The curious case of Matt Leinart

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 14: Quarterback Matt Leinart  of the Arizona Cardinals is introduced prior to preseason NFL game against the Houston Texans at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Texans 19-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Whether it was his intentions or not, Ken Whisenhunt just started a storm of epic proportions in Arizona.

Whisenhunt made the announcement Thursday that Derek Anderson – not former first round pick Matt Leinart – would start in the Cardinals’ third preseason game on Saturday. Leinart of course, was being viewed as Kurt Warner’s replacement and has taken first-team reps throughout the entire offseason.

Now rumors have started to circulate that the Cards are ready to give up on Leinart and may even try to trade him before the season starts.

On Friday, Leinart lashed out and expressed his frustration with the situation.

“It is disappointing and a little bit frustrating. I can’t sit up here and say I’m happy and all smiles,” said Leinart. “If it is an open competition, then let’s have it that way from the start.”

Leinart has a point. Although he has done nothing in preseason to warrant being the regular season starter, he has also been given fewer opportunities to shine. He has attempted just 13 passes thus far (compared to Anderson’s 41) and while he has yet to throw a touchdown pass or move the ball with any regularity, Anderson has thrown two picks and has a worse completion percentage (58.5% to Leinart’s 76.9%).

Leinart hasn’t looked good, but a) he hasn’t played much and b) his offensive line has stunk when he has been in there. If you’re Whisenhunt, why call this a competition if you’re going to give Leinart very few snaps?

If the coaching staff truly believes that Anderson gives the team the best chance to win, then so be it. He does have a better arm, seems to take better command of the huddle than Leinart and he’s arguably a better fit for Whisenhunt’s offense. As previously noted, Leinart has also received most of the first-team snaps this offseason so he has had chances to prove himself.

That said, his chances haven’t come during games – or at least not like Anderson’s have. So don’t call this a competition if one guy is getting more live opportunities than the other. Again, if the Cards want to cut bait with Leinart and go with Anderson as the starter then that’s fine. But Leinart has hardly been given the opportunity to prove his worth in preseason games. And while Whisenhunt may be hacked off at what Leinart said today, I don’t blame him for being frustrated with the situation. (Even though Leinart probably should have went a more positive route with his comments.)

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