Could Matt Leinart Be The Next Aaron Rodgers?

Let me start off by saying that I DO NOT truly believe that Leinart will be the next Aaron Rodgers. Let me repeat, I am NOT saying Leinart, with 100% certainly, will be the next Aaron Rodgers. But if he did, it would not surprise me.

I was doing research for my QB rankings talent post and I came across this post I wrote in February of oh-ten where I said to not be down on Matt Leinart- at least not yet. I wrote this post before the 2010 pre-season and before the Arizona Cardinals cut Leinart from their team.

But I still think Leinart got an unfair rap.

First, let me discuss why I think Leinart had the potential to be the next Aaron Rodgers. Leinart's career resembled Rodger's a whole lot (before last week). First, Leinart was an elite prospect. Here was a guy, who had he come out the year he was eligible; the same year as Rodgers (and Alex Smith), he would have been the number one overall pick. There was some controversy and some flip-flopping when the 49ers had to choose between Rodgers and Smith. There would have been no doubt though that had Leinart been in that draft, the 49ers would have taken Matt Leinart over Smith. But Leinart chose to be dumb and stay at USC for another year for the sole purpose to take ballroom dancing, knock up his girlfriend, and lose to Vince Young in the Rose Bowl.

The next year, Leinart's 'stock dropped' when he went 10th overall to Arizona while his Rose Bowl counterpart Vince Young got drafted 3rd overall and combine superstar Jay Cutler got drafted 11th overall to Denver. Despite what you may think of Cutler and Young, both men are clear NFL starting quarterbacks who clearly deserve to start.

In Leinart's rookie year, starting 11 games, he sucked. But so does every other quarterback known to man. Now just because Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman sucked their rookie year does NOT suggest nor do I mean it to suggest that Leinart will be as good as these players, but it does mean that just because Leinart was bad in his first 11 games does not necessarily mean he will be bad throughout his entire career.

Like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Leinart held a clipboard for his first few years being on the team and watched a future hall of fame quarterback do awesome things for their team and win many many games as a starter. So when Aaron Rodgers finally got a chance to start, it seemed like he learned a lot from watching his future hall of famer do well and in turn performed well himself. So when Kurt Warner retired, Leinart seemed poised to do the exact same thing.

Secondly, Leinart got a bad rap because Derek Anderson is not a good quarterback. I has the 'privilege' of watching Anderson play when the Browns played the Bears last year. During that game, the announcer said that one of the keys for the Browns to win that game was for Anderson to actually make good throws to his receivers. This seemed like a REALLY dumb thing for a commentator to say (because they key for any QB to do well and thus for any team to do well is for their QB to complete passes to their receivers) but the man was right. I saw SO many wide open receivers (i.e. a wide open Josh Cribbs) not be able to catch passes, even dink and dump passes, because Anderson was just so bad at being a QB.

Think about this, a lot of people are saying Matt Moore is a QB upgrade for the Panthers this year, Jake Delhomme is a QB upgrade for the Browns this year, but Derek Anderson deserves to start and stay on the team over Matt Leinart? Huh?

During this pre-season, everyone is saying Matt Leinart sucked. But from my perspective, it seems like it was just a few guys at ESPN saying so and now the whole world agrees with them because we blindly believe everything SportsCenter tells us.

During this pre-season Leinart had a better passer rating (104.6 to 73.1), completion percentage (78.6% to 58.9%), and average (7.95 to 6.00) to Derek Anderson. Last year, Anderson completed less than 50% of his passes (44.5%), was the 5th worst quarterback according to Football Outsiders and 3rd worst per individual play. Even during his breakout 2007 campaign, he completed less than 57% (56.5%) of his passes. (Having Butterfingers McGee Braylon Edwards didn't help that, but still). Derek Anderson is not a good quarterback.

On the 8.24.10 The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons podcast, Football Outsiders founder Aaron Schatz said that Matt Leinart is awesome against zone coverage defenses and bad against man to man coverage defenses throughout his career and Anderson being the exact opposite. (That's why Leinart had that amazing game against the mighty Chicago Bears in 2006). Schatz joked that the Cardinals should have a QB by committee and play Leinart and Anderson against defenses to their strengths.

Despite the unfortunate unrealism to Schatz' comments, the Cardinals should not have outright cut Matt Leinart. I truly believe they should have let Leinart start all 16 games and at least give him the opportunity to be worth his first round draft pick. And when Derek Anderson starts to be the worst QB in the league halfway through the season, Cardinal fans will be begging to have Leinart back.


poker affiliate said...

Matt Leinhart doesnt possess any of the talents that make Aaron Rodgers one of the elite quarterbacks in the game. Rodgers has great mobility, strong arm, and is a hard worker. Leinart is a has-been.