One of the main goals of training camp was to find stability on offense, and that started with quarterback Matt Leinart, who was taking over for Kurt Warner.
But as camp progressed, coach Ken Whisenhunt became troubled with the offense's lack of productivity. While Leinart was accurate in the preseason, it seemed to Whisenhunt that he was failing to inspire confidence in teammates.
Whisenhunt chose his words carefully regarding Leinart, but there is no question that his benching and subsequent release would not have happened had Whisenhunt felt Leinart's teammates were behind him.
Now, the Cardinals will open the season with Derek Anderson at quarterback and the backups will be rookies Max Hall and John Skelton.
"I feel like I've outplayed the competition, training camp, preseason," Leinart said before being released. "I think my play speaks about that. For me, this goes beyond the football field.
"The philosophy is you want the best 11 guys to play. I feel like I've proved that with my performance. I don't really know what else I could possibly do, so it probably goes beyond football. For me, I just really want an explanation and I haven't been given one."
Anderson took over the starting job in the third preseason game and played reasonably well. So did Leinart. Most important to Whisenhunt, the offense seemed more cohesive and productive. So Whisenhunt is not inclined to switch back to Leinart.
"I've been with Matt for four years now, I have great respect for how Matt's worked," Whisenhunt said. "I think what we've been consistent with is ... always trying to pick the best team. That's what this process is about. It's not about whether you like somebody or don't like somebody."
COACHING: Ken Whisenhunt, 4th year, 4th with Cardinals (31-23).
REMEMBERING: 2009 record: 10-6 (1st in NFC West); lost in divisional round to Saints, 45-14.
PREDICTING: 2010 regular-season record: 9-7 (1st in NFC West); lose in wildcard round.
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