In news that came as a surprise to, well, Matt Leinart and that’s about it, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has named wily veteran Kurt Warner the starting quarterback.
This is the latest disappointment for Leinart, the team’s 2006 first-round pick, and apparently, he’s very, very sad about it all.
Leinart hasn’t been available to media since the demotion, but Whisenhunt described Leinart as being “upset” when he heard the news. That’s not a bad thing to Whisenhunt, who never has feared upsetting his young quarterback.
“Yes, I’ve seen him that upset before,” Whisenhunt said when asked about his meeting Saturday with Leinart. “He was that upset when he was injured last year. He was upset with being in the incident this spring when the pictures came out (on the Internet).
“So I’ve seen Matt get upset. But great competitors get upset; they’re emotional. Part of being a good player is reining in those emotions, being able to control them.”
You know who else gets upset? People who aren’t very good at their jobs and are continually reminded of it. Is Leinart a competitor? No idea. He didn’t have to do much competing at USC — the Trojans steamrolled most of their opponents (obvious exception: Texas) — and he hasn’t shown much since coming into the NFL.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the Cards were concerned about Leinart’s arm strength and consistency (Whisenhunt denies as much), which prompted this from the ARIZONA REPUBLIC’s Kent Somers:
…It’s fair to ask what direction the Cardinals take at quarterback after this season. Warner is in the last year of a contract and would like a two-year extension, which probably would see him to his career’s end. But do you pay him as a future backup or a present starter? And are the Cardinals still serious about Leinart being their quarterback of the future?
Based on who will be under center in Week 1, I’d say no on that last question. Which means Nick Lachey will be passing out a lot “I have faith in you, Matt!” hugs this season.