NFL 2011 Preview: NFC West – FootballThursday, August 11, 2011 20:45
NFC West preview for the 2011 NFL season, and lockout resolution thoughts.
NFL 2011 Preview
Give me a break…
On one paw of the NFL beast Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith got a deal done, so their syrupy theater about how they did it for the fans was predictable and, I guess, allowable.
On the other paw, I know bullshit as it wafts up my beak; Roger, De, and their legal teams were knee deep in mendacity for the past six months. It never was and never will be about the fans. It was about money.
This is America–it’s always about the money.
The analysis you haven’t heard until now starts with this query: Was the whole production–the name-calling; the threats; the arm-twisting; the lawsuits, lockout, and lying–calculated mainly to keep the game in the public eye?
I never seriously thought smart people–or educated idiots–would not come to terms on how to divide such a gargantuan and ever-growing pie.
The key word is “growing.” Goodell uses it in every other answer during his media interactions: “We must grow the game.” Blah, blah, blah.
Such a sad aspect of capitalism, isn’t it?
Look, I don’t begrudge wealthy people more wealth or the expectation of more wealth, but doesn’t it have to end somewhere?
Are true fans of the game looking forward to pay-per-view games between the Vienna Vandals and Tokyo Tankers?
That is the vision Goodell has for the league.
Obviously, most of us don’t seem to mind. The NFL, like other sports, reflects the values and traditions of our ever-growing oligarchy.
U.S. corporations move operations out of the country in search of dirt-cheap labor. Meanwhile, American teachers, firefighters, and cops are targeted for cuts in pay and benefits.
At least we can be thankful corporate jet and yacht owners and our friends running the ever-growing beast of Big Oil still have their subsidies…
…And we can all look forward to rooting for the Helsinki Copters…
Previews and Predictions
Me and the infamous Murray Dunnosquatis held our annual NFL pre-season confab at Lucy’s 51 in downtown Toluca Lake. MD sauntered in with his crystal orb in a bowling ball bag–the man has no class–and we commenced to hash out this column’s yearly predictions in each NFL division.
We begin with the…
Division Record: 25 – 39
What a motley division the NFC West has become. The division’s aggregate record for 2010 is a paltry one game improvement from ’09.
It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to figure out why.
Sometime during the last three years, each organization was in transition–some would say dire straits–at quarterback. The head coaches were still getting their cleats wet, and this quartet of teams hasn’t had an elite defense or a winning culture in the last two decades.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
2010 Record: 7 – 9
Last year, we predicted Alex Smith would emerge as an elite quarterback by leading the 49ers to an 11-5 record and division title.
Let’s move on…
This year Murray Dunnosquatis is expecting a much better performance based on GM Trent Baalke’s hiring of Jim Harbaugh from Stanford.
I don’t agree. Names don’t win in the NFL. John Harbaugh walked into his first Ravens’ training camp with one of history’s elite defenses, a giant, athletic, offensive line and one of the best GMs, Ozzie Newsome, in the game.
Brother Jimbo ain’t so lucky.
Baalke has been adept at building the offensive line but last year’s running game faltered and Smith regressed. The Gold Miners defensive talent has to prove it’s better than 2010′s 13th ranking if the Niners hope to compete for a division title–not to mention the truly offensive ranking of 24th on the other side of the ball.
Does anyone want to play quarterback for this team?
Major story: Colin Kaepernick emerges as an elite QB…oh, shut up!
Predicted Finish: 7 – 9
2010 Record: 5- 11
Arguably, the Cardinals can boast having the best quarterback in the division upon their signing of Kevin Kolb.
Problem is, Kolb has barely more experience than a rookie–and I can’t figure out why NFL execs think so highly of him.
The steady hand of Ken Whisenhut guides this team, but the Black Hand of the Bidwell clan makes their coach work harder and put up with more than most.
Fortunately, Whisenhut has drafted successfully–especially this year. Patrick Peterson has phenomenal physical ability and seems destined to be a star cornerback. The steal of Arizona’s ’11 draft might draft might be Connecticut’s Anthony Sherman, advertised as nothing but a lead 245-pound tank to block for second round RB Ryan Williams.
The “Steelers West” want to run the ball like Pittsburgh–too bad they must play defense with, what in 2010, was the third worst unit in the league.
What the Red & White do have, and in this division it could mean a lot, is the only team with a five-year system in place, an elite coaching staff and enough players left from the ’08 Super Bowl team that remember what it takes to get there.
Major story: Kevin Kolb learns the hard way how difficult it is to play the most difficult position on the field without star receivers and competent defense.
Predicted Finish: 8 – 8
2010 Record: 7 – 9 Division Champs
Not a typo folks–and you can laugh all you want, but the Seahawks won their first playoff game against the defending league champion Saints before pooping out on the hallowed ground of Chicago’s Soldier Field.
The ‘Hawks unexpected success only blurred the answer to the question: Is Pete Carroll a demented genius or certifiable idiot?
Matt Hasselbeck left for Tennessee and the ‘Hawks bring in Tavaris Jackson and Sidney Rice from the Norsemen. Jackson has made a career out of acting like the little fire engine that tells itself and anyone who will listen, “I think I can.” Rice was touted as the next Chris Carter but has had only one stellar season in an injury riddled four-year career.
The “genius” part of this Great Northwest experiment might be Carroll’s snatching up Viking OC Darrell Bevell, which just about straightens any learning curve Jackson may have to negotiate.
The idiot factor has to do with a “reach for the stars” attitude in the 2011 draft room.
1st rounder, OT James Carpenter has a tremendous upside but went a half a round sooner than nearly every draft guru predicted. 3rd round guard, John Moffit was considered a late rounder by several draftniks. Drafting for position and attaining quality talent in the process is the key to successful, consistent team building at the NFL level.
Either Seattle’s brain-trust hit a jack pot no one knew was there or set themselves back a couple of years.
We’re betting on the latter–but wouldn’t mind the fun of watching Pete Carroll make us eat some Seahawk.
Major Story: Jackson, Rice, and Mike Williams start off fast, then reality sets in.
Predicted Finish: 6 – 10
ST. LOUIS RAMS
2010 Record: 7 – 9
Billy Devaney stresses character, consistency and versatility in the draft room and his signing of head coach Steve Spagnulo before the 2010 season reflected Devaney’s deft touch as a personnel man and the newly focused Big Horns responded with a 7- 9 season, staying in the hunt for the division title through the last game of the season.
I think they got something good cooking in St. Louis–and it ain’t just those famous ribs.
Sam Bradford was the league’s offensive ROY and the best rookie QB since Ben Roethlisberger. The kid has the size, smarts, and rifle arm to worry the best DCs.
After the typical Devaney solid draft that featured three intriguing receivers–we like Hawaii’s Greg Salas–for Bradford to target and a defense that should be formidable, the Rams will surprise in 2011 by dominating the NFL’s weakest division.
Major Story: Always willing to carry the load, the powerful Steven Jackson has his best year.
Predicted Finish: 10 – 6 – Division Winner
NEXT UP: THE NFC SOUTH
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