Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman winner who has to date been a bust in the NFL, made a much-publicized effort to improve his fortunes by spending part of the offseason engaged in MMA training with FOX’s Jay Glazer.
Though it might have transformed the “pretty boy” into a “killer,” Leinart also could be on track to becoming an “emergency quarterback.”
Leinart reportedly is in a battle with Brian St. Pierre, a guy coach Ken Whisenhunt brought from Pittsburgh, to serve as Kurt Warner’s backup.
“I think they’re just pushing me, as they’ve been doing for a long time
now,” Leinart said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve been through a lot
the last couple of years and seen a lot of different situations and
stuff, so what’s another one for the books?”
Leinart also takes issue with the notion that he’s a bust.
“For me, it’s just nonsense,” Leinart said. “I’ve learned you don’t pay
attention to that stuff. Guys are going to try to create controversy or
drama and all that kind of stuff. One little article is not going to
put me down. I’ve been through a lot more than that.”
But it’s more than “controversy” or “drama.” It’s fact.
Leinart has a career passer rating of 71.7. And, after starting eleven games as a rookie under coach Dennis Green, Leinart has been unable to win the trust of Whisenhunt.
In 2007, Kurt Warner began making relief-style appearances when the Cardinals would fall behind, with Leinart typically returning only after the spark provided by Warner helped erase any scoreboard deficits. Leinart reportedly said that he wanted the team to “ride or die with me,” and then a broken collarbone made Warner the full-time quarterback for the rest of the season.
And last year Whisenhunt threw Leinart and the rest of the league a curve ball by benching Leinart and elevating Warner, who took the team to the Super Bowl.
So instead of Leinart trying to knock off Warner in 2009, Leinart finds himself potentially sliding down another notch — which possibly could get him traded or cut, in our view.
“To be talking about a competition at the second-team quarterback to me
just means there’s not a whole lot else going on,” Whisenhunt said, “because
nobody talks about the battles for the second-team running back or the
second-team linebacker and there’s no difference in my eyes.”
Sorry, Coach. The gradual disintegration of the career of a top-ten draft pick is always newsworthy. It was one thing to be leapfrogged by a two-time league MVP; this year, the fact that Leinart is in danger of being overcome by a bona fide journeyman slapola merits rubbernecking.