When it comes to NFL divisional dogfights, no group comes close to the “any given Sunday” mentality like the NFC West. Sometimes it feels like these teams, even when they’re terrible, give a little extra when one of their division rivals comes to town. Maybe this is why the NFC West sends so many low-win teams into the playoffs: they just can’t pull together a string of wins for those six divisional games.
With the 2015 well offseason under way, it seems like we will have to endure more of the same. More jokes about wins. More jokes about the Rams. And a whole lot more of some intense rivalry games.
Asinine Analysis continues its critical summary of the good moves, bad moves and hopeful moves for each and every team this off-season, leading into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Our next targets: the teams of the NFC West.
The Good: Bruce Arians finally got around to developing this offense. The receiving duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd became even more proficient with the emergence of the Team JB: John and Jaron Brown. They’re still developing, and John definitely has bigger stats, but it’s a name situation that you can probably rationalize away if you pick the wrong one first in your fantasy draft.
Taking offensive guard Mike Iupati from the San Francisco 49ers isn’t something to sneer at either. It weakens the 49ers, and helps Andre Ellington try out this whole “running game” thing that running backs usually do instead of racking up receiving yards.
The Bad: That stellar defense of the Arizona Cardinals that kept teams like Seattle and San Francisco in check? Not quite so stellar this year, which was even less stellar than the year before. Antonio Cromartie is gone. Sam Acho is gone. Even their defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, is gone.
There’s also that nagging quarterback issue. The knees of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton should be ready to go by Week 1, but what if they’re not? Is Logan Thomas the answer? Maybe he is. If there’s one thing this team has been lacking at quarterback, it’s consistency. If Thomas works with the team through preseason, he may be the best option. It could be worse. Ryan Lindley could still be on the team.
The Hopeful: The real hope should be that a mad scientist transplants Palmer’s legs with Thomas’s and Palmer’s shoulder with Stanton’s. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first spliced quarterback. Carson Palmer will be that quarterback. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster. The perfect quarterback. The 16 million dollar man. Oh, sorry. 16.6 million dollar man.
San Francisco 49ers
The Good: The 49ers really love those Ravens, as they pick up Torrey Smith, another piece of Baltimore’s 2012 Super Bowl receiving corps, to go along with Anquan Boldin. If Vernon Davis wasn’t so good, they would probably try to get Dennis Pitta away from Baltimore as well.
Speaking of Vernon Davis, did you hear what he said about Colin Kaepernick looking like a different quarterback? The last time I heard that, it didn’t end well. But hey, third time’s a charm when you haven’t made it back to the Super Bowl since… 2012. Hmm. That’s too much of a coincidence.
The Bad: No more jokes about khaki slacks, dance moves and coaches trying to replace their own quarterback. John Harbaugh is gone, bringing about another year of confusion and dissent in San Francisco not seen since the days of Mike Singletary, which was only a few seasons ago.
Jim Tomsula is the new head coach. Geep Chryst is the new offensive coordinator. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati are gone on offense. Chris Culliver and Ray McDonald are gone on defense. At least they still have kicker Phil Dawson.
The Hopeful: The main hope for the 49ers this season lies in their running backs, knowing what Colin Kaepernick can do with the option. We hope that Carlos Hyde is ready to replace Frank Gore in more than just fantasy football hype. We hope that Kendall Hunter is finally ready to play some football. We hope that Reggie Bush doesn’t get injured in the preseason, so Kaepernick has a solid passing-catching back to replace Frank Gore’s receiving ability. Mostly we hope that Jim Tomsula never ever shaves his mustache.
The Good: Jimmy Graham. Seriously, what else do I have to say? You can say “Jimmy Graham” and your team’s score magically goes up by 10 points, even if he’s not on your team.
The Seahawks pulled off the trade of the year by acquiring Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round draft pick for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. Now Pete Carroll can run quick routes at the goal line with his tight end and not have the entire world tell him he should have run Lynch.
Speaking of Lynch, he’s happy with his current contract, which means maybe, just maybe, he won’t hold out when the preseason comes.
The Bad: It’s not an offseason for the Seattle Seahawks without some sort of contract issue. This year it’s quarterback Russell Wilson. He’s in the final year of a rookie contract that was paying him under $2 million a year. That’s less than Josh McCown, and Wilson won a Super Bowl! Almost two of them!
Every time a think, “They’ll take care of Wilson,” I see him at spring training for the MLB and think, “That can’t be a good sign…”
The Hopeful: Super Bowl #3. When you trade away a first-round draft pick at the back of the line, pick up an offensive stud, and keep the defensive band together, the plan is definitely Super Bowl #3. This team is already rebuilt. Maybe grab a big, nasty center to replace Unger.
St. Louis Rams
The Good: Jeff Fisher’s mustache is intact. Some people think such a thing wouldn’t help a team win games, but they don’t understand the hidden powers of the ‘stache. It hypnotizes other teams and makes a three-win team into a six-win team.
I guess the Rams defense also has something to do with that, which was improved by getting defensive tackle Nick Fairley from the Detroit Lions.
The Bad: Nick Foles is your quarterback. Some would say that this is a step up from Sam Bradford just by comparing medical histories. I say this is a cop-out, as the team starts packing up boxes and renting U-Haul trucks for the trip to LA.
But that probably doesn’t concern football fans in St. Louis. The Rams could go undefeated and win the Super Bowl next season, and St. Louis still wouldn’t pack out Edward Jones Stadium if Stan Kroenke receives approval to move the team to Los Angeles. This is what happens when a team is so vocal about leaving. People’s feelings get hurt.
The Hopeful: Please, please, PLEEEEAAAASE don’t take another running back, Jeff Fisher. I don’t care if it’s the first round or the supplemental draft. No running backs! Some Rams fans would prefer to wear a jersey with pride for two years straight. A buddy of mine has been lining up starting running back jerseys since Daryl Richardson, and his business suits are getting a little wrinkly as a result.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.