Friday, January 21, 2011
Around the NFC West: Bulger the favorite?
By Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic sets odds for which quarterback will start for Arizona next season. He puts Marc Bulger at 2-1 and then Kyle Orton at 8-1. Somers on Bulger: "The former Rams starter was the backup in Baltimore last season. The Cardinals showed interest when Bulger was on the market last spring, but already had Derek Anderson under contract. Bulger turns 34 in April and hasn't had a good season since 2006. But he's smart, hasn't been hit in more than a year, and could provide a nice bridge to the future, whoever that might be."
Also from Somers: Ken Whisenhunt's thoughts on the Cardinals' search for a defensive coordinator. Somers: "Whisenhunt confirmed that he had several conversations with former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, and an interview was scheduled for this week. Mora, however, pulled out of consideration, telling Whisenhunt he did not want to coach in 2011. Mora is still being paid by the Seahawks. Mora also pulled out of consideration for the coordinator's position with Cleveland and Philadelphia. Whisenhunt has asked for permission to interview assistants from other teams and expects those discussions to take place next week in Mobile, Ala., between Senior Bowl practices."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along this thought from Whisenhunt on possibly losing quarterbacks coach Chris Miller: "He’s an energetic coach who has had a very good career as a player, good career as a high school coach and has done a good job with us coaching the quarterbacks. He has a unique perspective. I admire his desire to have something where he can have an impact on young man’s lives. I don’t want to lose him but I wish him success."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com names Chris Clemons the team's best defensive player for 2010 while passing out awards across multiple categories. Farnsworth: "No one was quite sure what to expect from Clemons after he was acquired in a March trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, because he never had been a full-time player in his previous five NFL seasons -- with three other teams. But Clemons exceeded expectations by delivering a career-high 12 sacks, a team-high 22 QB hits and also finishing first among the D-linemen in tackles (48). Honorable mention to David Hawthorne, who moved to weak-side linebacker and led the team in tackles (105) for the second consecutive season."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has this to say about new Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: "Bevell has more of a Holmgren pedigree, though he never worked for the man. Bevell came to Green Bay in 2000 under Mike Sherman, a Holmgren protégé. In 2006, Bevell went to work in Minnesota under Brad Childress, who coached under Andy Reid — another of Holmgren's direct coaching descendants."
John Morgan of Field Gulls expects big changes for the Seahawks' offense with Bevell and Tom Cable on staff. Morgan: "Which makes the marriage of Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable make a lot of sense. Both want to run the ball, running the ball will be the foundation of the offense, and the pass will work from that. Maybe we should call Bevell a passing game coordinator. Whatever you want to call it, expect Seattle to invest resources into improving the run game and judge its offensive success in 2011 by the performance of that run game."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines whether Sam Bradford might regress some while learning a new system. Miklasz: "If Bradford can settle into the McDaniels offense for two or three seasons (at least), then he should be able to settle in without calamity. I also think we have to acknowledge another obvious thing: Bradford is a smart guy. He learns quickly. He'd never run the West Coast offense before, and knew nothing about it. But after being expertly prepped by Pat Shurmur and QBs coach Dick Curl, Bradford made a swift acclimation, passing for 3,512 yards, completing 60 percent, and throwing 18 TDs with 15 interceptions. And Bradford achieved this without the benefit of elite receivers."
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams are turning heads with the new ways they are operating. Brian Baldinger: "The Rams are in the league now. They were a second-class citizen for a long time. Nobody took them seriously, nobody, and the players knew it. It was really frustrating to be a pro, to be an O.J. Atogwe. You can see this team has life, it has direction."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says this about the 49ers potential hiring of Brad Seely as special-teams coach: "If that's the case, Jim Harbaugh has reeled in one of the top special teams coordinators in the league and one with 22 years of NFL coaching experience. Seely and the Browns won the Morning News' award for the 2009 season, one in which Cleveland finished with the worst offense in the league and the 31st-ranked defense. The special teams unit, led by return man Josh Cribbs, was outstanding and was a big factor in three of the team's five wins that season. Gosselin's rankings for 2010 have not been released."
The 49ers' website offers thoughts from linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Gibson: "Not playing, it kind of reminded me of my redshirt year at Ohio State in the sense that I was sitting back and trying to learn as much as I could. I’ve just worked out hard, stayed in the film room, learned as much as I could from the guys who have been doing it for years, and every day I just tried to get better as the season went on. I think I’m a much better football player now than I was a year ago."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider expects 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to emphasize the running game even though Harbaugh played quarterback in the NFL. Lynch: "Harbaugh, along with new offensive coordinator Greg Roman will also be completely run orientated based on Roman's background and Stanford's recent history. Roman's background has been varied, including a two-year stint in Houston as a quarterbacks coach. Under Roman in 2004, David Carr had his best season, throwing for 3,531 yards and compiling a 83.1 passer rating."