The Data Is In - Matt Leinart Is a Bust

The term bust is thrown around too often in professional football. So many high round picks do not pan out that labeling all of them as busts would completely negate any value given to the word. But when a Heisman Trophy winning QB from a prestigious college program is chosen in the top 10 picks overall and is flat out released by the team that drafted him just weeks after being named the starter in his fourth season, then the word bust applies.

After initially starting for the Cardinals in his second season 3 years ago, he eventually lost his starting job to Kurt Warner. Given how Warner would excel in the desert leading the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2009, it is tough to begrudge a player for serving as his back-up. With Warner retiring this offseason, Leinart was slated to be re-inserted as starter. However, after a few preseason games, it appeared that he had learned nothing as Warner's understudy. His reads were poor, he was slow to react to NFL defenses (even vanilla preseason sets), and his arm strength (which has always been in question) was shown to be woefully lacking

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt responded as most responsible coaches would - he moved Derek Anderson (who has played better) to the first team and announced that the starting QB was now an open competition. This did not sit particularly well with Leinart. He demanded a trade. Why shouldn't he Because he has done so much that he deserves to be handed a starting position. Only he doesn't. He's done absolutely nothing that entitles him to being the starter unless he is clearly outplaying his competition. The competition's reaction to Leinart's demand A collective yawn. Nobody made a decent offer. This led to Leinart just being released and signing with the Houston Texans and being placed on their THIRD team.

The funny thing is this Leinart's best shot to eventually start was to stay exactly where he was at. As of today, one could make the argument that Derek Anderson is the worst starting QB in the NFL. His career in Cleveland ended as a flat out disaster. Anderson will throw interceptions and will eventually get the hook from Whisenhunt if he falters. In Houston, Matt Schaub is well entrenched as the starter. Outside of the possibility of injury (and Schaub is a bit prone to missing time), there is zero, zilch, nil chance that Leinart will take the starting job for him. For now, the former USC star can be put firmly in the pile of irrelevancy.

Can Leinart's career be reclaimed There are QBs who have fallen farther and eventually emerged out on top. None other than Kurt Warner was unheralded coming out of small Northern Iowa and actually spent time in the arena league before eventually finding success with the St. Louis Rams. Even then, it was only an injury to starter Trent Green that gave Warner his chance to prove himself. But right now, an unhealthy ego and sense of entitlement prevent Leinart from being a guy who can be expected to improve and become that player that many expected him to be. That's a good recipe to be a bust.

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