Tuesday, November 17, 2009
How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch
By Mike Sando
1. Nate Burleson, Seahawks WR. Enjoying an impressive season following knee surgery, Burleson predicted a Seahawks victory over the Cardinals. That was the last we heard from him. Burleson finished with zero catches during a 31-20 defeat in Week 10. Seattle tried to find him early in the game, but Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had Burleson blanketed. When the game had concluded, T.J. Houshmandzadeh had caught nine passes for 165 yards, moving him past Burleson for the team lead in receptions and yards. Week 11 would be a good time for Burleson to atone. He'll get a shot at Minnesota, the team he left for Seattle.
2. Darnell Dockett, Cardinals DT. If the film doesn't lie, neither does the high-definition digital video. And it's pretty clear Fox cameras caught Dockett pressing his elbow into Matt Hasselbeck's throat following a second-quarter sack. Dockett denied bad intentions, but Seahawks coach Jim Mora expressed outrage, dragging down Dockett's stock at least temporarily. Dockett defended himself through his Twitter account, saying he would lose no sleep over the matter thanks to his king-sized bed and posh pad. Dockett also suggested stuff happens in football, implying that Mora wouldn't understand because he never played the game. Mora did play at the college level and he's been around the game his whole life.
3. Patrick Kerney, Seahawks DE. I'm a little reluctant to harp on the Seahawks' pass-rush woes against Arizona because we have covered the subject in detail. But Kerney has set a high standard over the years. He had three sacks and five quarterback hits in the Seahawks' most recent victory over the Cardinals (2007). His surprising inability to beat Cardinals tackle Levi Brown stood out as a primary reason for the Seahawks' struggles Sunday. Kerney is earning $4 million in salary this season and the Seahawks are on the hook for more than $9 million in salary proration beyond 2009. They need more from him to regain their footing in the NFC West.
1. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals WR. Boldin's stock was falling a week ago after he voiced selfish complaints following an impressive Cardinals victory over the Bears. There was nothing selfish about the way he played against Seattle. His 37-yard reception sparked the Cardinals' victory. Boldin finished the game with eight receptions for 105 yards, his first 100-yard receiving game of the season. Arizona, somehow 5-1 without Boldin since the start of last season, needed him against Seattle. Boldin played angry, reaching the ball forward for extra yardage. If the Cardinals do decide to trade Boldin after the season, the value they get in return could hinge on whether Boldin can build upon his strong showing in Week 10.
2. Justin Forsett, Seahawks RB. The Seahawks weren't sure heading into offseason minicamps whether Forsett could adapt his running style for the zone blocking scheme. They liked what they saw during minicamps and they love what they've seen from Forsett this season. Forsett carried 17 times for 123 yards against the Cardinals, taking over most of the snaps after starter Julius Jones suffered a bruised lung. Forsett has answered every question anyone could have raised about him. With Jones expected to miss at least one game, Forsett might now get a chance to prove whether he can hold up as more of an every-down back. His efforts in passing situations -- including a terrific block on Adrian Wilson in blitz pickup -- have been critical for Hasselbeck.
3. Brandon Gibson, Rams WR. A backup's job is to be ready when called upon, and Gibson certainly held up his end after the Rams lost Keenan Burton to a season-ending knee injury Sunday. The rookie receiver caught seven passes for 93 yards against the Saints. Rams general manager Billy Devaney took some heat, including here, when linebacker Will Witherspoon, the player St. Louis traded for Gibson, scored a touchdown in his first game with the Eagles. The trade looks good right now because injuries continue to strike the position. The Rams have had nine receivers on their 53-man roster this season. Gibson will get plenty of chances to develop over the final seven games as long as he avoids joining Burton and fellow Rams wideouts Laurent Robinson and Brooks Foster on injured reserve.