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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

01 Mar 2006

Four Downs: NFC West

by Mike Tanier

Arizona Cardinals

New Digs

Cardinals Stadium is slated to open for business on August 1st. You can take a 3-D tour of the state-of-the-art complex here.

Yes, playing Cardinals games in a palace is like serving cream chipped beef on Wedgwood china. But give the Bidwell family props for pulling out all the stops in their latest effort to revitalize (okay, vitalize) Cardinals football. "We wanted to set a new standard for design excellence for stadiums," Michael Bidwell told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "We wanted fresh ideas. We didn't want the 2006 version of whatever the sports architects wanted to throw out. We wanted something that would completely reset the rules."

The architects delivered, creating a facility with 88 luxury "lofts" (don't call them "boxes"), air conditioning, a retractable roof, and most intriguingly, a retractable grass playing field that slides into the stadium (in Bidwell's words) "like a cake pan into the oven".

All the retraction could help the Cardinals competitively. The architects stopped just short of equipping Kurt Warner with a retractable thumb, but a sliding field could put an end to the team's red zone woes (the Cardinals' red zone DVOA of -101.2 percent was the worst in the league by a huge margin). You say a drive stalled at the 15-yard line? No problem: just push a button, and the field can retract until the Cardinals are at the one. The players just have to slide around like that dude from Jamiroquai.

The final T-crossing and I-dotting for Cardinals Stadium occurred last week, as the team reached an agreement with Fiesta Bowl officials on how to divvy up luxury lofts for the big bowl game. The 73,000-seat venue is the home of Super Bowl XLII. And maybe it will be the home of some exciting Cardinals games as well.

Free Agency Preview

Here's a foolproof plan for getting the Cardinals into the playoffs in 2006.

With about $20 million in cap space to burn and a new stadium to fill, the Cardinals must go shopping. Denny Green can turn things around quickly if he can protect Kurt Warner, run the football, and make the Cardinals better in the red zone. He can accomplish all three goals by upgrading the offensive line. Green has hinted several times in the past month that improving the line is the team's top priority.

The Cardinals do have some talent up front. Leonard Davis isn't an elite left tackle, but he's adequate. Alex Stepanovich missed all of last season with a hand injury but showed promise in 2004; he could return at center or play either guard position. Guard Elton Brown started to come around late in the year. Reggie Wells may be given a chance to win the starting center job. But there are weak links, notably at right tackle, where Oliver Ross was a disappointment last year before getting hurt.

It shouldn't be too hard to replace Ross. Jon Runyan may be getting old, but he's a tough competitor who is rarely hurt. He would instantly upgrade the running game. If the Patriots let Tom Ashworth go, then the Cardinals can sign a more traditional pass blocker who can play either tackle position.

Green has made it clear that the Cardinals won't break the bank for Shaun Alexander or Edgerrin James, and he hasn't given up on J.J. Arrington, who showed signs of life in the second half of last season after gaining 27 yards on 20 carries in his first three games. Green's instincts are right on the money; the top running backs would probably shop a Cardinals contract offer instead of seriously considering it. Still, Arrington needs help. Najeh Davenport would be a cheaper alternative to Alexander or Edge; he would be the bruiser, Arrington the speedster, with Marcel Shipp picking up odds and ends. One rumor has the Cardinals pursuing Maurice Morris, but how many third down backs does one team need?

The Cardinals defense isn't great, but it should get better this year as youngsters Eric Green and Antrell Rolle develop at cornerback. Ahmed Plummer's name has surfaced in conjunction with the Cardinals, and he would provide some veteran stability in the secondary.

And what about Josh McCown, who appears to be in limbo now that Warner has signed? The Cardinals should keep him, ditch John Navarre, and forget about Vince Young or Jay Cutler. This team spends too much time on the developmental merry-go-round at that position. But Green likes Navarre, appears lukewarm toward McCown, and has stated that the team will either sign or draft a quarterback.

St. Louis Rams

Private Idaho

Watch out, Rams fans: the Vandals are coming. The Idaho Vandals, to be specific.

