NFC West: Phillip Buchanon
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks back at the team's 1983 season, specifically its upset playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins at the Orange Bowl. Farnsworth: "Trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks rallied for 10 points in the final two minutes to pull out a 27-20 upset. Dave Krieg passed for 16 yards to Steve Largent on a third-and-2 play and then for 40 yards to the Dolphins’ 2 -- Largent’s only catches in the game -- to set up a scoring run by Curt Warner. Sam Merriman recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and it led to a 37-yard field goal by Norm Johnson."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic dismisses thoughts that the Cardinals might already have an informal deal to acquire quarterback Kevin Kolb from the Eagles. Somers: "I'd be surprised. Owner Bill Bidwill has always been a stickler for following NFL rules, and such a deal likely would be in violation in some way. Plus, any team trading for Kolb should be smart enough to have assurance they can re-sign him to a long-term deal. That's an awful lot of ground to cover in these uncertain times."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com revisits Bidwill's relationship with former Packers coach Vince Lombardi amid news that the play bearing the coach's name will run through May 22. Bidwill: "I was anxious to see the show because I knew Coach Lombardi well and obviously had great respect for him. When you're so familiar with the subject and characters, you wonder how the play would hold up to your personal experience. It did not disappoint. The actors were outstanding, particularly [Judith Light] who played Vince's wife, Marie. She nailed it."
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with colleagues for thoughts on the Rams' situation at receiver. Bernie Miklasz on which incumbent receivers could have trouble sticking around: "The list begins with Laurent Robinson. He's injury prone, unproductive and a likely free agent. Bad combo, there. Mardy Gilyard is in trouble. He struggled to learn last year's offense and wasn't exactly a stickler for details when he did play. New offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is installing a new and more complex offense, and because of the NFL lockout, Gilyard will have little time to absorb it all. This will be a big problem for him. Brandon Gibson also figures to be on shaky turf."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers could be in the market for a veteran cornerback once free agency begins. The short list of potentially available players at the position includes Nnamdi Asomugha, Ike Taylor, Chris Carr, Drayton Florence, Carlos Rogers, Phillip Buchanon, Fabian Washington and Ellis Hobbs.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says new 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will learn the team's offense from Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, among others, during the lockout. Barrows: "The Nevada quarterback is in the process of moving from Reno to Santa Clara, near the 49ers' headquarters. There he'll be only a 15-minute drive from Luck, a quarterback who knows 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and his offense as well as anyone. Harbaugh coached Luck at Stanford the past three seasons. Kaepernick and Luck met over the summer at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. They remarked on how similar they were -- tall, mobile, with big right arms -- and became friends who traded text messages throughout the 2010 season. When Harbaugh and the 49ers moved up nine spots last Friday to draft Kaepernick in the second round, he received a call from Luck. More conversations are sure to follow."
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat draws parallels between Kaepernick and Harbaugh's first quarterback at the University of San Diego.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Kurt Warner isn't visiting the 49ers to gain leverage with the Cardinals, according to agent Mark Bartelstein. Bartelstein: "People assume things are being done to create leverage and that's not true. Anyone who knows Kurt Warner knows that's not the moral plane he operates under. He would never do something to create leverage."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' interest in Warner reflects a new aggressiveness under team president Jed York. Kawakami: "Everything about the idea of Kurt Warner coming to visit the 49ers sounds like a fine match, ideal in every way, birds chirping and a new day dawning. Everything except for the 49ers' conservative philosophy, newly hired offensive coordinator, soggy home field, unproven receivers and even more unproven immediate prospects."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat questions whether Mike Singletary's recruiting powers will mean much in landing Kurt Warner. Maiocco: "Only after a player signs with the 49ers [for more money] will he say, 'It wasn't about the money; I chose the 49ers because I want to be a part of something special here with Mike Singletary.' "
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Bartelstein refuses to disclose which teams Warner plans to visit. Bartelstein said he promised those teams he wouldn't say anything publicly about the visits. Not to worry. Teams must disclose all free-agent visits to the remaining teams, which makes it pretty tough to conceal visits.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com contrasts the Cardinals' offer to Warner with what Warner is asking from the team. Urban: "The Cardinals are offering around $20 million for two seasons. Warner is seeking a two-year deal closer to $13 million or $14 million per season. He is also believed to be seeking greater guaranteed money than that offered by the Cards."
