Analyst take: Leinart isn’t best fit for Arizona’s offense

The Cardinals have made the switch from Matt Leinart to Derek Anderson at quarterback — at least for the team’s third preseason game against the Bears.

The move by coach Ken Whisenhunt surprises few, given the Cardinals’ inability to put points on the board with Leinart under center, and isn’t without precedence, either. Whisenhunt flipped between Leinart and Kurt Warner during the 2008 preseason, showing he’s not afraid to pull the trigger at quarterback.

While NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported the Cardinals aren’t ready to dump Leinart — he could, after all, retain his starting job — there’s no denying the coaching staff sees his work every day, and has for several seasons. Now, the move to give Anderson a longer look. 

I stopped by NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes‘ office for his take on the move:

From what I’ve seen this preseason, the Cardinals probably feel like they have no choice but to make this move. They’ve given Matt Leinart every opportunity to shine. He just may not be the guy.

The Cardinals need to ask themselves: What are we built to do? Ken Whisenhunt’s offense was never designed to be a small-ball team, and that’s the type of quarterback Leinart is. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a good fit for that offense and what they’ve been successful doing. The Cardinals want to pound the ball, use play action and take some shots down the field.

I don’t know that Leinart’s skill set fits what the Cardinals do best. I’m not even saying Anderson is the answer. The Cardinals could end up going to John Skelton, who they like a lot. I wouldn’t count him out. The offense has at least shown some signs of moving the ball with Anderson under center, which didn’t happen with Leinart.

The third game of the preseason is often thought of as a dress rehersal for the regular season, the first time coaches typically install a game plan during the preseason. The intrigue now lies in what Anderson does with it, how Leinart reacts and what Whisenhunt ultimately decides to do.

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