Can Matt Leinart lead the Arizona Cardinals back into the playoffs?

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The Arizona Cardinals have had one of the best offenses in the NFL over the last four years or so with future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner under center and arguably one of the best wide receivers in the game in Larry Fitzgerald.

Even though the Arizona Cardinals were never been known as a good running team in the Kurt Warner era, it really didn’t matter as the five-time Pro Bowler was able to get this offense firing on all cylinders with the air attack and lead this team to two straight NFC West division titles (2008, 2009) and a Super Bowl appearance (2008).

It was a good run for the Cardinals in the twilight of Warner’s career, but now they have to move on as the two-time NFL MVP has decided to finally hang up his cleats and call it career. Now the franchise will look to their former first-round pick (10th overall, 2006 NFL Draft) in quarterback Matt Leinart.

Back in 2006, the Arizona Cardinals decided to use their 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft to pick up the former Heisman Trophy winner out of USC and when they selected Leinart, they selected what they thought would be the future face of the franchise, but after struggling early in his time as the starter, the Cardinals chose to bench Leinart in favor of Kurt Warner.

Obviously, Warner had much better success as the Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback and Matt Leinart could only watch and learn from the sideline from one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.

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Fortunately for Leinart, the Arizona Cardinals decided to hold onto their former first-round pick and didn’t make a move in the offseason to find a veteran quarterback to take over for Kurt Warner despite rumors of possibly bringing in Donovan McNabb via trade.

Even though most people are saying that the San Francisco 49ers will be the team to beat in the NFC West this season, the Arizona Cardinals is still a very talented team with a lot of promising young players to help this team continue on as one of the best teams in the NFC Conference.

Whether or not Matt Leinart can fill the shoes of an NFL legend remains to be seen, but he will still have some solid offensive weapons at his disposal with perennial Pro bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and some up and coming wideouts like Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.

Along with having a promising young receiving corps led by Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals offense will also have two Pro Bowl caliber running backs coming out of the backfield in Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells.

Needless to say, if Leinart fails to come through this time around, it will all be on him as this team is set to make it back to the playoffs next season with some great offensive weapons.

If Leinart does struggle early in the season, the Cardinals will be prepared with veteran quarterback Derek Anderson waiting to get his shot on the Arizona sideline. Even though Anderson is a viable backup, I believe the former USC standout will be able to lead this team back to the playoffs, but unfortunately if they do reach the postseason, it will probably be through the NFC Wildcard in my opinion.

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