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 lists guard Reggie Wells among the Cardinals' candidates for offensive player of the year. Warner, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are the other nominees.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks pried Colin Cole away from Green Bay even though Packers coach Mike McCarthy listed re-signing Cole among the team's offseason priorities. An NFL scout described Cole this way: "Not overly athletic, but athletic enough. He keeps the linebackers clean."
John Morgan of Field Gulls takes an initial look at Cole's efforts during a Week 5 game against the Falcons. Enjoy the nice, clean screenshots.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' remaining options in free agency. The Rams are not in the mix for running back Derrick Ward despite a phone conversation between Ward and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo. Talks with Ron Bartell's agent hit an impasse over the weekend. Safety James Butler remains an option. Thomas: "Free agent possibilities at safety include Sean Jones [Cleveland], Jermaine Phillips [Tampa Bay], and Jim Leonhard [Baltimore]. Options at cornerback include Phillip Buchanon [Tampa Bay], Bryant McFadden [Pittsburgh], Jabari Greer [Buffalo] and Leigh Bodden [Detroit]."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Steve from parts unknown writes: The Rodgers-Cromartie/Polamalu comparison is funny. First, one is a DB so he has many more opportunities for INTs than a Strong Safety.
Second, why are we just taking stats from November 16? Oh, that's because its the only way you can support your argument.
I also love how we just brush aside the fact that he was burnt in the Eagles game as nothing more than "one of the few times opponents have exploited Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage." When has Ike Taylor been exploited in coverage? Having trouble aren't you Mr. Sando. That's OK, I can't think of any times either.
Mike Sando: Both players had most of their picks from Nov. 16 forward, so that seemed like a good starting point, particularly with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie serving in a backup role for his first several games in the NFL. Polamalu had one interception in each of the first three games, but Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't a starter at that time, so the comparison really didn't line up.
The freedom with which Polamalu plays affords him opportunities that a cornerback enjoys only when the opposing quarterback throws his way. He is all over the place.
The stats I cited were intended to help those less familiar with the Cardinals understand the impact Rodgers-Cromartie has had for the Arizona defense.
It's a given that Polamalu is more of an impact player. The fact that the rookie has similar interception stats late in the season shows he's having an impact, too.
Steve from parts unknown doesn't stop there: Oh my gosh! Your 10th point about the Cardinals defense is comical. 2004? 2000 freakin 4? Your are going back to one game four years ago to show how good the Cardinals D Coordinator is? Are you kidding me??
How is it that you are writing for ESPN? Actually, then again, it is ESPN so you don't really have to know what you are talking about to work for them. This is a clear case where you should have made it a top five list, instead of a top ten. You are clearly reaching for things to write about.
Mike Sando: The reference to 2004 was relevant because I was referring to a time when the Cardinals' defensive coordinator had less talent to work with. To review:
NFC West opponents have admired the Cardinals' defensive coordinator for years. When the Cardinals lacked their current talent on defense, Pendergast devised elaborate schemes to give Arizona a fighting chance. In 2004, his tactics produced a four-interception game against the Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck. Pendergast has enough talent to play a more conventional style, but this game gives him a prime opportunity to prove he deserves consideration as a head coaching candidate.
Referring to a more recent game with lots of interceptions -- say, when the Cardinals picked off Jake Delhomme five times in the divisional round -- would have been inconsistent with the premise. Hope that helps.
Granger from parts unknown writes: Most football analysts say we have a weak division in the NFC West? From 2004 to 2008 we are the only division to send 2 Super Bowl teams! Not bad for a weak division!
Mike Sando: The NFC West, a weak division? I haven't heard anything about that.