After the struggles by the Cardinals Offense this season, which have mainly been because of the poor play by Derek Anderson and Max Hall, a lot of us have been wondering what the Cardinals record would be with at least an average Quarterback. Some people have even said that Matt Leinart would have done better than this. But what I have to ask right now is how would the Cardinals be with Kurt Warner and his magic gloves staying for the final year of his contract instead of retiring.
One thing I saw on the NFL.com highlight video for last Sundays game against the Rams was one of the commentators saying that the Cardinals don't need to tear up the entire roster and rebuild, they just need a good/decent Quarterback. Looking at how they have played this year, I agree with that. Anderson and Hall have missed too many open throws that could have resulted in big plays (throws that Warner would make 85/90% of the time), and they have turned the ball over too much. Defenses that also feared blitzing when Warner was at the helm are now loading up to stop the run (a big factor in the poor numbers for Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower for most of the year) and daring whoever the Quarterback is to beat them through the air, something they have been unable to do. It has truly shown us how lucky we were to watch Kurt Warner play at an all-pro level during the last couple years of his career, and there should be no doubt that he will be a hall of Famer when he is illegible in 2015 because of how much the team has fallen off without him. It is like watching the Suns without Steve Nash.
Before the Rams game, I asked Mike Sando who does the NFC West blog (excellent blog by the way) on ESPN.com what he thought their record would be with Kurt Warner, and he said that the Cardinals would be 6-5 with wins over the Seahawks (did not say which time, but I'd guess it is the first one in Seattle), Vikings, and Buccaneers, and I would assume that with Warner they beat the Rams again in the last game after the good play by the Defense and that would move their record to 1st place in the NFC West with a 7-5 record. I feel about the same on that, they would still lose to the Falcons and Chargers because the Defense just did not show up at all there, the Seahawks didn't really pull away in the second game until the second half but that one could go either way, same with the losses to the Chiefs and the 49ers.
One question there would be if Warner was back is how effective would he be? I think that he can still play, but he isn't as effective with the deep passes as he once was, and I think the best option would be to go to a more balanced attack and tell Warner not to audible to pass plays as much. Then, lets say that over a 16 game season if Warner plays the entire year and he isn't forced to throw as much he could end the year with similar stats to what he had over last season (lets just say... 3,500/3,800 yards, 25 Touchdowns and 12 Interceptions) and just his being there opens up more running lanes for Beanie and Hightower the offense as a whole would be vastly improved, and Coach Whisenhunt could even get the "Pittsburgh West" thing he wanted when he came here.
Then again, with the struggles of the Offensive Line Warner might not make it through the entire year. He could make the line as a whole better with his quick release like he did during the last couple of years, or he could get killed like DA has been for most of the year. He might also become more turnover prone like Brett Favre has been throughout this season (he threw for over 4,000 yards with 34 Touchdowns with only 7 Interceptions, this year he has only 10 Touchdowns with 18 Interceptions) and the Cardinals could struggle ending his career in a bad way compared to going out after his amazing five Touchdown game against the Packers in the Playoffs last season. He might also be unable to overcome the poor play of the Defense which at times seems like it is unable to stop anything.
So, I ask you, what would the Cardinals record at this point be if Kurt Warner was still under center? Everything else on the team is the same, the only change is Kurt Warner staying for one final year. I'm leaning towards 7 wins.