NFC West: Joe Philbin

Quarterback-related comments from coaches caught my attention coming out of Week 12.

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins coach, one day after a 24-21 victory over Seattle: "You know, he didn't do anything for me to think anything less of him. I was watching him in pregame and I looked over and I said, 'Geez, he is small.' You look at him and he’s not very tall, not impressive physically. But I was watching him move and they were taking him through a progression of throws and he’s really smooth. He’s got good velocity on the ball. In our game, it wasn’t his downfield throwing that hurt us, he found the back, check the ball down a couple of times. He made a couple of good throws in the game, but he’s just one of those guys that finds a way to win. He competes and we were fortunate at the end of the game that we were able to get to him. ... I think he’s going to be a very fine quarterback."

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, sharing impressions from Week 10 while looking ahead to the Rams' game against the 49ers in Week 13: "Mobility and accuracy. We didn’t confuse him. He made plays. And then to come back and do what he did on Monday night against the Bears was pretty impressive. Then, to carry it on again [Sunday in New Orleans] was impressive. Obviously, the subtle differences over the last couple games are that the ball is going downfield with accuracy. You take their running game -- which, we all know how talented and productive their running game is -- then you add the vertical passing game to it, it makes a huge challenge on your defense."

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley

Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals coach, on sticking with Lindley following a four-interception starting debut: "Yes, we stay with Ryan. Let’s start this thing off by saying you can’t have those interceptions, but in the first half, I thought that he did a really nice job. He moved in the pocket, was decisive, managed it, and made some good throws. We had three scoring drives in the first half; 17 points, over 200 yards of offense, possession time, good on third down. I felt that we did a lot of good things, even with the pick-six. The first pick-six, that was a mistake. It was a mistake in his read. That can’t happen, but the ones in the second half, you have to learn from those. He made a bad decision and that is what you have to see, if he can learn from that."

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford

Fisher, on Bradford bouncing back from throwing a pick in the end zone: "He doesn’t let those things bother him. He tried to make a play and it didn’t happen. [Patrick] Peterson made a great play on the ball. But, he doesn't let those things bother him. He knows that he can come back and make a play, which he did. This is a tough defense and his numbers this year reflect how good they are, but at the same time, he made the plays when he got the opportunities to make the plays and make the good throws."
The Seattle Seahawks might have selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft had the Miami Dolphins not beat them to it.

They wound up waiting til the third round before taking a quarterback. Seven months later, all parties seem to have come out OK.

Tannehill and Seattle's Russell Wilson are both starting despite preseason expectations they would serve as backups first. It would have seemed unfathomable when free agency began to think Matt Flynn would be backing up Wilson heading into a Week 12 matchup featuring the Tannehill-led Dolphins. That is indeed the case even though Flynn visited both teams in free agency after playing for Philbin and Seahawks general manager John Schneider in Green Bay.

"We certainly like our quarterback," Philbin told reporters Wednesday. "I think Seattle’s quarterback is playing very well."

Both have made positive impressions overall, particularly in light of rookie expectations. Wilson is outperforming Tannehill by leading statistical measures as the Seahawks and Dolphins prepare to face one another for the first time since 2008.

The first chart shows season-to-date stats for Wilson and Tannehill.

Wilson has nine additional touchdown passes, three fewer interceptions and the higher NFL passer rating by nearly 20 points. The gap appears much larger when taking into account the recent trajectories for each player.

Wilson ranked 27th in passer rating and 32nd in Total QBR through the first four weeks of the season. He has ranked seventh in passer rating (101.6) and sixth in QBR (75.2) since Week 5.

Rough statistical performances in Week 1 dragged down both quarterbacks' early numbers.

Tannehill threw three picks with no touchdown passes during a 30-10 defeat at Houston. He finished that game with a 3.1 QBR score (100 maximum, 50 average). Meanwhile, Wilson was completing only 18 of 34 passes for 153 yards with one touchdown, one pick and three sacks during a Week 1 defeat at Arizona.

While Wilson ranks 18th in QBR through Week 11 at 56.1, he ranks 13th since Week 2 (62.9), 10th since Week 4 (67.4) and second since Week 8 (83.9).

Tannehill ranks 27th since Week 8 at 33.4. The Dolphins have lost three in a row, falling to 4-6. Seattle has won its last two, improving to 6-4.

