Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Oct 2007

Leinart's Broken Collarbone Ends QB Rotation

Ken Wisenhunt was doing something really interesting in Arizona with his quarterback platoon, but it looks to be coming to an end, as Matt Leinart fractured his left collarbone during the Cardinals' 34-31 victory over St. Louis. The good news for Cardinals fans is that Kurt Warner was the more effective quarterback of the two, and was arguably playing well enough to deserve the starting job outright. The bad news is that Kurt Warner is thirty-six years old and might well break down under the increased workload.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 08 Oct 2007

19 comments, Last at 09 Oct 2007, 11:42am by zlionsfan


by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:46pm

I honestly think that if Warner had had decent protection and a running game for the last three years, he would have played at a pro-bowl level and would be a viable future hall of fame candidate. I hope he has a great season and takes the Cardinals to the playoffs.

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:58pm

I hope the premature end to the QB platoon doesn't keep other coaches from trying it again in the future. If you can get the young guy to swallow his ego and understand that this is for his own good, I think it can be a valuable development tool.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:06pm

I've never understood why it's accepted practice to platoon at every other position but not quarterback. On the one hand they talk about the lack of practice time, not being able to get on same page with the receivers, etc. Yet, conversely, the minute a guy gets hurt it's expected the backup should be able to immediately step in and do a credible job.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:27pm

I always thought a QB rotation would be really effective for teams with mobile guy who can throw but is not a fantastic passer, and a decent (but not elite) pocket QB. The classic example was Atlanta when they had Vick and Schaub. Put them in together so either one could recieve the snap, and you'd really give the d-coordinators nightmares trying to figure out what was going on. Of course, both of them would have to block occasionally, which might kill the idea, since QB's blocking is a bad idea (ahem, Trent Green). But the idea was definitely interesting.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:46pm

I don't know if I'd have both QBs on the field at the same time, but platooning the QB would force D-Coordinators to game plan for two different style QBs. Of course, the O-Coordinator would have to do the same, and its asking a lot of the rest of the offense.

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:55pm

A D Coordinator would L.O.V.E. to see it since it gives him one less guy to cover.

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:05pm

"I honestly think that if Warner had had decent protection and a running game for the last three years, he would have played at a pro-bowl level and would be a viable future hall of fame candidate"

I think Warner already belongs in the Hall of Fame. He best years were more than good enough. (And yes, the same applies to Terrell Davis).

The sentimentalist in me wants to see Arizona and Green bay in the NFC Championship game.

by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:05pm

Re 3:

QB isn't the only position that isn't platooned. I think it would be considered even stranger to see offensive linemen platooned.

Re 6:

I think Vick could have ran routes.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:52pm

Punter platoons will be the next big thing to sweep the NFL.

by Truman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:38pm

They tried that in Atlanta and it was a disaster.

by asg (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:14pm

#4: What you describe as the ideal skill sets for a QB rotation pretty much matches up with Florida's two QBs last year, when they won the national title. Of course, this year, it turns out Tebow can also throw pretty well too, but as a freshman that wasn't his primary skill.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:29pm

Offensive linemen get platooned. The Vikings have done it several times through the years successfully, usually at the guard position.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:52pm

4: I look at the Jets, who are getting routes jumped every game because defenses know they can't throw down field. If they split time between Pennington and a stronger-armed guy who could shake things up they might be able to prevent that from happening as much.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:36pm

The more important question is, who's going to be the Cardinals' quarterback in a month, after Warner has gone down with some 4-to-6 week injury or another?

The Seahawks may have won the NFC West yesterday, despite getting beaten half to death and dumped in a drainage ditch by the Steelers.

by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:41am

#9: Several different teams have had Kicker platoons, so obviously the punter platoon is coming! :p

by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:01am

would Robo-Punter be part of the punter platoon?

by Stuart Fraser :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 7:07am

ROBO-Punter does not need platooning. His leg will never wear out. Any presumptuous backup attempting to take his place will be downed at the 1.

Normally with the Cardinals I would expect them to sign some ex-Steeler or another, but I don't think Whisenhunt is stupid enough to go after Tommy Maddox.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:32am

I wouldn't rule out Whisenhunt dangling a fourth-rounder to the Steelers for Charlie Batch. Normally a fourth-rounder for your backup QB is an acceptable trade, but given that Ben Roethlisberger is hardly the shining beacon of durability and Charlie Batch is the Practically Perfect Backup Quarterback, I can't see a deal that makes sense happening. He COULD toss them a seventh-rounder for Brian St. Pierre, though.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 11:42am

I agree with Theo. Two QBs on the field at once would be a disaster. You'd be playing with 10 men on every play, and if you had any weaknesses on the line, they'd be horribly exposed with one fewer person available to pick up blitzes.

If you're going to do that, the second "QB" might as well be a QB-turned-WR so that he could at least participate in plays. You'd still have the 10-on-11 when that guy was the QB, though.

Trickeration isn't a bad idea for specific circumstances, but I don't think it's a viable option when used on a regular basis.

Warner had three good seasons. That's simply not HoF material. Same thing for TD.