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A Way To Coach Warner

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New quarterbacks coach Chris Miller (left) and quarterback Kurt Warner are in the process of defining the direction of their relationship.

Nervousness ran through Chris Miller, and it was only going to be a five-minute meeting.

The Cardinals? new quarterbacks coach already had done some unofficial work with three of the four quarterbacks on the roster, sharing some time with Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre and Tyler Palko in footwork drills. But his coaching background was in high school and for the college-training ground ?Football University.? Now he was here, prior to the Cardinals? first minicamp practice, with his first true coaching session in front of Kurt Warner, a man who could probably step right into coaching himself.

Miller, who quarterbacked 10 seasons in the NFL himself, had to shape how he would guide someone of Warner?s experience and accomplishments.

?Kurt is such a competitor and he is starving to get better, starving to be pushed,? Miller said. ?When coach (Ken) Whisenhunt hired me, that?s what he said ? ?This guy wants to be pushed, he wants to be better.?

?After we went through minicamp, (Kurt) shot me a text and told me, ?I appreciate the coaching and it is going to be a fun season.? That made me feel good.?

With three Super Bowl appearances and a magical 20-game (including the postseason) run of 5,730 yards passing, 41 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions, Warner doesn?t seem to have many holes a coach would need to fill.

But even Warner sees the benefit, comparing the situation to the swing coaches pro golfers employ (Tiger Woods has Hank Haney, for instance). Knowing Miller was a long-time starter in the NFL, and with similarities between the two (both are fathers of large families; Miller is 43 years old and Warner about to turn 38), Warner sees a potentially great relationship.

?Even though I may not need a lot of work with technique and understanding, it?s always nice to have a guy that has an expertise in that area and continually watches you,? Warner said. ?A guy that understands what makes you successful and what doesn?t. Maybe as you get tired throughout the season and the mechanics begin to lack a little bit, they can give you the little tips.?

Warner believes Miller will help in the translation of game preparation to actual game-planning, noting that sometimes with coaches that haven?t played quarterback, ?in their mind, (a play) works, but sometimes it doesn?t necessarily work when you are seeing it as a quarterback on the field.?

Miller threw for 19,320 yards and 123 touchdowns in his career with the Falcons, Rams and Broncos and sees himself as focused on the fundamentals. Proper footwork, for instance, is a key subject for him, something he wants to clean up with Leinart in particular.

He also sees issues with Warner in that regard. After breaking down every snap of Warner from 2008, Miller acknowledged Warner?s footwork ?gets sloppy sometimes? in the shotgun formation and there are times when Warner will shuffle in the pocket and create unneeded pressure.

Mostly, though, Miller and Warner want to trade ideas. Already, Warner has significant say in the weekly game plans, something he earned under previous offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

?He?s as good as you will ever see in this game, maybe in the history of the game, in reading defenses and knowing where defenders are and anticipation, timing,? Miller said. ?His football IQ is off the charts.?

Warner likes the idea Miller, as a former starter, understands the ups and downs of the position on a game-by-game basis. Miller also has a glass-half-full personality, which Warner believes will help all four quarterbacks.

For Warner, there are always things to learn.

?I understand that, a guy having as much experience as I have, sometimes you think, ?What do I have to offer this guy?? ? Warner said. ?But I don?t think I have it all figured out. Anybody that can bring me closer to being the best I can be, I am open to that.?


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 5/8/09.

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