After the Arizona Cardinals won the 2008 NFC Championship, Matt Leinart was quoted as saying he could have led the team just as far as Kurt Warner.
Now, head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said, during 2009 training camp, Leinart will have to compete with Brian St. Pierre for the No. 2 spot behind Kurt Warner.
Confidence is key, but Leinart's chances of becoming something in the NFL are hindered by his delusional self image.
How in his right mind could he think his game is as good as Kurt Warner's?
The answer lies in the question. Leinart is not right in the head. For fun, let's just compare Warner and Leinart.
The body of Kurt Warner's work speaks for itself. It's debated whether or not he will end up in the Hall of Fame, but in my mind he's a shoe-in.
Warner had all of those great performances with the Rams (the greatest show on turf), throwing to one of the most exciting and dominant receiving tandems in Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Also, Marshall Faulk was a dual threat, and at one time he could not be stopped.
What Warner has done for the Cardinals is impressive in a different way because he had to gain his proper place as a starter back from Leinart. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have emerged as the best receiving tandem in the NFL, with Warner throwing them the ball.
Warner has played in three Super Bowls and currently holds the record for pass yards in the big game. His overall career stats are 28,581 yards, 182 touchdowns, 114 interceptions, and a 65 percent completion rating.
Matt Leinart's NFL career is most remembered for being on the losing end of one of the biggest second half comebacks in Monday night history in 2006 against the Bears. Up 23-3 at the half, Matt Leinart and the Cardinals somehow found a way to lose it.
Leinart's career stats are 3,458 yards, 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and a 56 percent completion rating.
It might not be fair to compare Leinart and Warner in this way. Leinart hasn't had that many chances.
I'd like to point to a single game in which Leinart played the first half and Warner played the second. This is the best comparison because they played against the same defense in the same conditions.
It was against the Baltimore Ravens in 2007.
Leinart's first half was abysmal. He completed nine passes on 20 attempts for 53 yards—no interceptions though, which is good. Leinart's passer rating for the game was 52.1.
This wasn't his worst outing.
Warner's second half was amazing. He completed 15 passes on 20 attempts for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Warner's passer rating was 150.0.
The Cardinals lost the game, but it was not Warner's fault.
Warner came into the game with a fire, and he trusted himself like he always does. Warner and his quick release was threading balls to his receivers, moving the ball down the field with authority against a good Ravens defense.
In comparison, Leinart's first half was emotionless. He was lofting balls up to no one. It was never more evident that he lacked the decision making skills of a good NFL quarterback than in that game.
Personality-wise, Warner and Leinart couldn’t be more different. When Warner is a backup, he’s always engaged in the game trying to help his team. Leinart at times pouts on the sideline as a backup, feeling sorry for himself that he’s not playing.
Warner got his status in the NFL through unadulterated work progress starting in the Arena Football League and at one time bagging groceries.
Leinart appears to want his spot as a starter handed to him.
He’s not the first QB to achieve greatness at the college level and fail professionally, and he won’t be the last.
Just look at the list of QB Heisman Trophy winners. It’s a list of who’s who in NFL flops with just a few exceptions.
I’d say the Cardinals should trade Leinart, but I don’t think anyone wants him. If he wants to remain the number two guy with a shot at potentially playing down the road for the Cardinals, Leinart has to work harder.
That still might not be enough.
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