NFC West: Samie Parker

Panic Button: Seattle's WR situation

September, 24, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is completing 48.5 percent of his passes with a 60.1 rating, but the Seahawks aren't worried about him at all. They know his struggles stem from what might qualify as unprecedented turnover at the receiver position over the first three games.

The bye week allows Seattle to address the situation in ways that go beyond the stopgap solutions of previous weeks. Bobby Engram, who caught 94 passes last season, should be back from a shoulder injury in Week 5. Deion Branch, sidelined by a knee injury suffered during the playoffs last season, also might make his 2008 debut.

Those options beat anything more Seattle might do to address the passing game. The Seahawks are past the point of hitting the panic button at receiver. Save for Billy McMullen's surprisingly strong performances, that button was about as effective as Samie Parker's four-day tenure as a receiving option with the team.

Hasselbeck might face another tough week when Seattle visits the Giants in Week 5. Seattle won't fix its passing game right away. We should expect improvement, however, as the season progresses and key players return to health.

Around the NFC West: Rams seek redemption

September, 14, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Rams are really as bad as they looked in the opener. Fan reaction has been resoundingly negative.

Also from Thomas: a look at Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon's matchup with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.

More from Thomas: breaking down the game. He gives the Giants the edge in three of four categories. He offers an "even" verdict when the Rams' pass offense is working against the Giants' pass defense.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains why the 49ers go with veterans in their secondary. It's a Mike Nolan thing.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers have struggled against the noise at Qwest Field. Officials have flagged the 49ers for six false starts in the team's last two games at the stadium.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the Seahawks' opponents have averaged a league-high 2.83 false-start penalties per game at Qwest Field since 2005.

Also from Maiocco: Seattle wins this game if the Seahawks can force two turnovers.

Chrissy Mauck of quotes offensive coordinator Mike Martz on what Rocky Bernard means to the Seahawks' defense. Martz: "He does change them dramatically up front with his presence."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are looking for a "milestone" victory -- in Week 2. Oddsmakers favor Arizona by nearly a touchdown over the Dolphins, even though the Cardinals haven't been 2-0 since 1991.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune checks in with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has 333 receptions, more than twice what Jerry Rice had at the same age.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer breaks down keys to the 49ers-Seahawks game. He's wondering whether the Seahawks' pass catchers can improve upon their six-drop performance last week.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times provides a couple of thoughts on the Seahawks' decision to release receiver Samie Parker instead of a kicker. He suggests Parker might not have been able to absorb the offensive system well enough to make a difference before Deion Branch and/or Bobby Engram return.

Hawks bring up Bumpus, cut Parker

September, 13, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks signed receiver Samie Parker on Wednesday and released him today, making room for Michael Bumpus on the 53-man roster.

Seattle brought in Parker and fellow veteran Billy McMullen as veteran insurance at receiver. Parker lacked experience in the West Coast system. The Seahawks determined Bumpus was in better position to help the team immediately.

Signing Bumpus from the practice squad had been expected. Less certain: which player the Seahawks would release.

Mailbag: 2-0 before 4-0 for Cardinals

September, 13, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Chris from Denver writes: Mike, looking at the Cardinals' schedule, it sets up perfectly for them to leave the month of September 4-0. They will beat Fish on Sunday. Washington will not be formidable and the Jets at home is quite winnable. What do you think? Have you changed your mind on 8-8 year? I'm saying 9-7 or 10-6.

Mike Sando: Remember, that Jets game is a road game for the Cardinals. The team will stay on the East Coast between the Redskins and Jets games. I think 3-1 sets up more realistically than 4-0. And I still think the second half of the schedule presents challenges. I'm not coming off 8-8 just yet, but neither would I discount your optimism.

Let's say the Cardinals start 3-1. They then return home for potentially tough games against Buffalo and Dallas, followed by a trip to Carolina.

Myles from Louisiana writes: Assuming your prediction about [Seahawks rookie kicker Brandon] Coutu being valued enough to waive player(s) who had a chance to contribute now (i.e. the Colts new punt/kick returner). If [veteran kicker Olindo] Mare doesn't miss any kicks he should make AND continues to be the one competent member of special teams, how can the front office send him packing for the rook? It doesn't seem possible to be in more urgent need of roster spots now and they haven't made a move, is there a chance this continues a ways into the season? And if so is that a failing of the front office?

Mike Sando: For the record, I wasn't saying I agreed with the rationale behind the Seahawks' decision to keep two kickers. I sought to explain the reasoning. The question you raise is a very good one. I think they'll have to release Coutu at some point, particularly if the injuries continue to mount, although carrying Coutu becomes easier once Deion Branch and Bobby Engram return. At that point, the Seahawks could cut back their numbers at receiver and have an easier time carrying an extra kicker.

