Matt Leinart faces uphill battle to be a starter again

After a day full of Matt Leinart posts, let’s pause for a moment and take stock of where things stand.

First, Leinart’s time in Arizona appears to be over.

Second, Leinart has done himself no favors with the things he has recently said.  Most recently, his stated desire to be a starter makes it harder for any team to rely on him as a backup, because a good backup must be willing to understand, accept, and embrace his role.

Third, despite rumors in the Cardinals locker room that the Giants could be trading for Leinart, there is no sign of serious interest coming from the Giants, Bills, Raiders, or anyone else.  As Jay Glazer of FOX points out, the Giants want someone who’ll be happy to serve as Eli Manning’s understudy

Fourth, no one in their right mind will trade for a guy with high base salaries in 2010 and 2011, and Leinart likely won’t be reducing his high base salaries to facilitate a trade if it means going somewhere else to be a backup.

Fifth, we’re told that the players in Arizona don’t really care for Leinart.  Former teammate Anquan Boldin addressed the situation recently on 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore, and Boldin said that he’s not surprised that Leinart has lost his job to Derek Anderson.

Sixth, even Jon Gruden has jumped into the “Lambaste Leinart” parade.  “I just say he hasn’t performed,” Gruden said during Wednesday’s Monday Night Football conference call, per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.  “He hasn’t taken
advantage of his opportunities. He’s clearly been average.  He hasn’t
been a guy who’s really taken control and choked the opportunity that’s
been given to him, and obviously there’s something missing there.”

Coming from Gruden, who usually says bad things about others only when others aren’t listening  (or when he assumes they aren’t), that’s a strong indictment.

So what has happened with Leinart?  It arguably all started in 2005, when he opted not to enter the draft despite winning both the Heisman Trophy and a national championship.  He has nothing else to prove at the college level, but he wanted to spend another year as the big man on campus in lieu of embracing the challenge of becoming an NFL-caliber quarterback.  It prompted legitimate questions as to whether he truly loves the game, or whether he loves being a celebrity.

Every player has a ceiling on his abilities, and for many it resides between the college and NFL level.  Some players have the physical ability, mental capacity, and intestinal fortitude to bust through it.  Some don’t.

Leinart, at least through four-plus years of his career, doesn’t have it.  He entered the NFL with an entitlement mentality fueled by years of being surrounded by blue-chip players at every position.  At the pro level, he learned that it’s no longer easy, and he hasn’t been able or willing to do anything about it.

Bottom line?  No one will want him as a backup until he shows that he’ll accept that role.  And no one will install him as a starter based on the things he has done in Arizona. 

The real question will arise if (when) he’s cut on Saturday.  Will Pete Carroll give him a roster spot?  Or will Pete realize that the concerns he once expressed regarding Mark Sanchez apply with equal if not greater force to Leinart?

45 responses to “Matt Leinart faces uphill battle to be a starter again

  1. Anquan said “Honestly no. That’s just because I’ve been there and witnessed the relationship between both Matt and Coach Whisenhunt. So I’m actually not surprised.” He didnt imply Leinart was a slacker or not good just that the coach and him didnt get along. Thats a big difference.

  2. Not too smart to bag on the guy for choosing to finish all four years of his college course of study. Maybe he actually valued getting his degree!

  3. Nacho Sanchez = Matt Leinart……….Sanchez will be looking for a job soon too. Career backup or out of the NFL all together within 2 years.

  4. It arguably all started in 2005, when he opted not to enter the draft despite winning both the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. He has nothing else to prove at the college level, but he wanted to spend another year as the big man on campus in lieu of embracing the challenge of becoming an NFL-caliber quarterback. It prompted legitimate questions as to whether he truly loves the game, or whether he loves being a celebrity.
    I think with him its all about the fame and not the game. Arizona should have realized that before drafting him. I mean come on, look at all the celebrities that attend USC games. It all stems from LA not having a football team. Had Leinhart come from Alabama or Syracuse he might of had a clear head. Being around all of that fame and money only made him want it for himself. Take a good look at Bush or Sanchez or even White. They all EXPECT everything handed to them. No work ethic. Its sad.

