Arizona needs long-term fix at QB - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Arizona needs long-term fix at QB

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Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 5:20 am | Updated: 7:40 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Kurt Warner will turn 34 in June. He's thrown 10 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions over the last three seasons.

He has less mobility than the Statue of Liberty, yet the Cardinals want to sign him to play quarterback behind an offensive line that's been to pass blocking what Barney Fife was to law enforcement.

As bad ideas go, that ranks up there with coach Dennis Green's benching of Josh McCown last season.

But it would give Las Vegas a new betting line: Over/under on number of Warner's broken bones.

The NFL's free agency period begins today, and it's clear the Cardinals will go after a veteran QB, whether it be Warner, Jeff Garcia or Brad Johnson.

What, Jeff Blake isn't available?

The Cardinals are something, aren't they? Over the past two years they've passed on Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers in the draft.

Now they're so desperate for a quarterback they're pursuing thirtysomething retreads who couldn't hold on to their starting jobs with some of the worst teams in the league last season.

The party line from the Cardinals is that McCown is still the starter, and they're just looking for someone to compete for the job.

Right.

Green's history in Minnesota — he won with veterans Johnson, Randall Cunningham and Jeff George — and his lack of trust in McCown means whoever comes in likely will take the snaps when the regular season begins.

And that's the problem.

Arizona doesn't need another short-term fix at quarterback. It needs a long-term solution.

Playing a veteran may help tilt the win-loss column in the right direction this season — and even put the Cardinals at the front door of the playoffs — but Arizona won't take a step toward the Super Bowl until it stops patching its hole at quarterback with bubble gum.

If McCown is the quarterback of the future, he needs to play.

If he's not, well, who is?

Certainly not Warner. Or Garcia.

Arizona could have answered that question had it drafted either Leftwich or Roethlisberger. But bygones are bygones and what's important now is that the Cardinals don't repeat their past mistakes.

Arizona has the eighth pick in April's draft. It can find, in free agency, either a starting running back or help along the offensive line.

What it won't find is a young, talented quarterback who can be the franchise's centerpiece for the next decade.

Teams have become reluctant to use a high draft pick on a quarterback for fear of making an expensive and embarrassing mistake — think Ryan Leaf.

Tom Brady's remarkable success in New England — as a sixth-round draft pick — also has convinced teams there's quarterback gold to be discovered in later rounds.

But for every Tim Couch, there's a Donovan McNabb. For every Akili Smith, there's a Michael Vick.

And the reward of finding an elite quarterback is worth the risk.

That's not to say Arizona should draft a QB with the eighth pick. Assuming California's Aaron Rodgers and Utah's Alex Smith are gone, the Cardinals are better off following Green's mantra and taking the best player available, regardless of position.

But if either Rodgers or Smith drop to No. 8, the Cardinals should take the plunge.

We’ve seen enough of Dave Krieg and Steve Beuerlein. We're tired of Gary Hogeboom and Boomer Esiason.

Warner and Garcia come off the same assembly line, and longtime, long-suffering Cardinals fans deserve more than another recycled product.

Or didn't Arizona learn its lesson with Emmitt Smith?

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