Tuesday, October 4, 2011
NFC West Stock Watch
By Mike Sando
1. Anything with horns on it. The St. Louis Rams are 0-4 and the most disappointing team in the league. Media coverage in St. Louis is beginning to suggest trouble ahead for coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney if the Rams do not start winning. The Rams appear to have no answers and the schedule isn't getting any easier.
2. Sam Bradford, Rams QB. Opponents have sacked Bradford 18 times in four games. Bradford is on pace to absorb 72 sacks over a 16-game season. That would tie Bradford with Randall Cunningham for the second most since at least 1982, when sacks became an official stat. David Carr set the record with 75 sacks in 2002. Carr never recovered from the beating he took early in his career. The punishment Bradford is taking could threaten his long-term outlook.
3. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have lost 12 of their last 15 games, including three in a row this season despite making a substantial investment at quarterback. That'll hurt any coach's stock.
Frank Gore rushed for 127 yards and a score in the 49ers' win over the Eagles.
1. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers RB. There were too many worthy candidates and too few spaces to honor them all. Gore's stock value improved the most from a week ago, when he struggled against Cincinnati, suffered an ankle injury and then watched Kendall Hunter start ahead of him in Week 4. Gore responded by leading the 49ers past Philadelphia with 127 yards and the winning touchdown. Coach Jim Harbaugh, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, defensive end Justin Smith and the entire 49ers offensive line deserve mention here. All would have been worthy choices.
2. Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks QB. There were no indications Jackson was about to pass for 319 yards with three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons. The performance should quiet critics clamoring for the Seahawks to bench Jackson in favor of Charlie Whitehurst. Jackson took no sacks in this game. His offensive line deserves partial credit for that, but Jackson was the one who took advantage. He was the one whose stock jumped the most in Seattle.
3. Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals RB. It's still a mystery how the Cardinals could lose with Wells carrying 27 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Wells' physical running played a huge role in Arizona's ability to build a 27-17 fourth-quarter lead over the New York Giants. He's averaging 107 yards rushing per game, second to Darren McFadden among players with at least 20 carries this season. He's also leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns with five. Give some credit to the Cardinals' offensive line as well.