  5. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m holding out for the “Matt Leinart injects lubricants into Brett Favre’s ankle…. and taint” post.
    ~Both Favre and Leinart in the same article, now that should really get some high-volume clicks. Make it happen, you Rumor Mongers!

  6. geez. he must have nailed Whizzy’s daughter.
    9 of 10 with a 100+ rating in the last one. That is at least backup material for a guy who has been in the system for 4 years.

  7. after a full day of Leinart posts, let’s sit back and examine where we are by taking all of those posts and combining them into a new, longer posts, that will satisfy my daily requirement to NBC without requiring me to do any actual work.

  8. I thought he didn’t enter the draft because he didn’t want to play for the train-wreck (at the time) of a team 49ers.
    He would have gone #1 over Alex Smith had he been in the draft. Instead he took his chances and his draft stock fell after his defense couldn’t stop Vince Young from getting into the end zone. Or Reggie Bush’s lateral. Or Pete Carroll’s playcalling.
    But it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t seem like he really has it.

  9. I love when so-called experts like Mike Florio complain about a guy GOING BACK TO FINISH COLLEGE. Peyton Manning did it. Did Manning stay to be the “big man on campus”? Florio, some of your posts are just terrible. This is one. I cant believe you sometimes. The funny thing is, when Leinart did play his rookie year, he was pretty good. The guy needs to see some games before he can be considered a bust. Every writer on this site has an agenda against all things USC, and it is just dumb. Arent you guys in West Virginia? Didnt you have Rich Rodriquez as your coach recently? Ridiculous.

  10. He was 10th pick….J Russell was #1…..Yet everyone bashes a dedicated player willing to work to improve in Tebow…I dont get it. Tebow not hanging out doing beer bongs or drinking the Purple haze…yet he gets abuse as a guy who wont make it.

  11. I may be in the minority here but I do not think Leinart has been given a fair shake.
    Ken Whisenhut didn’t draft Leinart, and from what I understand has never wanted him. Leinart got hurt, and Ken wanted Kurt Warner. When Leinart was the starter I thought he played well(not Pro Bowl caliber mind you) but when Warner was brought in, it was clear that there would not be a competition for the starting job, Whisenhut gave it to Warner.
    As for this year, Leinart has not gotten the same reps as Anderson, and outplayed Anderson when he did get in the games.
    So, I don’t fault Leinart with bringing up the issue publicly that he was not given the same chances . It’s clear that Whisenhut doesn’t want him, and Leinart is being the scapegoat. He voiced his convictions that he believes he is a starter(do you want a QB that doesn’t believe that?)
    He has not even had a full season to prove himself, yet the job is given to a QB that HAS proven he CAN’T do the job. I mean come on folks, if your not good enough to be the Browns starting QB, that is pretty damn bad

  12. Put him on the Jets and they’d be even better than with Sanchez. He needs to get out of Arizona. He’ll be a qb that does much better on his second or third team. Philly or New England should try to pick him up for a 4th round pick. The coaches in Arizona are obviously nuts if they think Derek Anderson gives them any chance at winning. He just doesn’t get it. I remember seeing him on a Sunday night game against the Steelers, laughing on the sidelines while the Browns were losing in the fourth quarter. Yet after the first series of the first preseason game this year, Jake Delhomme was already sitting with Seneca Wallace with a laptop computer, going over the Packers defense. That’s something you’ll never get from Anderson.

  13. Dear Matty Boi Leinart,
    Thanks for providing my offensive line with the all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii this past summer!
    But now that you are almost washed out of the NFL permanently, you better start save your nickels!
    Derek Anderson

  14. Teams are denying talk about trading for him like how you don’t tell your buddies that you did the nasty with an ugly chick.
    “Who her?….nah we didn’t f**k..hell no…..she just gave me head.”
    “Who Leinart?…nah we didn’t wanna trade for him….hell no….we just talk about things.”

