As The World Turns: The Matt Leinart and Arizona Caridnals Soap Opera

Ronnie HampstonCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Matt Leinart #7 of the Arizona Cardinals walks in the bench area during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 14-9. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since coming to the NFL Matt Leinart has not lived up to the lofty expectations that were put on him coming out of USC. While playing at USC Leinart won a Heisman Trophy and led the Trojans to a National Title. He replaced Carson Palmer as the "golden boy" of the program. Leinart played in a pro style offense and was surrounded by weapons at the wide receiver and running back positions. Leinart was a superstar in So Cal. He was on every magazine cover and dated the who's who in Hollywood.


In the 2006 NFL Draft Leinart was selected behind Vince Young and Jay Cutler. He slipped to the tenth pick overall and it looked like a draft steal at the time. During that time the Cardinals had Denny Green as head coach. The Cardinals were improving at the time with a young Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, a steady Edgerrin James, and an improving defense. Many people thought Leinart was drafted into the perfect situation. Kurt Warner started quarterback the previous season, but he was not the same Kurt that ran the "greatest show on turf". He was an old Kurt Warner who had issues with turning the ball over and getting hurt.


Matt Leinart started a few games his rookie season and she showed flashes of greatness and inconsistency. I can remember how Leinart shredded the Bears defense on a Monday Night Football game. The Cards lost, but Leinart put on a show. He ended his rookie season on the bench because of a shoulder injury, but for years to come the Cardinal Nation felt like they finally had their franchise quarterback.


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During that off-season Denny Green was fired and was replaced by Ken Whisenhunt who was the offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time. Whisenhunt wanted to bring a power running game and discipline to the Cardinals something they had lacked in years past.


Under Ken Whisenhunt Matt Leinart has always been scrutinized. Kurt Warner went back into the time machine and became an MVP type quarterback during his final two seasons as the Cardinals QB. It was great to see Leinart learn from Warner and the two had a great bond working together.


Cardinal's coach Ken Whisenhunt has always played a tough role when coaching young quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger and Ken Whisenhunt did not see eye to eye when he was in Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt preferred the Steelers to run the ball and Roethlisberger wanted to pass more than he was allowed to. After Whisenhunt left the Steelers Roethlisberger was ecstatic about getting a new offensive coordinator.


I am not calling Matt Leinart Ben Roethlisberger, but they are in the same conversation when it comes to issues with Whisenhunt. After Warner retired this off-season it was expected that Matt Leinart will step in and become his successor. Things have gotten off to a shaky start. Leinart has had a mediocre pre-season despite completing 83% of his passes (mostly short passes). He is in a heated competition with former pro bowl quarterback Derek Anderson who has started the last preseason game and will start the final preseason game.  

Leinart is becoming trade bait and he does not want to become a back up. If Trent Edwards can start 16 games I believe Matt Leinart deserves at least one chance to start a full season. It is hard to judge someone off preseason play and mop up quarterback duty. Denny Green drafted Leinart so Whisenhunt is not entitled to play Matt Leinart. I know Matt can be a spoiled cry baby, but I think he deserves a chance to start.

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