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Thoughts on the Leinart Situation

For those of you that have been living under a rock lately, Coach Whisenhunt surprised all of us by saying that Derek Anderson was going to be the starter in Saturdays game against the Bears instead of Matt Leinart. Now, he has made it clear that this isn't necessarily a permanent change and he wants to see how some players react after being shuffled around in the lineup, but that didn't stop the **** storm from the media that we are getting now about how Leinart is awful and how Derek Anderson is going to be the starter from now on.

UPDATE: Leinart said what he thinks about everything that happened this morning, and I'm posting the link on the bottom of the article.

Now, for my feelings on this. I don't like this move. I think that Matt has outplayed Derek in training camp, and even though Matt hasn't been great in the preseason at least he hasn't thrown two picks like Derek has so far. I think that Matt should have gotten from the start of the game until sometime in the 3rd quarter to play and try to get some of the kinks in his game out on Saturday. But, Matt could also benefit by playing well with the second teams where he won't have Julius Peppers coming at him, and he will also have Beanie instead of Hightower to hand the ball off to and that should help out the running game too.

I also remember Whiz doing something like this before. Looking back at the 2008 Preseason, Matt started two of the Preseason games that year while Kurt was the starter in the other two. And we all know that he does things a little differently than most coaches, he said that while the 3rd Preseason game is looked at like a dress rehearsal, he doesn't see it that way. He treated that week 17 game against the Packers game like a Preseason game, but he was really trying out formations and seeing how the Packers would react, and then we got to see Kurt Warner go back into 1999 form for his final game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Whisenhunt is a very smart man, and although he makes weird decisions sometimes, there is a plan behind all of this. He is the Joker.

But now, because Derek Anderson is going to be the starter on Saturday, the media has feasted on this story like sharks drawn to a fat man with a stab wound in his stomach floating in the middle of the ocean. Seeing all of the updates about this story on ESPN, NFL Network, and pretty much everyone on the internet saying that we are going to be awful this year just makes you lose your mind. I am so sick of this story, but it won't go away unless Matt lights it up. And even then it might not because of how many fans and people in the media absolutely hate the guy (If he lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, and won it. I think there would still be people saying that he is a bust), I'm sure that Matt is getting sick of everything too. Being the Quarterback of the Future in 2006 and having a solid rookie year with numbers comparable to what Joe Flacco put up in 2008 to becoming probably the most polarizing person in Arizona sports right now. Where you either love him, or you want him to die so you can dance on his grave. The pass he threw to Larry Fitzgerald against Houston looked fine to me, I just thought the Safety went in low and that is the only reason Fitz got hurt (thanks for making that the only place you can hit a receiver Goodell, the only good thing you have done is the tougher player conduct policy)

Just looking at the stats between the two of them, I don't see why this move is being made either.

Name Completions Attempts Completion % Yards Yards Per Attempt TDs Ints QB Rating
Matt Leinart 10 13 76.9% 77 5.9 0 0 90.9
Derek Anderson 24 41 58.5% 193 4.7 1 2 58.3


Leinart hasn't sustained enough of his drives, but I think he has looked better than Anderson so far. But Anderson has also gotten a lot more time to play than Leinart has. And the only real good drive we have seen from Leinart out of the 6 or 7 that he has done was in the first Preseason game against Houston where Feeley missed a field goal. But at least the guy hasn't thrown any picks, and better yet he hasn't thrown two of them deep in Cardinals territory like Anderson did in week 1. Leinart needs to get a good drive going on Saturday, but he also wasn't getting much help in the first two games with a running game that couldn't get anything going and the offensive line allowing immediate pressure on him as soon as the ball was snapped.

Looking at the two of them, I think that Leinart has a better understanding of the offense, I think besides that deep throw to Stephen Williams that he misfired on (could have been misscommunication though) he has been accurate. The biggest problem I have seen when he was in is that the Offense Line has been dreadful when he was in the game, and he has hardly any time to throw so he has to go to a check down so he isn't being sacked on every play. He does look like he has been tentative though, like he doesn't want to make any mistakes. If he has a good game on Saturday it could help get his confidence back up to the point where he is willing to take some more shots during the games.

As for Anderson, the guy is just too damn inconsistent. He can make a perfect deep throw like the one to Stephen Williams, and then right after that he can miss a couple of easy throws, like the ones to Steve Breaston and Williams in the endzone where he should have had a touchdown on both throws. It seems like he rifles every pass he throws, when he should be putting some touch on those passes. But with how the Cardinals offense was a small ball dink and dunk offense last year that required you to be accurate on the short quick passes I don't see how he would work out in that style of play. It would have to be a similar system to the one he had in Cleveland to succeed, but near the end of 2007 people found out how to stop Anderson looking at how he had 20 TDs and 9 Picks going into week 11 of that season, but over the last 7 games he had 9 Touchdowns and 10 Picks. And following that he just imploded, but losing every weapon you had in Cleveland doesn't help either.

I do think that people are looking into this story too much, we don't even know if Anderson will be the starter in week 1 or not. Now, if that happens, then this will be a big story. But until then, it is just seeing how the other guy plays when he starts the game with the 1st team. If he struggles, if he plays well, if he is just okay, and thats it. Maybe Anderson is just starting as a way to help him learn the system better. But overall, I think that unless Leinart has a complete meltdown of a game, he will still be the starter in week 1 against the Rams. And I think that he will have a decent year, something like 8 or 9 wins with 3,500 yards, 25 TDs, 13 Picks.

Now, lets wait and see how these guys do tomorrow before we write off any of them.

Link to Matt's reaction.