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Around the NFC West: Cardinals deliver

1/4/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals should rethink Edgerrin James' future with the team. James, scheduled to earn $4 million in 2009, was widely assumed to be playing his final season in Arizona.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' offensive line deserves credit for its efforts against the Falcons.

Also from Somers (and staff): Anquan Boldin's status remains unclear after the receiver suffered a hamstring injury. Also, quarterback Kurt Warner appreciated ownership's decision to leave the roof closed at University of Phoenix Stadium.

More from Somers: Karlos Dansby had a big game with eight tackles, and Arizona bounced back from a tough ending to the first half.

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' ground game opened up the pass, particularly during the final clock-eating drive.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals had a chip on their shoulder after hearing so much about their alleged weaknesses. Darnell Dockett seemed incredulous that some thought the Falcons had the edge at quarterback.

Also from McManaman: Antrel Rolle's fumble return for a touchdown was the play of the game.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' victory validates their season and makes them a success no matter what happens next.

Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News says the Jets plan to interview Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm for their head coaching job.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals were able to "flip a switch" come playoff time and play with the urgency needed to win.

Also from Urban: Coach Ken Whisenhunt made good on his prediction that James would reemerge as an important part of the offense.

More from Urban: The Cardinals wanted to close out the game aggressively, and that's why they threw the ball when running out the clock.

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News says the Cardinals' game plan exposed Matt Ryan as a rookie quarterback, helping Arizona prevail.

Also from Gosselin: James' reemergence comes at the right time -- when it matters.

Jim Corbett of USA Today says the Cardinals were able to revel in their unexpected victory after coaches adjusted their approach by getting James more involved.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the atmosphere at University of Phoenix Stadium helped the Cardinals prevail.

Also from Tulumello: The Cardinals knew they needed to stop Michael Turner, and they did.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals are at their best when skeptics give them little chance.

Mark Heller of the East Valley Tribune sizes up James' contributions through teammate Bertrand Berry, who played with James in Indianapolis.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams scouts are analyzing college talent at the various bowl games without knowing what skills will mesh with the next coaching staff. That makes the evaluation process more difficult. Meanwhile, the Rams' preparations for free agency remain in the beginning stages.

Also from Thomas: A position-by-position look at the Rams, with Marc Bulger as the starting quarterback for 2009.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom took a chance when he publicly said the organization would spend whatever it took to hire the next head coach. Despite the proclamation, the Rams' initial list of candidates lacks star power. Miklasz: "After telling your fans that money is not a problem, and that you are willing to go out and get 'the best guy,' then how could you possibly bring Jim Haslett back?"

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers coach Mike Singletary knows his limitations and isn't afraid to admit them. For example, Singletary wasn't initially sold on linebacker Patrick Willis coming out of college. General manager Scot McCloughan had to convince Singletary that Willis merited a first-round choice.

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle says Singletary overcame his early wardrobe malfunction because he's a man of action.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat answers questions about the 49ers, at one point noting that right guard Chilo Rachal could eventually play right tackle.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could be in the market for a lead fullback. Former coordinator Mike Martz used tight e
nds in the role. Sean Ryan appeared increasingly as the lead blocking from the I-and offset-I formations.

William Tomisser of Seahawk Addicts continues his positional analysis of the team with a look at the linebackers. He thinks the position could be set if the team can re-sign Leroy Hill and possibly convince Julian Peterson to adjust his salary for 2009.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy no longer wants to finish his career with the Seahawks. Milloy would like to stay with Atlanta now that the Falcons are playoff contenders.

Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post revisits the Seahawks' 21-20 victory over the Cowboys in the playoffs -- the game featuring Tony Romo's botched hold -- and says Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is using the experience to help prepare for the playoffs.