Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has stuck to a merit system in determining playing time, even at quarterback.
Especially at quarterback.
With Warner and Leinart gone, however, Whisenhunt has a personal stake in the Cardinals' quarterbacks for the first time. He probably does not consciously view it as a personal stake. But he was instrumental in signing Derek Anderson, drafting John Skelton, cutting Leinart and installing undrafted rookie Max Hall as the No. 2 quarterback. He inherited Warner and Leinart.
Sticking with Anderson after a couple of so-so performances should be easy for now because the alternatives lack experience. I suspect Whisenhunt will maintain the same standards when holding his quarterbacks accountable. But he does have more of a personal investment in the quarterbacks on the Cardinals' roster. And he is standing behind Anderson following a 41-7 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons featuring zero third-down conversions by Arizona.
The things Whisenhunt likes about Anderson -- his toughness, leadership and strong arm -- have not diminished. For the second week in a row, Whisenhunt is talking about tailoring the offense more to Anderson's strengths.
"Derek has done a number of good things and made some good throws, and he's missed some throws," Whisenhunt told KTAR radio in Phoenix, according to sportsradiointerviews.com. "That’s going to happen. As we go forward in this season, we are going to need to hone in better on what we do well and get better at executing those things. That’s what we’ll do … Derek is not getting enough help."
Warner made his offensive line look better by getting rid of the football quickly. Whisenhunt acknowledged that during training camp, but he also thought the offense could benefit, at times, from a quarterback willing to hold the ball a little longer. So far, however, opponents have been beating up Anderson and the team isn't making plays consistently enough. An injury to Anderson could force a quarterback change in Arizona at this rate.
A home game against the Oakland Raiders should help in Week 3. Beanie Wells will probably be making his 2010 debut, and the Cardinals' defense will be looking to atone for a dismal showing against the Falcons. I'm expecting a rough day for Bruce Gradkowski and/or Jason Campbell.