Opponent Opinions: QB Kurt Warner

The Dolphins will be facing the task of trying to shut down veteran quarterback Kurt Warner Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The former Super Bowl MVP talked to the South Florida media about a variety of topics, including his receiving corps and his Dolphins counterpart.

On what it's like to have two big physical receivers like Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald: "It's nice. Nice to have two guys that strong with the football and can make plays. It's really nice in the red zone to have a couple of guys that have the ability to catch in traffic. They're strong. To hold their own in traffic and also to be able to go up and get the football. Obviously it's a great luxury as a quarterback to have two great receivers in any way, shape or form, but it's fun playing with these two guys."

On if he finds himself throwing them the ball even when they're not open: "What I've come to realize with these two guys is ‘open' is kind of a relative term. Some guys I've played with in the past, they were more open based on separation, being able to see separation between them and the defender. These guys are more open based on position and so throwing the football to them more becomes putting a ball in certain places where they're able to get it. Where they're able to use their body and their size and their strength and their great hands to get the ball and it's hard for the defender to work around them. Like I said, getting open or being open is a relative term with different receivers that you play with. But these guys, it is more based on positioning and leverage than maybe separation."

On how long it takes a quarterback to get some sense of harmony with his receivers to be on the same page with them: "It takes a while. And a lot of it I think depends on how you play the game. Like I said, with St. Louis, when I was playing with those guys, a lot of the game was more making sure you put the ball out in front of guys, really leading guys in and keeping the separation that they gained on their routes. Here, I had to make the adjustment of, like you said, when guys didn't appear to be as open because there wasn't as much separation to understand where I could put the ball, how I needed to throw the ball to these guys in certain situations, how I could throw them open a little bit or throw them with leverage. That took some time to get comfortable throwing some routes that maybe in St. Louis I would have never thrown because of the skill sets of the different guys. The way I would read something a few years ago is completely different than the way I read it now, and that's a tough transition to make as a quarterback. I think if you're playing with similar guys and making similar type reads, it's probably not as big a deal, but when you're playing with contrasting styles like it was for me, it took me some time to get comfortable doing some things and throwing some balls where these guys are really good at making plays."

On how he and Matt Leinart handled the quarterback situation, winning the job out of training camp, having a pretty good relationship before and if they have been able to maintain that and how they have been able to maintain that: "Yeah it's been good. Being on the other side of it before, I understand Matt's frustration and I understand the disappointment that goes into it. It's never a fun place to be. But I think the point that we've tried to emphasize here, whether it was me being the backup role last year, a couple of years ago I mean. You know you just say hey, ‘Bottom line is we're friends first.' We're here as teammates to work together second and we're competitive third.' And if it doesn't work out in your favor you never want to lose the first two because of the third part of it and I've tried to set that example before. Maybe Matt picked up on a little of that. I think our friendship is too important to us to allow this stuff to get in the way. Once you get over the frustration and the disappointment you say, ‘Hey this is the hand that I've been dealt. Now what can I do to help my buddy out?' I've tried to do that with Matt whenever he's been in there playing and he's been great in this situation with me in there trying to help me out and being positive. I don't expect things to change no matter which side of the coin we're on. I think that's hopefully a credit to the group of guys that we've got. To Matt and myself that character is number one and then everything else comes second."

On the public spat with Anquan Boldin about his contract, putting it behind him and not letting it affect his play and what he thinks of his professionalism: "Since I've been here there's actually been a couple of situations where Q was going through a contract deal, a couple years ago before he got his extension and maybe not to the level that it's at now. There were some issues there and at that time Q and I talked and I saw how he worked and I saw how he showed up and he competed and the way he interacted with his teammates and the leader he was to the guys. Even though he was going through it then, I never saw his play or his commitment waiver and so I didn't expect anything different from his this time and I was right. I haven't seen anything change. He still continues to interact well with his teammates. He's a tremendous leader, continues to work hard. Obviously you guys probably saw the way that he played last week. When he steps between those lines he's competitive and he's committed to being great and I don't think there's anything that's going to stop him from doing that."

