Whiz sees growth in Leinart

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2009 – 10:49 am

One more post on the backup quarterback situation (Hey, it’s the preseason – this is when you talk about the backups, because there will be plenty of Kurt Warner analysis once the regular season starts). There have been plenty who have speculated, because Matt Leinart couldn’t hold on to the starting job once upon a time and because he was drafted before coach Ken Whisenhunt arrived, that Whisenhunt isn’t a “Leinart guy.”

Frankly, I have never gotten that impression. Whisenhunt talked this week about Leinart’s maturation process, an “evolution” all quarterbacks must undergo. He even turned toward that horrific preseason game Leinart had in Oakland last season to create a tangible example.

Whisenhunt noted that last year – with two interceptions already thrown against the Raiders – Leinart was stuck in a second-and-11 on his own 4-yard line. Leinart faced some pressure and decided to chuck up a ball for Anquan Boldin which never had a chance and he was interception. Whisenhunt compared that to Leinart’s situation last weekend, when Leinart came into the game with the ball resting on his own 1. This time, Whisenhunt said, Leinart didn’t get flustered against the pressure, instead staying calm in the pocket and calmly throwing a 25-yard strike to tight end Leonard Pope (Full disclosure: Leinart was facing the backup Chargers defense as opposed to the Raiders starters). The contrast in plays from the two games helped show Whisenhunt there has been “great growth in Matt.”

Leinart clearly has become a better quarterback compared to this time last year. And as I said, he seems to have belief from his coach.

“Now he understands more what he has to do,” Whisenhunt said. “It is never easy to accept the type of role Matt has had to accept. It is easy to say one day it will pay off for him, but I really believe, when he plays, and it is coming, he is really going to do well.”


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