NFC West: Danny Clark

NFC West Penalty Watch: Saints edition

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
10:52
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I've spun off the usual NFC West penalty file for a look at the New Orleans Saints' 2010 leaders heading into the Seattle Seahawks' wild-card game Saturday.

Only six NFL teams have committed fewer penalties for false starts than the Saints, but left tackle Jermon Bushrod has six of them.

The chart shows accepted and declined penalties, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information.

Mailbag: Leroy Hill's trade value

May, 14, 2010
5/14/10
11:00
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Clayton from Seattle writes: Mike, I keep hearing how the Seahawks still need to improve their defensive line, particularly at the end position. I was thinking that they could trade Leroy Hill for one of the Giants' ends. New York has four starting-caliber ends in Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul. At linebacker, Antonio Pierce was released after hurting his neck and Danny Clark just signed with the Texans. They might need a linebacker. Do you think this could happen?

Mike Sando: Hill is scheduled to earn $6 million in salary this season and he's likely facing an NFL suspension of some sort. Would the Giants or another team be willing to absorb that contract? Would Hill be willing to rework his contract? Those are the two primary questions I have when considering what value Hill might have in a trade.

Is Hill available? I would certainly think so. The Seahawks asked him to stay away from their offseason camps to this point. It's clear they are assessing their options at the position to determine whether they feel comfortable moving on without Hill.

As for the Giants, middle linebacker seemed to be their primary need in light of Pierce's demise. They drafted Nebraska's Phillip Dillard in the fourth round and it's looking like he could compete for the starting job. I just think the Giants would have been more aggressive in addressing linebacker to this point if they felt the position were one of great need. This could be a situation where the team likes its young talent better than outsiders like that talent.

Hill can be a good player, but he's not a middle linebacker. He wouldn't offset Pierce's departure. The writing is on the wall that Seattle wouldn't mind trading Hill. But would anyone take on that $6 million salary under the circumstances?


Mike from Costa Mesa, Calif., writes: Hey Sando, love your blog. I read it every day to keep up with my Cardinals and events in the NFC West. It's the essential resource for any FAN-atic pining away for the start of another NFL season.

Just a note to encourage you to keep an eye on Andre Roberts, the Cards' third-round choice out of the Citadel. I will admit that I didn't know much about this guy before the draft, but after doing my online research, I think the Cardinals may have a potential Steve Smith on their hands. This is especially true since, in the Cardinals' lineup, Roberts is likely to be covered one-on-one (with Larry Fitzgerald and sometimes Steve Breaston getting double coverage), and by the opponents' weakest defender at that.

If Early Doucet fails to impress this year, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Roberts as the No. 3 receiver by the end of the year. To tell you the truth, with the possible exception of Golden Tate, I believe the Cards may have landed the best receiver in the 2010 draft. In any case, we will have a pretty good idea if I'm right or not by the end of the upcoming season.

Mike Sando: Thanks for the compliments, Mike. The Cardinals hope you're better at evaluating receivers than evaluating blogs. I'm always skeptical regarding rookie receivers. They tend to flash some abilities during training camp, but it's tough to make the production carry over to exhibition games, let alone the regular season.

Breaston caught eight passes as a rookie. Doucet caught 14 as a rookie. It's possible for Roberts to ease into this season and develop over time, so I wouldn't judge him too definitively after one season. It's a bonus if a rookie receiver provides the type of production Arizona got from Anquan Boldin (101 receptions in 2001) or Fitzgerald (58 in 2004).


Jay from Sacramento writes: Mike, I noticed that the 49ers' new corner, William James, had a safety in last years Lions-49ers game. Anything from that game that made him stand out as a Mike Singletary type player? Enough to be so patient through the draft?

Mike Sando: Nothing I recall. James did not have a safety in that game. He did tackle Frank Gore for a 1-yard loss at one point, but he also made the tackle after a 50-yard pass from Alex Smith to Michael Crabtree (see video here). Crabtree got James turned around early in his route and there wasn't safety help at any point. The play-fake was very effective.


Julian from Ridgecrest, Calif., writes: First off, Sando, love your blog. Secondly, kind of a two-part question, I was just wondering if there have been any more developments with the approved L.A. stadium as far as getting a team to go there. And whichever team they get to play there (save 49ers or Rams), do you think there would be an impending division realignment for the NFC West or AFC West. The only reason I ask is because the Vikings and and 49ers haven't gotten their stadiums approved -- yet. With only six true West Coast teams (seven if you include Dallas), the addition of an L.A. team would bring the total eight. How do you see this all play out for the NFC West?

Mike Sando: Any team other than the Rams moving to Los Angeles would make divisional realignment a logical step. If the Jaguars moved to L.A., why not move them into the NFC West, with the Rams joining the AFC South? The old 49ers-Rams rivalry in the NFC West doesn't really resonate in St. Louis, anyway. The Vikings would be a more interesting case because of their stronger rivalries with teams in the NFC North, but those rivalries wouldn't mean a great deal to the people of Southern California.

As for new developments, I've seen none. The people trying to bring football to Southern California have done a good job making noise over the years, but nothing meaningful ever seems to happen. That makes it tough to take the speculation too seriously.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made a telling statement following Arizona's 24-17 victory over the Giants in Week 7.

"To not play our best and still win the game was a very good sign," he said.

The Cardinals are playing at a high level defensively and that should continue against the upcoming schedule.

Arizona is still finding its identity on offense, which sounds strange for a team that averaged 365 yards per game last season. The average has fallen to 329.5 this season. Larry Fitzgerald is averaging 10.8 yards per catch. Sixteen tight ends have better per-catch averages (minimum 15 receptions).

When I watch the Cardinals, I see an offense in transition. The Cardinals still like to spread the field with four wide receivers, but Beanie Wells averaged 10.0 yards per attempt on five carries when Arizona ran against the Giants from base personnel (two backs, two receivers, one tight end). Wells gained 6, 13, 6, 15 and 10 yards on those rushes.

Kurt Warner completed none of his three pass attempts from that base personnel group, however. Warner averaged 7.6 yards per attempt when Arizona used three or more wide receivers. Wells hasn't earned a place in those personnel groupings because he hasn't earned the Cardinals' trust in pass protection. Once he does, watch out for this offense.
Arizona left Wells alone in the backfield three times on pass plays agains the Giants. Those plays produced two passes to Wells totaling 7 yards and an 8-yard sack when Wells went one direction and the Giants linebacker Danny Clark blitzed from another. I can't say for sure whether Wells blew the protection, but the result wasn't what the Cardinals wanted. His assimilation remains a work in progress.
Cardinals Personnel Group vs. Giants in Week 7
Carries Yards Per Carry Pass Attempts Yards Per Attempt TD
4WR 0 0.0 17 7.3 0
1RB-2TE 9 2.1 3 2.3 0
1RB-1TE 1 -1.0 10 7.4 1
2RB-1TE 5 10.0 3 0.0 1
2RB-2TE 4 1.8 1 3.0 1
2RB-0TE 0 0.0 2 11.5 0
Totals 19 3.9 36 6.4 3

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