Sunday, September 5, 2010

Derek Anderson > Matt Leinart?

I remember a couple of years ago I was watching the NHL Trade Deadline special on TSN and one of the analysts said that someone was a, "poor mans Jeff Halpern."  At the time I thought this was the biggest slap in the face any athlete could receive.  Then I came home from a weekend up north and found out that the Arizona Cardinals had released Matt Leinart.

The fact that he got released isn't the slap in the face.  The slap in the face is that the Arizona Cardinals would rather have Derek Anderson as their starting quarterback than Matt Leinart.  I couldn't imagine a bigger hit to someones ego than hearing that.

I know people always rip on guys like Jake Delhomme and JaMarcus Russell for being awful quarterbacks, and believe me they are, but Derek Anderson is in a league all his own.  He had one good season where he managed to make the Pro Bowl and since then he has been absolutely pathetic.  His career quarterback rating is 69.7 and he has 46 touchdowns to 45 interceptions and he has completed just over 50% of his passes.

So why would the Cardinals want Anderson instead of Leinart?  

Well it's no secret that Cardinals coach Ken Wisenhunt wasn't a fan of Leinart and thought that he lacked the work ethic and leadership skills to be a starting quarterback in the NFL but is he still not the lesser of two evils in this situation?  

At least Leinart believed he was better than Anderson as he recently told, "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."

I have to agree with him on that point.  Leinart gives the Cardinals a better chance to win then Derek Anderson so why release him? I know Cardinals fans call him Captain Checkdown, and with good cause, but he looked great in the preseason and had a few years to learn from Kurt Warner so you would think he would be the choice going into the season.

But did he really learn anything from Warner while he was holding his clip board or did he just go through the motions until Warner retired and he could step up and take control of the team?  

Critics of Leinart have always said that since the day he was drafted 10th overall by the Cardinals 4 years ago that he came into the league thinking he was larger than life. Having won a Heisman Trophy at USC Leinart obviously got a big ego and he brought that with him to Arizona when he held out of training camp after being signed a move that did not endear him to his teammates.

Many people often said that Leinart was more concerned with being a celebrity than being a good quarterback, a viewpoint that gains more credence when you search his name in Google Images.  There are 6 pictures of him partying and getting wasted before a picture of him in an Arizona Cardinals uniform.  Clearly the guy liked to party and wasn't 100% devoted to football.

Leinart isn't a rare breed in that regard however as a number of quarterbacks from high profile schools often fall into the party lifestyle because on campus they are gods.  John David Booty went to USC and had the same problems as did recent draftee Jimmy Clausen who's partying lifestyle caused him to fall from a projected top 10 pick all the way to the 48th overall pick.

Even with the off-field problems I still feel like the Cardinals would have been better served sticking with Leinart over Anderson.  By releasing Leinart and making Anderson the starter the Cardinals have basically thrown this year down the toilet and said to their fans 'maybe next year.'

What I find odd is the timing of the move.  The Cardinals must have known they didn't want Leinart around and that they would need a new quarterback to replace him so why where they not involved in the Donovan McNabb talks and why would they not have made a move for Marc Bulger?  Why wait until one week before the season starts to cut your starting quarterback?  Then again these are the Arizona Cardinals who until 2 years ago were the most irrelevant team in the league.

Back to Leinart.  If he ever wants to overcome this ultimate ego attack by the Cardinals he is going to have to choose his next team carefully.  What he doesn't wanna do is go to Jacksonville or Buffalo and be a one-year stop gap.  He needs to pick a team where he can learn the system, dedicate himself, and prove to people around the league that he isn;t just another Heisman Trophy winning bust like Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Charlie Ward, Gino Toretta and Ty Detmer. 

I think Leinart is going to use this as motivation and go on to become a decent quarterback in the NFL.  Even if he goes on to become a bum that never makes it and has one of the worst quarterback ratings in the league and throws a bunch of interceptions in big moments he will still be better than Derek Anderson.  And when Ken Wisenhunt looks up at the scoreboard at halftime in Week 1 and see his team is losing 49-0 he will look up to the sky and say, "I made Derek Anderson my starting quarterback. Lord what have I done?"

Random YouTube Video


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Desmond said...

You are so dead on, you may as well put this post in a coffin. The only caveat is that they won against two mediocre teams, so they are still well in the chase at 2 and 2. So despite the horrendous loses, the second guessing won't be as loud. Yet. Next week, NOrleans comes to town. And if they are clicking on all cylinders again, we could see a 50 point loss this time.