Quarterback Derek Anderson unleashes a pass during the Cardinals' 14-9 win over the Bears Saturday night at Soldier Field.
CHICAGO – Coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted to see a better offensive effort, he wanted to see what Derek Anderson would do as starting quarterback, and he wanted to see how Matt Leinart would respond to a demotion to second-string.
Saturday night, he was pleased with what he saw.
The Cardinals (2-1) went to Soldier Field and beat the Bears, 14-9, and there was little to complain about with either of his top two QBs.
Anderson completed 7-of-12 passes for 94 yards, a touchdown and a passing rating of 111.1. Leinart completed 9-of-10 passes for 84 yards, a touchdown and a passing rating of 135.0. And the Cardinals had 13 first downs total midway through the second quarter, closing out with Leinart's final pass – a 13-yard touchdown pass to Steve Breaston.
"It's a good problem to have," Whisenhunt said. "Sometimes, when you change things up … tonight it worked. I'm not saying it was necessarily the change at quarterback. We made a number of changes in different spots, but it was good to see us move the football and makes some plays."
Whisenhunt wouldn't say where the quarterback position would go from here – "I don't have to make that decision tonight," he said – and repeated several times he wanted to look at the video before making any judgments.
He also said the ultimate determination would not be stat-driven either, nor would he say a decision would be final prior to Thursday's preseason finale against Washington.
"This evaluation covers more than just the game," Whisenhunt said. "We've had a lot of practices, a lot of reps. That will be taken into account."
The quarterbacks, obviously happy themselves, said they each did what they had to do.
"I was just trying to be efficient," Anderson said, saying he had no nerves. "Nah. This isn't my first time through this."
Leinart wore a smile as he turned around to meet the media, saying he "felt great."
"I feel we were making the most of our opportunities," Leinart said. "I'm just keeping the same attitude that I've had since the decision was made – I can only control what I can control."
The defense made things easier for the offense with a solid effort, pressuring Bears quarterback Jay Cutler with four sacks and intercepting him twice – one for each of the starting cornerbacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler.
Even when the Bears (0-3) did get into scoring range, 6-foot-8 Calais Campbell blocked a Robbie Gould field goal attempt (and Gould plunked another attempt off the upright).
On Anderson's touchdown drive, he flashed both what intrigues coaches and what frustrates them. He had receiver Early Doucet wide open down the seam, but his throw was high and a little bit behind Doucet for an incompletion. But the next two throws were bullets to rookie Stephen Williams, the second a 27-yard slant for a touchdown for the early lead.
Leinart came in for the two-minute drill and looked like he would have led the Cards to a first-half touchdown drive until running back Beanie Wells was stripped of the ball for a fumble inside the Chicago 10-yard line.
Whisenhunt was clearly not happy, but Leinart shrugged it off. "That's how it goes," he said.
The rookie receivers played well. Williams was Anderson's hero, making some good catches in traffic (Williams finished with five catches for 79 yards). Max Komar, perhaps battling Onrea Jones for a roster spot, had six catches for 76 yards. He and Jones helped ice the win by making catches of 30- and 28-yards from rookie Max Hall late in the fourth quarter.
The running game broke out a little too, with Tim Hightower rushing for 62 yards on eight carries. But the game was clearly about Anderson and Leinart.
"Guys made some plays outside," Anderson said. "I missed the sight adjust on one (Doucet), but I thought we did well handling the pressure. It took a little while to get warmed up, but I was happy."
Said Leinart, "I thought we did well as an offense tonight. … You can always get better, that's my attitude, but again, I felt like I made the most of my opportunities."
And the Cardinals showed what it means to have solid quarterback play – and it was from both guys.
"We had more of a sense of urgency tonight," Whisenhunt said, "and that showed up."
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