Matt Leinart: Warner, not Whisenhunt, got us to a Super Bowl

Getty Images

Matt Leinart played for Ken Whisenhunt for three seasons in Arizona. Leinart was not impressed with his coach.

Asked on FOX Sports Live whether Whisenhunt will succeed in Tennessee, Leinart expressed skepticism, saying that Whisenhunt is wrongly credited for getting the 2008 Cardinals to the Super Bowl. According to Leinart, it was Kurt Warner who ran the offense that season, not only on the field but in meetings, where Leinart says Warner devised the game plans and Whisenhunt did nothing more than go along for the ride.

I don’t think it’s a great fit, and I don’t think it’s great timing, and here’s why,” Leinart said of the Titans hiring Whisenhunt. “You look at his tenure in Arizona — only two years, he had success, and in those two years, Kurt Warner ran that football team — I was a part of it. Every single Monday, Kurt Warner would come in and implement 20 to 30 new plays which he would say ‘I want these in my game plan.’ We became a spread offense and we became Kurt Warner’s offense. Then Kurt Warner retires, they go 5-11 twice and they go 8-8.”

For his part, Warner said on NFL Network that he thinks Whisenhunt will do a great job with the Titans. Warner added, however, that he thought the Lions — who also wanted Whisenhunt — would have been a better choice for what Whisenhunt brings to the table.

“I’m excited for my old coach Ken Whisenhunt and the job down in Tennessee,” Warner said. “I think I’m a little bit surprised like my most people; you felt like a better fit might be in Detroit just because of the pieces that he had, specifically the quarterback he had there.”

Leinart said he doesn’t think the Titans will succeed with Whisenhunt because Jake Locker isn’t the answer at quarterback. Asked directly if he likes Whisenhunt, Leinart laughed incredulously and answered, “Do I like Whisenhunt?”

I’d take that as a no.

104 responses to “Matt Leinart: Warner, not Whisenhunt, got us to a Super Bowl

  1. “Matt Leinart played for Ken Whisenhunt for three seasons in Arizona. Leinart was not impressed with his coach.”


    Was anyone impressed with Leinart?

  2. Leinart should go enjoy his millions. His time in the NFL was meaningless, his play terrible and I’d already forgotten him.

    Taking a shot at your past coach as the only way to stay relevant in some tiny way is just sad.

  3. Sad, Leinart was more interested in the “ladies” than the playbook. But its all Whisenhunt’s fault!!!

  4. Wow, Matt, with Reggie Bush all but carrying your butt at USC and Warner dong it at Az, what the heck have you done in major college football or the NFL…

  5. Let me get this straight.

    When the HC had a possible HoF, and former league MVP, at QB, he won.

    When he had a bust and spare parts at QB, he didn’t win.

    He goes to a team with a young QB that hasn’t shown much, and is predicted to fail (by a bust at QB).

    Yep, sounds like it’s all on Whisenhunt.

  6. douglasgreenbriar says:
    Jan 15, 2014 10:29 AM

    Never trust a left handed quarterback


    What are ya, 12?

    Ken Stabler, ‘Nitz. Clutch leftie. Super Bowl champeen.

  7. Cards were 9-7 that yr if I’m not mistaken.

    Looks like a clear case of players playing inspired football when given the shot in the playoffs. Similar to bothg the giants recent SB wins where they also sucked all year.

  8. NFL coaches without a franchise QB will struggle to field winning teams. That is not news. All the more surprising that he went to TENN, where they figure to be rebuilding the position, over DET where they have a talented QB on the roster, albeit one who is in serious need of some coaching and discipline to his game.

  9. But one thing is for sure! — Whether it was Warner of Wissy or Fitz or boldin or the Kevin Curtis dropping the ball in the NFCCG for yet another Eagles “almost” letdown… it sure wasn’t leinart who got them to the SB!

