Enhancing Warner's Hall case the hard way

When Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals released a 20-page PDF file celebrating the quarterback's career.

Arizona Cardinals Offensive Rankings

The file included a section outlining "Kurt's Canton Credentials" and noting, in part, that none of the 14 quarterbacks enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame to that point could match Warner in completion rate, yards per attempt or yards per game. It noted that only Steve Young had a higher NFL passer rating and only Dan Marino had more 300-yard games.

The Cardinals also pointed to Warner's three starts in Super Bowls and two league MVP awards.

"Warner and Tom Brady are among 10 quarterbacks to start at least three Super Bowls," it read. "The other eight are in the Hall. Warner, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are among six players to win multiple MVP awards. The other three -- Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Young -- are in the Hall."

Compelling points, all of them. What the Warner packet could not know was just how inept the Cardinals would become without Warner in the lineup. That ineptitude, though painful for Arizona, can only enhance Warner's credentials for enshrinement.

The chart compares where the Cardinals ranked in various offensive categories in 2008 and 2009, when Warner was the primary starter, to where the team ranks since Warner retired. Some of the disparities become even more pronounced when the starting point shifts to Week 6 of the 2007 season, when Warner took over for an injured Matt Leinart. For example, the Cardinals would move up to second in passing yards and passing touchdowns over the previous period.

While these disparities enhance Warner's standing, they reflect poorly on the Cardinals' ability to identify, acquire and develop an adequate replacement.