Green: Kurt Warner saved this blog
I was going to write about the Cardinals and Kurt Warner. However, the blog was going to go one of two ways, and it all depended on how Warner and the team fared Sunday in Jacksonville.
If the offense continued to struggle with Kurt leading the way, this blog would have been about how Old Gray Beard has one more game to get the job done before it was time for the Matt Leinart era to begin. And, if I was right, with the Colts coming to town next weekend there was a decent chance we'd see Leinart as the starter following the team's week four bye.
Fortunately, for the Cardinals, this blog takes a positive tone because even though Warner was replaced by Leinart Sunday, it was not until the Cards were up 31-10 after Kurt played a fantastic game. Coach Whisenhunt didn't replace Warner due to ineffectiveness; rather he chose to rest him after guiding the Cards to a comfortable lead.
The Cardinals came out of the gates rolling on offense, with Warner completing his first 15 passes. The line gave him time and he took advantage, showing his trademark ability to read the defense and throw the ball with pinpoint accuracy.
Completing passes to many different receivers, the offense looked like the one we saw last season, as the team moved down the field seemingly with little effort or trouble, doing exactly what it wanted to do when they wanted to do it. Warner finished with 243 yards passing, two touchdowns and a NFL record for completion percentage in a game.
So, instead of looking like the 38-year-old QB coming off of hip surgery that he did through the preseason and the season opener, Kurt Warner looked like the guy who led the team to the Super Bowl last year - making you believe that maybe he can do it again.
As for Leinart, during his time in the game he didn't do anything to make one think he can't and won't be the future of this team once Kurt calls it a career. Though he only completed three of his six passes, two of the throws could have been caught, and the other incompletion was on a third and long throw while he was scrambling away from pressure. If the Cards can put together more games like we saw against Jacksonville, Leinart will have plenty of chances to get live game reps, gaining experience and staying sharp.
Really, what we learned Sunday is that Kurt Warner is not done - not by a long shot. He still has plenty of gas left in the tank and, if he can play like this for most of the year, the Cardinals should have no problem winning the division and making another playoff run.
Of course, it is a long season, and anything can happen. Kurt is likely to have another bad game or two but now, if and when it happens, I won't look at it is Kurt being too old or too hurt. Instead it will just be that random game that happens when you are a gunslinger like Kurt is.
However, if the worst happens, and Kurt can't finish a drive, a game or whatever, Leinart is ready to go, ready to take over when his number is called.
Frankly, not a bad deal for the Cardinals, no matter which way it ends up going.