Long before he made a name for himself as offensive coordinator for the Dolphins and Vikings, new Rams skip Scott Linehan coached the University of Idaho that led the nation in scoring in 1993 (47.5 points per game). Linehan, a Vandals quarterback under Dennis Erickson, was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Idaho before moving to the University of Washington, then Louisville, then finally the pros. Linehan's rep is built on his work with the Vikings, and it's no secret that when he left Minnesota, Daunte Culpepper's stock went downhill faster than Bode Miller. Okay, bad example.

Linehan hasn't forgotten his Idaho tubers; his coaching staff resembles a who's who of Big Sky coaching hotshots. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson followed Linehan as Idaho's offensive coordinator before bouncing around the NFL and Big 10 as a position coach. Olson's credentials aren't impressive -- few people want to start their cover letters with "I was Joey Harrington's quarterback coach" -- but Olson's fast-track rise makes him worth watching.

Strengthening the Idaho connection is quarterback coach Doug Neussmeier, the former Vandals and Saints quarterback who has spent the last three years developing Drew Stanton and Jeff Smoker at Michigan State. Nussmeier is the missing link between the ex-Vandals and ex-Saints; on defense, veteran coaches like Rick Venturi and Jim Haslett bring lots of experience but shaky resumes to the table.

The Idaho connection was almost stronger; Linehan wanted to hire Vandals skipper Nick Holt to coach the defensive lines, but Holt took a job as USC's defensive coordinator instead. Former Lions and Chargers assistant Brian Baker got the job instead.

So Linehan has assembled a relatively youthful staff from the great frontier. How will they change the way the Rams do business? Early indications suggest an egalitarian model, with Linehan, Olson, and Neussmeier all contributing ideas to the offense. Marc Bulger has even provided some input in early skull sessions. Linehan is reportedly changing the terminology and adding more shotgun formations. Rest assured that the Rams will still be a pass-first team.

And while the playbook is still being hammered out, Bulger seems to be pleased with the changes. It isn't hard to read between the lines of his quote from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "I'm sure they're going to be demanding and want things right, but it wasn't like I was up there talking to the Wizard of Oz," Bulger said. "They talk to you like a normal person. Respectful." Toto, we have a feeling that Mike Martz isn't in Missouri anymore.

Free Agency Preview

Here's a foolproof plan for getting the Rams back into the playoffs in 2006.

The Rams are in good cap shape, with about $16 million in breathing space. If Isaac Bruce agrees to an extension, they'll have a little more cash; his current cap number is about $10 million.

Much of the team's discretionary cash will be spent on defense. Haslett has made it clear that he wants Adam Archuleta back, and the Rams should be aggressive about re-signing him. Defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett never developed into stars, but both are serviceable players at a position where depth is at a premium. The team has been in negotiations with Lewis. They appear ready to let Pickett walk. If he leaves, the team must sign Lewis and try to get deeper and more flexible up front.

The Rams also need to get better at cornerback and at linebacker. The return of Dexter Coakley from a broken fibula should provide a boost at linebacker, but Coakley is on the downside of his career. At the corners, the Rams have adequate but oft-injured youngsters Travis Fisher, Jerametrius Butler, and DeJuan Groce, but they need competition and depth. Charles Woodson and Ty Law are too old and expensive for a team looking to rebuild; Ricky Manning or Will Allen would be better alternatives.

Any extra money should be spent on the interior offensive line. Tom Nutten probably won't be back, and the Rams have sandbagged their guard positions with old timers for too long. Young guards like Steven Neal and Vince Manuwai get pretty high marks in pass protection, and both are young enough to stick around for a while. If the Rams don't overspend for aging talent (like they did for Coakley last year), they can invest in some long-term solutions.

San Francisco 49ers

He's Back

So, okay, Norv Turner is now the Niners offensive coordinator.

