NFC West: Glenn Foley
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com compares the Seahawks' current struggles and those experienced during Holmgren's early years with the team. Farnsworth: "After Holmgren was hired in 1999, the Seahawks backed into the playoffs and an AFC West title in his first season. Then, Holmgren decided to remake the roster. Twenty-five games into his tenure (including playoffs), Holmgren had an 11-14 record and was struggling to find a quarterback from a group that included Jon Kitna, Brock Huard and Glenn Foley. Holmgren’s QB quandary remained unsettled even after he made a trade with the Green Bay Packers to acquire Matt Hasselbeck and signed Trent Dilfer as a free agent in 2001. An injured and ineffective Hasselbeck struggled through the 2001 season. Dilfer was named the starter in 2002, only to be injured twice." Noted: There's a tendency to recast unplanned events as planned ones when things work out. The fact that Seattle eventually succeeded under Holmgren doesn't mean all the early failures were necessary ones. Holmgren seemed to have turned the page on Hasselbeck, who might not have gotten another chance with the team had Dilfer avoided injuries. But because Hasselbeck succeeded ultimately, it's as though Holmgren and the rest of us knew it would happen all along. We did not know that.
Also from Farnsworth: The team has allowed only two second-half touchdowns all season, the lowest figure in the league through Week 8. The Ravens (three), Browns (four) and Lions (four) are next.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says quarterback Kevin Kolb feels like a "weenie" for being sidelined by a turf-toe injury. Kolb: "I remember Deion Sanders was the first one I have ever saw that had 'turf toe,' and I was thinking the same thing as a fan: 'What? Why is (he) out for two weeks with a turf toe?' Then you get one and realize it's a little more painful than it comes across as." Somers: "Turf toe involves sprained or torn ligaments in the metatarsophalangeal joint, which indicates why the injury goes by a much shorter name. Kolb also has a mid-foot sprain in other ligaments and a bone bruise. It is not a lisfranc injury, which is more serious. Kolb has to be able to plant and drive off the foot to get full power on his throws."
Also from Somers: Fullback Reagan Maui'a says an alcohol problem led to his suspension earlier in the season.
More from Somers: Beanie Wells is not yet practicing, but he's expected to play Sunday.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com profiles the team's young outside linebackers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. The two have divergent personalities, something Schofield has fun with. Schofield: "Everybody says Sam is the brain guy, so I’m like, 'Damn, so then I’m stupid?' "
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is inching closer to returning from a high-ankle sprain. Sounds like Bradford will not be ready this week, however. Thomas: "The silver lining to the injury is that Bradford has been able to talk with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on game day, not just when the Rams' defense is on the field but also when the Rams' offense is out there. It has allowed Bradford to get a better feel for McDaniels -- why he calls certain things at certain times, and what he's seeing during the ebb and flow of a game."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the team has until early next week to activate receiver Mark Clayton from the physically unable to perform list or lose him for the season. An Achilles problem has stunted Clayton's return from a knee injury.
Also from Wagoner: the latest on Bradford, and a note about how cornerback Marquis Johnson played well in his return from injury.
More from Wagoner: an update on Robert Quinn's development.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Dashon Goldson isn't happy about being wrongly penalized for what officials called an illegal blow to the head against Cleveland. Goldson: "I'm good. I knew it was clean . . . If it was a blow to the head, I would've had a $15,000 or $20,000 fine in my locker right now. But I got penalized. That could've cost us the game."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers defensive end Justin Smith missed practice on a veteran's courtesy, not because of an injury. Smith has started 162 games in a row.
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat sees 49ers quarterback Alex Smith pick up traits from coach Jim Harbaugh. How thick is the 49ers' playbook each week? State secrets.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers should be able to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Kawakami: "Because of their walloping defense, the 49ers should realistically aim for the No. 2 seed, and a first-round bye. And because the 49ers offense remains less than dynamic (though effective), they should really want that No. 2 seed, so they can avoid the prospect of having to play a first-round shootout against a team such as Philadelphia or Atlanta. But to do that, the 49ers have to beat out the winners of the NFC East and South divisions -- it looks like a 12-4 record is the most realistic way for the 49ers to do that." Noted: The 49ers' offense has outscored the Falcons' offense 167-116 this season. The Eagles' offense has 173 points. More on this in a bit.
