Feb 1, 2010
We all know where Ken Whisenhunt came from before landing the Cardinal head coaching job: Pittsburgh. Some expected him to immediately tinker with the Cardinal offense and make a concerted effort to run the ball more, but that wasn’t viable for a few reasons. For one, he didn’t have a marquee back, and the OL wasn’t all that great blocking for the run. Most importantly, he had QB Kurt Warner – and a dynamic duo at WR.
But it’s officially time for Whisenhunt to return to his roots because Matt Leinart is no Kurt Warner. It’s still questionable if Leinart is a quality NFL starter, or even a viable one.
Leinart threw 3 INTs in 2009, and 0 TDs, which isn’t exactly a great sign. But he did have a nice 21-for-31, 220-yard performance at Tennessee subbing for Warner, and he was poised, composed, smart, and aware in that game. Leinart has limitations, but they have nothing to do with him from the neck up. His limitations are the result of arm strength, and his tempo is also slow. He can’t make some throws, which restricts the offense at times, and his slow movement in the pocket usually results in bodies being around him, which usually doesn’t go well.
The Cardinals have to be smart in how they work Leinart into the starting role, and that should entail spoon-feeding him the offense while looking to methodically pound the ball with the running game like we haven’t seen in Arizona in a long, long time. This is all great news for Wells, who looks special. There are certainly several questions about Wells, as we’ve mentioned many times. He has to stop putting the ball on the ground, has to improve his pass protection, and most of all he has to stay healthy. The sampling wasn’t all that huge in 2009 (176 carries), but Wells looked phenomenal in his rookie season. He didn’t seem to have any problems with the physical aspects of the game, a great sign, and his skill set looks special. He’s a big guy who can get to the perimeter with speed, and he can run downhill with power and show a good changed direction and ability to make people miss. In college we saw flashes of special ability, but then it went away at times, so it will be very interesting to see if he can maintain a high level of play if he’s getting 15-20 touches per game. Even though Tim Hightower will be in the mix, Wells should get that kind of workload in 2010, and he’s going to be one heck of a pick if he can deliver the goods we know he’s capable of delivering.
If he can stay on the field and clear up his other issues, we’re looking at a top-10 fantasy back in 2010, and it’s going to be very interesting not only to see if he can come through, but we see where fantasy players are comfortable selecting him. I have to believe he’ll be worth a 3rd round pick, maybe even more, given the upside potential.