Pulling Leinart sends a bad message
Jeffri Chadiha wonders what's going on with the quarterback situations in Chicago, Carolina and Arizona.
We're only three weeks into this NFL season and questions about quarterbacks just keep coming. Another lousy day for Chicago's Rex Grossman has increased the scrutiny on a player who has no room for error. An elbow injury suffered by Carolina's Jake Delhomme allowed us to see a glimpse of what David Carr could give the Panthers. Finally, there was that bizarre sight of a perfectly healthy Matt Leinart standing on the Arizona sideline as Kurt Warner -- yes, Kurt Warner -- tried to lead a comeback in a loss to Baltimore.
So what did we learn from these situations? Basically, that I've got an easy layup in this week's edition of Three and Out. By the way, don't be puzzled about the new element I've added. Four-Down Territory is just one last opportunity to touch on a few more subjects now that the weekend has ended. So let's get to it:
Whom should the Bears start against the Lions this week: Grossman or Brian Griese? I'll be stunned if Bears head coach Lovie Smith doesn't bench Grossman. It's apparent that Grossman isn't just an inconsistent quarterback anymore; he's a horrendous one. His quarterback rating is an abysmal 45.2. He has thrown just one touchdown pass in three games and has six interceptions. If this is what he does in the final year of his contract, just imagine how he'd play if his job security wasn't on the line. The reality here is that Brian Griese isn't exactly an ideal savior -- after all, he has played on four teams over the past six years for a reason -- but he at least deserves a look.
Did the Cardinals make a huge mistake by playing Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner in the same game? I've never been a big fan of alternating quarterbacks at any level, so you can imagine how I felt after seeing Warner under center in Arizona's loss to Baltimore. Here's the problem with what Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did: He made his young starting quarterback wonder if his coach has complete faith in him. I get the part about Warner being more experienced at running the no-huddle offense. The issue, however, is that Warner played so well (he was 15-for-20 for 258 yards and two touchdowns) that Whisenhunt now is talking about using him in certain packages throughout the season. In other words, Leinart is the Cardinals' starting quarterback -- which Whisenhunt has stressed since that game ended -- as long as the Cardinals don't need to run a fast-paced offense. Think he will be looking over his shoulder?
Should Jake Delhomme be worried about the presence of David Carr? No. Delhomme has done enough to avoid criticism so far -- he's tied for third in the NFL with a 111.9 passer rating -- and the strained elbow he suffered in Sunday's 27-20 win over Atlanta isn't serious enough to require surgery. That being said, Carr delivered a solid showing in an emergency situation. He led the Panthers on two scoring drives (for a combined 10 points) after Delhomme left the game in the third quarter and showed the composure and confidence that had been missed during his five disappointing years in Houston. If Delhomme goes down again, the Panthers should feel real comfortable about their chances.
I'm not surprised Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino is considering serious punishment for cornerback DeAngelo Hall after Hall's meltdown against Carolina. It's one thing for Hall to get into it with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. But Petrino had to be more irked by the animated sideline exchange he had with Hall. There's a lot of talk that the Falcons don't like Petrino's hard-line approach, and the last thing he needs is for a player to publicly disrespect him.
The Ravens are happier with the production they've seen from running back Willis McGahee early this season. There were some concerns in that organization that he didn't run with any authority in the preseason. His 21-carry, 98-yard effort against Arizona is proof that he's finding his comfort zone.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie wide receiver Dwayne Bowe finally impressed his own team in a 13-10 win over Minnesota on Sunday. Before that solid performance (five receptions, 71 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown catch that decided the game), he had trouble catching the football. Against the Vikings, he made me see why Chiefs coach Herm Edwards likens him to a young Michael Irvin.
One of the biggest surprises of the season is Oakland's LaMont Jordan. The Raiders were so down on him after last season that they signed Dominic Rhodes in the offseason. But Rhodes' four-game suspension has opened the way for Jordan to gain 350 yards through his first three games. As one Raiders source said, "It's amazing what desperation can do for a guy. LaMont is playing for his job, and he knows he has four games to show something."
Jeffri Chadiha is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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