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Friday, October 7, 2011
Around the NFC West: Tripping on fines

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive scheme and personnel puts extra pressure on opposing offensive tackles.

Defensive ends line up wider than in most schemes, putting them in position to rush the passer. This would not necessarily excuse the two tripping penalties called against San Francisco 49ers tackle Anthony Davis during a 24-23 victory over the Eagles in Week 4.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the NFL has levied a $25,000 fine against Davis for the violations. Noted: These were not stick-out-the-leg-after-getting-beat violations. In both instances, Davis was diving at Babin's legs in a manner that was obviously coached, but he also spun his body in a manner that whipped Davis' legs around. His actions looked more like cut blocks than tripping when I watched them, but the spinning action was there. The NFL rule book defines tripping as "use of the leg or foot in obstructing any opponent (including a runner)." I didn't think Davis used his leg or foot to obstruct Babin. He dove at Babin's legs, but in doing so, his own legs did spin around in a manner that caught the officials' attention.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Alex Smith has improved against the blitz and now ranks behind only Tom Brady in NFL passer rating on these plays. Noted: ESPN's game charters have Smith ranking fourth in NFL passer rating when opponents send five or more pass-rushers and first in that category when opponents send a defensive back as a pass-rusher. Smith has completed all nine attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns against DB pressure this season. Surprisingly, rookie Cam Newton is second in NFL rating on these plays, just ahead of Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers' offense clearly has options for quarterbacks against pressure, and Smith knows how to use them.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times examines Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's end-of-half decision-making, which has been questionable. O'Neil: "While you can wonder about the wisdom of Carroll's risk tolerance, the one thing you have to give him is that he's consistently brazen. Or did you forget Game 3 of last season, and that fire drill that occurred at the end of the first half against the San Diego Chargers?" Noted: Carroll sometimes makes decisions without as much regard for consequences as a typical NFL coach might have. I suspect that stems from his years coaching at USC, where he could get away with taking chances or managing situations more loosely because he had the superior talent most of the time. That is one area where Carroll could improve, in my view.

Christian Caple of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks' Marcus Trufant missed practice with a back injury. Noted: Trufant's good health has been key to his play this season. Injuries have slowed him in the past. This is a situation to monitor, for sure.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune introduces Justin Forsett's invention: a shower pill. Read on.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals want to limit Joey Porter's playing time to improve his effectiveness. That would translate to more playing time for O'Brien Schofield. Somers: "The Cardinals thought Porter had to play too much in 2010, too, so this wasn't the plan entering this season. When camp opened, Porter had just taken a pay cut, from $5.75 million to $1.5 million. Schofield was one-and-one-half years removed from the knee surgery that caused him to fall in the draft. Now at full health, Schofield was expected to contend for a starting spot. But Schofield couldn't take Porter's job. Porter, a former Pittsburgh Steelers standout, is intimately familiar with the new defense installed by coordinator Ray Horton, who came from Pittsburgh, and Schofield has struggled to learn the new concepts. In training camp, Schofield admitted he needed to study harder." Noted: The Cardinals simply haven't been able to develop young pass-rushers to this point. Missing on Cody Brown in the draft still hurts them.

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells needs to improve as a receiver. Noted: While Kevin Kolb was primarily at fault for taking a sack on a critical screen play against the New York Giants, I wondered when watching replays whether Wells could have helped out his quarterback a bit by turning back for the ball just a moment earlier. The pressure was coming quickly and Kolb obviously didn't feel comfortable throwing the ball.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com updates Andre Roberts' situation as the Cardinals' No. 2 receiver.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch uses the term "bye week blues" to describe the Rams' injury news during their off week, most recently regarding Danny Amendola. Thomas: "Amendola led the NFL in all-purpose yards in 2010 with 2,364 yards. Operating out of the slot as a receiver, he had 85 catches for 689 yards, finishing third in the league in third-down catches (29). He also finished ninth in the league in punt returns, averaging 11.3 yards per return. With Amendola done for the year, rookie third-round draft pick Austin Pettis takes over the slot receiver role, with rookie fourth-round pick Greg Salas in reserve." Noted: With no practices scheduled through the weekend, the Rams should be safe from additional bad injury news in the short term.