When Kurt Warner left the Cardinals it was assumed Matt Leinart would
take over under center.
Having been with the team for four seasons, the previous two watching and
learning from the future hall of famer, it appeared that the time was right
for the former Heisman Trophy winner to get his chance.
But, then again, it was obvious Leinart did not have the same skills as his
predecessor. Warner was accurate but a statue; Leinart was able to move
around in the pocket. Both were accurate (Warner moreso), though the
prevailing thought was that the Cardinals would focus more on the ground
game anyway, meaning Leinart wouldn’t have to chuck the ball around 35
times a game.
Then it all fell apart.
Leinart was cut before the first regular season game, Derek Anderson put
in his place, and everyone was left to wonder what actually happened to the
guy who former coach Dennis Green called “a gift from heaven.”
Well, Warner has his own theory, and it has nothing to do with work ethic
“I don’t think that’s the question with Matt,” he said on the Petros and Money
show. “I think for Matt it’s more, can he find the right situation where
he can play football the way he plays football. And, that I think was the
hard thing in Arizona was that, I played the game so much differently than
him and when I retired and they looked for him to take over, they were
accustomed to playing it the way I played it.
“They asked him to play it that same way and I don’t think he was fully
comfortable doing that. And because of that I don’t think you ever saw his
full potential come out and I think that’s going to be the key for Matt, is
that unfortunately the perception sometimes if you don’t make it one
place, well, you’re a little bit of a bust.”
Wait, hold on a minute. The problem wasn’t that Leinart was untalented,
rather it was that he wasn’t Kurt Warner?
Perhaps the team’s reluctance to run the ball last season was due more to
Whiz’s affinity for the pass than it was the team always playing from
If that’s the case, Coach Whiz has some serious explaining to do, because
his job is to adapt his system to the personnel, not the other way around.
Warner is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and trying to find someone who can
play the same way will be a fruitless venture.
Here’s hoping Coach Whiz understands that.