View Full Version : MERRILL: Playing for Trojans prepared Leinart for first NFL start vs. Chiefs

Fire Me Boy!
10-05-2006, 07:39 AM

Playing for Trojans prepared Leinart for first NFL start vs. Chiefs

LA confidential: Quarterback faced big-time pressure at Southern Cal.

The Kansas City Star

The paparazzi are sparse in the desert, kind of like a lush green lawn on Cactus Avenue.

No parties at Caesar’s Palace, no Paris Hilton sightings, no clubbing with Ashton and Alyssa.

Matt Leinart sits in the brand-new Cardinals facility on Wednesday morning, before 10 o’clock, with Derrick Johnson on the brain and three days to cram for his first NFL start. Try calling him Hollywood Matt now.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of there,” Leinart says on a teleconference. “I love Los Angeles; I had a great time.

“Everybody says college and the NFL are different, but what we went through at USC and the media and that whole thing … I don’t know how it can get much worse than that unless you’re in New York and you play for the Jets or the Giants. I don’t feel any added pressure, you know?”

If Leinart is nervous about becoming one of those rookie quarterbacks who gets wadded up and discarded like last year’s LA fashion, he isn’t showing it. He stayed after practice Wednesday to get in some extra work, and said the only way to know if you’re ready is to play.

He’s confident, he’s matter-of-fact, he’s not even thinking about how six months ago, nobody in Arizona wanted this day to come so early.

When Leinart was drafted with the No. 10 pick, the plan was clipboard duty for 2006. He’d learn from Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl champ. He’d have time to adjust to all the changes. Three losses and eight turnovers later, Warner is on the bench and a sagging Cardinals franchise is speeding up the future.

Nobody has ever questioned Leinart’s head — he aced the Wonderlic intelligence test and helped USC to two national championships. But in the story of the rookie quarterback, the debut chapter rarely ends well. Ben Roethlisberger is probably the best testimonial, but he was propped up by one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals’ offense has been so abysmal that Cardinals coach Dennis Green said on his radio show this week that it was time for the offensive line to stop whining and start working.

“(Leinart) comes with an impeccable pedigree,” Green says. “He comes in having been one of the best college players. Now the question is his ability, how quickly he can transcend from college to pro. And the best way to do that is for guys who have been in professional football to make sure they’re doing their load so that he doesn’t have to try to do it for them and himself.”

Everything seemed to come easy for Leinart at USC. He had never thrown a college pass when he replaced Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. He threw for 3,322 yards and 33 TDs as a junior and won his own bronze statue. He took a ballroom-dancing class senior year and took the Trojans on a 37-2 ride as a starter.

Nick Lachey, Alyssa Milano and Ashton Kutcher are just a few of the celebs Leinart hobnobs with. People magazine named him one of the “100 Most Beautiful,” a tag that surely provides locker-room fodder. But did they know his past? How he was cross-eyed, overweight and picked-on as a kid? He turned to sports, and was a prep All-American at Mater Dei High in Orange County.

“He’s not from some suburb out in LA,” Green says. “This is a hard-nosed football player. He comes from an area, the Santa Ana area, where state championships are important and kids start playing the game at a very young age.”

Anyone who calls him Hollywood, Leinart says, doesn’t know him. He can’t compare his life to Alex Smith, the 2005 No. 1 draft pick who started as a rookie quarterback and who’s also represented by Leinart’s agent, Tom Condon.

“He went to Utah,” Leinart says. “I went to SC and lived in Los Angeles. SC is the No. 1 football team in the country, almost an NFL team in LA. And when you have high-profile people like myself and Reggie Bush, that’s what it came to. It was like Kobe Bryant and Shaq and the Lakers. They were huge figures, and we were the big figures in football.

“That’s something that just came. It’s not what we asked for, it’s not what I asked for. Anyone in my shoes probably would’ve done the same thing, probably would’ve done worse. I’ve got a good head on my shoulders, so I don’t get caught up in that stuff.”

Leinart had a long, casual conversation with the Kansas City media on Wednesday, then realized the time and said he had to go. It’s the same demeanor Chiefs rookie Jarrad Page remembers from his days at UCLA, when the Bruins tried — unsuccessfully — to rattle Hollywood Matt.

Leinart, Page says, rarely made mistakes. And he doesn’t expect him to be rattled on Sunday.

“He’s still a rookie, though,” Page says. “There’s a lot coming at you.

“Everybody’s in the NFL right now. It’s a whole different ballgame.”

