Week 1 was a massive disappointment to say the least. The very least. These are the defending NFC Champions and they appeared to be completely out of sync. Is it too early for to ask Kurt Warner to sit and watch? I think not.
Many fans do not follow, enjoy, or appreciate the preseason. They are meaningless games to the fan; a tease of Sunday's yet to come. Some care not of the hard work and true passion played by the hopefuls. If you are a true fan of football and a team, then you may see the preseason differently. The off-season is long, and players go through a variety of changes in this time. Physical well being (or lack thereof), mental preparation, and life changing events can effect a player and their production just as it would you or I. The preseason gives us that first glance of the season and in doing so exposes the players at their rawest and most vulnerable. You can learn many things about the season ahead based on performances and quirks seen in the preseason. Although the effectiveness of players is apparantly highly problematic during this time and shouldn't be overanalyzed, it is still a great barometer.
I will not sugar coat this next statement: Kurt Warner played like dog shit in the preseason. I could delve into the numbers and lack of excellence achieved in little playing time, but that would just disprove my previous statement pertaining to over analyzation. I will pose this point of view however. Just because Warner led the team to the Super Bowl deosn't mean he is the best quarterback for this team. I'll explain. Warner and Leinart battled throughout the preseason of 2008 for the starting position of quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. Kurt Warner outshined Leinart and definitively won the spot. He then led the team to a 9-7 record and an extraordinary run through the playoffs. We all know the story and thank him for it. He was then rewarded a new contract, as well he should.
Entering the 2009 season Kurt Warner was the heir apparant to the throne. Why should he not be? Yet in the preseason, not only was he outplayed by Leinart, he didn't play well at all. In routes in which his receivers were wide open in the flat, his throws were out of bounds. On seam routes to tight ends up the middle, his tosses were too high. In situations that called for the long ball, his powerful right arm threw ducks that quacked through the night. I understand what he did last season, but this is this year. Leinart's calm pocket presence and quick decision making, two qualities I have always felt eluded the USC alum, were crisp and poignant in the preseason. If this were the 2008 and the two were fighting for the position, Leinart would have won with flying colors and without question. You are supposed to put the best player in the game, right? Matt Leinart has been the better player for more than a month now.
Following the loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which Kurt Warner performed at the same level as he did in the preseason, I believe it is Matt Leinart time. I don't know if Matt has earned it more than Kurt has handed it to him, but I feel if this team wants to make an effort towards repeating as NFC Champions (or make the playoffs for that matter), Ken Whisenhunt must make this decision. Perhaps Kurt Warner has peaked, perhaps the hip surgery didn't go as well as we all hoped, and perhaps I am jumping the gun too soon on this thing. It is only Week 1. Yet after what I watched in the preseason, I feel Matt Leinart took the necessary steps in the offseason to be the franchise quarterback we all envisioned he'd be.
Time will tell whether or not Whisenhunt puts Leinart in (unlikely I guess), but I hope we aren't 0-3 when he makes his decision.