Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Week 3 shines light on NFC West moves
By Mike Sando
A few recent NFC West moves are coming into focus with an assist from NFC schedule makers. A quick run through some of them:
- Kelly Jennings to Cincinnati: The Seattle Seahawks traded Jennings to the Bengals in part because they wanted to get bigger at cornerback. They were tired of seeing Jennings struggle more than a bigger corner might against Larry Fitzgerald and other big receivers. With Jennings gone, 6-foot-4 corner Brandon Browner will get his first look at Fitzgerald in Week 3. Jennings, meanwhile, will not have to worry about facing the San Francisco 49ers' biggest receiver, Braylon Edwards, this weekend. Edwards will miss the 49ers-Bengals game and possibly others after undergoing knee surgery, coach Jim Harbaugh announced. Jennings missed the opener with a hamstring injury and did not factor statistically in Week 2.
- Kevin Kolb to Arizona: Seattle seriously considered acquiring Kolb from Philadelphia two years ago, and less seriously this offseason. The Cardinals traded starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft choice to the Eagles for Kolb. They also made Kolb very wealthy. Kolb leads the Cardinals into Seattle in Week 3 for a game that will offer some evidence as to which team took the right approach. Quarterback problems doomed Arizona to an 0-2 record against Seattle last season.
- Various 49ers to Cincinnati: Manny Lawson, Nate Clements and Taylor Mays landed in Cincinnati after leaving the 49ers. Lawson and Clements are starting. A knee injury has prevented Mays from playing so far this season. The 49ers' pass defense struggled with Clements on the team last season. It struggled even more with the game on the line against Dallas in Week 2. Keeping Clements wasn't a realistic option for the 49ers given contractual dynamics. Clements won't have to face Edwards, and it's unclear whether fellow 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree will play after aggravating a foot injury. Lawson's sack totals were an item of interest annually when he was with the 49ers, but he's no longer playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
- Justin Bannan to St. Louis: Bannan spent last season with Denver, but he was with Baltimore for the previous four seasons. The Rams have allowed more rushing yards than any team in the league through two games, a surprise given the team's emphasis on improving that area through various personnel moves. Bannan's addition was one of those moves. One of the NFL's better runners, Ray Rice, is coming to St. Louis in Week 3.
- Alan Branch to Seattle: Thanks to pendulum80 for noticing I'd left this one off initially. Branch has so far been a welcome addition to the Seahawks' run defense as a starting tackle. He says he's a better fit for the Seahawks' scheme and it's tough to argue at this point, although consistency will be the key for Branch. He played well at times for Arizona as well. Can he play well for Seattle all season? I'm thinking he'll be ready to go Sunday.
- Mark LeGree to Arizona: This one's a non-factor in terms of game-day impact, but in case you had not heard, the Seahawks' 2011 fifth-round pick did sign with the Cardinals' practice squad.
Of all these moves, the one involving Kolb carries the most interesting ramifications.