Why was QB Matt Leinart cut?

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If you look over the list of total busts at QB from high picks, there are as many reasons as there are bad picks to explain each one.

So what happened to Matt Leinart in Arizona?

First, I was not a big Leinart fan coming out of USC. While he won the Heisman, I didn’t like the high percentage of checkdown passes he threw. In his defense, he was throwing to the highly talented (and as we found out later well paid) Reggie Bush out of the backfield. Leinart would throw a 5 yard pass that Bush would run for another 60 yards and a TD.

And it was seldom the case that Leinart was forced to throw the check because he was pressured. USC was nearly always the vastly more talented team. The average opponent may have had 1 or 2 players that could have made the USC team. He was able to take all the time he wanted in most games to wait for a receiver to get open.

Leinart was “college accurate not NFL accurate.” In college, his receivers had a 2 or 3 yard cushion to the nearest defender. Leinart was able to get the ball in that size window. That is college accuracy. However, in the NFL, the usual window is half a body or half a step. Even the great WRs are not able to get much more than that in the NFL. He struggled to fit the ball in such a small window. That led to interceptions and his 70.8 passer rating.

A third problem was that Leinart was never able to anticipate a WR getting NFL open. He was used to seeing his targets romping through the backfield of the opponent and had his choice of opportunities. In the NFL, a QB has to anticipate a WR breaking open and throw the ball BEFORE he sees it. Because of the speed and talent of the NFL DBs, by the time a QB sees a guy open, it is too late to get the ball there before the passing window slams shut.

In Arizona, the great strength is the WR position. The Cardinal O has never been consistent enough to only get 3 or 4 yards a play. The Cards need to get yards in chunks. Leinart was throwing to RBs rather than WRs Fitzgerald, Breaston and until this preseason Bolden.

But the ultimate reason that he was released is his attitude. In interviews, he indicated he was entitled to the starting job. Matt, that isn’t the way things work in the NFL. He had been handed the job twice before and was unable to win. Even the mentoring of future Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner didn’t improve the ability to read D coverage or fix the list of things above. Leinart lost the locker room. They didn’t believe in him. Worse yet, they didn’t trust him. I have not heard a single Cardinal player speak up and say Leinart should have been the starter. My experience coaching has been once a player or coach loses the confidence of the locker room, it is almost impossible to win it back.

A wise man once said “if you think you’re a leader but no one is following you, you are just out for a long lonely walk.” We will see if his former HC at USC Carroll picks him up. When the Cards called to offer Leinart in a trade, Carroll refused to even consider it. Leinart can play for the NFL minimum because he has gotten his guaranteed money in the contract from the Cards. If the Seahawks don’t pick up off the trash heap, it will tell us all we need to know about the player.

Leinart was signed by the Texans as their 3rd QB Sunday.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,Cuts,Cardinals,Leinart,passing game

Saturday's Niblets from around the net for 03/14/09

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Fryingpan Sports

Saturday’s Niblets from around the net for 03/14/09

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By Bill Smith

Best comment this week:

From Sportsbook on Capologist is the NFL MVP

Comment:

You are right and it is unfortunate, but I have a feeling that this will get settled in the 11th hour like it was last time. Last time, the economy was good. This time, the NFL will look even worse if they can’t settle this mess and keep the fans happy.

Also, this will be Goodell’s first test. Yes, we know he’s a sheriff and can suspended players when necessary, but what about the labor talks? How competent is he with that?

My Analysis: we will all find out how good a negotiator he is soon enough. But it takes two parties committed to getting a deal done to accomplish a contract. My fear is that the campaign rhetoric coming from the candidates to replace Gene Upshaw as the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association indicates that Goodell may not have a reasonable partner with whom to bargain.

UPDATES ON PREVIOUS COLUMNS:

The 08-09 Cavilers are not your fathers team.

Thursday night the Cavs on their west coast road trip came back from a significant deficit to beat the Suns. While wins on the road don’t necessarily translate to NBA Championships, their road record against really good teams shows they have taken another step toward becoming a championship caliber team.

My Analysis: They are showing the physical style of play to beat teams in the east but can also play an up and down game to compete with the wide open style of the western conference.

Big name cuts in the NFL have little to do with the salary cap.

Big names continue to get cut. The Rams cut both OT Orlando Pace and WR Torry Holt. The Ravens cut CB Samari Rolle. We usually see these cuts after June 1 so that the cap hit can be spread over a couple of cap years. This year there is no cap in 2010 onto which a team can spread the hit. As a result, the teams are making all their cuts now.

News from around the net:

A-FRAUD Jersey has been baned by MLB.

