Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Around the NFC West: Mora resurfacing
By Mike Sando
Lindsay H. Jones of the Denver Post says the Broncos are close to hiring former Seahawks coach Jim Mora to coordinate their defense under new head coach John Fox. Jones: "The Broncos announced eight coaching staff members Monday, including six holdovers from Josh McDaniels' staff: Mike McCoy (offensive coordinator), Eric Studesville (running backs), Clancy Barone (tight ends), Wayne Nunnely (defensive line), Brian Callahan (offensive quality control) and Jay Rodgers (defensive quality control)." Working as defensive coordinator under a defensive-minded head coach seems a little curious for someone as prominent as Mora. That could reflect Fox's intentions to take a less specialized approach as head coach. It could also reflect a tough market for former head coaches.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with players as they departed for the offseason. Matt Hasselbeck: "The season just ended so abruptly for us. I think a lot of us in the locker room expected to win that game and really expected to have the opportunity to come back and host the NFC Championship game -- which would have been an awesome opportunity. That’s probably one of the most disappointing things about this year is knowing that we had the opportunity to host that game -- and it would have been a great opportunity for our fans and for us – and we just let it slip away and didn’t get it done."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks ahead to an uncertain offeason for the Seahawks.
Also from O'Neil: Pete Carroll says Marcus Trufant and John Carlson were returning from Chicago in good condition after suffering concussions Sunday.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along Brian McIntyre's weekly personnel report for the Seahawks. McIntyre: "Against Seattle’s nickel, dime and 'Bandit' defenses, Cutler was 7 of 12 for 128 yards and a touchdown, with Seattle registering all three of its quarterback sacks out of these extra DB looks, including one by Lofa Tatupu with what appeared to be 10 players on the field. Cutler was 8 of 16 for 146 yards and a touchdown against Seattle’s base defense, which intercepted Matt Forte in a disastrous 'Wildcat' play in the fourth quarter."
Also from Williams: Hasselbeck's contract expires this offseason. Hasselbeck: "It’s just how it is, and I’m not stressed about anything. There’s nothing I can do about anything right now, just sit back and wait. The only X-factor here is I don’t exactly know how it works, so if the lockout does come March 4, I don’t know when the time to sign free agents would be. My hope is that we could maybe do something before then, but again that’s not up to me. And I’m just going to go be a dad for a little bit."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' strong finish means they started well under Carroll.
Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle passes along comments and audio from the Seahawks' locker room. Lawyer Milloy: "This day, I've had it fifteen times and it's never a good feeling unless the one time I was able to have this day with the trophy. It was an up and down season. A lot of things were awkward at times. The one thing that this team did was stay together and when we had a chance to end, everything started to feel normal around here, started to feel like it's supposed to feel. This is a team thats going places. When you have a new coach, when you have new players, it's a process. We took a big step in that process to being a very good team, not only in the near future but to be dominant, especially in our division, for awhile. That's the thing I'm proud about."
Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest looks at the NFL labor situation through the Seahawks' eyes. Chester Pitts: "Let’s be real here. You’re really that worried about our health and our well-being, lower your requirements for what it takes to get ... increase the benefits for the injured guys. (Increased roster size) would only help in practice, not in games, because … trust me, the best guys are gonna play. Especially as an offensive lineman. The best five will line up. I’m still waiting for a coach to stick his neck out and rotate linemen (as defensive linemen are rotated). For a guy who has played a long time in this league, it’s really, really tough. Unless they find a way to make teams sit their starters for a game or two, it’s gonna be really tough."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates Oshiomogho Atogwe's contract situation with the Rams. Thomas: "The day after the Super Bowl, or Feb. 7, Atogwe can void the final four years of a five-year contract he signed with the Rams last June 25. If Atogwe voids the contract, he becomes a free agent, leaving a significant hole at the position for the Rams. However, there doesn't seem to be much incentive for Atogwe to void the contract, because the second milepost arrives just two weeks later, or on Feb. 21. That's when Atogwe is due an $8 million roster bonus by the Rams. Why not wait two weeks to see if the Rams pay him the $8 million roster bonus? If they do, Atogwe stays. If they don't, he's released and becomes a free agent anyway."
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis wonders whether hiring Josh McDaniels as the Rams' offensive coordinator might lead to a diminished role for running back Steven Jackson. Stull: "In the three seasons McDaniels was offensive coordinator in New England, the Patriots failed to have a running back rush for over 1000 yards in a season. Corey Dillon had 199 carries for 812 yards in 2006. Laurence Maroney had 175 carries that same year for another 745 yards. The following two seasons it was Maroney and Sammy Morris, then Morris and Kevin Faulk sharing the carries -- with the secondary back getting about 80 rushes each year." McDaniels never had a back like Jackson on his team. I tend to think Sam Bradford's development will lead to a diminished role for Jackson, and that hiring a coordinator such as McDaniels could accelerate the process.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea. com says the 49ers head to the Senior Bowl to evaluate quarterbacks, among other players. Maiocco: "The first six draft-eligible quarterbacks Harbaugh will evaluate are those he'll get to evaluate in-person next week in Mobile, Ala.: Andy Dalton (TCU), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Christian Ponder (Florida State) and Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers expectations for the 49ers' offseason, plus thoughts on what kind of quarterback Jim Harbaugh will seek. Barrows: "My sense as of Jan. 17 is that Harbaugh is confident he can mold just about any quarterback into the passer he wants. But if there's been one hallmark of Jim Harbaugh's college pupils, it's been accuracy, which is what the West Coast system demands."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Rodgers' success reflects poorly on the 49ers.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says there's little to report on the Cardinals' search for a defensive coordinator. He also offers thoughts on Aaron Rodgers' performance against Atlanta in the divisional round. Urban: "Watching Aaron Rodgers dice up the competition every week, I keep thinking he would have done the same thing last year in the playoffs had Kurt Warner not come up with one of the greatest playoff performances ever. There was irony in that thought when people were trying to put into perspective how great Rodgers was against Atlanta -- and he was, but still not quite up with Warner’s game versus the Packers." That's why it's silly to suggest Rodgers finally broke through in the playoffs. He played very well in the playoffs previously, too.