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Doug: Matt’s not the guy, but he can be

Let me give you a math problem.


Matt Leinart is ready to lead the 2009 Arizona Cardinals.

There, I said it.

Of course I’m not starting a QB controversy. Kurt Warner is clearly the better of the two QB’s and the Cards are a SB contender if he starts 16 games. However, the Cardinals are so good offensively and Coach W is so accomplished as an offensive coordinator that this team can handle winning the division no matter what happens to Kurt’s hip.

Leinart has flipped the switch this pre-season. I can’t stress enough the change that seemed to happen after about practice number four this year in Flagstaff. He believes in his reads and is throwing the ball completely convinced he’s right. He leads when he’s in the game and doesn’t just “run” the play.

Sure the offense would take a hit without Warner’s talents. The most under-rated aspect of Kurt Warner is the stat no QB gets credit: YAC. Yards after catch is always a stat that the receiver gets credit. When Warner is your QB, he will put the ball in a position to give you the chance to run. If Warner throws the ball low, he’s telling the WR to get down because you’re about to be hit. Because of that, the WR gives so much trust to Warner that they never alligator arm a pass over the middle. They believe if Warner leads them on a pass, it means they have room to run. YAC’s lead not just to big plays but easier drives. It’s very difficult to score TD’s with eight first downs on one drive. You need YAC’s because it chews up yardage in the open field where yards are much easier to gain than from the line of scrimmage.

Leinart hasn’t showed the accuracy in his passes to possess this ability. It’s an area he needs to improve. With Fitz, Q, Breaston, Urban, Hightower, Wells, Patrick (you knew I wouldn’t forget Ben) and Whisenhunt, Leinart has every tool he could possibly need. If he plays this year, the Cards will skip a beat but will not have a heart attack. I know it would be tougher if Matt’s the starting QB due to an injury to Warner. I say, though, it’s time to drop the excuse “If anything happens to Kurt…”. I’m placing the expectations of repeating as NFC West Champions squarely on the QB position this year — all of the QB’s. The first two can handle it.