Warner, who could probably only play a couple more seasons, I'd figured.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
And the Cardinals are better off for it.
The reason I bring this up? Because it's a similar situation this year.
On the one hand, we've got the supposed savior of the franchise, whose job it is to lose.
On the other, a veteran (granted, not as old as Warner) who comes in with some serious issues but has a good past.
You must remember through all of this that Ken Whisenhunt will pick the best player.
Oh, and one more thing: It could end up being neither of these guys. Some rookie from Fordham may take the cake.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's examine the participants in this battle.
1. The Favorite: Matt Leinart
Logistics: 6'5", 232-lb. quarterback from USC
Strengths: Leadership, Poise
Weaknesses: Inconsistent, Not Focused, Off-Field Issues
Don't laugh at the strengths.
Think about a few years ago when Matt came out of USC. He wasn't overly special then. Many said he was a product of the system.
He's got a good arm, but not a cannon. He can be accurate at times.
Beyond that, nothing really stands out that much.
But there's a reason he was the Heisman winner: He can be a very good leader.
The question for Matt lies in whether he can pick himself up from his disastrous start to his NFL career.
It also lies in whether he can gain the trust of his teammates. In and out of the huddle. In and out of the locker room.
He's not going to be a Kurt Warner, with a quick release and killer accuracy.
However, he's had a lot of time to learn from one of the better quarterbacks of our era.
Now it's up to Matt. If he steps up like he should, he won't lose this job.
But if he doesn't step up...
2. The Backup: Derek Anderson
Logistics: 6'6", 230-lb. quarterback from Oregon State
Strengths: Arm Strength, Strength, Moxie
Weaknesses: Accuracy, Mental Issues
...then Derek Anderson will be there waiting.
There's a big reason the Cards went out and signed Anderson in the offseason...well, besides the fact they couldn't get Charlie Whitehurst.
As you know, Anderson has gone to a Pro Bowl in the past...as a Browns quarterback.
Think about that for a minute.
But things really came crashing down last season. In the middle of a terrible season, with performances like 2-of-17 for 23 yards against Buffalo, Anderson struck back at some Cleveland fans.
Not that one can blame him. Cleveland literally gave him nothing to work with.
So we know Anderson has the desire to win. We know he's got a cannon, which would suit Larry Fitzgerald just fine.
However, he too is no Kurt Warner. His accuracy falls well below that of Warner, not to mention the getting the ball out quickly thing.
On the flip side, he should be more than able to step up should Leinart falter.
Remember, in his one season with consistent weapons in Cleveland (Kellen Winslow Jr., Braylon Edwards, and Donte' Stallworth), he did very well.
One could argue his weapons in the desert are way better.
Of course, if neither of these guys gets the job done, it could fall to...
3. The Underdog: John Skelton
Logistics: 6'5", 243-lb. quarterback from Fordham
Strengths: Size, Arm Strength
Weaknesses: Lack of Experience
John Skelton reminds me of another small school QB: Joe Flacco.
Now, it's highly unlikely Skelton will start in year one like Flacco did, which is an anomaly.
But the kid has the makings of an NFL QB. His size and arm strength are good reasons the Cardinals took a chance on him in the fifth round.
In fact, even Leinart admitted in a recent azcardinals.com podcast that Skelton has a rocket for an arm.
Not to mention that Sports Science video on espn.com (watch it if you haven't yet).
Skelton could be the answer down the road...or as soon as this year.
This should be a very interesting, and important, battle come training camp...and one to keep an eye on if you're a Cardinals fan.
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