I have worries at inside linebacker, offensive tackle and cornerback for Arizona, but in my opinion, those worries pale in comparison to the quarterback position. That isn’t to say that Matt Leinart is incapable of becoming a legitimate starting quarterback in this league. Maybe he can. But there is zero doubt in my mind that Leinart -- or anyone else on this roster -- will never compare to Kurt Warner, an all-time great at the position.
Can the Cardinals win games -- or even the division -- with a major drop-off at quarterback? Possibly, if everything goes to script and the running game vastly improves. But rarely in the NFL does everything go to script, and having a terrific player behind center makes a lot of problems that arise far less daunting. Warner was able to do that.
In fact, Warner’s penchant for holding the ball to the last second made a suspect group of pass protectors appear much better than they truly were. Some quarterbacks can execute this skill, which comes with a supreme knowledge of the game. That knowledge comes from experience, which Leinart simply does not have. He doesn’t appear to be quick in any of his actions. He isn’t real quick in his drops, his release isn’t nearly as crisp as Warner’s and he certainly doesn’t process information as fast. Few do, but again, these abilities will be greatly missed.
Leinart is a good touch passer and surely an offseason of being the lead dog at the game’s most important position will help his development. Plus, this is a strong coaching staff that should do a nice job of taking some weight off this young quarterback’s shoulders. Still, there is no way around it right now. The quarterback position is a weakness for the Cardinals as Leinart still is shoddy with his footwork, hasn’t shown high-end arm strength and is a sitting duck in the pocket.
What about Derek Anderson, you ask? Frankly, I am not a fan. Anderson has a big arm and good size, but he is amazingly streaky. Also, when the play doesn’t go to script, he’s very poor at improvising. He also needs receivers with massive strike zones -- like he had in Cleveland -- to mask his inaccuracy. Luckily, he does have that in Larry Fitzgerald. I also contend that Anderson has done his best work when nothing was expected of him. When the Browns counted on him, he crumbled. This isn’t a player I trust to come through when it is needed most. In fact, I don’t think Anderson is even close to Leinart at this point. And that is further proof that quarterback is Arizona’s biggest weakness.