After the entire Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson debacle during the Preseason, I made it clear that I thought Leinart should be the guy, but I would support Anderson unless he played like he did last season with the Browns instead of his Pro Bowl season in 2007. Lets just say there is no resemblance to the guy that went to the Pro Bowl in 2007 right now.
I was willing to give the guy a chance. We all know that he can do some impressive things, we saw it in 2007, and he actually played pretty well against the Cardinals in 2007 (even though he had 2 picks in that game, he had the Browns in the position to win that game, and if the final pass wasn't ruled to have been caught out of bounds by Kellen Winslow, the Browns would have won that game) during one of the games that Warner played with the giant brace on his left arm. And we were all told that he was the starter because he had the ability to get the ball downfield for big plays even though his accuracy was inconsistent.
But during the first 4 games, Anderson has missed easy throws, overthrown receivers that were wide open on deep routes (such as one that would have been a 40 yard Touchdown to Stephen Williams if it wasn't badly overthrown), and he has thrown some horrible Interceptions. Including two of them last Sunday, and one of them was inside of San Diego territory after a 22 yard Touchdown run by Tim Hightower was called back. The other one was a Pick 6 that resulted in Anderson being benched for Max Hall.
After this, I've had enough. Like I said, I was willing to give the guy a chance, but he has ruined that chance with his poor play. Anderson seems like he is likable enough as a person, but as a Quarterback he isn't playing well, and he had a Quarterback Rating that was worse than JaMarcus Russell last year (Anderson had a 42.1 QB rating, Russell had 50.0). Right now, he should be doing nothing except holding a clipboard on the bench and comparing beard maintenance tips with Coach Whiz.
A look at some stats, and some more thoughts on this situation after the jump...
I have mentioned this before, but when you look at Derek Anderson's stats, mainly in 2007, you can see that he got off to a very good start, but then around week 11 he sharply declined. Lets take a look at these numbers, and I'll also include his numbers from 08, 09, and this year with the Cardinals.
||Yards Per Attempt
|2007: Week 1 through 10
|2007: Week 11 through 17
(Against the Cardinals, Anderson was 21 of 41 for 304 yards, 2 Touchdowns, and 2 Picks with a QB rating of 71.6)
What I see here is that his Yards Per Attempt fell, his Quarterback Rating also dropped from 90.7 to 72.2. One thing this says to me is that around this time Anderson wasn't as much of an unknown as he was early in the year, and teams were learning how to defend against him. He also had four games with a QB Rating over 109 during the first stretch of the season, but over the rest of it his best was 96.5 against Houston while most of his other games were in the 70s and 80s during that time.
Now, lets look at the next 3 years.
||Yards Per Attempt
One thing you should also look at is that Anderson played in 8 games in 2009, and he has played in 4 this year. If you look at 2009, Anderson was handing the ball off a lot because they could not throw the ball at all with him in there. Anderson is also 30th in QB rating right now (out of 30 qualifying QBs on ESPN.com), he didn't qualify for being with the other QBs in 2009, but JaMarcus Russell was 32nd with 50.0, and Anderson had 42.1 so he would obviously be lower than that, and he was also 32nd (out of 32 QBs) in 2008.
This may be because of all of the talent was siphoned from Cleveland during 2008 and 2009, but he fell off the face of the earth during those two years. And I still stick with my theory that the rest of the NFL figured out the way he likes to play, and they learned how to defend against it. Look at what was done with Leinart during the Preseason, once other teams saw that he checked down a lot, they did nothing but blitz because they didn't fear his ability to beat the blitz. I think something similar to that happened with Derek Anderson, and his game fell apart.
I also think that there should be some questions leveled at the front office and the coaching staff for leaving us in this position. I still believe that Coach Whisenhunt and Rod Graves along with the rest of the staff have done a good job with this team, but if they knew Leinart wasn't the guy, why didn't they look for a better Quarterback during the offseason? Donovan McNabb is the big one, from what I have heard he would not mind playing in Arizona, he has a house in Arizona, and even though he has an issue with missing short passes he is a classy guy who doesn't throw a lot of picks and he could be effective in an offense with a downfield passing attack like the one Coach Whiz wants to use. He also has the mobility to help make up for the issues with the Offensive Line in pass protection. I did not like the idea of trading for McNabb during the offseason back when those rumors were around, but right now I wish they would have gone for him.
You also have people like Marc Bulger, Michael Vick, Jason Campbell, Chad Pennington, hell even Rex Grossman was available. Maybe someone could kidnap Kurt Warner during dance rehearsal and throw him on the field while he was still in his dancing clothes. Maybe Jake Plummer would be willing to come out of playing Handball in Idaho and give the Cardinals another year. Questions have to be asked about why there was no attempt to look for another Quarterback besides signing Derek Anderson before Leinart was dumped without at least giving him until the bye week to show if he could play or not before he was dumped.
And now, all the Cardinals have is Derek Anderson, and two rookies (Max Hall and John Skelton). One of them is a kid from Mesa who played at a pretty good program in BYU, but he isn't the prototypical size even though he does show some very promising qualities and he is apparently a bright kid who has a good grasp of the Playbook. The other one is a big 6'6" guy with a cannon for an arm, but he also played against weak competition at Fordham and he is very raw which means that he will require a couple of years to develop until he is ready to play in the NFL.
I was hoping that it wouldn't come to this. I knew that Derek Anderson had some issues when he came here, but I was hoping that most of his issues were from how bad the situation was in Cleveland over the last couple of years, and it sounded like QB Coach Chris Miller was doing a good job at fixing up some of his mechanical issues. But, it seems like nothing has changed with him since last year.
He still rifles short passes instead of putting some touch on them so they will actually be catchable, he still overthrows wide open receivers on deep routes, he still forces bad passes that get picked off. Nothing has changed. At least we have seen that he is a tough guy who can take some brutal hits that would knock out most Quarterbacks for the rest of the game, but being tough doesn't win games.
I will say that not all of his issues are on him. The Offensive Line has played like garbage over the first 4 games, the Cards have also been down early in a few games which made them get away from the running game and it forced Anderson to sling it around when (in my opinion) he needs a running game to be successful, and he also didn't get a lot of time in Training Camp throwing towards Larry Fitzgerald after his MCL injury in the first game of the Preseason (but that doesn't excuse some of the awful misses on balls thrown his way), Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have also gone down and they probably won't be back until after the Bye Week leaving 3 rookies (Stephen Williams, Max Komar, and Andre Roberts) as the only people behind Fitz. But looking back at Training Camp, Anderson played with the rookies a lot, and he should be able to connect with some of them better than he has over the first 4 weeks.
The way I look at it, Anderson's Pro Bowl year was a one time thing. People have learned how he plays, and they know how to defend against him. His accuracy issues are real, he is missing wide open receivers on easy short passes and deep routes that he was supposed to be able to hit. He has the toughness to be a Quarterback in the NFL, he has the arm strength, he has the Swagtangibles, but he does not have the accuracy.
It is time to move on and see what Max Hall can do. He showed some promise against the Chargers, and while he has some issues (he was sacked 6 times by the Chargers, and he only has average arm strength like Leinart does), but he also looks like he is more accurate than Derek Anderson is, and he is willing to throw the ball downfield.
Lets see what the kid can do. He can't be much worse than Anderson has been....