Sunday 'Stravaganza: Warner should be starting

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 29, 2007



By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Warnerologist
 
Well, several reports said Kurt Warner will be starting against Pittsburgh today. He's not. The nod will go to Matt Leinart, who was benched last week.
 
But if the Cardinals want to win football games, they're best bet is to play of the former MVP over the under-producing second-year man.
 
Warner has played the equivalent of one full season with the Arizona since arriving in 2005 (17 games, 15 starts).  
 
Here are his numbers:
 
ATT
COMP
YARDS
YPA
TD
INT
RATING
563
365
4,348
7.72
19
14
89.16
 
Pretty good, no? Any NFL team would be pleased with that type of production ... except the Cardinals, who benched him in successive seasons and are doing it again here in a third. 
 
Of course, Warner isn't perfect. He's 36 years old. And he has lost eight fumbles in that equivalent of a full season in Arizona. But over 600 dropbacks, 22 total turnovers aren't excessive – and age is just a number, as Brett Favre is proving.
 
Even factoring in the moderate-to-severe fumblitis, Warner's numbers look incredible in comparison with the other Arizona QBs.
 
While Warner has been watching from the sidelines, Arizona's Matt Leinart, Josh McCown and John Navarre have combined for a passer rating of 74.46 since 2005 - a difference of almost 15 passer rating points, with the same team around them.
 
To put that in perspective, Warner's passer rating in Arizona is a dead ringer for Tom Brady's career numbers (89.9). The others are a dead ringer for Gus Frerotte's career numbers (75.3).
 
Brady over Frerotte as a starting QB wouldn't be a tough choice, and neither is Warner over Leinart.
 
The Cardinals are 1-2, but would be 2-1 had Leinart not played like a Pee Wee B backup in the opener vs. San Francisco (41.1 passer rating despite just one sack in a 20-17 loss). In an NFC West that looks as shaky as ever, Warner gives them the best chance to win.
 
There's no real rush for Leinart, who signed a six-year contract through 2011 as a rookie and is just 24. And there's no shame in losing a job to Warner, a guy who is relentlessly positive as a mentor and still a quality QB.
 
You could certainly make a case that Warner should never have lost his last job, either.
 
He got pushed aside by Eli Manning in New York back in 2004, in one of the most bizarre benchings of all time. With the Giants at 5-4 in a wide-open NFC, coach Tom Coughlin put Manning in the lineup for no apparent reason. Warner had played quite well (eight turnovers in nine games, 86.5 rating), but like Dennis Green last year Coughlin craved that new-car smell. Manning was predictably awful (55.4 rating), and the Giants finished 6-10.
 
And even though the Giants are sticking with Eli for the foreseeable future, he had worse passer ratings than Warner in 2005 and 2006 (86.0 this year).
 
Warner took this New York demotion as well as he could, and set to lining up his next job. Arizona, with no one in sight at QB, seemed like a good fit.
 
Warner must have been shocked to see the same thing happen to him in Arizona – not once, but twice. First he lost the job to McCown (although he would get it back), then he lost it to Leinart.  
 
A hell of a kick in the face for a former league MVP still playing good football. But when you used to bag groceries for a living, it must not seem so bad.
 
Godspeed, Mr. Warner ...
 
KICKERS SUCK
To say the least, long field goals have been few and far between this year.
 
Through three weeks, NFL kickers are a pathetic 3-of-16 from 50-plus – a success rate of 18.8 percent that is way off the league standard.
 
In 2006, NFL kickers were 40-of-85, 47.1 percent from 50+. And in 2005, they were 48-for-90 (53.3 percent).
 
But maybe this is the way of the future. Bears kicker Robbie Gould made the Pro Bowl last year despite the fact that he's never even attempted a 50-yarder over two-plus years. And Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri – bound for the Hall of Fame some day – hasn't connected on one in the regular season since 2002.
 
Oh, and note to the Raiders: stop sending Sebastian Janikowski out there for the long ones. He's three for his last 13 dating back to 2002. However, he does have a remarkable 10 touchbacks in three games, three more than he had all of last year.
 
Anyway, is it any wonder that Morten "Older Than Boomer Esiason" Andersen is still in the league? No one boots it through from 32 like More-Toe. 
 
OBSCURE STAT CORNER
While we're on the subject of statgeekery, we put together a a list of some of the NFL's least sexy league leaders thus far on the 2007 season.
 
