Warner has all the tools
By Dan Fouts
Special to ABC Sports Online

There is no doubt Kurt Warner is one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. The physical side is all there, but it's probably his mental preparation and understanding of the complex Rams offense that makes him who he is and what makes him so effective.

Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner is averaging 319 yards passing per game this season.
Warner has a tremendously quick release, going back to his Arena Football days. A quick release has as much to do with mental ability as it does with the physical aspect of throwing the football. Knowing when to throw it and where to throw it are factors in a quick release. Because he knows the offense so well, he can anticipate coverages, his receivers' moves, and as a result, can throw the ball earlier than most other quarterbacks.

He is not a flashy quarterback like a Daunte Culpepper or Donovan McNabb. He is a classic pocket passer. Warner was pounded by the Miami Dolphins last week, and he still threw four touchdown passes. He is a strong, tough guy. All quarterbacks -- but especially pocket passers -- have to be willing to take the hits as Warner did last week, or else they wouldn't be playing in this league.

With Kurt, the rewards of hanging in the pocket and getting rid of the ball are tremendous, because the guys he's throwing to have a chance of scoring a touchdown on every play. That's what he's thinking about: "If I get rid of this ball and throw it to Isaac Bruce or Marshall (Faulk) or Torry Holt, even though I'm going to take a hit, it's worth it. And that's what's expected of me."

Through three games, he's thrown for 957 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. At this point last year, he threw for more yards (1,221) but had as many interceptions as touchdowns (6). He fell off a bit last year, but a lot of that had to do with the injury to his pinky. It's still too early to tell if he's back to his '99 form, but if he remains healthy -- as he did that year -- I expect him to play at that level.

Again, Warner is on pace to come close to Dan Marino's single-season marks for passing yards and touchdown passes. I think he can threaten every passing record but one: Johnny Unitas' consecutive games with a touchdown pass (47). He certainly has the right offense to do it.

When you look at this offense, you have the best running back in the league, two of the best receivers in the league, a tight end who is a legitimate threat, backup receivers who would be starters on many teams and an offensive line that has played together and is solid. More important, the quarterback makes it all work. There are no weaknesses in this offense. The only weakness is themselves.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts is an analyst on Monday Night Football and is a regular contributor to ABC Sports Online.

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