On how important it is to get the running game going the way he did last week and what role Tim Hightower is going to play: "That was huge for us. No secret last year towards the end of the year we were throwing the football all over the place and really dictating the pace of the game with throwing the football. But to get in a game like last week where our defense is playing well, getting us some turnovers, putting us in good field position where it was conducive to running the ball and running the clock. It's important for us to be able to do that as a football team. You know if you want to be a good football team in this league that when you get down late in the game and you have a lead you have to be able to control the ball and hold on to that lead. You don't want to put the ball in the air and take chances that come with throwing the ball around. That was very important for us. As far as Tim, I think he's going to be a great asset to us because he's a tough runner and a strong runner. You can put him late in the game and he can give you those tough yards when everbody knows you're going to run the football. I think he's a similar back to what Edge (Edgerrin James) gives you. A guy that goes forward. A guy that gives you those though yards when you need them. I think he's going to spell Edge as well in a lot of key situations that is going to be able to help us throughout the season. It's going to keep Edge fresh. It's going to allow them to complement one another and it was great to see some of the things that he did as a rookie last week, and the confidence the coaches had in him to put the ball in his hands in critical situations."

On his impressions of the Dolphins 3-4 defense: "Very aggressive and they look good. They look good. I only had a chance to watch a little of them so far. They bring good pressure. I like their aggressive style. Everybody seems to be flying around, coming up and attacking with some of the press man on man they're playing on the corners. It just looks like a solid defense. I'm going to obviously watch more and see anything I can pick up on, but just first glance they look solid across the board. They look like they have a lot of playmakers. They fly around to the football, they're very aggressive and that's what I see early on."

On if players on Arizona have a chip on their shoulder to live up to expectations: "I don't know. It's hard, I don't know if we have so much a chip on our shoulder or that we really are feeling like we have to go out and prove anything to anybody outside of this room. What I think we have here is more of an excitement about the game and the possibilities. We haven't been a team that has had these possibilities very much throughout the time that I've been here and really over the last 10 years or so. You come in every year, and yeah, there may be some hype, but it dwindles quickly and we really don't have a lot we're playing for. I think after what we established last year, after making some strides last year, I think guys come back with an excitement about the possibilities of what this team can be and the possibilities that this team can be something that the Arizona Cardinals haven't been in a very long time. That's how I think we play. More than with a chip on our shoulder or angry or not feel like we're getting respect or whatever. I think we're just playing excited about the guys that we have and the team that we've put together and the possibilities of winning some games this year and maybe taking a step that we haven't taken here in a long time."

On the dynamic that Edgerrin James brings to the offense: "Edge is one of those guys that you love having him around. He's a great locker room guy. He's great with his teammates. He's a guy that you want to fight in battle for every snap. I think the great thing about Edge is that he is just a positive runner. He's one of those guys that never seems to lose yards; he always finds a way to make a three-yard gain a six-yard gain, or something that should be a loss, he always finds a way to make it a one or two-yard gain and keep things positive. You love to have guys like that. You love having guys that you know, even if you don't do your best job, that he's going to find a way to give you a little bit extra. Guys love blocking for him. We love having him here, we love being in those situations like last week where we can hand him the ball and know that the pile is going to keep moving. We're going to keep staying in positive situations where they hand him the ball on first down or you give it to him on third and short that things are going to work out and he's going to put you in a manageable situation moving forward."

On being 37 and if he thinks he can go another five or six years like a Vinny Testaverde: "I don't know about five or six. I feel like I have a couple more in me. I feel really good, physically. I really tried to stay in shape this offseason, down a little bit in weight from where I've been in the past, just really trying to stay in shape. I feel strong; body feels good, no lingering effects from any injuries or any fatigue in the body from camp or anything like that. I really feel good right now. The coaches do a great job here with camp and they've done a great job with me and not getting banged on much in the preseason that I really feel good right now and really feel like there's at least two, three good, solid years left in me if I choose to go that route. Right now I feel great physically; I haven't felt this good in a long time. I give credit to staying in shape, losing a little bit of weight, but also the coaches doing a great job with helping to keep me fresh and understanding that I am 37 and there's only so many throws in this arm. They do a great job managing that for me."