"Our offense as a whole the last two weeks has not been performing very well," Philbin said. "We need to get that better and corrected and fixed."

Tannehill was most impressive, I thought, during an overtime defeat against Arizona in Week 4. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 431 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions that day. His 82.7 QBR score remains the highest to date for Tannehill. It also stands as the second-highest for any quarterback against the Cardinals this season.

Arizona ranks sixth in QBR allowed (43.3). Alex Smith (92.0), Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers (81.7) are the only quarterbacks to score higher than 38.6 against Arizona this season. Matt Ryan (31.2), Tom Brady (30.6) and Michael Vick (8.8) struggled against the Cardinals.

Wilson, though playing very well overall lately, had some struggles during a 28-7 victory over the New York Jets last week. He finished the game with efficient passing stats and a 130.1 passer rating to prove it. Wilson's QBR score lagged at 45.8 in part because he fumbled twice in Seahawks territory. The Jets returned one of those fumbles for a touchdown to tie the game. Running back Robert Turbin recovered when Wilson fumbled at his own 6-yard line two drives later, sparing Wilson from another costly turnover.

The Seahawks' next two games -- at Miami, at Chicago -- will give Wilson a chance to build on recent improvements while playing on the road. Wilson played well during a victory at Carolina and while giving Seattle a late lead at Detroit in a game the Seahawks' defense couldn't close out.

Related: James Walker's initial thoughts on the Wilson-Tannehill matchup.

Video: Who should start for Seahawks

August, 15, 2012

Quarterback competitions tend to get our attention.

ESPN's Damien Woody and Jerry Rice, featured in the video above, offered opinions for how things should, and might, go down in Seattle. Neither mentioned Tarvaris Jackson.

Woody cited Matt Flynn's experience in a West Coast offense in explaining why the free-agent addition from Green Bay should start. Rice questioned Flynn's credentials by asking why Flynn's former coordinator in Green Bay, Joe Philbin, failed to show much urgency in pursuing Flynn for the Miami Dolphins this offseason.

To Rice's point, the Dolphins did make a strong play for Flynn, at least according to comments Philbin made earlier this offseason:
"I think we made an aggressive push. We got him in here relatively quickly. Again, we had a great meeting. Matt and I had some conversations, a number of conversations prior to his arrival to Miami. We had some subsequent ones after. He'd probably be able to give you better answer as to why he chose to go elsewhere. All I know is when we were together the visit was excellent. I thought he got along very well with our offensive staff. He and I obviously have a relationship together. Excited for him and wish him all the best and I think he’ll do a fine job. ...

"Again, you need to ask Matt Flynn why he's in Seattle. There's a myriad factors that go into why people make decisions about their own future, which is their prerogative. And clubs have their own prerogative as to how they are going to decide to move forward. And so again, it always takes two people to get a marriage and so I wish him well. He's a great young man. But he's better to ask why he's in Seattle."

Rice's point holds, to a degree. The Dolphins presumably could have won over Flynn by offering him huge money. Perhaps they would have done that had Philbin thought more highly of his former quarterback. But it's also pretty clear Flynn wasn't all that eager to sign with Miami, for whatever reason. He sought out Seattle and accepted good, not great, money from the Seahawks. Of course, that was before the team used a third-round choice for Russell Wilson. Things change quickly in the NFL.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross checked in Monday with thoughts on the team's quarterback situation.

There was nothing too earth-shattering from a news standpoint, but if you're a head coach or quarterback, these are the sorts of public musings from an owner that are unwelcome.

"I don't think they're going to rush (Ryan Tannehill) into anything," Ross told "He's going to have to win the starting job. I think Matt Moore will probably be the starter, and I wish him the best."

Ross' aggressive public style played a role in Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Fisher choosing NFC West teams over the Dolphins during the last couple offseasons, in my view. Separately, free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn was widely linked to the Dolphins through their new coach, Joe Philbin, but Flynn identified Seattle as his preferred destination.

Coaches in particular appreciate their owners leaving the football commentary to others. They don't want to feel public pressure from above, especially from owners without strong football backgrounds.

Ross' comments Monday appeared reasonable. It's just that head coaches generally do not want their team owners setting expectations for a quarterback race, especially when they've gone out of their way to emphasize competition for the starting role.

