Desert Competition


By Zack Cimini

The state of Arizona has enough national debate arisen of itself as of late. When it comes time for training camp another battle will loom. Kurt Warner’s decision to retire opened the door for former first round pick Matt Leinart to finally prove his maturity. After faltering early on in his career Leinart had the fortune of sitting back and grasping the learning curve of an NFL quarterback from the sideline. Anxious to get back out on the field Leinart could not surpass the precision and veteran chemistry Kurt Warner brought to the table. Now though he has a golden opportunity to take over on a team that is expecting to keep moving forward without missing a beat.

For someone such as Leinart you’d think the team would have full faith in their prized first round pick that they’ve slowly allowed to grow. Ken Whisenhunt has never been one to hand over the job unless it is warranted. The Cardinals did draft a quarterback in John Skelton from Fordham but the big move was acquiring Derek Anderson. Anderson was stricken by the Brown bug his last two seasons in Cleveland. Coaches there kept shuffling between Anderson and Quinn so much that it was comical. Neither could show production and was best on both sides too finally part ways.

Anderson may be written off as a solidified backup the rest of his career but don’t be fooled. Anderson will be given just as much of an opportunity to win the job as Leinart. It’s Leinart’s job to lose, but he has done that before when he went into training camp a few seasons ago ahead of Warner. Time too learn and mature can do wonders for a quarterback and we expect Leinart to prove himself. Similar to the way Vince Young stormed back, Leinart has no choice but to end any competition battle as quickly as he can.

Once training camp opens he needs to solidify himself as the Cardinals starting quarterback. Veterans on this team are likely rooting for him but they also want to keep building and winning as the team has the past few years. Any setbacks are unacceptable and it all starts who is under center. So if Leinart is not ready the veteran voices will shift sides quickly too Derek Anderson. It’s been awhile since Anderson has had a solid NFL game but in 2007 he was one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL. He is tall, at 6’6 and one of his best assets is his ability to survey the field and go deep with accuracy. A trait that receivers in Cleveland didn’t have the skills to do, but will be a force with the number one receiver in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald.

Going into training camp this is going to be the most talked about quarterback battle in football. Leinart was the USC standout the was expected to easily transit his winning ways to the NFL. Learning lessons happen and did for Leinart. If he has truly learned underneath Warner than this could be a fantastic future and prosperous beginning for traction of a franchise quarterback for years to come. When can you say Arizona has had a quarterback than can build around for five to eight seasons? Jake Plummer is the only quarterback that comes to mind but that was an ugly overly done marriage filled with seasons of more interceptions than touchdowns.

Leinart will win this job and based upon how the Cardinals like too spread out their offense and pile up points, Leinart is a strong fantasy sleeper. He’ll likely be there in middle tier rounds when most fantasy owners are drafting their backup quarterback. Gamble and get your fourth running back or bench receiver and snag Leinart later. He’ll add more than enough value to keep you unworried about what you’re going to do if you’re number one quarterback goes down.


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