(Read full post)

The day ahead

September, 11, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks' revamped receiving corps is practicing together this afternoon for the second time since Samie Parker and Billy McMullen signed Wednesday. I'll be heading out to Seahawks headquarters for a few interviews, then checking back here tonight. Thanks for hitting the mailbag. I've got some catching up to do tonight.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks expect backup quarterback Seneca Wallace to work at receiver in Week 2. I indicated Wednesday that the free-agent signings of Samie Parker and Billy McMullen suggested Wallace might not move to receiver. Well, Wallace is going to help at receiver, if only for the short term. The team still views Wallace as a quarterback -- Wallace is even wearing the red non-contact jersey reserved for QBs -- but the versatile backup passer will certainly get reps at receiver in the short term.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times revisits Wallace's multidimensional past at Sacramento City College and other stops.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks are scrambling to find injury replacements for fallen starters on offense.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with new Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, who draws inspiration from his late father.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mike Holmgren wasn't kidding when he warned players that jobs aren't safe in the NFL. Holmgren: "It's really hard on the players. But you're competing ... it's not civil service."

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers assesses what went wrong with Alex Smith in San Francisco. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Also from Maiocco: Smith's big game against Seattle in 2006 did not foreshadow long-term success.

And this: Notes on new 49ers quarterback Jamie Martin and outgoing Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee revisits another of Smith's performances at Seattle, this one underscoring how "bizarre and dysfunctional" things had become.

Also from Barrows: Martin and 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz were together in 1993.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers coach Mike Nolan was "short on details and sentiment" in announcing Smith's placement on injured reserve.

Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News blames the 49ers for mishandling Smith as the team placed its former No. 1 draft choice on IR. Killion: "It's a sad ending to a pathetic story that pretty much sums up the 49ers' ineptitude under coach Mike Nolan."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic compares the Cardinals' pass rushers to baseball relief pitchers. Both are important for closing out games.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune looks at the Cardinals' improved depth on defense. He leads with a note on Calais Campbell.

Also from Tulumello: Arizona looks for its first 2-0 start since 1991.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the future is now for the Rams' young receivers. Veteran starter Drew Bennett is on crutches after breaking a bone in his foot.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, who is looking to move past a 38-3 defeat in the opener.

Bill Coats of Around the Horns says Rams rookie receiver Donnie Avery had to watch another rookie, the Eagles' DeSean Jackson, shine during the opener while Avery rested an injury. Also, Chris Long is playing at left defensive end while Leonard Little recovers from a hamstring injury. James Hall is at right end.

Revisiting Seneca Wallace's role

September, 10, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Seattle's decision to sign Samie Parker and Billy McMullen as stopgap receivers suggests the team might not move backup quarterback Seneca Wallace to receiver as his primary position, an option coach Mike Holmgren considers from time to time.

Wallace has the talent to play receiver at least for stretches. He proved that with a momentum-changing catch against Carolina in the NFC title game a few years ago. Wallace also has a quarterback's knowledge of the offense, another plus.

Third quarterback Charlie Frye played well enough during the exhibition season to gain Holmgren's confidence, a key variable in determining whether to use Wallace at another position.

"It's still hard," Holmgren said at his news conference today. "It's still a difficult decision."

The Seahawks did bring in free-agent quarterback Bruce Gradkowski for a tryout Tuesday, but they did not sign him as part of a broader strategy to use Wallace in other capacities. Seattle  needed a fresh arm as the team worked out six free-agent receivers before settling on Parker and McMullen.

Note: Holmgren told Bay Area reporters Wallace has a "real chance" of playing receiver this week.

Update: Wallace worked at receiver in practice Wednesday. He'll clearly get some time there, but quarterback will remain his primary position long term. The tougher decision in the short term might be whether to have Wallace return punts. Just wanted to be clear on that.

Punting move a start for Seattle

September, 9, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks' decision to change punters comes as no surprise, and not just because Rod Pedersen alluded to it Monday. Incumbent punter Ryan Plackemeier struggled with consistency after returning from pectoral surgery in August. He still might hit his stride at some point, but the Seahawks decided they couldn't afford to wait. Jon Ryan, formerly of the Packers, gets the call.

Seattle has not yet announced its roster moves today, but Ryan's addition will not be the only one. Jordan Babineaux and Rocky Bernard will again count against the 53-man limit as they come off suspensions. The league granted Seattle one-day roster exemptions Monday, standard procedure when suspensions end.

The Seahawks are also in the market for help at receiver. Logan Payne, Courtney Taylor and Jordan Kent are their only healthy ones. I've heard nothing connecting veterans Joe Horn, Keenan McCardell or Koren Robinson to Seattle. Samie Parker is another veteran on the market. He caught 110 passes for Kansas City over the last three seasons.