Also: James Walker's thoughts on Ross.
Try on this 2012 NFL draft scenario:
  • Andrew Luck to Indianapolis with the first overall choice;
  • Robert Griffin III to Washington with the second pick, acquired from St. Louis;
  • Ryan Tannehill to Cleveland at No. 4;
  • Miami, the next team with quarterback needs, goes in another direction with the eighth overall choice after signing or otherwise acquiring Matt Flynn from Green Bay, tapping into the relationship between Flynn and new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

That would leave Arizona and Seattle as primary suitors for Peyton Manning. The timing would have to be right, and still there would be no guarantees. But it's at least plausible.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated lists the Seahawks and Cardinals as potential landing spots for Manning, with this to say about Manning and Reggie Wayne coming to Seattle together: "The injury-prone Sidney Rice makes this a tough call. But the Seahawks certainly have the cash to make this happen, and it's exceedingly logical to think they'd be interested in both. With Rice and Mike Williams the current projected starters, you'd think Pete Carroll would use Williams and Golden Tate as swing players and injury insurance, with the heady Doug Baldwin the kind of slot receiver Manning could use as his new Brandon Stokley." Noted: Williams is far from assured a starting job or even a roster spot, in my view. He needs to bounce back from a down season. Kris Durham also could factor into the big-receiver role for Seattle.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune sees Leroy Hill's arrest costing the linebacker money, but he does not see it as a deal-breaker for the Seahawks. Boling: "Depending on the evidence in Hill’s case, I don’t think the current Seahawk front office is going to be too judgmental about a possession charge. They drafted tight end Anthony McCoy after reportedly testing positive for marijuana at the 2010 combine. He was a projected third- or fourth-round pick, so he seemed a bargain worth taking when he was available in the sixth round. So it’s logical to speculate that they’ll likewise consider keeping Hill if his expected performance warrants the contract investment."

Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle says Hill "has the rare talent and ability to actually stand out in an NFL locker room. He's that good. Since his rookie year in 2005, I've marveled over the plays he makes. He can take on any offensive lineman in the league, drop into coverage as well as any linebacker and rush the passer with the best of them. He's quite possibly the best open-field tackler I've ever seen. I watched him on consecutive plays cover a running back man-to-man 30 yards downfield, blow up a fullback in the backfield -- ruining the timing of a running play -- and hurdle over an offensive guard to make a tackle on a screen play. He could be 'that guy' in the NFL. But instead, he's throwing it all away."

Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona checks in with Ben Patrick after the former Cardinals tight end helped rescue motorists following a crash. Patrick had run across a similar scene while a college student years earlier. He watched a man die that time. Patrick: "It stuck with me a long time, although I haven’t told many people about it. It’s hard to watch a man die right in front of you. The other guy was holding his hand as he passed. That’s what prompted me to such quick action when I saw the same situation again."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is happy to play the Hall of Fame Game this year. Somers: "At the combine last week, Whisenhunt expressed considerable enthusiasm for playing in the game. It's not something he would want to do every year, he said, but 2012 is an optimal season for it. NFL teams had no off-season work in 2011. The new CBA allows for fewer off-season practices and conditioning sessions than the previous CBA. No matter which direction the Cardinals go at quarterback, an extra week or so of practice will be a benefit."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on which team would be the ideal trading partner with St. Louis for the second overall pick. Thomas: "As for Washington, the relationship between Bruce Allen and Kevin Demoff, and Jeff Fisher and Mike Shanahan might make a deal easier to get done. Because they respect each other and know each other so well, a lot of the gamesmanship would be minimized -- they can get right down to business. The only problem picking sixth is that Justin Blackmon, Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne could all be gone by then."

Matt Maiocco of says Dashon Goldson's decision to switch from agent Drew Rosenhaus to CAA could affect negotiations with the 49ers in a positive way. Maiocco: "Goldson was an unrestricted free agent last year, too. Multiple sources told that the 49ers offered a five-year, $25 million deal. But sources say Rosenhaus assured Goldson that he could get him the kind of contract the San Diego Chargers awarded safety Eric Weddle: five years, $40 million. After a couple weeks of free agency, Rosenhaus sent an email to every NFL team to inform them that Goldson's demands had lowered and he would sign a one-year deal for 'approximately $3 million.' Three days later, Goldson returned to the 49ers on a one-year, $2 million contract."

