Citing USC success, Green comfortable with Leinart
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona coach Dennis Green calls the Cardinals' most recent offensive performance "ludicrous."
According to the dictionary, that means "so absurd, ridiculous or exaggerated as to cause or merit laughter."
"He's a guy that had an incredible career in college," Green said. "I think he's worked hard to try to learn and understand the pro game, and I think he's ready to play."
The 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, 39-2 with two national championships at Southern California, was supposed to learn from the sidelines this season. But Warner's 10 fumbles and four interceptions led the coach to go with his touted rookie, who surprisingly slipped to Arizona's No. 10 pick in this year's draft.
"He played well in the preseason. He was very solid. He was quick on the release," Green said. "He had a lot of poise. He plays with a lot of confidence. I think he's probably the most advanced as a first-year player of any guys we've been around."
Leinart inherits an offense that ranks 24th in the NFL, 30th in rushing, behind a porous offensive line.
Arizona (1-3) managed 187 yards against Atlanta.
"This is absolutely ludicrous," said Green, who considers offense his specialty from his decade with the Minnesota Vikings. "We started the season feeling that we'd be one of the best offenses in the National Football League. Anybody who's been around me can understand my frustrations. I wasn't pleased with the way we played San Francisco [a 34-27 victory in the season opener], let alone what's happened since then."
The Kansas City Chiefs will present a particularly tough challenge to Leinart's ability to read NFL defenses.
"They use a lot of different fronts," Green said. "They've got an outstanding defensive staff and they like to give you a lot of confusion, so he's got to make sure he doesn't always bite on what he thinks he sees.
"And we'll do the best we can to try to create an atmosphere where he can go out and let some other guys make some plays, too. It's not all on his shoulders."
Leinart's mobility will be an asset behind an offensive line that long has been regarded the team's biggest weakness, a label it did nothing to contradict on Sunday, when the Falcons punished Warner and Leinart, who came on in relief with the game's outcome long decided.
"We're not playing well enough up front," Green said. "When that happens, it can compound a lot of other issues."
Leinart becomes the second big-name rookie quarterback to start this season. Vince Young started for Tennessee against Dallas Sunday and was 14-for-29 for 155 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice, with one of them returned for a score.
While Leinart waited in the wings with apparent patience, there is no doubt he was eager to get on the field.
"I'm not an arrogant or cocky person, but I have a lot of confidence," Leinart said. "I feel I can play."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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