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Gambo: Leinart is clearly the backup QB

The backup quarterback competition for the Arizona Cardinals is officially over. It got some nice publicity nationally and a lot of fanfare locally.

But after the first two preseason games we at Sports 620 KTAR can predict that Matt Leinart has enough electoral votes and has defeated Brian St. Pierre to become the second-string signal caller for the NFC Champions.

In all honesty, no matter what happens in the last two games, Leinart will be the guy. He has played well enough in his first two preseason games, including a nice drive down the field late in Saturday’s game that included a 25-yard pass to Leonard Pope among six completions on the drive. And his competition has fallen flat on his face.

As much as head coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted this to be a competitive battle, it just hasn’t been. St. Pierre has not proven much of a challenge to Leinart. He looked bad in the loss to the Steelers and worse in the loss to the Chargers. He couldn’t lead the offense at all. He was intercepted in the end zone on his first drive, missed an open Lance Long on his second drive, should have been picked off by Antoine Cason on his third drive and used an unnecessary roughness penalty to set up a Neil Rackers field goal in his final series. Bottom line for St. Pierre was 6-for-15 for 79 yards with a pick. Not good enough.

Leinart, who replaced St. Pierre late in the game, was a respectable 6-for-10 for 74 yards on his only drive. If you’re keeping score at home that’s now Leinart 2, St. Pierre 0. And considering right from the get-go that St. Pierre had to defeat Leinart convincingly because even a tie would go to Leinart, you can put a fork in this battle.

St. Pierre needed to impress early and often. He has done neither. Now it’s time to get Leinart the reps he needs so that he is ready for the season should he be called upon.

Whisenhunt may not announce it officially until after next week’s game, but he and his staff know full well who their backup is.

And maybe this will give Leinart some added confidence. He worked out hard this offseason and appears to be stronger both mentally and physically. He understands he is playing behind a potential Hall of Fame quarterback and isn’t down on himself that he isn’t starting at this point in his career. He is waiting for his opportunity and preparing himself as best he can for the chance when it comes. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy the competition between himself and St. Pierre. He never complained that the process was unfair. He heard the media questioning what would become of his career if he went from starter to backup to third stringer. But now that’s an afterthought. He did what he needed to do to prove his worth to the team. His competition didn’t live up to his end of the deal.