It has been barely over six years since Matt Leinart and Vince Young faced each other in a classic Rose Bowl. Vince Young got the best of the outcome that day, but both seemed primed for an excellent career in the NFL. From the time of that Rose Bowl game, Leinart and Young were going to be linked together for their football careers. As top ten picks in 2006 it looks like they both might end the same as well.
Both Leinart and Vince Young made it on the football field during their rookie seasons, starting in over ten games each. Common issues with rookies plagued both. High turnovers and adjustments to the NFL style left room for growth. Positives were also there as well, especially for Young who was a team leader right off the bat. Young had a knack for leading fourth quarter winning drives and finding a way to get it done with his legs.
Leinart on the other hand seemed indecisive on his reads and rushed to deliver a short dump off throw. His early starts with the Cardinals were marred by team melt downs. One that will stay in recent Monday Night Football history was crowned by Dennis Green. Arizona led 20-0, only to allow Chicago to come back and win by a point 24-23. All of their points coming from the aid of the defense or special teams.
Heading into the off-season of 2007, Leinart came in as the favorite but his poor play in the first five games of the year led to his benching. He was handed a clip board for three seasons and began being mentored from the sideline and practice fields. Learning from a potential Hall of Famer figured to be good for Leinart. Warner had fought of retirement talks after his days in St. Louis and revived his career with Arizona, throwing the football all over the field and leading a potent Cardinals offense.
Once Warner retired it figured to be Leinart’s job. He was the man in waiting and the Cardinals had kept him in their plans. Often times if a team feels it does not have a proper backup quarterback they will make moves quickly in case of injuries. Instead the job was handed over to Derek Anderson who out performed Leinart in the preseason.
That move may have been the ultimate confidence killer for Leinart as a Cardinal. He never was ready to prove himself after that even in stints of game action on the football field. The controversy had to end at some point and it did as the Cardinals parted ways with Leinart in the 2010.
A backup quarterback seemed to be the best chance for Leinart landing anywhere. After not signing with any teams in 2010, Leinart was given a chance by the Houston Texans. After Matt Schaub went down to injury, Leinart had the perfect opportunity to showcase himself once again. He went down to injury and TJ Yates fulfilled the role and supplanted Leinart as Houston’s backup.
Now Leinart is in Oakland where he has had a sub-par preseason. When your in a battle for a backup quarterback position and roster spot you need to show your value. Terrelle Pryor has outdid Leinart through the air and with his legs to solidify the backup role in Oakland. Leinart delivered simple check off throws in his preseason action, and is likely to be the teams third string quarterback.
What happens to him in the offseason? He will likely be let go once again, and may not be picked up this time around.
That would mean just like Vince Young, Matt Leinart would be out of the league.
Just like in 1999 when Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Cade McNown faded as NFL Draft busts it appears the same is happening for the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2006 NFL Draft. You can bet the Titans and Cardinals would of loved to of drafted Jay Cutler instead.
How odd is it that the Buffalo Bills traded to get Tavaris Jackson? To secure quarterback depth after letting Vince Young go., the Bills traded to get Jackson who was drafted late in the second round of the same draft in 2006.