Mike & Mike: Manning to the NFC West

February, 29, 2012
A Seahawks fan I know emailed to say he "fell out of his chair" after hearing how strongly Mike Greenberg was advocating Peyton Manning for the Seahawks.

The thought of a national radio host bringing up the NFC West without prompting did seem far-fetched (I kid, but only a little). This, I had to hear for myself.

Arizona Cardinals fans will want to listen in, too, as Greenberg and Herm Edwards considered the possibilities during "Mike & Mike in the Morning" Insider on Wednesday morning, not quite 90 minutes into the show.

I'll break out one of the more pertinent exchanges below. First, though, I'll link to audio featuring my thoughts on Manning and Seattle after Sports 620 KTAR's Ron Wolfley asked with some skepticism why Manning would consider the Seahawks at all. You'll find that exchange at about the 27:24 mark of this clip.

Now, on with the exchange between Edwards and Greenberg.

Edwards: I think the spot, personally, it's going to be Miami.

Greenberg: Miami. What makes you say that?

Edwards: The situation they are in, I think he's walking into a situation where the fan base will be excited, he has a good wide receiver in Brandon Marshall, a pretty good tight end, a runner in Reggie Bush, defense pretty consistent. A team that maybe has a chance to win, to compete in that division. To me, that is the logical spot. You got a new head coach, you got an owner who wants to bring star power in there. They haven’t had a consistent quarterback since Dan Marino. I just think it would be a nice landing spot.

Greenberg: I don't see it. I disagree with you and I'll tell you why. I think Manning, at this stage in his career, there was probably a point in his career when Manning could basically run an organization. He played most of his career under Tony Dungy. Jim Caldwell slides in, it felt like it was an extension of Dungy on the staff and everything else, but Manning could run the show. If I am a GM, the one thing I am looking for more than anything is an established situation to walk into. You're going to go play for a guy who has never been a head coach before in his life in Joe Philbin. If you are Peyton, you don't get two chances to make this decision. This is it. It would be a disaster if he goes somewhere and after one year, he is looking for a new team like what happened with Donovan (McNabb). That is not what Peyton is looking for. He is looking for one more place to go, like (Joe) Montana did in Kansas City and take one more shot at this thing. I think it would be a real roll of the dice to go play for a coach who has never head coached the game before in his life. No disrespect to Joe Philbin. Maybe he'll wind up being the next Lombardi. But he has never been a head coach before. As much as I respect the Dolphins for hanging in there and fighting and scratching and clawing as they did last year and not giving up on the season, that season was hopelessly lost in October. It’s not like they are knocking on the door. If I am Peyton, I am looking for a team where I feel like they are real close and may just be a quarterback away. I’ll tell you where I would go.

Edwards: Where are you going to go?

Greenberg: I would give some serious thought to Seattle. I think Seattle has a lot of pieces in place. They’ve got a coach that everybody out there likes playing for, Pete Carroll. I know he hasn’t won much in the NFL, but he is firmly in place.

Edwards: Yeah.

Greenberg: I think if they would have had Peyton Manning last year, they would have been the goods. That division isn’t as bad as people like to make it out because San Francisco is as good as anybody. Arizona was on the come late last year. I think I’d give some serious thought to Seattle and I know I would give some serious thought to Arizona. I would definitely give some serious though to that situation.

Edwards: Arizona is another place. You've got Kenny Whisenhunt, that understands veteran quarterbacks. They had Kurt Warner down there.

Greenberg: Look how well that worked.

Edwards: It worked out well.

Greenberg: Play with Larry Fitzgerald. You want to talk about a dream situation.

Edwards: That is a good spot. Seattle is a good spot.

Greenberg: Seattle is not bad.

Edwards: No, not bad. For some reason, I've just got a feeling it's Miami. Those two spots you just mentioned, those are good spots.

