GLENDALE AZ - SEPTEMBER 02: Quarterbacks Matt Leinart #7 and Max Hall #6 of the Arizona Cardinals warm up before the preseason NFL game against the Washington Redskins at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2 2010 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Say what you want about Matt Leinart getting canned in place of Derek Anderson, you can't deny how well the Cardinals navigated the media minefield.
I am beginning to wonder if they don't have Karl Rove or James Carville consulting.
Go ahead, I dare you.
Find me a link to one football or sports media type that saw this coming before training camp began. Hell, even after Anderson got twice as much work as Leinart in the first two preseason games, there was no one talking about Leinart getting cut as the final end game.
It wasn't until Whisenhunt made his surprise announcement that D.A. would be starting the third game in Chicago that people started to jump off the Leinart bandwagon. And boy, when they started to jump, they jumped hard and fast.
The fleeing began first from the national media furthest from the situation, which is pretty unusual and hints at a very savvy use of the on-background-only conversation. The local media closest to the team played catch-up the entire game.
In all likelihood, Leinart deserved to lose his job because he failed to win over the hearts, minds and confidence of his teammates and coaches. Certainly the reasons weren't evident on the football field during his brief but efficient play in preseasons Games 1 and 2 (or 3) OR to any of the media that reported from Flagstaff how good Leinart looked and how Anderson wasn't making any kind of case to be the starter.
And yet there's been little-to-no resistance to the decision of All-Mighty Whiz.
In Whiz They Trust.
Fine, I get it. He's earned the benefit of the doubt, but even so, the sports media in this country is too skeptical to let a bombshell like this slide by without a lot of behind-the-scenes, off-the-record ground work being laid.
Starting quarterbacks don't get replaced by Derek Anderson without criticism unless a lot of people are singing from the same song book.
So, props to the Cardinals for their expert work in manipulating the media minefield and hence keeping the fans from questioning what on the surface was a very questionable set of decisions.
I hope the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks are taking notes. They get called cheap at every turn and yet the Cardinals (who, by the way, saved a lot of money by cutting Leinart) get a free pass on the late replacement of only the single most important position in any professional sport.
Max Hall has every reason to be confident moving into a spot that puts him one sprained ankle away from the starting job. His personal faith tells him that his soul is saved for eternity and his coach has proven that he can manipulate away any scrutiny that an undrafted rookie might be under in such an important moment.
Well played, indeed.