You know how Dorian Gray had a picture in his attic? And you know how it got ugly every time he did something evil? In Turner's attic, there's a playbook full of infernal plays, and every time one of his teams fails to reach the postseason, another page of unholy x's and o's appears. This year's page is titled "Randy Moss: decoy."

Yes, Moss played hurt for much of the year. Yes, DVOA ranked the Raiders offense 13th in the league: not bad, and better than they ranked in most traditional stats (offensive points and net yards: 19th). But Al Davis gave Turner an arsenal that made the Death Star look like a slingshot, and Turner coached them right into the middle of the NFL pack, as he usually does.

In a way, that makes this the perfect job for Turner. The Niners were comically inept on offense last season. It would be almost impossible for them to get worse. If Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and the offensive line enjoy modest improvements, the Niners could finish 19th or 20th in the league in total offense. Turner gets credit for the "turnaround." Mission accomplished.

Readers of Pro Football Prospectus know the tally on Turner: since 1998, he has only coached (as head coach or offensive coordinator) one team into the top 10 in DVOA: the 1999 Redskins. If you prefer traditional stats, only his 1999 Redskins reached the top 10 in total yards since 1994; that team and the 1996 Redskins finished in the top 10 in total points. And of course, those 1999 Redskins were his only playoff team since he rode Jimmy Johnson's coattails in Dallas.

Turner seems like a good guy, but he has proven that he's an awful head coach and a mediocre coordinator. He should be down at University of Pittsburgh, helping his buddy Dave Wannstedt and trying to make a star out of Tyler Palco. It's exciting to see teams like the Rams as they assemble young, up-and-coming coaching staffs. It's discouraging to watch the same retread coaches get hired over and over again. What will Turner do with Brandon Lloyd that he couldn't do with Moss?

Oh well, at least Bruce Coslett has been quiet lately.

Free Agency Preview

Here's a foolproof plan for getting the Niners into the playoffs in … oh, let's say 2007.

First, they must get their front office straightened out as quickly as possible. Pursuing Mike Reinfeldt for an undisclosed executive position wasn't a bad idea. If Ray Anderson is the answer to the team's front office needs, then the Niners should move quickly. If they don't hire a new exec in the next two weeks, they should wait a year and let the existing administration call the shots.

Second, the Niners must perform some spin control on their penny-pinching reputation. There's nothing wrong with releasing Ahmed Plummer or allowing Julian Peterson to hit the market. But Mike Nolan's "he's not worth the cap space" remarks won't sit well with veterans around the league. If Peterson isn't worth the big bucks, the Niners must prove that they are willing to go after someone who is.

The goal for 2006 should be to acquire one impact player through free agency and another through the draft; if they can acquire two stars and develop some others, they can generate some buzz for 2007. Unfortunately, young difference-makers aren't easy to find on the free agent market; Steve Hutchinson and Nate Clements were quickly tagged by their clubs for just that reason. Wide receiver David Givens, who has the potential to be a #1 receiver, or defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, who was great in 2005 but has questions, are two players who may be worth a big-money gamble.

Such is the Catch-22 the Niners find themselves in: they have cap space, but there aren't many players on the market who can help them get better than 6-10. If they sign no one, they'll be perceived as cheap and non-competitive. No wonder the team is looking for a new front office guru.

If the Niners overspend on Jamal Lewis, John Abraham, or Charles Woodson, you'll know that they felt pressure to make some headlines. Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan must hold their water in free agency. If they panic, they could spend their way straight into the middle of the pack.

Seattle Seahawks

Rally for Shaun

Seahawks fans don't want Shaun Alexander to skip town. They're ready to take action to keep their superstar running back.

Chester Earl of Coast Salish Events has even scheduled a march. The "12th Man Rally" is set to step off on March 2. Earl hopes to pressure the Seahawks into keeping the team's Super Bowl nucleus together and signing Alexander to a long-term deal. You can buy a handsome tee shirt with a picture of Alexander and the caption "We want our MVP back" for just $15.

In an exclusive FO interview, Earl explained the particulars of the rally.