One of the fastest selling jerseys in the MLB has been banned. The Commissioner’s office announced that it will outlaw the shirts.

My Analysis: While that may not be a violation of free speech guaranteed in the Constitution, it is at least proof that the truth hurts. A-Fraud probably called the Commish and complained that it hurt his feelings.

The Cincinnati Bungles do something right!

The Bengals signed WR FA Lavernious Coles. Former Jet Coles is not only a vet, he is a true professional and a gentleman.

My Analysis: Maybe the Bungles have learned that players that hang out in the Hamilton County Correctional facility don’t really help you win games.

Syracuse basketball team shows real grit in the Big East Tournament.

Syracuse and Connecticut played a marathon 6 over time game Thursday night. Despite the fact that both teams will be in the Big Dance, the teams fought it out until after 1AM eastern time. Syracuse finally won the game. It was one of the most exciting games I have seen in a very long time.

As the winner, they got to play a tough West Virginia team on Friday night. The team showed great grit in fighting all the way against a much more rested Mountaineer club. Orange was behind much of the game and clawed their way to as much as a 5 point lead late in the second half. But for the Orange, this year nothing is easy. WV tied the score and forced the game to overtime. Even though the Orange looked deflated as the clock hit 0.0, they somehow found the energy deep inside them to win it in overtime.

My Analysis: In many ways, the grit of the Orange reminds me of the way that the Cavs grind out wins. This game was sloppy at times due to fatigue but the intensity of play is what makes college sports so special. Things only get screwed up when the “adults” get in the way of the kids playing the game.

Two Ohio State NFL Draft prospects use their pro day at OSU to try to recover from bad 40 times at the combine.

CB Malcolm Jenkins ran a relatively respectable unofficial time of between 4.46 seconds and 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day according to Plain Dealer reporter Doug Lesmerises. His teammate RB Chris Wells unofficially ran between 4.34 seconds and 4.46 seconds.

My Analysis: The pro day will help Wells much more than Jenkins. Times between 4.46 and 4.53 will cause some teams to categorize him as a safety rather than a CB. That could drive him down in the draft to at best a late 1st early second round pick. Jenkins has to hope that his work on the field will convince at least one GM that he can be a shut down corner worthy of a top 15 selection.

Wells should regain the status as the top running back in the draft with his time. However, his durability will still be a concern.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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Big name cuts in the NFL have little to do with the salary cap.

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Fryingpan Sports

Big name cuts in the NFL have little to do with the salary cap.

By Bill Smith

Marvin Harrison (WR) cut. 12 million

Derrick Brooks (LB) cut. 3.75 million

Ike Hilliard (WR) cut. 2.07 million

Warrick Dunn (RB) cut. 3 million

Joey Galloway (WR) cut. 3.5 million

Cato June (LB) cut. 3.7 million

Donnie Edwards (LB) cut. 4.8 million

Damon Huard (QB) cut. 2.6 million

Laveranues Coles (WR) cut. 6 million.

And that is not all. There will be more. What do all of these players have in common beside a large cap number in 08? They are all older. The NFL Players Association has been talking about the uncapped 2010 helping the middle and higher paid players but that is not going to happen.

What will happen is that teams will be cutting as many expensive players as possible before the lockout in 2010 happens but it is not due to the salary cap. The cap was expected to be around 120.5 million in 09 when it was first calculated in June of 08. Then the estimate grew to 123 million and last week went to 127 million. That is really a lot of money to spread between 53 players (2.32 mil each). That may not seem like a lot (except to those of us that work for a living) but about 10 to 12 players on each team work for the minimum which runs between 235K and 500K each depending on the number of years of service.

To me the cuts of costly players is one more indication that the league is going to play hard ball with the NFLPA. The owners are acting like they will not give an inch to the players. The primary candidates to replace Gene Upshaw, the deceased Executive Director, have been campaigning based on how tough they will be in fighting for guaranteed contracts, better health care, and a larger slice of the pie for the players.

Under NFL rules, all teams had to be under the projected cap for 2009 by midnight this morning which is the beginning of the free agent period. We will know which teams will tend to stand strong against the NFLPA by not signing expensive free agents and which will spend money over the next few years. Watch the length of the contracts.

If the new deals are long term, the team that offers it may be intending to vote to not lockout the players. Teams that do not sign players is hunkering down to survive regardless whether or not the league plays in 09. Either way, the next few weeks will be interesting.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: NFL,FOOTBALL,NFLPA,CUTS,FREE AGENT,SALARY CAP,CONTRACT,UPSHAW

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