The way we look at it, if passing TDs (Tom Brady, 10) and rushing yards (Willie Parker, 368) are the statistical-leader equivalent of Jenna Jameson in her prime, punts inside the 20 (Chris Kluwe, 9) and passes thrown to (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, 46) are the equivalent of Jenna Jameson now.
 
 
 
 
 
Ouch. 
 
Maybe this list is a little sexier than we thought. 
  • 1st down runs: LaMont Jordan (OAK), 18
  • Rushing yards on 1st and 10: Jamal Lewis (CLE), 228
  • Runs of 10 yards or more: Jordan, 12
  • Yards per carry: Marion Barber III (DAL), 6.4
  • 1st down catches: Chad Johnson (CIN), 21
  • Completion percentage: Tom Brady (NE), 79.5 percent
  • 4th-quarter passer rating: Kurt Warner (ARI), 151.2
  • Passing conversions on third down: Chad Pennington (NYJ), 66.7 percent 
  • Passes of 25+ yards: Tony Romo (DAL), 10
  • YAC for QBs: Brett Favre (GB), 500
  • Sacks taken: Joey Harrington (ATL), 14
  • YAC: Brian Westbrook (PHI), 236 yards
  • Passes thrown to: T.J. Houshmandzadeh (CIN), 46
  • Catches of 25+ yards: Chad Johnson (CIN) and Anquan Boldin (AZ), 5
  • Yards per catch: Antwaan Randle-El (WAS), 21.6
  • Drops: Devery Henderson (NO), 5
  • Fumbles lost: Steve McNair (BAL), 4
  • Tackles for loss: E.J. Henderson (MIN), 5
  • Sacks: Trent Cole (PHI), 5
  • Passes defensed: Anthony Henry (DAL), 11 
  • Touchbacks: Sebastian Janikowski (OAK), 10
  • Net punting avg.: Shane Lechler (OAK), 44.0
  • Punts inside 20: Chris Kluwe (MIN), 9
  • Longest FG: Mason Crosby (GB), 53
  • Total tackles: Barrett Ruud (TB), 35
  • Fumbles forced: Chris Harris (CAR), 3
  • Special teams tackles: Keith Lewis (SF) 7 total tackles
  • Interceptions: Anthony Henry (DAL), 4
  • Punt return yards: Devin Hester (CHI), 144
  • Kick-return yards: Joshua Cribbs (CLE), 455
 
POLL FOLLOW-UP
In this week's 1st and 10 poll, we asked you to get something off your chest about the NFL season so far.
 
One Troll summed up a lot of our thoughts, saying "I'd like to get these man tits off my chest....just too many brewskies!"
 
Us too. It's only a matter of time before football Sundays are sponsored by the "ManBra," by Playtex. They could have NFL logos on the nipples, and a handy carrying pouch on the sides for condoms and joints.

Big seller.
 
Another asked, rhetorically, and correctly, "Can Reggie Bush please be exposed as over-rated to the national media?" He and the Saints are certainly going nowhere right now, although he does lead the league in ads-per-big-play ratio this year (infinity).
 
Here's someone that's been paying attention: "Where in the hell is the Dolphins front 7? This was supposed to be the best unit on the team and it turns out they have been the worst. Maybe their age finally caught up to them." The Dolphins are 30th in our Defensive Hog Index that measures NFL front-sevens.
 
Lastly, one reader took the 0.2 seconds to remind us that "youy new site sucks." Even if he/she didn't spell "you" right (too much drool on his/her fingers), we appreciate the feedback! 
 
 
FROM THE FORUM
One not-so-hot-topic on the fearless CHFF Forum is the state of our spanking-new redesign.
 
While reviews have been positive, erstwhile critic and graphic great "CardLogic" is begging us to "lose the mold!"
 
As you can see, there does appear to be some kind of mold growing off of the sides of the screen on our shiny new design.
 
Being Cro-Magnons, we assumed that this was an important new technique, but maybe it's just ugly. Anyway, feel free to weigh in on the new look, either on the forum or to us directly.
 
We want to know what you think, unless it's negative, then we want you to use euphemisms like "doesn't make me vomit" and "at least it still looks better than Drudge Report."
 
 
FROM THE FORUM PART 2
We hate to give "CardLogic" a second plug – the guy is an Arizona Cardinals fan, ferchrissake - but his photoshoppery of the Tom Brady baby magazine cover was priceless.    
 
 

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