FO: How many people do you expect to attend? Will there be food? Music? Special trailers like the ones they have in Tampa Bay?
Earl: I have confirmed around 120 to 150 people. At this point we will be serving hot dogs and drink; there has been a couple of vendors that have offered food but we haven't responded.

FO: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that you will be marching from the south side of the Seahawks team store to the north parking lot. That seems like an awfully short walk.
Earl: Due to the time between the Super Bowl XL and the free agency, we couldn't get a street permit. We will see the day of the event; if we get less then 300 people, we can extend it from there!

FO: What about Steve Hutchinson? How come he doesn't get a march?
Earl: I have been receiving a lot of feedback regarding Steve, Joe (Jurevicius), Mack (Strong): that we need them just as bad, if not more so. I don't agree about "more so," but agree we need them all.... Seattle has promised Shaun for the past two years, "show us you are real and we will pay you real money" I believe being the rushing champ, MVP and so much more, we need to pay him. Steve is going to get his $6.9 million as franchise player (transition player, actually).

FO: If Alexander leaves, who's a better consolation prize: Edge, Jamal Lewis, or Maurice Morris? Or should Dan Doorink come out of retirement?
Earl: Well I would pick T.O. first. Just kidding! I think we should draft a good running back if he doesn't re-sign. If he doesn't re-sign I believe we get hit with the Super Bowl hangover, so let's bring in a good running back from college to run behind that great line.

FO: Is the rally a "rain or shine" event? Actually, is there such a thing as a "shine" event in Seattle?
Earl: Is Super Bowl XLI going to be played rain or shine?

Update: The threat of lightning storms kept some would-be 12th Men away from the Alexander rally, but the crowd that was there showed their Seahawks spirit. Several Washington-area newspapers and television stations covered the scaled-down march. Most marchers wore Earl's Alexander tee-shirts; many carried signs and banners.

According to Earl, marchers buzzed about the latest collective bargaining news, and some were still grumbling about the officiating at the Super Bowl. But the buzzword of the day was "chemistry." These fans didn't just want to remain in the Super Bowl hunt; they wanted to improve Seattle's image as a sports city. "Even if we have to pay Alexander $7.5 or $8 million," Earl said, "it's an opportunity to make some history in Seattle. To have our MVP come back, and to have him eventually retire with the Seahawks, it would build a football tradition which Seattle lacks."

After the rally, marches learned that the start of the free agency period was pushed back; no one would come knocking after Alexander until Monday morning. And Earl was surprised by three e-mail messages: Seahawks fans from the Philadelphia area, all of them seeking Alexander tee-shirts.

Free Agency Preview

Here's a foolproof plan for keeping the Seahawks in the playoffs in 2006.

The Seahawks have cap room – about $15-million worth of it, after placing the transition tag on Steve Hutchinson – but despite the protests of fans like Earl, they aren't about to overpay for Alexander.

The Seahawks will let Alexander learn about his market value the hard way. The league's freest-spending owners aren't in the market for a running back right now. The presence of Edge, Lewis, and several top college prospects will allow buyers to name their price. There are more whispers about backup Maurice Morris than about Alexander right now. By the end of March, Alexander may be willing to return to Seattle with a lucrative-but-sane new deal.

Most of the team's other in-house free agents are bit players (Peter Warrick, Ryan Hannam) or aging veterans (Mack Strong). The team expressed some interest in keeping Warrick, who may get some offers from teams looking for an Antwaan Randle El consolation prize. Strong is likely to re-sign with the Seahawks. Joe Jurevicius and Rocky Bernard will attract some attention from other clubs; Bernard had a very good season at defensive tackle, but he may have been playing for a payday, as he had a rep for taking downs off in past years. Jurevicius will get looks from teams in need of a second or third wideout.

The Seahawks can afford to sign Alexander, keep some role players like Strong and restricted free agent Wayne Hunter, and still pursue some big name talent on defense. Ty Law or Adam Archuleta would provide an instant upgrade in the secondary. An all-purpose defensive lineman like Aaron Kampmann or Orpheus Roye would improve the run defense while keeping the speed rushers fresh.