  10. True, but better left unspoken if you’re
    a USC fraud QB who stole millions .

    Warner is a first time HOF

  11. The League’s Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says:
    Hey, anyone remember who won that Super Bowl? We can’t seem to recall.
    Uhhh hello?
    The league’s resident bad boys? The original black hats aka the black and yellow? The three rivers six rings squad?!?

    The Steelers!!!

  12. It’s funny that most comments on the stories about Whisenhunt’s hiring say Warner was the only reason Whisenhunt ever did well, but then a former player of Whisenhunt’s says the same thing and everyone rips the player.

    I don’t really get it. He doesn’t have to be good at quarterbacking to be right.

  13. Hey, anyone remember who won that Super Bowl? We can’t seem to recall.


    Some bumble bee looking bozo’s

  14. whisenhunt never gave leinert a fair chance so why would he have anything good to say about him? he played well for dennis green before he getting hurt then wisenhunt takes over and all of sudden he can’t play? what did he say that wasn’t true? did he win after warner retired?

  15. I don’t ever remember Ken Whisenhunt being given credit for getting Arizona to the Super Bowl. It’s always been about Kurt Warner, mainly because we live in a quarterback-obsessed sports society.
    Meanwhile, Matt Leinart must’ve been in charge of the Cardinals’ porous defense, the one that allowed 49 TDs in 2008, the one that was the worst to ever reach a Super Bowl.
    It’s a shame that Bruce Arians and Ben Roethlisberger were unable to figure out a defense that surrendered 47 points to Matt Cassel and the Patriots just a few games before Super Bowl 43.
    Whenever I think of Super Bowl 43, one name always comes to mind: James Harrison.

  16. I’m not defending Leinart’s poor play in AZ, but I can understand why he’s still upset at Whisenhunt. Leinart was never Whiz’s type of guy in the first place, and upon looking back, he probably feels like the Cards should have traded him in 2008 to a team who needed a QB. He was constantly deemed “the future” while sitting on the bench behind Warner, despite Whisenhunt knowing full well that he didn’t want Leinart was his starting QB.

    Did Whiz “kill” Leinart’s career? Don’t think so, but there’s no doubting he wasted most of it.

  17. Don’t worry ,Jake Locker is already replaced
    they’ll be drafting a qb in the first round
    and a veteran from FA. Locker will be the third string

  18. What in the world does Matt Leinart even know about playing QB in the NFL? Last time he played was in the 2013 preseason where he was 3 of 10 and 2 INT’s.

    What clown thought his opinion mattered anyways….

  19. Matt is right about whiz not winning with Jake Locker…..But who said they’ll stay with Locker for more than one year! It may sound like sour grapes for Matt; however, he has valid reasons for his views. Firstly, Whiz had 5-11, 8-8 and 5-11 seasons after Warner retired. Secondly, the defense in Arizona was the only reason why they won games after Warner retired. Offense is whiz’s specialty and they couldn’t succeed with him hand picking a QB and running the offense. Lastly, a veteran QB that is a borderline HOF make coaches look real good! Warner and Rivers have made Whiz look real good and that perception clouds peoples minds. They forget about him not being able to develop young QBs! Matt ultimately needs to remember that he’s a Dennis Green guy so Whiz had no loyalty to him!

  20. LOL, all you viking and Bear fans who applauded the hiring of Caldwell will regret it real soon…..Caldwell will be successful in Detroit…and you dumb ass Lion fans better get behind him now instead of crying because Whisenhunt went to Tenn

  21. Uhh Matt – you’re the starting QB for what team? When did the Unsigned Free Agents become an NFL team?

  22. Never trust a left handed quarterback


    Especially when that quarterback is right handed but insists on throwing with his left

  23. Ripping Leinart may be fun, but his playing career is not the issue. He is telling everyone that the little bit of success Wisenhunt had in Arizona was due to Warner acting like a player/coach. Would you want Wisenhunt coaching your favorite team? (Don’t answer that question Browns fans)

  24. I don’t think he’s being bitter. He’s exactly right. And when the whole world could see Warner was better, Whisenhunt was still flipping QB’s back and forth between Warner and Leinart. That Cardinals Super Bowl run was all about Warner, Fitzgerald, and Boldin. It’s no coincidence they went down the tubes so fast after losing Warner and Boldin. Whisenhunt was left without those players and had to actually coach.

