Thursday, October 05, 2006

Good Cop/Bad Cop: NFL Style

Dennis Green has benched Kurt Warner in favor of Matt Leinart. Can't say I disagree with that move. But it was in the story I read about Leinart's first day of practice as the #1 guy that something caught my eye.

If you want to read the story, click HERE.

Let me begin by saying that I am not sold on the gifts of Dennis Green as a coach. In 8 of the 11 full seasons that he has been an NFL head coach, he has winning seasons in 8 of them (he left the Vikings part way through the 2001 season and this season is not completed, so those two are not counted towards this total). Of course, all of those winning seasons came in Minnesota. So the jury is still out on Green, at least until he leads another team to the playoffs.

But in the article, Green called out the offensive line. If you have watched any of their games, you would see that he isn't wrong. Warner made plenty of mistakes, but the line didn't help him in letting him go through his decision making process before fumbling or throwing that interception. Be that as it may, he ridiculed the line in public. And I quote...

He [Leinart] will operate behind a suspect offensive line that drew a public berating by Green this week. On his weekly radio show, the coach said it was time for the line to "stop whining" and work harder.

And as it says in the article, Leinart did as he was expected to do and defended the line...

"I think they're going to be fine," Leinart said. "I think we just need leadership out there and hopefully I can come in there and just kind of bring a spark. Those guys have talent. We've struggled as an offense, and that's on everybody. That's not just on those guys. I know that they're going to be fine. I have faith in them, and I think they have faith in me. And I think we're going to see that this Sunday."

Good cop/bad cop. Green is Sipowicz, and Leinart is Simone/Clark/Sorenson/Kelly/and so on...

Leinart is a cocky S.O.B. That isn't necessarily bad, especially in a QB, and it isn't like he doesn't have a resume, even if it is all college. 37-2 and two national championships is nothing to sneeze at on ANY level. To paraphrase Crash Davis, that's a career no matter WHERE you played. And if you look at USC's schedule, I don't see a whole bunch of 1-AA squads. The East Coast bias means that the PAC-10 does not get the recognition that it deserves, but he was playing a pretty tough schedule. I have said previously that I think Jay Cutler is going to be a good NFL QB. I think Leinart will be too. Really, he could be better than Carson Palmer (his predecessor at USC) before all is said and done. And I like that he stayed after practice yesterday to get in some extra work with Edgerrin James. James will be his best friend and will probably be as if not more instrumental in making or breaking Leinart as an NFL QB than anyone else. Just look at who he has played with, and know that Edge will be Leinart's safety valve and check down on a lot of pass plays as well as running the ball to make he defense keep honest and not just bring the house with blitzes and have the safeties roaming the field looking to pick off desperation floaters.

I am not sure how the Chiefs defense is going to affect his grand entrance. Currently they have the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL, but I have trouble believing those stats. They have had their bye, so their isn't as much data to work with. One of their games was against the San Francisco 49'ers, a game in which they lost their star tight end and their #1 running back on the SAME PLAY the week before. Yes they are #2 overall, but the history of the Chiefs over the last few years (25, 31, and 29 the last three years says 2 is not going to last, since they made no significant changes in staff or players from last year). So it comes down to Leinart getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and making sure James gets his touches, and to see if good cop/bad cop makes the line go from bad block to good block.*

*I sincerely apologize for that awful twisting of words. It sounded so much wittier in my head, and I don't have time to think of something better.

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