  15. Maybe he and Jamarcus can start a QB camp for young athletes who need to learn how to beer bong Robitussin.

  16. So if a player comes out of college early and goes pro he’s a greedy scumbag who only cares about the money and doesn’t truly love the game. But if he returns for his senior year he’s an egomaniac who gets his kicks off being the big man on campus and doesn’t truly love the game.
    You quasi-journalists crack me up. Whatever scenario works best for your column, huh?

  17. He’s been a prima donna since his days at USC and I could never stomach him or his arrogance. If the Giants sign that douchebag, I’ll be physically ill. I’d rather see Dave Brown attempt a comeback

  18. Cool, so can this be the last word on this until something happens? Don’t need anymore Leinart stories. 🙂

  19. “He has nothing else to prove at the college level, but he wanted to spend another year as the big man on campus…”
    What he wanted was to get his bean waxed by the maximum possible number of college hotties…

  20. florio if he has no passion for the game as you say then why is he complaing?I mean if he did not care wouldn’t he just shut up and collect his paycheck?second what oppertunities has he had under whisenhunt?his first move was to sign warner then platoon them before giving the job to warner for good.before he was injured he was not as horrible as you make him out to be his first 2 years under dennis green.maybe if whisenhunt had given him a real shot like most young qb’s get you could say he sucks but untill he gets a chance on the field you can’t. and if he is so bad why not cut him?are they afraid if he signs with somebody else they may give him a real chance and he will look good?what other reason do they have for not doing that?they are not going to get anything for him so let him go or do they expect him to bail them out when anderson proves he is the same guy who sucked in cleveland.

  21. How crazy is it that Matt Cassell has likely already achieved more in the NFL than Leinart ever will?

  22. Where is the criticism of the Cards for the timing of this decision?
    They didn’t know he sucked at draft time? the start of training camp?….really?

  23. Mike, you do remember that he had elbow surgery to fix the tendinitis that had plagued him for a couple of years, right and without it, it would have affected his draft stock that year (Let’s not forget that even back then his critics were whining about his arm strength and that would have been more grist for their mill). In 2005, Smith, Rodgers and Campbell were taken in the first round and with a newly repaired wing, he wasn’t going to be picked ahead of them unless the 49ers were going to take a leap of faith and pick him ahead of Smith.
    Now, that being said, had he been able to be picked by a head coach that wasn’t thrown out the door after a year, he could have survived. Once Green was sent packing, his days were numbered because Whisenhunt was definitely not in his camp and anyone, even KW, that says different is lying.

  24. UFL is downhill from the NFL.
    Don’t think his 4th year hurt him aside from possible salary bonuses based on draft slot and I don’t care to reaearch that. He just isn’t capable mentally to perform at the NFL level. Might mature someday.

  25. Hmmm running a little loose with the facts here…. Boldin didn’t say that teammates disliked Leinart, he said that Leinart and Whisehunt had a poor relationship and therefore the way events unfolded didn’t surprise him. When Boldin was recently asked about Leinart recently he pointed out that he made the pro-bowl with Leinart as his QB.
    As for your general slant that Leinart is making a fool out of himself well you could say just as equally that the Cardinals are bigger fools. They handled this whole thing terribly. If they wanted to get something in exchange for Leinart then wouldn’t it be best for Whisehunt to keep his mouth shut or say positive things in attempt to increase trade value.
    I mean even if Whisenhunt is disappointed with certain aspects of Leinarts game, Leinart preseason stats don’t look bad. If Whisehunt was spinning a positive light instead of a negative one on those numbers than they could maybe get something worthwhile in exchange for Leinart.
    Conversley maybe Leinart is saying things so he will get cut and then he will have a choice of where to go. I think many more teams would be interested if he didn’t have $7 million on the books for next year and he could probably pick a team where he would have an opportunity next year to compete for a starting spot.
    And what does Mark Sanchez have to do with it? Pete thought Sanchez didn’t have enough starting experience in college. That’s was his main complaint there. Don’t see the connection to Leinart.