That will change when Kerry Collins replaces an injured Manning in the Colts' lineup for Week 1.
The first preseason game I covered as an NFL beat reporter featured Manning making his first start against the Seattle Seahawks in the Kingdome. His very first pass found Marvin Harrison for a 49-yard touchdown. Preseason games are generally without much meaning, but could there have been a more fitting beginning for Manning?
For a fuller appreciation of Manning's durability and consistency in starting 227 consecutive games, I went through Pro Football Reference counting how many quarterbacks had started for current NFC West teams since Manning made his regular-season debut. There have been 48. That figure includes 14 for the St. Louis Rams, 13 for the 49ers, 11 for the Arizona Cardinals and 10 for the Seahawks.
A few notes on the 48 players to start for current NFC West teams since 1998:
- There have been two Brocks (Berlin, Huard), two Charlies (Frye, Whitehurst), two named Chris (Chandler, Weinke), two Jeffs (Plummer, Martin), three Johns (Friesz, Navarre, Skelton), one Jon (Kitna), two Matts (Hasselbeck, Leinart), two Shauns (Hill, King), three Steves (Young, Bono, Stenstrom) and two Trents (Dilfer, Green).
- Two, Young and Warren Moon, have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame since Manning's streak began.
- Dilfer and Warner started for more than one current NFC West team since Manning's streak began. Warner started 57 games for Arizona and 50 for St. Louis. Dilfer started 12 for Seattle and six for San Francisco.
- Hasselbeck has the most total starts for current NFC West teams with 131, followed by Marc Bulger (95 for St. Louis), Jake Plummer (73 for the Cardinals) and Jeff Garcia (71 for the 49ers).
- Smith -- Alex, not Troy -- owns the most starts among current NFC West players with 50, all for San Francisco.
- Eight of the 48 were one-and-done as starters: Berlin, Scott Covington, Ty Detmer, Glenn Foley, Friesz, Frye, Navarre and Weinke. Nineteen have made at least 10 starts.
The NFC West will have two starters new to the division in Week 1: Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb.
The chart shows start totals by team for the 48. The NFC West changed membership with realignment in 2002. I'm going back to 1998 for the four teams currently in the division.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seattle Seahawks never thought they would long for the days -- OK, the day -- when Glenn Foley was throwing passes to Fabien Bownes, Derrick Mayes, Sean Dawkins, Mike Pritchard and Itula Mili.
This was Sept. 19, 1999. Mike Holmgren was in his second game as the Seahawks' head coach. An injury had sidelined Jon Kitna, the quarterback Holmgren inherited from Dennis Erickson. Holmgren was only beginning to establish his offense in the Northwest.
Foley would be making his only start for Seattle as the Seahawks faced the Bears at Soldier Field. The journeyman quarterback completed 18 of 30 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning 49-yard strike to Bownes, a special-teams player who never started an NFL game. Seattle won the game, 14-13.
Nearly a decade later, Holmgren's offensive system is far more established. Injuries have again knocked out his preferred quarterback, but backup Seneca Wallace has extensive experience in the offense. The receivers aren't the ones Holmgren expected to have, but Bownes wasn't exactly a prominent member of the rotation back then.
In that context, it's puzzling how the Seattle passing game can remain so ineffective week after week. We should expect it to struggle given the injuries. But we should also see signs of improvement as Holmgren and the players work through their problems, particularly given the relative strength of the running game. Why aren't we seeing improvement?
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren all but conceded that Charlie Frye would start at quarterback against the Packers on Sunday. Which got me thinking about how many quarterbacks other than Hasselbeck have started under Holmgren in Seattle.
The chart lists all six of them and shows how many starts each made per season. Jon Kitna was the primary starter in Holmgren's first two seasons with the Seahawks. The team acquired Hasselbeck in 2001. Other quarterbacks have combined to start 16 games during that time.
Extra credit for anyone who calculates points per game by starting quarterback. I'll do it as time permits. Have a couple of other things on my plate for the time being.