Unlike their NFC West opponents, the Seahawks can adopt a "one player away" strategy: it makes sense for them to pursue a short term contributor like Law or Charles Woodson. That may be the best way to avoid the Super Bowl Slump.

Next week: AFC East by Aaron Schatz

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Mar 2006

50 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2006, 10:36pm by young curmudgeon

Comments

1
by empty13 (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 11:33am

ARI re-signed the wrong QB.

2
by Matthew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 11:56am

I cannot understand all the fuss about Randle El, he's never come close to a 1000 yard season. Surely the top free agent reciever left is Antonio Bryant. I know that Bryant has acted like an idiot at times but I can remember that ludicrous lateral to Hines Ward (against the Colts in the regular season I think).

I also would have thought that a review of the niners' free agents would mention the neccesity of keeping Derek Smith (and maybe Andre Carter too)

3
by bowman (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 12:11pm

Perhaps J.Peterson isn't worth the money he's asking? It seems that he's an injury risk. I wouldn't blame 49er cheapness on letting him go.

4
by Matthew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 12:20pm

3: You just can't spend 8 million on a linebacker, can you, it is asking for cap trouble. Peterson is at his best in a 4-3 anyway, he's a little light for a 3-4 at 235 lbs, plus his outstanding coverage skills are more use in a 4-3.

5
by Dman (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 12:58pm

RE#2 Its hard to catch 1000 yards as the number 2 receiver in an offense that runs 40 times a game.

6
by pawnking (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 1:03pm

I hope that SA ends up back in seattle. I hope for the teams' sake it isn't for the monster deal rumored, although he deserves to be paid well.

I'm predicting a nice signing bonus, and the usual back loaded deal which will give him incentive to continue to be productive for the next 5 years. If he breaks down, he'll lose lots of that.

We'll see.

7
by Kachunk (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 1:49pm

RE #2: The ludicrous lateral was against the Patriots. Ludicrous lateral...that's a good name for it.

8
by Noble (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 2:10pm

Good article Mike. Extra points for the Jamiroquai reference. :)

9
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 2:18pm

Finally, hard evidence of FO's anti-creamed chipped beef bias.

I know he's a defensive coach now, but I wonder if Haslett will try to recruit LeCharles Bentley to join him in St. Louis.

10
by Francisco (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 2:20pm

According to the Cardinals website, they have front-row upper deck season tickets for $10 (a game, I presume). Crappy team or not, I would be all over that like hot sauce on a burrito, as it were.

11
by Adam (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 2:23pm

If you look at the virtual Cardinals Stadium you'll notice that have a couple of sections that sell season tickets for 10 bucks.

Holy freakin' sweet batman!

12
by Adam (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 2:24pm

GAH!

Francisco beat me to it.

13
by Pegskin (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 3:25pm

"Special trailers like the ones they have in Tampa Bay?"

Well played, FO, well played.

14
by Kulko (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 3:28pm

I thought the only foolproof pal to get the Cards into the playoff was to expand the current Playoff format to 32 teams. Ah better make it 34 just to be sure.

15
by Kwame (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 3:43pm

I think the Ludicrous Lateral award goes to Reggie Bush in the Rose Bowl.

16
by jack (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 4:40pm

I love the humor in these articles. That stuff about the sliding field - priceless! And the bit about Denny Green turning things around quickly! "I fall on the floor and I laughing."

17
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 5:08pm

It'll be exciting to see all these new coaches on the sidelines -- there won't be a weekend that passes in which even those limited to basic cable won't get to see a team with a new coach at the helm. I am geeking out over this.

All this said, I'm curious what people think of Linehan and his chances as a head coach. Also, does anyone actually believe that Mike Nolan is going to pick the 49ers back up? I think they've screwed the pooch on this one and that it's a marriage of a coach, a management, and an ownership that have weaknesses in all the same places. I just can't see them making up for that. The best management/coach combinations either complement each other's strengths or are a melding of a manager and coach who don't always agree or get along (of course, this latter fails as often as it works.) But I think the worst is when you have a management and coach that don't really challenge each other to think outside of their limited perspectives.