Around the NFC West: McDaniels' hiring

January, 19, 2011
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Rams made a strong move in hiring Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. Miklasz: "I'm already tired of people whining about how this is a bad move based on McDaniels work in Denver as the head coach. Huh? The guy won't be the head coach here. He isn't the GM. McDaniels won't have the authority to make trades, cut players, set the roster. McDaniels is the Rams' offensive coordinator, period. He was the OC in New England and that seems to have worked out well, to say the least. He knew what his job was and stayed in it without straying into other areas. McDaniels was a bad head coach in Denver. And I would care about this if the Rams were bringing him in as head coach. But they are not doing that. Relax."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch passes along comments from McDaniels regarding Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson. McDaniels on Bradford: "I'm looking forward certainly to working with everybody there. Sam's an extremely talented player. He's a very accurate guy. Does a lot of things in the pocket well. Does things out of the pocket well. We'll hope to take the things that he did well this year and try to build on 'em as he goes into his second year."

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Jeremy Bates' firing as offensive coordinator kicked off what figures to be an offseason filled with surprises for the Seahawks. Kelley: "There is a disconnect between Pete Carroll's unvarnished postgame optimism following Sunday's smack-in-the-face at Chicago, and his actions the next day. Words won't fix the Seahawks. This building project Carroll inherited is going to take even more time than he thought. This offseason begins without an offensive coordinator, without a quarterback and with questions about players like right tackle Sean Locklear and center Chris Spencer."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers thoughts on why Bates was let go. Williams, after covering on-field struggles: "A more likely scenario for Bates moving on is his gruff personality not jibing with the culture Carroll wants to create in Seattle. Carroll is looking for a fresh perspective and a coach more willing to champion his offensive philosophy of balance and a physical run game." Williams also notes that former Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable found a "soft landing" in Seattle as the team's offensive line coach. Cable grew up in the Northwest and went to Snohomish High School.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat outlines complaints from Raiders owner Al Davis regarding the Seahawks' new offensive line coach. According to Davis, two women raised abuse allegations against Cable during the 2009 season. According to Davis, Cable would fly in women to be with him on the road before games. Cohn: "I’d like to pause here and let out a rip-roaring, 'Yippee!!!!!!!!!!' I drove to Alameda for the usual boring new coach intro and now I was into hotel sex -- I certainly don’t approve of the alleged abuse -- and I was into a steamy secret girlfriend hiding in the room and Cable flagrantly breaking the Raiders’ co-habitation clause. I also was into scandal. I mean, sportswriting never gets any better than this. Never." Davis makes harsh accusations, delivered with obvious malice. Cable will surely face additional questions about the matters.

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks Green Bay's Joe Philbin and Houston's Rick Dennison could make sense as replacements for Bates given their coaching backgrounds. Hiring Cable as offensive line coach before hiring a coordinator makes it more important, in theory, for the team to find a coordinator with specific philosophical traits.

Matt Maiocco of updates 49ers coaching moves. Maiocco: "Ed Donatell, who spent last season as Denver Broncos secondary coach, will coach 49ers defensive backs, new Raiders coach Hue Jackson confirmed at his press conference Tuesday. Also, USC passing game coordinator and receivers coach John Morton has left USC to join Jim Harbaugh's coaching staff, said USC coach Lane Kiffin." Harbaugh is adding some experienced coaches to the defensive side. Vic Fangio and Donatell have been defensive coordinators in the NFL.

Also from Maiocco: a review of the 2010 49ers, beginning with a look at the defensive line. Maiocco: "In a 3-4 scheme, these guys do the dirty work. The 49ers ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. The opposition averaged 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers were better."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang for a look at quarterbacks the 49ers might consider in the middle rounds. Rang on Florida State's Christian Ponder: "He's smart and he played in a demanding offensive system for the Seminoles. He doesn't have the arm strength of Ryan Mallett or the athleticism of Cam Newton, but he has just enough of each. He also has a long injury history and suffered a concussion that knocked him out of FSU's bowl game."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat updates 49ers coaching hires, noting that former coach Mike Singletary has officially become linebackers coach for the Vikings.

The Phoenix Business Journal says the Cardinals plan to send out renewal notices for season tickets next month, before a potential lockout. The story notes: "The Cards kept most season ticket prices the same for the 2010 season and cut some prices. Cards season tickets ran $25 to $112.50 this season for non-club seats. That excluded a $5.25 per game ticket charge by University of Phoenix Stadium. While demand for ticket may be diminished by a possible lockout, the Cardinals do have home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. Those teams all have transplant fans in the Valley and region which will help demand."