San Francisco 49ers: What I Know- Super Bowl contender. Mike Singletary is a miracle worker. Couldn’t choose a half dozen of coaches I would want instead of Samurai Mike. Vernon Davis went from bust to best TE in football. I know what I’m getting from this team, 100% certain, they are on the cusp of becoming a team of destiny. Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree are healthy, I see no reason this team can’t compete with the NFC’s elite. Alex Smith is good, but that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Very ordinary. Smart to stick with him. Safe move. Ted Ginn will change a couple of games via return department. Patrick Willis is a playmaking powerhouse at LB. He is unreal. I would be shocked if he’s not the DPOY in the NFC. Front three, as rock-solid as they come. Spikes and the rest of the cast around Willis are aggressive. They can create their share of noise. I like the rook from Penn State, Navarro Bowman. Candlestick will be host to more than one postseason contest.
What I Don’t Know- Why didn’t the team make a more concentrated effort to pursue Donovan McNabb. Ponder that missed opportunity. I guess they felt they were not in a good position to gamble. I thought it was a match made in Heaven. Is the secondary prepared to make a jump? They have the pieces, now its time to back up the front seven. What’s Brian Westbrook’s role? Anthony Dixon is ready to take the rock. I don’t know how many Niner fans supported Singletary right off the bat. I wonder if they thought he was too rigid, convicted at first.
Arizona Cardinals: What I Know- Derek Anderson is a good QB. I like the decision to go with as the starter and release Matt Leinart. Anquan Boldin will not be missed. Trio of Breaston, Doucet, and Stephen Williams are more than capable. On the other hand, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle should be missed. However, with that being said, rookie Daryl Washington (TCU) will fill in for Dansby admirably. As for Rolle, 2nd year guy Rashad Johnson (Alabama) should be better this season. I like him more than off-season acquisition Kerry Rhodes, who’s play has dropped off considerably since ‘07. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are more questions, than answers. They could be liabilities on the outside, very important area in 3-4. Team needs to go a different direction, travel younger route. Coverage could be trouble spot, especially if second corner Greg Toler doesn’t establish himself early on. Dockett and Campbell, undoubtedly two major strengths up front at end. Both insanely powerful in penetration to QB. I think this team is better off in the 4-3. Better influx of defensive linemen than linebackers. You could argue that Rodgers-Cromartie and Wilson are the top two athletes at their respective positions. This group is Top 10 worthy.
What I Don’t Know- Why I hear Max Hall being groomed the starter in 2011. That’s scary. Chris Wells is an enigma. He should be one of the best backs in the NFC. Good thing Tim Hightower is reliable. Will the guards be able to hold up? Faneca is getting any younger, and Lutui is always out of shape. Was trading Wells a smart move? Why didn’t they draft an offensive lineman with their 1st round pick? They could’ve used another one instead of another defensive lineman. TE will be once again a weakness. Why didn’t the team address this big area of need in a deep TE draft class? This team is hard to figure out, I could see anywhere between 4-8 wins. That’s a wide range.
Seattle Seahawks: What I Know- This team is always hurt. I like the move to get Pete Carroll. Justin Forsett/Leon Washington will form a successful duo at RB. If Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy, I could see this team being more than respectable. I love their stadium. Easily in my Top 5. Great football city. As much as I like 1-2 punch of Forsett/Washington, they will regret passing up on C.J. Spiller for Russell Okung, who’s already hurt. He could’ve been the face of the franchise for many years to come. Will Forsett or Washington ever be a feature back like Spiller? No. Sometimes you have to go for the home run in the draft, and for the past two years they have been too safe. They missed out on Mark Sanchez and Jimmy Clausen, this will come back to bite them big time. Charlie Whitehurst is not the solution after Hasselbeck. He wasn’t even good in College at Clemson. Golden Tate is a gamer. Outstanding big-play threat. He’s tough, and will bring swagger to receiver corps. Earl Thomas looks like a natural at free safety, he’s a superb athlete. Chris Clemons is a double-digit sack candidate. They miss Patrick Kerney more than you would think. He was someone they could count on defensively to get to the QB. Letting go of T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the move to execute.
What I Don’t Know- If passing up on Matt Leinart was unwise. I rather have him than Whitehurst. Why is Julius Jones still on the roster? He’s lackluster. Will the team miss Rob Sims? The team has put together a nice unit, but Sims was really solid at left guard. Replacements are there, so you can’t really question the decision. With that being said, why draft Okung when you needed offense. Seattle needs some playmakers in the worst way, and Mike Williams is the response to its most urgent and glaring weakness? Can John Carlson be the #1 guy for Hasselebeck to rely upon? I can’t Lawyer Milloy is still in the league, let alone a starter. Aaron Curry, where was he last season? He’s good, but will never be anything special.
St. Louis Rams: What I Know- I take back my original stance on Sam Bradford. My status has changed, he looks really sharp, on target. He makes quick reads, I like his make-up. Very similar to Matt Ryan, whom they passed up on in the 2008 draft for DE Chris Long. Mark Clayton acquisition was much needed. I’m in total support of this move. He can make plays down the field, and gain real estate after the grab. Mardy Gilyard is an impressive story. More importantly, he’s a gritty player who was a theft with the 99th pick in the draft. He will play like a 1st round selection. Bargain. Has a bit of Donald Driver and Hines Ward to him. With the OL in place, Steven Jackson will be fight Frank Gore for second best back next to “All Day” in NFC. The offense looks better than it did in June and July. Retaining O.J. Atogwe was right decision. They have no else to count on in the secondary. Teams will pass on them with ease. Worst defensive backfield in the NFL. However, Jerome Murphy (3rd round, South Florida) will become a starter, and a good one. Keep an eye on George Selvie also from South Florida. The former Bull was considered a Top 10 choice after his sophomore season.
What I Don’t Know- If Chris Long will ever show dominance. Is James Laurinaitis a keeper, Pro Bowl for years to come, or just a solid starting middle linebacker who can tackle the ball carrier? Can he make plays or just prevent them from occurring? Hoomanawanui (rookie TE), with a name like that, will he become a common name, factor by season’s end? Will Steven Jackson or Sam Bradford go down first? I don’t know, but don’t you think they should go back to the Jackie Slater/Jack Youngblood/Jim Everett/Henry Ellard/”Flipper” Anderson/Jerome Bettis L.A. Rams unis full-time? How about a couple of games at Busch Stadium if Bradford’s hurt? Cold weather, enhanced run game, different feel/look? Good idea?