18
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 5:13pm

And before I get the self-righteous flame, I'm fully aware Mike Nolan is not a first-year coach. I just didn't make the downshift from talking about first year coaches to coaches in this division clear. Linehan served as my bridge, and I strode over him as if stepping singly over a great chasm. Deal with it.

19
by Catfish (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 6:03pm

"Linehan’s rep is built on his work with the Vikings, and it’s no secret that when he left Minnesota, Daunte Culpepper’s stock went downhill faster than Bode Miller. Okay, bad example."

Best zinger I've seen in a while.

20
by JasonM (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 6:53pm

RE #17: Of course we can't know how Scott Linehan will do as a head coach. I can say that he claims that the two biggest influences on him as a coach are Dennis Erickson and John L. Smith. (Somewhere Russell Levine is smiling as he reads that.)

I thought that the Rams job would be one of the more appealing ones out of all the vacancies this year: The offensive pieces are mostly in place, especially if the mysterious Richie Incognito pans out the way most think he will. The defense has been one Larry Marmie away from significant improvement in the last two seasons. Larry's gone now, and even if he were replaced by a delicious bag of oranges, most Rams' fans would consider it an improvement. They landed something better than a delicious bag of oranges, though -- Jim Haslett. Also, under Joey "Two-Times" Vitt, the Rams lost three games in which they had a lead in the fourth quarter. That's a lot. Win those and they're 9-7. Finally, one would think that after the back-room politics and divisiveness that marred the last few years of the Martz regime that the front office will bend over backwards to show that all of that was an aberration. The only real negative for an incoming coach is the lack of a pro personnel department. Of course, that is what supposedly caused most of the in-fighting before, and the fact that they still have only paid lip service to rectifying that makes me a little nervous as a fan of the team.

So, after all that, I believe that Linehan is at least in a great position to be a good coach. That could change between now and the regular season, but he could have ended up in much worse situations.

As for Nolan, he realistically now has only one more year to start winning a higher percentage of close games. History hasn't smiled long on coaches that fail to close out games (unless their dad is the winningest coach in NFL history, and Dick Nolan isn't even in the top 50). Nolan's Niner's had four games last year where they blew a fourth quarter lead, blew a two score lead, or both. Only the Texans with five could top that. If they have a similar run next year, even if they improve in total wins, Nolan will be gone.

I am curious as to your "strength/weakness" statements on Nolan and the front office. Can you be more specific?

21
by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 8:58pm

RE #17: Of course we can’t know how Scott Linehan will do as a head coach. I can say that he claims that the two biggest influences on him as a coach are Dennis Erickson and John L. Smith. (Somewhere Russell Levine is smiling as he reads that.)

I'll pretend I didn't read that.

22
by Alaska Jack (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 9:36pm

The Norv Turner thing is a little puzzling to me. I remember reading, when he left the Dolphins, some of the Dolphin players being quoted about how he was a genius, and the single best gameplanner they'd ever seen.

Under his watch, however, the Raiders offense wasn't creative, it wasn't aggressive, and I don't remember ever being bowled over by the game planning. I can't explain the disconnect between what his former players said about him and what we saw on the field.

23
by Alaska Jack (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 9:38pm

I remember in college, Nussmeier was a PHENOMENAL quarterback. I really thought he'd take the pros by surprise. I'd really like to hear from some Saints fans their perspective on why he never panned out. Didn't get a chance? Injuries? Poor coaching? Just not that good?

