Earlier this week the Raiders completed a move that has been rumored for years now. Matt Leinart will be sporting silver and black on Sundays as the latest stop on his career journeys brings him back to Cali.
Obviously Leinart’s signing fills an area of need as the Raiders couldn’t afford another Kyle Boller moment. By failing to address the backup QB need last season the Raiders were left with little recourse but to pay a king’s ransom for Carson Palmer.
Palmer’s presence has drawn mixed reviews in Oakland. Week-in and week-out Raider Nation was treated to the good, the bad and the ugly of Palmer’s performance. He did more than enough to convince Reggie McKenzie to stay the course but now comes the next big step.
McKenzie didn’t trade for Palmer and he didn’t hire an offensive coordinator with a scheme tailored to Carson’s strengths either. Here is where the Matt Leinart signing yields the most value.
As we all know things haven’t exactly gone as planned for Leinart. His career might be a disappointment from a production standpoint but the fact that he’s still collecting an NFL check says something.
That Leinart is getting job offers from former employers in new places says even more.
Greg Knapp’s time coaching Leinart in Houston must have made an impression. No doubt Knapp’s advice factored heavily in Oakland’s decision to give Leinart a contract. That tells us Leinart must have a solid grasp on Knapp’s offense. Which in turn means Palmer will have a liaison of sorts to help in his process of learning another new offense.
Leinart’s value as a signal caller is more closely tied to his knowledge of the playbook than it is of his talent at this point. He’s still a much better option than Boller should the situation necessitate Leinart to take some snaps under center. But it’s his handle on the playbook that makes Leinart a true asset.
Beyond his working relationship with Knapp Leinart also has close ties to Palmer. Both were at USC together where Leinart learned under Palmer. That also goes a long way in the ability for both to communicate effectively. Having a trusted voice in his ear, Palmer’s comfort level with his new offense is made all the better.
In all Leinart’s inherent value as a player might not ever be revealed. No disrespect but I hope we never learn if Leinart can still be a starter. That would mean Palmer is out of picture due to injury. Still, Leinart’s contributions to the team won’t be lost on this fan. He might not be throwing TDs but you’d better believe Leinart will have a hand in every toss made by Palmer this coming season.