    He also went into a good situation in SD with Rivers where he was fortunate enough to take over an offense that had been top 5 in scoring offense for 8 of the past 9 years prior to him getting there.

  25. So maybe all you internet geniuses are wrong (as usual) and Detroit made the right choice

  26. metalhead65 says:

    he played well for dennis green before he getting hurt then wisenhunt takes over and all of sudden he can’t play?


    According to 31 other opinions from those that matter, the answer is No – he can’t play.

  27. Hard for Leinart to say anything without coming off as bitter, but he does have a point. After Kurt Warner retired, Whisenhunt’s fortunes did turn sour. You could argue his success in San Diego came hand in hand with Philip Rivers. (Although Rivers has been declining the last few years…)

  28. You might not like Leinart, but he isn’t saying here that he was a great QB. He is stating the facts about the relationship and workings between the Cardinals, Whisenhunt, and Warner. Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean he isn’t accurately relating the facts.

  29. Well Matt. You were supposed to be the successor to Kurt Warner, but you sucked so they had to move on from you. You are part of the reason Whisenhunt is still not coaching in Arizona.

  30. Its funny how someone everyone hates, says something that most believe is true, and he gets flamed for it. lol

    Story may be true, but he has had some success calling the plays at the Chargers. And allot of the great coaching stories have been second acts.

  31. Matt Leinart got such a raw deal in Arizona. They never gave him a chance. Ken ruined that guys career. Im not saying he would have been Peyton Manning, but he could have been Jake Delhomme.

  32. The only reason AZ went 8-8 in between those two 5-11 seasons were punt return TD’s against two TERRIBLE teams over three games- opener at home against Carolina and twice against the Rams.

    Essentially, as soon as Warner left, the Cardinals tanked. Big time. They had no plan once he departed and all the players they drafted/acquired were mediocre.

    Rod Graves get some blame for sure, but Whisenhunt got spoiled by Warner.

  33. I know people will shoot the messenger because he’s a bad ex-player who has an axe to grind, but he’s right. Whisenhunt won the NFC West when it was arguably the league’s worst division with mediocre records over a 2 year span when Warner was amongst the handful of the NFL’s best QBs, and definitely a top 3 QB in the NFC.

    He trotted out a succession of horrible starting quarterbacks that he tried to sell the fans, never developed any kind of credible running game which was supposed to be his selling point coming from Pittsburgh, and the defense was mostly mediocre to downright bad until Ray Horton finally showed up his last couple of years. Arians has improved on everything he did in his short time as coach across the board.

    Before anyone tries to lay that on Graves, please do your research. Graves was the classic cap manager and nothing more who didn’t have any personnel juice going back to the Dennis Green hire, who btw picked most of the productive players he won his couple of years with.

  34. Oh, ad hominem attacks to dispute Leinart???

    I’m shocked.

    If he was successful in Houston and Oakland no one would attempt to dispute him.

    Whisenhunt is a flawed coach and bad influence for organizations.

    He’s a flawed coach because he never used tight ends properly (ie Rob Housler), prolonged bad QB play to not admit wrongdoing in adding Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley, and can’t exceed crappy expectations well (ie 2010 and 2012).

    How can anyone hire this guy when Ryan Lindley was played over Brian Hoyer????

    My sympathies go out to Hue Jackson. At least he can exceed crappy expectations unlike Whiz.

  35. I thought this was common knowledge.

    It’s funny how on the outside looking in, most fans can see that Jim Caldwell was successful because of Peyton Manning and Whisenhunt was successful because of Kurt Warner. It goes both ways. Alex Smith was successful in San Francisco because of Jim Harbaugh and enjoyed success last year because of Andy Reid. Any fan with a half a brain can see this.

