A day after being pulled as the starting quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, Matt Leinart is not happy and doesn’t believe the playing field is even right now.
Leinart, who will enter during the second quarter Saturday night when the Cardinals play the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, has been moved to No. 2 for what could be the final evaluation by coach Ken Whisenhunt in what now looks to be an open competition with Derek Anderson.
Leinart has had six possessions through the team’s first two preseason games, leading to 0 points. He’s completed 10-of-13 passes for 77 yards. His six possessions have resulted in three first downs. Meanwhile, Anderson has complete 24-of-41 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His possessions have resulted in 15 first downs.
“It is disappointing and a little bit frustrating,” Leinart said, according to the team's Web site. “I can’t sit up here and say I’m happy and all smiles. It is frustrating. I am not sure the expectation put on me. I have high expectations on myself, and I think, based on my body of work in the preseason, I have been accurate and not turned the ball over. I think the preseason is about gelling together as an offense. We have a lot of new faces on the offense.
“When you don’t move the ball, it’s not what you want, but that is what preseason is for. To gel together as an offense. It is what it is. I don’t make these decisions. I have done everything coach has asked of me. I have been committed and I have worked extremely hard. If it is an open competition, then let’s have it that way from the start, if this is what this is.
“Moving forward, I have to keep working. Go out (Saturday) and work my butt off and let my play do the talking. I am confident in my ability. I am extremely disappointed, and I’m not exactly sure why this decision was made, but it’s not my decision.
“If it is an open competition, then let's have it that way from the start, if this is what this is.”
The plan is for Leinart to enter the game in the second quarter and get time with the starters. He will also start the third quarter. So, if Anderson performs well, the job could be his. What is bothersome here is that Leinart has only thrown 13 passes through two games. He’s basically been on the bench the last three seasons and Whisenhunt could have done a better job of tailoring the action for Leinart to get the ball in the air. He is a first-round investment by the organization. But at the same time, it’s not like this evaluation has been ongoing. Since the spring. And for Leinart the evaluation process has been going on for years.
“I don't know how you judge performance when you have 13 pass attempts to the other guy's 40,” Leinart said.
“I’m not going to look much into it. I am going to go out, play my game, and take advantage of the opportunity I get. That’s all you can do,” he added. “It’s mentally draining. It drains you a little bit and it’s been like that the last three years. Physically I feel fine and I have been efficient this preseason … in the limited, limited opportunities I have had, I think I’ve done my best. Can I get better? Absolutely. I know that. I’m not perfect and I know I have a lot of work to do. If it’s open competition, I think you need equal opportunity. Who’s to say … I don’t know if that is happening.”
Leinart said that he expects to be the starter in Week 1. As for the possibility of a trade?
“We'll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said, according to the Twitter account of the Arizona Rebulic's Kent Somers. “I know my opportunity will come this year.”
It’s hard to be as confident as Leinart is. Will his opportunity really arrive or has it passed him by already?
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