Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
The Beatles summed up the Cardinals game more eloquently than I ever could of in the lyrics above. On an evening when the team wore their black jerseys for the first time players who were on the bubble or fighting for a chance to move up the depth chart -- not named Matt Leinart-- took advantage of their moment to arise.
Here are a few of the random thoughts and observations from the Cardinals' victory Thursday night.
Black is bad, as in good:
For the most part the reviews of the Cardinals new alternate black jerseys on Twitter, our game thread and in general, were positive. At first I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel about the uniforms -- mostly because I thought they'd look like the Falcons and anytime Phoenix can avoid being compared to Atlanta is a good time-- but after tonight and seeing them pared with the Cards white helmets and pants, I really liked them.
The jerseys never would have worked in the old Sun Devil Stadium days because of the heat, but that's a good thing. They seem to embody the change in this franchise from those days. They have an edge and a swagger about them just like the team wearing them.
It's appropriate this drama filled preseason ended on 9-02-10:
The first few weeks of training camp were relatively quite but, like a college party, eventually all hell broke loose. Whether it was by Ken Whisenhunt's design or not, competition at the quarterback position revealed that Matt Leinart just wasn't capable of dealing with being "pushed". Instead of answering the call and letting his play do the talking he decided to do his talking to the media.
In a week that saw Matt Leinart go from potential starter loudly voicing his displeasure to the media, to possible trade bait, his performance was nowhere near as intriguing as his off the field storyline. After that was tough for all involved, it was no surprise that Leinart's performance fell flat.
If this is the end for Leinart with the Arizona Cardinals--which seems as likely as Jake Plummer making a poor decision in 1999-- than his 3-for-5 for 14 yards performance is a far cry from the day he joined the Cards. A day when Denny Green called him a "gift from heaven". Green had the right position when he said that, just the wrong guy (Kurt Warner was who he should have been talking about).
Rod Graves deserves more credit than he gets:
Looking around the Cardinals roster Thursday night you couldn't help but be impressed with the depth and talent. Undrafted players like Marshay Green, Stephen Williams, Max Kromar and Max Hall showed that Rod Graves and his staff do an amazing job at talent evaluation and deserve a lot of credit for the team's turnaround over the last few seasons.
When you add in the play of small school guys like Greg Toler, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and big school top talent like Daryl Washington and Dan Williams, Graves proves he knows his stuff as a general manager. A claim that the "old Cardinals" couldn't make (remember Bob Ferguson?).
Trust Whisenhunt's eye for quarterback talent:
Before Matt Leinart decided to treat the media like his personal therapist earlier this week, many were in his corner, myself included. The way Whisenhunt handled the quarterback situation left fans and media wondering if he was fairly evaluating Leinart. Thursday night put to rest -- such a deep rest it's practically a comma-- any doubt.
Not only did Derek Anderson move the offense and connect on deep passes in his one series, but the Max Hall proved he has NFL talent. Hall's performance eased the fears of having a rookie as a backup and makes the possible departure of Matt Leinart easier to swallow.
Like many, I hadn't fully bought into Max Hall. His gritty 7-for-9 for 126 yards and a rushing touchdown performance changed that. This kid has guts, talent and the passion to overcome whatever short comings --pun intended-- that he may have. For the first time since coming to Arizona, they may have the real deal as a young quarterback.
Even XTRA 910's Mike Jurecki told me via Twitter that he buys into the talent of Max Hall saying he's "a smart guy w/ great vision! He's a bulldog!".
Hopefully he won't see the field this season but if he has to be called upon, he's much wiser than his age and should be able to rise to the challenge.
Leftovers and one liners:
Listening to Darnell Dockett's sideline interview something became very clear. He handled his issues right way. He stated it, ask the team to fix it , didn't complain (too much), had sense of humor about it and continued to play hard. Wish every player did the same.
I'm not quite sure how to judge this Cardinals game. Playing Shanahan in 4th preseason game, where he has 29 players inactive, is like taking a test with 40 point curve. It's not an accurate depiction.
Luckily Beanie Wells went down but, according to him, won't be out.
Quote of the Game:
Matt Leinart when asked about whether the team has granted him the right to pursue a trade.
That might have been the problem all along and a fitting end to this wild and wacky week.