    (For further evidence see: Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, and Brian Billick)

  36. Next time Matt, relay the question to Anquan Boldin.

    At least his credibility resulting from his play doesn’t cause people to dispute Whisenhunt skepticism.

    Whisenhunt is a flawed coach and should have never gotten interviews. In AZ, he never used tight ends properly (ie Rob Housler), prolonged bad QB play to not admit wrongdoing in adding Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley, and can’t exceed crappy expectations well (ie 2010 and 2012).

    Again … he played Ryan Lindley over Brian Hoyer.

  37. The hatred between Whisenhunt and Leinart must be intense because Whisenhunt gave up an entire season just to get rid of Leinart.

    For those that don’t recall, Warner had retired and Leinart was having a decent preseason when he was cut outright. No trade–Whisenhunt cut him and got nothing in return, wasting another year of Larry Fitzgerald’s career while Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall bumbled the season away.

  38. As someone who saw every single game Whisenhunt coached, whether he should have weighed in or not, Leinart is spot on.

    Whiz has done well only when he had elite QBs-Roethlisberger-Warner-Rivers. No so-so QB has ever improved under his tutelage.

    And when left to his own instincts as to who can be a quality QB, he’s an absolute disaster. Who can forget those press conferences when he tried to persuade the fan base that munchkin Max Hall was a viable starting QB–this after we had just watched him throwing passes into the back of his O-linemen.

    Whiz couldn’t find an elite QB if Joe Montana was sleeping on Whiz’s couch.

    When we had Bolden, we went to the Superbowl–just like Baltimore and just as the Niners are doing. Bolden was more responsible for that year that Coach Whiz. Let him make personnel decisions, and your team is doomed. Which is why the first thing Bruce Arians did was jettison Levi Brown, which Whiz refused to do for years. Whiz left town and now we’re a winning team again.

  39. Come on football fans, let’s be fair and accurate.

    Leinart did not get to contribute to the Cards’ fall from their Super Bowl levels as Whisenhunt cut Leinart once he dared complain about Whisenhunt’s methods.

    Instead, Whisenhunt confidently chose to go and place all of the Cards’ and his future in Derek Anderson’s hands. And we know how well that worked out, don’t we since Whisenhunt soon threw Anderson under the bus for his inability to play like Warner in favor of undrafted free agent Max Hall who Whisenhunt soon threw under the bus in favor of John Skelton.

    That is a perfect example of the thought and analysis processes Whisenhunt brings as a HC. Titans, you are most certainly welcome to the Whisenhunt era and we hope you will enjoy picking the first pick in the first round for many years to come while Whisenhunt blames everyone but himself for the failures of the Titans.

  40. Just one question … Was Matt Leinart wake enough in Arizona to realize that Todd Haley was the offensive coordinator there?

    Whisenhunt was the head coach, not the OC.

  41. At the end of the day the players should get credit. They’re the ones of their playing, and likewise when a teams losing not all the blame should be on the coaching.
    Just like i’m not going to give John Fox credit if the Broncos win the superbowl. Whats been going over there is ALL Peyton.

  42. I am not a Leinart fan and he has done zero in the NFL.

    However, it is really unfair to rag on him over his college career where he always had the big target on his back and yet he and his team kept winning games.

    There was a game where Arizona State just kicked USC’s butts up and down the field in the first half. ASU beat Leinart like a drum and he needed more than few stitches as ASU finished the first half with a big lead.

    In the second half, Leinart lined up and threw for 4 TDs and USC won the game going away. Say what you want, but Leinart was tough and he still competed and produced instead of going into hiding.

    Again, Leinart has done nothing in the NFL, but I’d say none of us has ever played better than he had in college; and its still a team game so does anyone think Reggie Bush would have gotten his yards and catches without the rest of USC team?

  43. There was always a bunch of clueless peeps in Phoenix that thought Matt was the guy and blamed Whiz for his failures. Warner was great, but Whiz gave washed up Warner the chance and the players played for Whiz until the last year…not for the fans, or management. Besides, if Leinart was going to be great….he didn’t show it when it counted. Not in AZ, not is Houston, not in Oakland….enough said.