- Alaska Jack

24
by Matthew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 10:07pm

Re 20: You're being a litle harsh on Nolan. The niners didn't have a lot of talent when he took over and then they were decimated by injuries. As a niner fan it was pretty annoying (other than all the losing football games) to hear eagles and pats fans complain about how injured their teams were because they were missing a handful of starters, when at one point (round about week 12 or 13) the niners were without their entire starting secondary, Peterson, Ulbrich, B.Y., both WRs, Eric Johnson, Jennings, Newberry, Barlow, Beasley and Alex Smith. That's an absurd 15 out of 22 starters, I don't know what Lombardi would have got out of what was left on the roster. I thought Nolan did a pretty good job in not letting the team quit.

25
by Matthew (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 10:07pm

Re: 17's comment on Nolan, I can understand the point about the confused front office situation but Nolan is effectively the GM (in a similar role to Belichick) and it's probably a little soon to criticise his management after one draft and two significant free agent signings last year (Nedney=good and Jennings=pending). Maybe he could have gotten more than a 7th for Rattay

26
by Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 03/01/2006 - 11:40pm

Wait...so 5 DB's (Gay, Poole, Scott, Sanders, and Starks) 4 Lineman (Ashworth, Koppen, Kazcur, and Light), 3 Running Backs (Pass, Dillon, and Faulk), 3 Linebackers (Bruschi, Biesal, and Brown) 3 Wide Recievers (Givins, Johnson, and Brown) 2 TE's (Watson and Graham) and Richard Seymour all missed games due to injuries. I mean...thats just a staggering amount of injuries right there. Not all were season ending, but I think Pats fans saying "We had a lot of injuries" was plenty justified.

27
by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 12:37am

Tony,

You can't really complain that lousy DB's got injured and were replaced by not-significantly-lousier DB's.

28
by Tony (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 2:04am

Well, true. But if he can complain about having Alex Smith injured, I figure I can throw in crappy DB's as well.

And I'm not complaining about Patriot injuries...just complaining about someone saying Pats fans didn't have much to complain about in terms of injuries.

29
by calbuzz (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 3:33am

#20, perhaps Incognito was dominant in college, but just who are the "most people" who think he will pan out in the NFL, bad knee, bad attitude, and all?

30
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 9:04am

Peterson flat out played badly for most of this season outside of a couple of games. He makes the odd highlight reel type play then misses a bunch of routine/important other ones... he's not what he once was, far from it. Coverage he's not so great (although better than most still). Passrushing skills are practically non existant now. He's still terrible against the run (always has been bad against the run).

He isn't worth 1/4 of what he's asking unless he regains some explosiveness that he apparently has lost.

31
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 9:12am

re 25.

They should have kept Rattay. Probably the only really bad move he's made so far. Jennings will wind up being valuable if he can stay healthy. Still, it's up in the air at this point as to whether he will prove worth the money. At the time I thought it was a good deal. 6 million a year for a well above average LT and 11 million up front? That's very reasonable. He would make a nice RT as well. Somewhat highly paid, but still worth the money.

32
by cardnlcntry (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 9:23am

Im hoping Seattle can keep Shaun and get him a ring next year as you were robbed this year, and I hated all that rep about the bus going back to detroit,(to retire, as he hasnt put up anything close to what SA does weekly- just thinking about that super bowl still gives me the willys about the NFL is it really real anymore?

33
by Matthew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 9:51am

Re 28: 1- My point was that those players were starters and were all missing at once, just a snapshot to demonstrate how bad things got. There were other injuries and not all of those guys missed more than a couple of weeks.
2- If you're going to list a bunch of guys from the same position then I can point out that the niners had to use four quarterbacks. Say what you like about Smith (personally I thought he came on at the end of the year, given that his recievers were one of the worst units ever) the guy is better than Cody Pickett, who's a better special teamer than a QB.
3- I wasn't trying to say that the Pats etc weren't banged up, just that the niners were as crippled by injury as any side I've ever seen and nobody seeems to have noticed. I know that this is because they weren't contenders but I would have hoped that in season-round-up articles like this, it might get mentioned, that's all.

34
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 9:58am

Last off-season the Cards were a chic pick to challenge for/make the playoffs. I doubt that will be the case this year even though I think the Cards will show improvement.

