Tuesday, October 9, 2012
NFC West Stock Watch
By Mike Sando
1. Cardinals' ground game. The Cardinals were already averaging a league-low 2.7 yards per rushing attempt, a figure that drops to 2.5 without rushes from quarterbacks, wide receivers and other non-running backs. Subtracting Ryan Williams from the offense less than two weeks after Beanie Wells also went on injured reserve leaves the Cardinals without appealing alternatives. Wells can return Nov. 25. Williams is done for the season.
2. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals QB. The nine sacks Kolb took against St. Louis gave him 17 over a two-game period. Kolb also missed open targets for potential big plays. The Cardinals have games against Jared Allen, Aldon Smith and Clay Matthews over the next four weeks.
3. Breno Giacomini, Seahawks RT. Giacomini doesn't just step over the line separating edgy play from rules violations. He climbs onto the top rope and drops the elbow on it. Or at least he has done so frequently enough in the past for officials to put him under surveillance. The added heat probably contributed to a 15-yard roughness penalty against Giacomini following an 11-yard run by Ben Obomanu. Earlier, a holding call against Giacomini wiped out a 56-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate. Coach Pete Carroll benched Giacomini briefly.
4. Randy Moss, 49ers WR. Three wide receivers caught touchdown passes for the 49ers. Moss was not one of them. He accounted for only 11 of the team's franchise-record 621 yards. That is less than 1.8 percent. You can be sure the 49ers' scheming staff will find a way for Moss to put up big numbers in one of these games. There's no need to force the issue as long as the team is winning and producing on offense. In the meantime, Moss has yet to reach 100 yards receiving for the season, let alone in one game. As weapons go, he's a vintage rifle mounted on the wall -- for display, mostly, and to be used only on special occasions.
1. 49ers' offense. Setting a single-game franchise record with 621 yards -- 311 rushing, 310 passing -- generated enough credit to go around. Offensive linemen Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis deserve quite a bit of it. They dominated, obviously. Quarterback Alex Smith combined with running back Frank Gore, receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis to give the 49ers a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers for the first time since 1961. Smith took no sacks and had 49 yards rushing. The 49ers averaged 9.9 yards per play. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman can list this game high on his résumé when teams seeking head coaches contact him in the offseason.
2. Robert Quinn, Rams DE. The second-year defensive end collected three of the Rams' nine sacks. And as former NFL assistant Rick Venturi noted in his defensive film review, Quinn did a much better job setting the edge against the run. That had been a problem for him. It's an area to watch as Quinn steps up in class against Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long in Week 6. Quinn already has six sacks this season, exceeding by one his total from last season.
3. Seattle rookie defenders. Defensive end Bruce Irvin and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, the first two players Seattle drafted in 2012, played leading roles in the team's 16-12 victory at Carolina. Irvin had two sacks, including one that forced a late turnover, allowing Seattle to run out the clock. Wagner's speed allowed him to track down Cam Newton for a 4-yard loss. Wagner is proving to be a big upgrade at middle linebacker. He joined second-year player K.J. Wright as an every-down linebacker in this game, replacing veteran Leroy Hill in the nickel defense.
4. Chris Givens, Rams WR. The rookie fourth-round choice has four receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown this season. He had a 52-yard reception against Seattle's Richard Sherman in Week 4 and a 51-yard touchdown catch against Arizona's Greg Toler in Week 5.