  44. @bobzilla

    Yeah, Roethlisberger had a lot of trouble figuring out that defense on the game winning 92 yard drive. Bet you weren’t impressed by the throw either.

  45. I absolutely believe him, his Qb play don’t take away from his common sense! I mean, I’ve never played a single snap, nor could I, I would certainly suck, but I do know a few instances where the QB has made a coach look brilliant, my favorite team has one in Peyton Manning, we all know John Fox sucks! Then there was Elway, that made Shanahan look awesome, how has he.been since Elway retired? Jim Caldwell? We will find out soon enough if he is right or wrong…

  46. Didn’t he cried when PARIS HILTON break up with him?
    Matt was hanging out with celebrities when he should had focused in football.

  47. Leinhart’s comments make a lot of sense. Belichick would not be such a football genius without Brady. Look what happened to the Colts when Peyton was injured. I remember the NFCCG vividly – no way the Cards win that game without Warner.

  48. Leinhart isn’t qualified to comment on how good ANY quarterback is or isn’t. Leinhart’s claim to fame is sitting in the hot tube with some college babies while he was with the Cardinals when he should have been studying the playbook.

    Leinhart is a spoiled rich brat who when the time came to apply himself, he choose to be a slacker and sit in the Jacuzzi with some bimbos.

    He wishes he had the type of dedication that Andrew Luck has. Luck was born with a silver spoon too but he has all the fire in the world in him.

    Screw (hot tube) Leinhart.

  49. Who cares how Leinhart played. Is what he said true? If so thats a problem. Did Kurt Warner come in and design plays and Wiz took credit? Wow

  50. Come in Mr. Leinhart, Mr Mcnabb is ready for your weekly moron tutoring session. Some people just don’t think before they open their mouths. This comes off as such sour grapes that it’s ridiculous. You look pretty bad here Matt.

  51. Leinart may be bitter. Leinart may have been a bust. But he isn’t wrong about Warner running that show. Whisenhunt hasn’t done anything without Warner.

  52. 100uv says:
    Jan 15, 2014 12:23 PM

    Didn’t he cried when PARIS HILTON break up with him?
    Matt was hanging out with celebrities when he should had focused in football
    I dont’ know Matt, but to be fair, they may have been tears of joy.

    It was Paris Hilton after all.

  53. As a cards fan I’ve been waiting for somebody to call out whiz for this. Seems like he got away with everything since the AZ media was in love with him. Leinart was probably the best QB on the roster after Warner left and Whiz cut him for a revolving door or horrible players. I’ll be laughing when he finds Derek Anderson 2.0 to replace Locker.

  54. I find it odd that after reading this whole thread of comments, there are only really attacks on Leinart. I would like more arguments on why everyone thinks Leinart is wrong and Whisenhunt is a great choice that are based on reasons other than Leinart’s playing ability. Any competent football fan should know playing ability, coaching ability, and analysis ability do not go hand in hand. Hey may be right, may be wrong. But if we automatically discount his thoughts because he sucked as a pro, nobody here should even be allowed to do so much a make a peep unless we made it that far.

  55. Great to see the truth come out!! People get credited for things other people do all the time….Gase at Denver, McCoy at Denver, Caldwell at Indy… Good Players make good coaches….Great QB’s make Walsh(Joe Montana) Shanahan(Elway), Holmgren(Favre) Whisenhunt(Warner) and others great….Lienert didn’t have to be great to be observant
    Way to go Matt…….!!

  56. what a joke

    leinart played terrible and he is going to blame that on Whisenhunt?

    You are not a starter in this league for a reason…

    oh wait, that is why you are a free agent..who will probably never play in the league..

    oooooohh KILLLL emmm

  57. It seems to me that when given a QB with talent he excels. He developed Big Ben and helped them get a SB ring. He resurrected Warner (remember the Giants days?) and helped them get to the SB. Then Kurt hangs it up and he has a difficult time finding his replacement. Duh, so would every single other coach. But he then goes to SD and resurrects Rivers and that offense. Leinert is butthurt because he is one of the main reasons it didn’t work in ARI. Pretty sad, stick to partying Matt.

