First of all, while I very much appreciate the credit I am receiving from many of you on the board...and it sure beats being smacked in the face by another bristling array of ad hominems...I'd like to iterate a few points:
1. A great deal of credit should go to all the posters this past summer who clamoured for McNabb and Campbell or other QB candidates. You took a lot of grief for it...but your instincts were right in the sense that you felt a change from ML or at least the best competition for him was in the Cardinals' best interests.
2. I don't write posts to try to be right or be more right than anyone else (obviously...I went out on a long limb for Brian St. Pierre and I have many of you to remind me of it every time I write a post!
3. The point is we can all be right every now and then. This is not a competition. I think we would all agree we'd rather be wrong and watch the Cardinals win...wouldn't we?
4. And I would be remiss if I didn't offer kudos to all of you who so passionately and loyally stuck to your belief in ML. You had a great deal of opposition from the national media and the rest of the football world who have basically written ML off...and many of them did long ago. You are true Cardinals fans and I tip my hat to you!
I, like you, was in awe of ML's performance on MNF as a rookie, and felt that we had finally found our QBOF.
But, through time I soured on him to the point where last year I cringed when he came into the games. I thought he showed very little spirit, no moxie and questionable skills.
The greatest sticking point with me going into this season was ML's contract. The last thing I wanted to see happen was a whole year dedicated to him, at the expense of grooming others, for the purpose of him getting released and pulling an Antrel Rolle.
That would be a wasted year at the QB postion.
The only scenario where I could accept one good year from ML was if he could take us back to the Super Bowl. But..the only way that would happen is for us to score 28 points per game again and improve significantly on defense. I could not see 28 points per game from Matt, not with as conservatively as he plays and not with his physical limitations. I think the 10 points he generated at Tennessee in his one start last year, playing conservative turnover-free football is what might happen more often than not. And that isn't going to get the Cardinals anywhere near the Lombardi.
I think the turning point for Whiz---once and for all---was at the Red & White scrimmage this year. If you recall, who were the two QBs who stood out and directed the offense to TDs?
Anderson & Hall.
This is what Whiz was referring to when he said, "it's not just stats...we take all the practices into consideration..."
At the Red & White ML was off the mark and particularly off on his deep passes...which has been one of the major concern all along, especially in this offense.
How about the two backside 18-20 yard post passes Anderson and Hall threw on a dime to Williams and Komar respectively in the Bears game? Both were thrown 27 yards in the air on a rope and right on the money.
That pass is a staple in Whiz's offense and when Whiz called it for ML versus Tennessee ML bounced it in there late five yards in front of the WR. It's a pass that with ML's arm and his longer, more fluid release is very difficult for him to complete.
The rest has been chronicled by all of us...
What encourages me about Derek Anderson is his big arm and the fact that he is being coached by Ken Whisenhunt.
Today Q and Jon Gruden talk about a QB finding the right "relationship."
There's proof in that...his name is Kurt Warner.
When Whiz arrived in AZ, few coaches if any would have felt they could revive an old horse like Warner.
Whiz did and he did so with remarkable aplomb.
How did he do it?
By recognizing the weaknesses in Warner's game and working diligently to iron them out. While the Super Bowl year was phenomenal, Warner played his best football of his career last year...he really did. Was he a fumbling machine? Was he holding onto the ball too long? Was he tentative in the red zone? Talk about ironing out the wrinkles. The Cardinals were #1 in the NFL in Red Zone %.
Warner's performance in that Packer game was the greatest single passing performance I have ever seen in all my years of watching, playing and coaching football. It was flawless...and against a very good defense...and a performance where if Warner doesn't deliver time and time again, the Cardinals would have surely lost. The pressure to deliver on each drive was enormous.
But how else did Whiz bring out the best in Warner?
Whiz also recognized that because of Warner's experience and knowledge that he (Whiz) should give Warner a good deal of the ownership of the offense...similar to the way Tom Morre does with Peyton Manning. Whiz thereby formed a highy collaborative relationship with Warner.
Can Whiz work wonders with Derek Anderson? We will see. I believe he can...but it's not going to happen over night, just as it didn't with Warner. And Anderson is still young...so Whiz is going to have to be more hands on with Anderson than he was with Warner.
Yet, one of the biggest reasons why Whiz is so excited these days is Max Hall. This kid is a mature 25 year old rookie who came in and grasped Whiz's offense like a valedictorian scoring a 5 on an AP exam after two weeks of class.
You remember how slow ML was to pick up the offense in Whiz's first year? That was hard to figure, wasn't it?...Leinart being a Heisman winner and a national champion NCAA QB playing in a so-called "pro" system?
Yet, Max Hall...who until recently wasn't getting snaps even with the second team offense...studied and learned this offense with such alacrity that even an engineer like Whiz had to sit up and take notice.
This isn't to say Whiz isn't also high on John Skelton...but Skelton is making a much bigger leap in the level of play and coaching. And like Anderson he has the size and big arm that are ideal.
With Anderson signed through next year and Hall & Skelton in the fold for three more years and most likely beyond...there's much to build on this year that can be carried over to next year and the year after.
Hey...as they say...if you are going to bring 'em...Brigham Young!