Were a week removed from the Super Bowl and the talk of the game and Aaron Rogers’ great performance have been overshadowed by CBA grandstanding. It’s tough for the average football fan to relate to this squabble. We should all be so lucky. Hopefully they will come to an agreement before someone crosses a line that takes months, if not longer, to come back from.
Last month we focused on the NFC East, which more closely resembled the NFC Least as the dust settled. This week we’ll look at the NFC West. This division was mediocre to bad from top to bottom. The Seahawks claimed the division crown but actually accounted themselves well in the playoffs by knocking the defending champion Saints off. Where do these teams go from here? All in all this division looks to be on the upswing with change and optimism aplenty for the entire division. Now don’t misquote me, they all won’t have 10 + win seasons, but there is reason for optimism for all fan bases.
Seattle Seahawks 7-9
You have to give Pete Carroll credit for getting this team to 7-9. I am not even sure they have 7 win talent. They played hard, as all Carroll teams do, so shame on me for underestimating that factor. So where does Seattle go from here? Their first decision is quarterback. When healthy, Matt Hasselback is a solid pro but he is rarely healthy on a regular basis these days. Ideally they would look to groom a young QB and have Hasselback run the ship until the future QB is ready. The other part of the equation is that Charlie Whitehurst in under contract for $4 million which is a lot of money for a backup. Decisions, decisions……
- A coach who can get his players to play.
- Some key players returning from injury, especially along the defensive line.
- Solid wide outs under contract.
- A loud home field advantage (honestly, less to be excited about compared to their division rivals).
- 25 unrestricted free agents that will hit the market, assuming there is a market to hit.
- Name one Seahawk who is a stud? Ok, Marshawn Lynch is still running over Saints, but I can’t put him in the star category.
- Aside from Okung the O-line is below average which hurt the run game and probably aged Hasselback even more.
- Aside from Trufant, who is getting long in the tooth, the secondary needs to be revamped.
Needs: See weaknesses above. Look at all the good teams and you need the Coach-QB tandem. Seattle has an enthusiastic coach, but they don’t have a signal-caller who can lead them to a title. Can Pete Carroll’s troops believe in him long enough to get their franchise QB?
St. Louis Rams
The Rams just missed making the playoffs with rookie Sam Bradford under helm. As I stated above, Seattle needs that Coach-QB combo; well, St. Louis has it with Bradford and Steve Spagnuolo. I always thought Spags had the making of a good coach when he was the Giants Defensive Coordinator. The big question this offseason for the Rams is how Sam Bradford and Josh McDaniels will comingle. McDaniels had a good reputation before he torpedoed the Broncos by trading all their good players away for a $2.00 coupon to Subway.
- Smart, energetic, young coach.
- A young franchise QB.
- Steven Jackson continues to put out good numbers with little support.
- A young and talented defensive line.
- Aside from Donnie Avery, who is attempting a comeback form injury, there is a lot of room for improvement.
- Their back seven is weak, particularly at safety and linebacker.
- Depth. Even at their strengths, there is little room for injury.
Needs: More playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Rams can supplement their draft with solid free agent acquisitions but a young team like the Rams needs to be careful who they bring into the locker-room. They should avoid certain veteran wideouts like TO, Moss or Ocho-Stupido. While no one can dispute their talent their presence is more distraction than they’re worth.
San Francisco 49er’s
Here was the team picked to win the division coming off a promising 2009. And what happened? Mike Singletary yelled the team to death! Shhhh, you can still hear him yelling. If you put your ear up to a seashell you can hear him yelling. Of course there are other factors as well. The fact that Alex Smith is the perennial tease doesn’t help. Smith manages to show just enough, often at the end of the season, to make you think he is the franchise QB you thought you were getting in the first round. In 05 the 49ER’s picked Smith #1 overall are were rewarded with a 6-10 record. The Pack chose Rodgers at # 24, hmmmmm. I love hindsight.
Well there’s a new Sheriff in town: Jim Harbaugh brings a pedigree as a player and college coach that should give him a lot of credibility with the existing players. Unfortunately Andrew Luck won’t be behind center and for the moment it looks like Smith will. That could change come April though.
- Jim Harbaugh will get them 2-3 more wins based on his temperament alone.
- Some good building blocks to work from based off the last 2 drafts.
- The #7 pick in the draft should yield a much needed impact player.
- Alex Smith & David Carr are no one’s answer @ QB.
- The defense was supposed to be strength but the lack of sacks was a problem all season.
- The secondary, particularly cornerback is a concern, especially considering Nate Clements & his ridiculous cap figure.
Needs: All in all, 49ER’s fans have to feel a little more optimistic about their prospects, especially considering this division is wide open. They should be concerned with what is being built in St. Louis, but competition should make you stronger.
It starts and finishes at QB, so obviously they will look at some of the available free agents or address it in the draft. If they do draft a QB, will they reach for someone at #7 like Cam Newton or will they look for someone in the second round and endure another year of Alex Smith. I know the rest of the division is hoping for another year of Smith.
Uhhhhhhhhhhh, can you say quarterback? I don’t think the Cardinals can. What a mess. How bad do you think Larry Fitzgerald would like to switch places with Anquan Boldin about now? When Kurt Warner retired the Cards hoped that Matt Leinart would fulfill his #1 pick pedigree. That didn’t work out so well. They turned to Derek Anderson who laughed his way right onto the bench and possibly out of the NFL. Max somebody or other and Red Skelton is simply forgettable.
This team needs to find its quarterback of the future but also needs a credible starter in the interim. Apparently Larry Fitzgerald gets to pick who he wants throwing him the ball. It always works well when the wide receivers call the shots. They’ve talked about Marc Bulger and apparently don’t want Donovan, well, I can’t argue with them on that one.
- Larry Fitzgerald is a stud, no matter what stiff throw’s him the ball.
- The coaching staff of Ken Whisenhunt and now Ray Horton come from an organization that knows how to win.
- There are still some good players from a team that was a dangerous playoff team a few years back.
- The #5 position in the draft.
- Quarterback, as illustrated above. Warner was a great leader which is something this team sorely needs.
- The secondary got torched last season and needs an influx of talent.
- The offensive line will need to improve for any QB to have some success next season.
Needs: Despite sounding like a broken record, it all starts at quarterback. They need to find their signal caller of the future while finding a credible starter to bring leadership and stability to the offense. On defense Ray Horton needs to bring some Steeler toughness and maybe a few players!