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NFC West Review, Week 4

Despite a bad groin Steven Jackson still managed 124 yards of offense for the Rams
Despite a bad groin Steven Jackson still managed 124 yards of offense for the Rams

Recap of the NFC West games, minus the 49ers games (which we've heard more than enough about at this point)

St. Louis Rams (2-2)

Of the NFC West teams, the Rams may be the most surprising this year, in a positive way. (The 49ers are probably the most surprising in a negative way). Sam Bradford has already been talked about ad nauseum and for good reason. Here's one play that impressed me last week. On 3rd and 10 at the Seattle 15 yard line Bradford drops back to pass. He's looking right the entire time, which pins the safeties to that side of the field, but all the while he's got Mark Clayton in mind. Clayton goes to the left side of the endzone, and Bradford throws the touchdown pass. Nice use of the eyes to pin a defense in place, and that's something that many a veteran QB struggles with.

Here's a fact that's going to surprise most people: The St. Louis Rams have the fourth best defense in the NFL right now.

No, that's not a typo. The Rams have only allowed 13 points per game, which puts them behind only the Vikings (12.7), Chiefs (12.7), and Steelers (12.5). Two keys to their success--they've not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter and they lead the league in forced fumbles with 13.

Bradford needs a couple of things to be a star. He needs a better offensive line (and they're learning, but he was hurried and hit a whole bunch of times by Seattle), and he needs a #1 WR.

Seattle Seahawks (2-2)

The Seattle Seahawks have been a Jekyll and Hyde team so far this year. They whipped the 49ers at home, got badly beat by the Broncos in Denver, beat San Diego at home (thanks to two Leon Washington kick return TDs), and then lost on the road to St. Louis. Tough to play at home, but not good at travelling seems to be the verdict thus far. The Seahawks offense is anemic (they only managed a field goal last week against the Rams, and have yet to score a TD in the first quarter) and they're still trying to figure out their roster (they just acquired Marshawn Lynch in a trade from Buffalo). Their fans won't want to admit it, but with their second head coach in as many years they're in full-blown rebuilding mode.

49er fans wonder about Singletary and his use of time outs but the oddest use of a time out I've seen this year is with Pete Carrol. In their game against St. Louis Hasselbeck was going down and threw away the ball. The ruling on the field was a sack, and Carroll decided to challenge it. He won the challenge, but that was just an odd time and place to use one of your challenges. In the second quarter Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by Bradley Fletcher who ran it back for 28 yards. Carroll decided to use his last challenge to determine if Fletcher was down by contact. He lost the challenge, and this left Seattle with no challenges for the remainder of the game.

Michael Robinson saw some action on offense this game and showed why the 49ers didn't use him on offense. On a 4th and 2 attempt he was out in the flats as a FB and let the ball bounce off his fingers (perfectly thrown too). Later in the quarter he would complete a half back pass to redeem himself.

Earl Thomas would get another interception in this game, giving him three on the season which ties him for first in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

The Cardinals are 2-2 right now but if there's a worse team in the NFC West than the 49ers it's probably them. Last week they played the Chargers who whipped them 41-10. It got so bad that Wisenhunt pulled Derek Anderson and put in rookie free agent Max Hall in to close the first half and for the remainder of the game. Hall would throw 16 times, completing 9 of them for 85 yards and 1 INT (he also had 1 fumble). Wisenhunt refused to say who would be starting this Sunday, but as bad as Derek Anderson played I think it's going to have to be Max Hall.

Hall didn't provide much of a spark for the offense, as the Cardinals managed to only score 3 points on offense. The other 7 points came on a fumble return for a touchdown.

There isn't much silver lining to the Cardinals team right now. The defense got manhandled by the Chargers. Gates had 7 receptions for 144 yards and 2 TDs. Mike Tolbert had 100 yards rushing with 1 TD, Ryan Matthews would add another 55 yards on the ground with another TD. Phillip Rivers was 15/20 for 241 yards, so at least they kept him from a 300 yard game but with the way the Chargers were running the ball he didn't need to throw.

The Cardinals also seem to be a team in transition and they need to find some answers, though at 2-2 they're still in the mix of things.