If your company needs a motivational speaker, you may want to consider coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals. Both Derek Anderson and Matt Leinart looked good as the Cardinals beat the Bears 14-9 in the pivotal third preseason game Saturday night in Chicago.
Here are the quarterbacks' lines from Saturday night. Anderson was 7-of-12 for 94 yards and a touchdown. Leinart was 8-of-9 for 84 yards and a touchdown. Leinart almost had a second touchdown drive, but Beanie Wells fumbled the ball on the 6-yard line after being stripped.
How's that for comparisons?
This certainly doesn't make coach's decision on who should start this season any easier. "I don't have to make any decisions right now," Whisenhunt said. "The starting QB evaluation covers more things than just this game."
Anderson showed some poise and confidence with the first team but still struggled with his accuracy. A couple of his passes were off, especially one to Early Doucet. Even one of the completions to the budding star rookie wide receiver Stephen Williams was off, but Williams made the catch. That just adds to the solid play of Willliams to his preseason and training camp resume, and he will be on the final 53-man roster.
It was impressive to see the first team defense play so well. They pressured Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler all night and sacked him four times.
Greg Toler, who started opposite Rodgers-Cromartie, also added to his case for the starting cornerback position with an interception of Cutler himself. Rodgers-Cromartie also had one. Calais Campbell looked like a man possessed on the field. He had one forced fumble, a sack, and a blocked field goal.
Tim Hightower was a pleasant surprise last night with a couple of nifty runs and finished with 8 carries and 62 yards. Beanie Wells has seen better nights. He finished with 8 carries for 14 yards and a fumble. Fumbling plagued him last year, and Coach Whisenhunt wasn't happy with Wells's performance last night.
The running game as a whole looked good for the Cardinals, which could mean we are seeing some cohesiveness starting to form with the offensive line.
The rookies are making decisions really tough for the cuts to come. Stephen Williams was 5 for 79 yards and a touchdown. Max Komar was 6 for 76 yards, including some big catches on the final drive of the game from third-string quarterback Max Hall. Hall was sharp as well with two impressive laser beam passes to seal the game in the fourth quarter.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler still hasn't shown that Mike Martz and him are the perfect match made in heaven. He was 10-of-20 with 129 yards and 2 interceptions. Those interceptions have to worry Lovie Smith and his coaching staff. Backup Dan Lefevour was just the opposite. He finished 10-of-12 for 100 yards and one touchdown.
One person we did not see all night was LaRod Stephens-Howling. It could have been a precautionary measure, or it could be Whisenhunt wanted to see what they had with Justin Miller. In my opinion, not very much.
One injury note. Fullback Nehemiah Broughton suffered what looks to be an ACL tear in his knee. More details to come on that one.
But the real question is what did we learn about the quarterback controversy here? Honestly, a lot and yet nothing. We learned Leinart isn't going quietly in the night. We learned that Derek Anderson looks confident in the pocket and has a strong arm. Neither should have hurt their chances last night, but neither stood out.
So, the decision may wait till after the fourth preseason game; a game where typically starters don't play. Will we see each quarterback for a quarter or two? Perhaps, but Whisenhunt has not made his final decision this quote may give you a clue why I think Anderson will be your starter Week One.
"It's not as much about stats as it is about chemistry with the team. In that position it's about how you handle everything that's thrown at you."
Well said coach. Well said. Matt you may be interested in picking some college football games with me this year. That may be all you are doing this year.