Starting Warner makes sense for now

August, 30, 2008
8/30/08
10:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made the logical move when he named Kurt Warner to start the regular-season opener against the 49ers. He gave Matt Leinart every chance to win the job, but Leinart let it slip away. Sticking with Leinart would make sense for the organization if the alternative -- Warner -- hadn't thrown 27 touchdown passes last season.

Warner is the type of quarterback who gives both teams a better chance at winning. You just can't be sure which side has the better chance heading into a given game. Leinart represented the potential for steadier play at the position. I wouldn't give up on him, either. Leinart has started 16 games over two seasons with two head coaches. He is 25 years old. As Whisenhunt indicated to reporters today, Leinart will probably play at some point this season.

Whisenhunt: If you look at just our season where we ended up playing three [quarterbacks], I think it is a pretty high percentage that Matt is going to play this year at some point for us.

The Cardinals need Warner to protect the football better than he did last season, when Warner tossed 17 interceptions. Warner has tossed six interceptions and taken 10 sacks in two road losses against Seattle over the last two seasons. Leinart has three touchdowns, two interceptions and 532 yards passing in two home victories over Seattle during the same span.

The division race goes through Seattle again this season. Rivalries generally aren't born until the challenger wins a game on the champion's home turf. I'm not sure the Cardinals are going to win at Qwest Field with Warner at quarterback. They still need to develop Leinart for the long term. But with the regular-season opener a week away, the future will have to wait. Beating the 49ers in eight days trumps whatever Leinart might be able to do months or years down the road.

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