|ESPN.com: 2008 Story||[Print without images]|
Fortunately, despite his conservative approach, Whisenhunt adapted nicely to the pass-happy offense he inherited, bumping it up 12 spots in the rankings in terms of total points and six spots in total yards from 2006 to 2007. Some of the credit should go to his chief offensive aides, Todd Haley (coordinator) and Russ Grimm (offensive line coach). Haley, in fact, will take over the play-calling responsibilities this season.
|Warner or Leinart? Leinart or Warner? We shall see once training camp opens.|
Interestingly, having Warner win the role outright would probably be best from a fantasy standpoint, even if the team prefers the alternative. He passed for at least two touchdowns in each of the team's final eight games, the team winning five of them and averaging 368.9 total yards on offense during that span. Problem is, Leinart probably is the better fit as a long-term option, not to mention that Whisenhunt seems to feel he's a stronger candidate for the "game-manager" style he prefers from a quarterback.
The Cardinals return in 2008 with much of the same team they had in '07. In this case, that's not a bad thing.
|All times ET|
Besides impacting his own fantasy value, the winner of the quarterback battle will have a profound impact on the team's receivers, including Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and, to an extent, whoever emerges as the No. 3 option. With Bryant Johnson gone, early indications are that Steve Breaston is the leading candidate after a fine minicamp. Third-round draft choice Early Doucet will surely push him for the spot, though, with Jerheme Urban a fallback option should neither be up to the task.
Matt Leinart says he's still working to keep his starting role even after being named starter.
On the line: The personnel on the Cardinals' offensive line remains largely unchanged, and that's actually a good thing (for once). For years a weak spot on the team, the O-line actually earned the label "respectable" under Grimm, and most who follow the team feel further improvement should be expected in 2008. Not that we're talking an elite unit -- it has gone from a bottom-five to more of a "middling" ranking -- but consider that Edgerrin James picked up his yards-per-carry total from a career-worst 3.4 in 2006 to 3.8 last season, while the team cut its number of sacks from 35 to 24. Continued growth could prove critical to a team with a 30-year-old, heavily worked starting running back and a quarterback (Leinart) who needs all the help he can get with the maturing process.
|Please, Anquan, show up to training camp and get yourself in shape for a big season.|
There's little concern for what Warner winning the starting quarterback role might mean for the team's receivers. It's what might happen if Leinart begins the year under center that has us troubled. In addition to showing the coaching staff he's capable of handling the chores of being a starting NFL quarterback, he's going to need some strong preseason games to get the fantasy community convinced. The bottom line is that Leinart to has sagged both Fitzgerald's and Boldin's numbers, and in Fitzgerald's case, it has been significant. Consider that in 13 games working with Leinart, Fitzgerald has averaged 5.9 receptions, 80.0 receiving yards and 0.38 scores; in 15 with Warner, those numbers were 6.2, 87.7 and 0.73. Not that Leinart starting can't mean success for both Boldin and Fitzgerald, but there's a greater probability of the Cardinals going more run-based and conservative if that happens.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.