On if there is any sense of gratification beating out a young quarterback at 37: "I think there's always some satisfaction with the way that I've had to do it and the situations I've been in. People have tried to take it from me a number of times, tried not to give me the opportunity or tried everything to give it to somebody else. I think there's always a little gratification in going out and being able to win a job. I think the great thing about it is that not a lot of people expect it in this day and age because so many teams are going to the young quarterbacks and are going to the future and I think sometimes it's unfortunate for older guys that can still play this game. You get to a certain level or get to a certain number and people automatically think, ‘Well, most guys decline at this age.' From that point forward everybody starts looking at you and saying, ‘OK, where is the decline? Where is the decline? We know you're going to decline.' I think the fortunate thing for some guys is they can go beyond that level and I think that's where some of the gratification comes in with older guys that are able to have success is that maybe we're a little different than the normal guy. Maybe we can play until 38, 39 and play at an extremely high level where maybe everybody can't. It's nice to be able to get an opportunity to compete and show that I can still play at a very high level even though I am 37 years old. There is a sense of gratification that comes with that. I don't think it's an arrogance or an overconfidence that it's always nice, especially because of my situation and having to fight for a lot of different things. It's nice to win something when you've had to really fight for it."

On Chad Pennington getting criticized for a lack of arm strength similar to his being criticized for holding onto the ball too long: "I think you deal with it. I know the first thing I do is I really try to be critical of myself and try to weigh the criticisms that I hear about me. As you said, I was in situations where people say, ‘He holds the ball too long.' I fight that and say, ‘I don't think I am, let's go watch the film. Let's go see.' I'd really scrutinize what I was doing. And ‘A' if I found out that was the case then I'd try to rectify it. Then ‘B', if I found out it wasn't the case, then it was just easy for me to just ignore that stuff and move on and play football. I think that's what you have to do in this business. Not knowing Chad (Pennington) really well, but what I know about him is that he's a tremendous leader, he's a very smart football player, understands the game, and if there are limitations in what he can do physically, he's working as hard as he can to make up for it mentally. You're still seeing him winning, you're still seeing him successful, maybe you don't see him trying things that he doesn't feel he can do, but he knows what is in his arsenal. I think that's what I've always tried to learn about myself too. Don't try to do stuff than you can't do. Understand what you do and what you do well and try to shift the offense around that and that's the way you're going to be successful. I think that's how you have to do it each and every year. Whether you're getting older and you're losing a little on your arm, or you're losing a little in your feet, or this isn't quite as good. You have to make up for that some way, shape or form. I think what I've always done and what I continue to do is try to assess myself every time I watch myself on film, in practice, mentally. Where am I lacking? Where am I struggling? How can I make up for that? How can I still be a great quarterback even if I don't have all of the physical skills or even if I am diminishing in a certain area? I think that's what you continue to see with Chad. He's been doubted and people say that he can't do this and his arm's not strong enough, yet he goes down there and within a week he surfaces as the starting quarterback. Why? Because there's intangibles that come with Chad Pennington that you can't describe and you can't measure, it's just something that he brings to the table. Guys follow him, he knows how to lead and he knows how to win and I think that's how you have to play as you get older with your skill set. Those are the guys that continue to have success 35, 36, 37, 38. It's guys that are able to do that and change their game and play within their abilities even if they diminish."

On how tough is it for Matt Cassel to follow Tom Brady with Brady being a legend in New England: "Probably impossible and probably impossible this year because all expectations were for them to go back and win a Super Bowl. Anything short of that will not be living up to their expectations. Of course you can't expect him to live up to Tom Brady, and those expectations that everybody has for Tom. Those are the expectations that that team has going into their season, through the offseason, after their disappointment last year in the Super Bowl. Everybody else's expectations aren't going to change just because they have a different quarterback. That's where I think it's going to be hard for Matt is that nobody can expect him to be Tom Brady. It's impossible. Tom Brady wasn't Tom Brady in his first year. Nobody can expect that, yet you know those expectations are going to be there because of the team he's on and what the expectations were for that team coming in. I hope he does well, but I think it's going to be impossible for him to live anywhere close to the hype that Tom had coming in."


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