Cardinals QB competitions, then and now

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
4:13
PM ET
A week ago, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt explained why his current quarterback situation differed from the disastrous 2010 version.

The comparison Whisenhunt made on KTAR Sports 620 AM radio pointed to a season Cardinals fans will remember much more fondly: 2008, the year Kurt Warner led Arizona to the Super Bowl after beating out Matt Leinart for the starting job.

Whisenhunt, asked by co-host Doug Franz whether the absence of a clear-cut leader frustrated him, answered this way:
"I don’t remember it being that clear back in 2008 when we made the decision to go with Kurt Warner. At that time, there was a lot of different opinions about that, so I think this year is similar from that standpoint. I think you would like to have a clear-cut vision of who that guy would be. That's what you would hope for, but it hasn't come out that way. That’s the way it goes sometimes and I think ultimately we have to stick to our process and pick the player we think best gives us a chance to win."

The feel in 2008 was similar to the extent that Whisenhunt waited until late in the process before making his decision. The choice was more palatable then.

Warner had thrown 27 touchdown passes the previous season. He had thrown more touchdown passes over the final eight games (21) than any player in the NFL -- including Tom Brady, who finished that season with 50 touchdown passes.

Warner was money in the bank. The organization needed to find out more about Leinart, then entering his third season. Leinart had shown signs of improvement early in the 2007 before an injury cleared the way for Warner. He had been a high draft choice in 2006. Leaving him on the bench would have carried long-term ramifications, especially amid questions about whether an older Warner could produce at a high level over a full season (turns out he could).

Whisenhunt had two promising options then. His current options, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, do not compare favorably to Warner. Kolb and Skelton need to show more for this quarterback dilemma to feel like the 2008 version in ways a Cardinals fan would find encouraging. Neither is expected to play in the final exhibition game Thursday night.

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