The Kurt Warner-Matt Leinart "Sham" Quarterback Competition: Part III
The Arizona Cardinals' "sham" quarterback competition seems to be closing in on a resolution. Not necessarily the resolution that was all but predetermined at the outset, but a resolution nonetheless.
In last night's preseason game versus the Oakland Raiders, Matt Leinart made the least of his opportunity to keep a grip on a quarterback job, which he never deserved.
Facing vanilla defensive schemes and very little pocket pressure, Leinart completed only four of 12 passes for 24 yards, tossed three ugly interceptions, and threw zero touchdowns. His passer rating was 2.8 for the night...basically, he looked no better or worse than the 2007 Matt Leinart.
After the game, Ken Whisenhunt once again tried to resurrect Leinart with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, blaming the receivers and anything else he could think of for Matt's poor performance. He also suggested that "how Matt reacts to this bad game in his next outing" will be a part of the test.
His next outing?? Huh??
To demonstrate the absurdity of Whisenhunt's latest apologetics, let's review Leinart's terrible first half versus Kansas City last week: In three possessions, he completed only two of six passes for 13 yards, almost threw two picks, managed three three-and-outs, and fumbled deep inside Arizona territory.
But, as pointed out in Bleacher Report last week, Whisenhunt trotted Matt and the starting offense back out for the second half to pad his stats versus the Chiefs' second, third, and fourth-string defenders.
Evidently, Whisenhunt is committed to giving Matt Leinart unlimited "do-overs" until he "wins" the sham competition—or until the fans and players mutiny, whichever comes first.
Well here's something fresh for Whisenhunt to ponder regarding "how Matt reacts to adversity..."
In the Oakland game, when Leinart wasn't on the field throwing interceptions, he reacted by choosing to stand or sit separate from his teammates, sulking and pouting on the bench. Perhaps he didn't notice that Arizona's defense was in the middle of a tremendous shutout of the Raiders on the road.
Way to support and lead your team, Matt!
And when it was Kurt Warner's turn, or third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre's turn to run the offense, was Matt Leinart there helping them from the sideline? No, but Kurt Warner met both Leinart and St. Pierre each time they came off the field for a timeout or change of possession to talk with them.
And after the game was won—but before the press was allowed into the locker room—Leinart decided to sneak out the back door, leaving Warner behind to answer the questions that he dared not face.
Such is Matt Leinart's reaction to adversity.
Didn't Leinart declare this was "still my team" back in December? Or is it only "his team" when he plays well?
As observers learn more about Matt Leinart, it becomes obvious that he is looking less and less like someone who belongs in a professional league. His arm is not strong, his character is not solid, and he doesn't possess the leadership qualities required of an NFL quarterback through the ups and downs of a season. He's looking like today's incarnation of Ryan Leaf.
This morning, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that Ken Whisenhunt is going to announce Kurt Warner as the winner of the "sham" quarterback competition tomorrow.
But can the finality of the decision be trusted? And whom will we really hear from tomorrow?
Will it be Ken Whisenhunt...declaring Kurt Warner as the clear and final winner? The starting quarterback for the 2008 season?
Or will it be yet more from "Ken Weaselhunt"...the orchestrator of this "sham" competition, continuing to play his smug, coy game, leaving fans guessing as to how he's going to resurrect Matty Leinart, bench Kurt Warner, and polish Bill Bidwill's boots—all at the same time?
In other words, did Warner's victory in the sham competition buy him one start on a short leash?
The fans and players will be watching closely. And the result will determine the course and success of Arizona's 2008 season.
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