Cardinals attempt to endure brewing quarterback blessing

Note: This column appears in the 7/31 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 8/1 issue of the Peoria Times

The Arizona Cardinals opened training camp last week in Flagstaff. On their website, Darren Urban -- the team’s excellent beat reporter -- did a piece highlighting the top 10 questions for the team going into camp. Number one? The quarterback situation, of course.

Here are the facts as they stand. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt named Matt Leinart the starter for 2008 after the 2007 season ended. Leinart responded to this leap of faith by helping a local woman drink beer in excess. In 2007, Kurt Warner -- who was already replacing Leinart in specific game situations, like when the Cardinals wanted to score -- filled in full time as the starting QB when Leinart went down with an injury, and threw for almost 3,500 yards with 27 touchdowns and led the team to an impressive 8-8 record. If you mix all these facts together, you get a potential firestorm of controversy that can only be resolved in one way: a dance-off.

Barring a dance-off in which both quarterbacks inevitably get injured, the Arizona Cardinals are a team with two healthy and seemingly very capable starting quarterbacks. So I have to ask: And this is a bad thing?

Allow me, for a moment, to take you back to October 14th, 2007. Cardinals versus the Carolina Panthers in an important NFC matchup. Tim Rattay versus Vinny Testaverde. Worlds colliding. Worlds without quarterbacks. Interceptions. Fumbles. Oldness. It was the first game that NFL Films refused to officially document, and you can actually not find any record of that game on the Internet. True story. (Not true. But still. That was awful.)

Here goes nothing...

If that game, and the entire 2007 NFL season for that matter, taught us anything, it’s that having two capable starting quarterbacks heading into the season is a great, great thing. In fact, the Cardinals had two starting quarterbacks going into last season, and yet they still had to put a phone call into Mr. Rattay. Things happen.

Sure, the storylines are there. This is Matt Leinart’s make-or-break season. Is he a bust or the QB of the future? Does he even care? Kurt Warner still has it. But what is he, like, 60? Shouldn’t the team be looking long-term? But this could be the year, so which guy gives the team the best chance? These are the storylines that suggest the Cardinals are in a predicament, when in fact, they are very fortunate.

It’s true that a team and its fans want to cling to the quarterback as the face of the franchise, which is great if you’re the Indianapolis Colts. Not having a clear-cut starter means no face. But sometimes this idea can defeat the ultimate purpose, which is (clichĂ© alert!) to win football games. The Arizona Cardinals are simply better prepared to win with both Leinart and Warner ready to go, a fact that Ken Whisenhunt thankfully realizes. There’s no reason we can’t split their faces in half, and then combine them into one better face. Ya’ know, figuratively.

But if you like quarterback controversies, like it did last year, I’m sure that this one will resolve itself. One of them will get hurt. Or not play well. Or fall into a well. Or both of them will contribute and play well. Or both of them will get hurt and Vinny Testaverde will be waiting by the phone and we can all start thinking about 2009.

So instead of beating ourselves over the head trying to figure who “the guy” will be, it probably makes more sense to just be patient and let this thing play itself out. And by “thing” I mean dance-off. It’s really the only way to settle this.

Big ups to azsportshub for this ridiculous pic


CMB said…
Love that photo!
Jason said…
That pic has classic Big Time Sports written all over it! (tear rolls down cheek)