Have we mentioned Kurt Warner this offseason?
"This division is the Cardinals' to lose until the minute Warner walks away," I concluded after watching the Cardinals turn a 21-3 lead with Warner at St. Louis last season into a 21-13 victory without him.
Warner suffered a concussion during the second quarter of that Nov. 22 game. It marked the third time last season Arizona turned to backup Matt Leinart in relief. They had done it against Jacksonville and Chicago previously. The Jaguars, Bears and Rams outscored Arizona 24-0 when Warner wasn't playing.
Leinart is also gone from Arizona, of course, but Derek Anderson's ascendancy is a secondary point heading into this season. The primary issue is to what degree Warner's retirement affects the Cardinals and the division. We've been discussing it all offseason. Finally, we're about to start getting some concrete answers.
"Not taking anything away from Matt Leinart, because he is capable of getting the job done and they got a ton of weapons still," Rams defensive end Chris Long said after that Nov. 22 game last season, "but I think it just shows you how good Kurt is, that when he comes out, things kind of shut down a little bit more for them. Kurt just makes plays."
The chart shows Warner's stats in the Edward Jones Dome since joining the Cardinals. Leinart completed 17 of 27 passes for 174 yards, one interception and a 66.0 rating during those games, including one start (in 2007).