We're into the first game week of the 2012 season, but now seemed as good a time as any to take a look around the NFC West following roster cuts. The division should be improved from last year, but it is hard to see how much with any level of certainty given the increasingly crazy situations across the board.
The big news to come out of this season has to be Russell Wilson claiming the starting quarterback job in Seattle. The Seahawks signed Matt Flynn during free agency, but given what we know now, I wonder if they would have done that knowing Russell Wilson was going to be there for them in the draft. In that case, it would have made more sense to bring in a veteran option.
Wilson had a strong preseason and while he is a little guy, he did excellent work developing his throwing lanes. It will be interesting to see how those lanes develop when defenses are getting a bit more exotic and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. Those lanes might not necessarily be there when that happens, but we'll see. He outplayed Matt Flynn, who will be a moderately pricey backup for now.
The Seahawks are paying Flynn approximately $10 million in guaranteed money this year. It is a nice chunk of change, but considering how awful things have turned out for the Arizona Cardinals with Kevin Kolb, I would argue this isn't too bad a deal, all things considered.
John Skelton emerged from the preseason as the starting quarterback, and even managed an endorsement from Kurt Warner, for whatever that is worth. The QB situation likely remains fluid, although between those two, it's more likely mired in some semblance of mud. I suppose either could break out and shock the world, but I'm not holding my breath for that.
And of course, there are the Rams. They are in the process of building up from an ugly 2011 season. If they can remain healthy, they could at least make things interesting. They are after all, only two seasons removed from a 7-9 campaign in Sam Bradford's rookie year. Of course, healthy is such a significant issue for them.
I still think the Seahawks remain the strongest challenger to the 49ers in 2012. Russell Wilson is an enigma right now, but the team is adding talent around him. Braylon Edwards earned a spot on the 53-man roster, and it sounds like he could get a lot of early season snaps. Injuries derailed 2011 for Edwards, so we'll see if he still has something in him in a new situation. He is a bit of an enigma at this point as well given how little he played last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, I really like what the Seahawks are building. It is not on the level of the 49ers defense by any stretch, but they are building around solid young talent. Bruce Irvin is getting rave reviews, and that secondary has strong young talent, with no starter over 27. If they can gel as a unit, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.