A dragged out negotiations process that brought Matt Leinart into camp late does not seem to have hurt, as he was impressive in his second preseason game. Meanwhile, Rex Grossman is still a question mark for the Bears.
Leinart showed why the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 10th pick in the draft, and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Chicago Bears 23-16 in Friday’s preseason game. He took over for Kurt Warner in the second quarter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. “I feel comfortable with the offense for the most part right now,” Leinart said. “So they called a lot of stuff, and I just went out there and tried to execute.”
He entered the game with 5:13 left in the second quarter and completed 12 consecutive passes at one point, while leading the Cardinals (2-1) to a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown early in the third quarter. Leinart completed all six passes on his second possession as the Cardinals drove 54 yards in the final minute of the half, Neil Rackers’ field goal extending their lead to 10-6. After Antrel Rolle intercepted Rex Grossman on the opening possession of the third quarter, Leinart went 4-for-4 as the Cardinals drove 42 yards against the Bears’ first-string defense for a touchdown that made it 17-6.
“It’s awesome,” Leinart said. “It’s good reps and experience for me just in case I’m thrown into the mix or if something happens. I can play at a high level, like Kurt plays at.”
Grossman was 13-of-21 for 117 yards and an interception after two rough preseason games for Chicago (1-2) but did little to end the quarterback debate among fans. Grossman was booed, and backup Brian Griese was cheered when he entered with about five minutes left in the third. Then, he went 10-for-14 for 131 yards and a touchdown, and heard a “Griese! Griese!” chant late in the game.
“Every time he’s in there, I see the same looks and he makes nice passes,” Grossman said. “I congratulate him, but as far as looking over my shoulder, you can’t. You just can’t. As soon as you do that, you’re done.” Coach Lovie Smith said there’s no reason for Grossman to look over his shoulder. “He’s our No. 1 quarterback,” Smith said.
Frankly, that’s just silly. Griese is a solid pro quarterback, although he’s never going to be a superstar. Grossman has more upside but is not ready to lead a team to the playoffs. The Bears defense is good enough that they should be a playoff team.
Meanwhile, the Cards could have a Tom Brady situation, albeit with a number 10 overall pick rather than a 6th rounder. If Warner goes down and Leinart replaces him, he likely won’t give the job back. That’s a good problem for the team to have and the first time in maybe 25 years that they’ve had depth at quarterback.
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