Did Matt Leinart lose his starting job to Warner?
ESPN.com is reporting that the Arizona Cardinals will name Kurt Warner their starting quarterback over third-year player Matt Leinart. Although Warner appears to be more ready for the job, as recent as Saturday night the Cardinals remained adamant that a bad night in Oakland wouldn't lead to Leinart's demise. Here are the what ifs and what nows.
ESPN.com is reporting that Kurt Warner will be tabbed the Cardinals starting quarterback over Matt Leinart.
Three interceptions against the Oakland Raiders isn’t what anyone expects from an incumbent starter, but immediately after the game Ken Whisenhunt said Leinart would not lose his starting role after one bad night, and he’s not worried about Leinart’s confidence level, but watching Leinart’s face and body language on the sidelines tells a different story.
He was somber and disappointed. Leinart often took a knee if front of fellow USC alum Deuce Lutui but did very little talking. Leinart looked as if he wanted more action, but it’s preseason and there were three other quarterbacks who needed to get reps in. Whisenhunt said he had every intention of subbing in Warner for a two-minute drill before the first half wound down, but the timing was unfortunate as it appeared Warner was replaced for Leinart because of what would be his final pick of the night.
Whisenhunt said Leinart’s performance on Saturday didn’t negate his offseason showing as a whole. Whisenhunt is pleased with Leinart’s progression and continued development looks promising.
“I expect Matt to respond to this and continue to improve,” Whisenhunt said.
If the reports are true, Leinart will have a lot of time do just that.
A trade at this point would be for one reason only, locker room chemistry. If Warner is indeed named the starting quarterback, it’s humanly impossible for Leinart not to be let down and frustrated, but also resentful.
The market is very small for Leinart though.
The Cardinals know that Warner is prone to injury and entering his 11th season the numbers could go up, which is a big reason to keep Leinart in red. On the flip side, Brian St. Pierre is a viable No. 2 guy and comes with a smaller price tag.
Although Leinart’s long-term deal isn’t as high as some might think. Starter or backup, Leinart has a base salary of just over the $730,000 range.
St. Pierre has the Pittsburgh Steelers blood running through his veins and Whisenhunt obviously brought him in for a reason. Leinart was drafted to be the Cardinals franchise guy, but Whisenhunt wasn’t involved in that decision, it was before his time. A head coach lives and dies by his choices and Leinart wasn’t Whisenhunt’s, so he has nothing to prove to the organization.
At some point, Whisenhunt had to have stepped in and said, “I want Warner.” Of course this is hearsay, if ESPN.com’s inside source jumped the gun on shelling out the details.
One has to note that it seems Whisenhunt genuinely likes Leinart as a person. He walked over to him on the sidelines of Saturday’s game and patted him on the shoulder, consoling him after what would be Leinart's last pick.
Post game, Whisenhunt stuck up for Leinart, saying that it wasn’t all Leinart’s fault. Receivers weren’t where they were supposed to be, but he did say that Leinart hung on the ball too long on one of the interceptions.
But liking someone and putting all your eggs in one basket with a player who has yet to prove himself are two entirely different things.
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