Heisman history
Before Reggie Bush won last year’s Heisman Trophy, it had gone to a quarterback five consecutive years. Here’s what those five are up to these days:

 Year Quarterback College
 2000 Chris Weinke Florida State
 Backup for Carolina Panthers

 2001 Eric Crouch Nebraska
 Played with Ricky Williams in CFL

 2002 Carson Palmer USC
 A star with the Bengals

 2003 Jason White Oklahoma
 Didn’t latch on in NFL

 2004 Matt Leinart USC
 Makes first start this week

Easy 6
10-05-2006, 07:50 AM
I think he's gonna find out that his NFL line doesnt even compare to playing behind, arguably, college balls best O line.

10-05-2006, 08:09 AM
I don’t feel any added pressure, you know?

Here's to hoping he'll feel the added pressure of Allen, Hali, Edwards, and Reed on top of him this Sunday.....


Hammock Parties
10-05-2006, 08:11 AM
This is probably the week we think our defensive tackles are worth a shit. They will look good. So will Kendrell Bell.

10-05-2006, 08:11 AM
<i>SC is the No. 1 football team in the country, almost an NFL team in LA. And when you have high-profile people like myself and Reggie Bush, that’s what it came to. It was like Kobe Bryant and Shaq and the Lakers. They were huge figures, and we were the big figures in football.</i>

I hope he enjoyed it then because it doesn't mean a thing now. Matt, welcome to your rookie blues.

Hammock Parties
10-05-2006, 08:22 AM
Time to die, Matt.

10-05-2006, 08:28 AM
Hobknob U. is more like it. I hope we kick the living shit out of Leinart.

Skip Towne
10-05-2006, 08:38 AM
Stoopid n00b.

10-05-2006, 08:57 AM
I think Leinart will be very prepared and would actually do very well in his rookie year (and in this game) if he had but one thing--decent protection from his O-line. the pressure will be on KC d-line not to let him get into a rythym and gain confidence early on. If he does some good things in the first half, I expect a close game.

Chris Meck
10-05-2006, 10:34 AM
yeah, I don't care if it was USC; it's the NFL now, and it stands for 'not for long' when your offensive line is as bad as Arizona's.

No time to throw, no lanes for Edge to run in means a long day.

I don't know why that franchise continues, year in and year out, to basically ignore that problem.


10-05-2006, 10:38 AM
Gunther needs to blitz and rattle him early

If we can rattle Leinart early and make the first score I don't think there's any reason we should lose

10-05-2006, 11:01 AM
Maybe hanging around the the Cardinals organization has left the young man with the mistaken impression that ALL the other NFL teams are no better than USC.


10-05-2006, 11:10 AM
we need to get ahead early, and then it's over for Matt's debut.

we don't want the game close, b/c Matt could be the next Elway for the Chiefs if we let him!

10-05-2006, 12:33 PM
Time to die, Matt.yep.
oh Blade Runner....

a warm welcome to the NFL awaits you.

10-05-2006, 12:37 PM
He will be lucky if he can still ballroom dance when we are done with him.

10-05-2006, 12:52 PM

Of course Leinart is confident. He played in 3 national title games. Pressure and big games are nothing new to him. He'll handle that part of it well.

He played in a pro-style offense. He's not going to be overwhelmed by his own playbook. To be honest, he's going to be more prepared to start than most rookie QBs.

Playing a Gunther Defense with the right personnel, however, is a nightmare matchup for a rookie QB. Gunther will throw every weird blitz in his playbook at him.

10-05-2006, 12:55 PM
He was prepared by playing ON a pro-style team at USC. What he's not prepared for is playing AGAINST NFL-caliber competition. I doubt the rest of the PAC-10 would fair very well in the NFL.

10-05-2006, 01:02 PM
I think you're right, Mr. JohnnyV13.

Once potentially concerning scenario would be that Green starts the Californian who performs poorly due to defensive pressure and disorientation stemming from localized treatments for venereal disease. Green then replaces him with Warner who plays well having been benched and who is, as a result, quite likely peeved about it.

Disclaimer: I got this whole idea from reading some of Mr. Bob Dole's archived posts.


10-05-2006, 01:12 PM
If Warner comes in they are way behind and will be passing alot. Play prevent D and get the picks.

10-05-2006, 02:06 PM
Their O line is horrible. That will be their doom. Good recievers and a great running back (?) will not do squat if you can't protect your QB. Especially if he is a rookie. We should see Tamba and Jerod making some Lienert sammiches...taaaasty!!