  58. I understand people questioning Whiz’ performance post-Warner. But those down years were a result of personnel more so than coaching–and it’s debatable how much control over personnel Whisenhunt had.

    Furthermore, Warner was by no means an obvious choice to start when Whisenhunt arrived in Arizona. Many analysts at the time questioned Whiz for playing him at all in early ’07, especially since the team spent a Top 10 pick on a QB in 2006.

    For all the criticism the Carson Palmer acquisition received, the Cards could at least take comfort this year in knowing they had someone who had performed at an average NFL starter level over the past few seasons.

    Warner, on the other hand, was quite dreadful before Whiz arrived. In his five seasons before the Whisenhunt-era began, Warner won 8 of 27 starts, during which he compiled 27 TDs, 30 INTs, and 45 fumbles.

    I like Arians, but I’m not sure why he receives far more credit for getting a QB (Palmer) to produce at nearly the same level he’s been at for the past several seasons, whereas Whiz gets no credit at all for resurrecting a career (Warner’s) that nearly all of the NFL thought was over.

    Arians is seen as a QB guru because he’s had success with Manning, Roethlisberger, and Luck. Again, Arians is a good coach, but I believe Whiz and 99% of NFL coaches could win with those guys.

    The last few seasons were hard for Whiz given the lack of talent and cooperation from the organization. But his coaching ability and savvy for game-planning shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, the guy won in Foxboro –where Brady is 37-3 the last five seasons — with Kevin Kolb as his quarterback. He beat Harbaugh and the Niners with John Skelton at QB. And he beat Sean Payton and Drew Brees with Max-freaking-Hall at the helm.

  59. Hey Matt. What does it say about you and the team going 5-11 after Kurt left? exactly!!

    Also, your just pissy cuz the titans didnt draft you when they even had your all mighty OC from USC on the team and they STILL didnt want you.

    Matt, no one wants you. just go away!!!

  60. Who is Leinart to criticize anyone? He was terrible everywhere he played. And for him to say Locke is not the answer makes me believe more in Locker’s abilities. Locker is better than Leinart ever was too.

  61. For the people defending Whisenhunt, riddle me this. If just losing Warner automatically would throw any coach for a loop, leading to his losing seasons, explain why the other aspects of the team were always so poor. The running game always was bad, the offensive line always stunk (help you Titan fans if he hires Grimm to come with him), the defense was always bad until the last year and a half, and we’ve already been over how bad the QB development/play was. I find it even more hilarious that the media is slamming the Caldwell hire (and btw rightfully so), but think Whisenhunt is somehow a solid hire in the next breath, lol. The only part of the Cardinals team that was good every year was the special teams play, so good luck with all that Titan fans. I think you fired that same coach 3 years ago.

    Like Fisher in Nashville, Whisenhunt sure has his loyal media throng here in the desert to perpetuate the “good coach” myth who have probably seen so much bad football, they let the sand get in their eyes on this guy because he was nice to them and won a few games.

  62. did Wishenhart develop Big Ben? I thought the guy that is now the coach of the Cardinals did that?

  63. Well safe to say Matt isn’t going to be working for Whizenhunt anytime soon. Having said that I sometimes wonder about Ken being a head coach again myself. He seems to have found the most success as an NFL assistant lately.

  64. If I remember correctly Todd Haley was {cough-Cough} the OC in charge of game plan not Wisenhut – anyone remember Boldin-Haley yelling match in SB? Haley goes to KC chokes -goes to Steelers still choking – whose has SB rings taking Steelers to win Wiz ~ who goes to SD gets Rivers back to playoffs ~ Wiz~ Whose the failure Matt? Who was it during the games the camera panned to and they were pouting…. Hmmmm _~ you!!!! Enough said

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.