  26. I think it comes down to he was never Whisenhunt’s guy. He made a bad first impression and nothing he was going to do could change that in Whisehunt’s eyes.
    I think Whisenhunt probably wanted to get rid of him long ago but I bet the Cardinals ownership weren’t prepared to do that yet.
    That’s not a knock on Whisehunt. Nfl coaches usually want their guy a QB. Leinart was picked by the previous regime. It’s just unfortunate for Matt because maybe he could have done something with a coach who was on board with him (maybe not). Possibly we’ll find out now.

  27. never has so much been written about one who has done so little-
    file this guy under, who gives a shit…….

  28. Leinart is complaining because he is losing his status as a celebrity A-lister. Now he might have to pay to get into clubs.

  29. Wouldn’t mind him as a backup to Carson. Both JTO Speedwagon and Jordan “the other” Palmer suck. Leinart’s not very good, but he’s an upgrade over those two.

  30. Leinart’s the kind of player I point to when I get into arguments with idiots who say college football is better than pro football.

  31. Get real. PeteyBoy was only trying to keep his starting QB in the college game for SELFISH reasons. He didn’t give a shit about Sanchez’s feelings on the subject. Just look at how he bolted USC once it became clear that they were gonna get penalized for discretions while on his watch. PeteyBoy would have said the same thing if Leinart had left a year early too.
    Okay but what does that have to do with him picking up Leinart now????? Read Florio’s last paragraph. It doesn’t make sense.

  32. Not too smart to bag on the guy for choosing to finish all four years of his college course of study. Maybe he actually valued getting his degree!
    Are you serious, Matt was the consensus #1 overall pick. He will forever hold the record for the most expensive year of college, it only cost him about 18 or 20 million for his degree.
    When you are the number 1 overall pick you don’t go back to school.
    I laughed my ass off watching the draft in 05 as he continued to fall loosing millions with each pick.
    Mastercard missed a chance for the perfict commerical. An 18 million dollar senior year at USC PRICELESS

  33. You guys heard about his drug problem.
    He’s gonna get drug up and down the field if and when he starts.

  34. Again.
    Play Leinart and you get 3000 yards and 20 TDs with 15 INTs and a percentage of, lets say, in the high sixties and with this supporting cast 10 wins, easily.
    Play Anderson and you get 3000 yards 15 TDs and 25-30 INTs with a percentage of about 50% and with this supporting cast, 6 wins, at best.
    So, who would you rather have playing for you?
    Me? I definitely would go with Leinart, a solid west-coast QB, smart, understands the game.
    As opposed to Anderson, a wannabe big-play making QB, who just throws to everyone and everywhere, ‘xept his WRs.

  35. The Cardinals are still learning what it is like to be a winning team and a real contender. In fairness to Matt he should have been traded at least two years ago. We needed Curt Warner at the time but wether intentional or not it was a slap in the face to Matt. His attitude turned sour and I would say justifiably so. To much dirty laundry has developed between him and the front office for him to remain a Cardinal.
    He has the physical attributes, if he can regain his mental edge he may well still end-up as a noteworthy starting QB.

  36. The perfect place for Matt would be Cincinnati.
    He has a great relationship with former USC team mate Carson Plamer and Cincy’s backup QB” situation is not all that stable with J.T. O Sullivan and Jordan Palmer. Look for the Bengals to be a serious suiter if he’s released.

  37. carroll may have been selfish, but he was right. sanchez wasnt ready at all.
    leinart certainly isnt mentally ready.

  38. Was about to make the same point that cruisekid did. I think the Bengals actually are a likely suitor if/when Leinart grasps that the only jobs available to him will be as a backup. God forbid Carson gets injured for any length of time – Just Turnovers O’Sullivan or Run Pee will lead us to a series of losses almost certainly as they just are not up to starter quality. Leinart would give us more of a chance if we had to turn to him. the Bengals certainly have $ to spend if they are willing (their payroll is like $20m below the rest of the division) and with the pipeline that the Bengals have built with not just Carson but many other USC players I think Leinart would feel a bit more welcome. If someone really wants to hand him the keys as the starter, Cincy won’t be in the derby. But if say, it’s like week 3 or 4 and nobody’s called him, don’t be surprised if he gets a playbook with a striped “B” on it to study.

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