The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Warner Warning - He's Back


Remember when an "over-the-hill" Kurt Warner was sacked 39 times as the Giants starter/Eli Manning developer in 2004? Then he headed to Arizona and assumed the same role with newly drafted Matt Leinart. Warner was surviving as a backup based on his 1999-2001 MVP statistics and Super Bowl success. In football years, that was a few lifetimes ago.

So that makes Warner's remarkable '08 season the player story of the year. The Cardinals QB maintains the highest completion percentage and second highest QB rating of his career. His 2,760 passing yards to date already surpasses his individual totals from '04, '05 and '06. Warner's turnover numbers are down significantly -- only six interceptions compared to 19 touchdowns. That's his third best career TD/INT ratio. The two better season, '99 and '01, he made the Super Bowl.

Of course, it helps having two top receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. They're speed and soft hands have given Warner his best WR tandem since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Warner's been in the big games before and is the only Cardinals player who can really understand the enormity of the remaining games. He's been in situations where the season is on the line. And he's won.

Most importantly, his team is well on its way to winning its first division title as the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, it's the franchise's first division title of any kind since St. Louis in 1975. That alone makes Warner this season's MVP, without question. Given the circumstances, no one player's impact is so overwhelming to a team's dynamic and identity change. Once in the playoffs, and with at least one guaranteed home game as division champs, Warner is a dangerously proven post-season QB to be feared, especially in warmer weather. Arizona needs some help to gain home field throughout the playoffs. As of now, that belongs to the Giants and then Panthers. But, in a weaker NFC West, there are more wins coming for Warner's bunch. If the Cardinals can get the #1 seed, Warner can lead them to the Super Bowl. Wouldn't it be something for Warner to face Manning in the NFC Championship -- even if it were in New York? He could finally prove he's gone from "over-the-hill" to "over-the-hump." Now, that's MVP material.

Fitting, since Warner is in fact the MVP to date in '08.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  November 12, 2008; 12:09 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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