35
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 10:59am

RE: 31

Shipping the Rat out was a good move. He did give us a better chance to win last year, but not that much better than Dorsey, and getting a 7th for him was better than letting him go for free in FA this year (which was the alternative).

The Niners do indeed have a lot of holes, but I'm not sure what the perceived problems are with Nolan. Anyone wanna expound on that?

36
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 11:15am

No mention of Lloyd who might be a great reciever? Or of the Niners nice power running game towards the end of the season? (490 yards the last three weeks...)

37
by Parker (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 3:25pm

I always thought 'that guy from Jamiroquai' was Jamiroquai. Is that the name of the band or the name of the guy?

38
by Tony (not verified) :: Thu, 03/02/2006 - 7:03pm

Matthew, Fair enough. And you are right, I had no idea that the Niners (other than having to play so many QB's) really were that banged up this year, and you are right, it went pretty much unnoticed because they weren't expected to be good anyway.

39
by EnglishBob (not verified) :: Fri, 03/03/2006 - 4:42am

Jamiroquai is headed up by Jason Kay, better known as JK.
The sliding pitch for the Cards is a technique already used by PSV EIndhoven in the Dutch football league and at Sapporo in Japan. Idea is you slide the pitch out to let the sun shine on it- grass can die very quickly if kept in the shade, an issue with a lot of stadiums. I love the idea of shifting it to solve their red zone issues!

40
by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/03/2006 - 5:18pm

I would have liked to see Mike Martz come in as the Cards O-coordinator. I think with the talent at WR and Kurt Warner (or even McCown) they could have had an explosive offense.

41
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/03/2006 - 8:10pm

Martz and Denny Green co-ordinating the same offense? It's hard to imagine they'd be happy chums.

42
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 3:51am

Re 35

Rattay would have come back on the cheap. He's not going to start anywhere. At least I doubt he would. He is MUCH better than Dorsey. So much better. At least when he's on he can throw a decent deep ball. Dorsey struggles to make any throws beyond 8 yards, and he even struggles with the short throws. He would have been one of the leagues better backups. Instead we're stuck with pretty bad players @ the QB position as insurance. PIckett has upside and is worth keeping. Dorsey I think should be cut if he doesn't improve drastically in the offseason (I doubt that happens).

43
by Will (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 4:20pm

Regarding the Shaun Alexander march, I don't know why they need a permit. In true Alexander fashion they aren't going to walk down the middle of the street, they're going to make a beeline to the side of the road and walk there.

44
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 10:43pm

Watch out, Rams fans: the Vandals are coming.

Bit of an obscure reference for most, but nice line.

Ahmed Plummer’s name has surfaced in conjunction with the Cardinals, and he would provide some veteran stability in the secondary.

You mean in the same way Duane Starks provided "veteran stability" for the New England secondary last season? :P

45
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Sat, 03/04/2006 - 10:56pm

Yeah, LOL @ the idea that Plummer has any use at all anymore.

46
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 03/05/2006 - 3:25am

RE: 20

The front office is a disaster. I wouldn't want to coach with a front-office full of backstabbers and throat-slashers ;) (some may get that reference).

47
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 03/05/2006 - 4:26am

RE: 33

Rattay was easily a better option at QB than Alex Smith last season.

48
by kjbad (not verified) :: Mon, 03/06/2006 - 9:08pm

RE #40:

Mike Martz, Larry Marmie, and Lovie Smith wore out their AZ welcomes when they couldn't even lead Arizona State to a winning season...there was a ticker-tape parade when the Rams let him go, but not because we wanted him for the Cards.

Personally, I think the Cards will wish they had waited for Drew Brees...but some lucky team out there will get him.

49
by kjbad (not verified) :: Mon, 03/06/2006 - 9:16pm

...and you do know that it's "Bidwill", not "Bidwell", right?

50
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 03/06/2006 - 10:36pm

Re Richie Incognito: Didn't Nebraska also have another lineman named "Norm de Plume"?........................sorry, I thought it was funny. I'll be quiet now.