Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart were poked, prodded and dissected before last April's NFL Draft. Along with Vince Young, the three quarterbacks were ripped apart and built back up as franchise saviors for the teams that would eventually acquired them. Many thought that Cutler, the least successful in college, was the best of the three.
Young was the first to go, at #3 to the Tennessee Titans. The waiting game was on for Leinart and Cutler, with the former finally selected at #10 by the Arizona Cardinals. It was then that Mike Shanahan struck a deal to move up to #11 and grab Cutler.
Now the QB's, who'se futures are undeniably linked forever, will meet in the first regualr season meeting between them. Cutler faced bith Young and Leinart in the pre-season with the Broncos winning both games, but this is the first meeting between any of the teams when it really matters.
For his part, Leinart has been impressive since taking over the starting duties from Kurt Warner, and the better Leinart has played the tougher the Cardinals have become. Winners of two straight for the first time in Denny Green's tenure the Cardinals are playing efficient, smart football. How long has it been since you could say that about the Arizona Cardinals.
A quick look at Leinart's stats the past 4 games, three of them wins, shows a rookie that is quickly maturing into something special --
86/138, 62.3%, 1056 Yds, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 90.8 RAT
Jay Cutler also showed some maturation from his first start to his second, and is stats are also impressive for a rookie getting his feet wet --
27/51, 52.9%, 331 Yds, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 83.0 RAT
You have to imagine there will be a more there when the two QB's face each other than normal just becuase of all the constant comparisons. Denver has alot more on the line, needing a win to stay in playoff contention. The Cardinals are a very dangerous team for that reason, and present alot of things the Broncos defense doesn't do very well, like cover high-end receivers.
No matter what, it should be fun watching these two go at it in the first of what will be many meetings over their careers.