Yesterday the players and the owners each presented their cases in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which you can read more about here. Also, Jess told us earlier that the judges would not be upset if the owners and players settled their argument and came up with a resolution before the ruling is officially made. You can read that story by clicking here. I don't think any of us would be too upset if that happened. While player representatives and owners continue to hash out a deal, many players have begun forming workouts, inviting teammates and other NFL players to attend. This is a welcome sign for everyone as well allowing us to know that these guys will be somewhat ready once the labor situation is resolved. Who knows what the rosters will look like in the NFC West and around the NFL once trading and free agency are allowed to open, but for now, most are practicing with the same teammates they had last season. Here is what is happening in the NFC West in this week's NFC West Roundup.
The Seattle Seahawks are back at work as it is estimated that around 40 players have begun forming formal workouts at the University of Washington. Among those players, Matt Hasselbeck decided to attend regardless of the fact that he is not officially under contract for next season. It is presumed that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks staff will offer him a deal, but nothing is in stone with the current lockout. The only quarterback under contract for the Seahawks, Charlie Whitehurst, has also been attending. This is a common trend around the league right now, which should be a welcomed sight for coaches and owners.
Adam Schein recently created his annual list of the best organizations in the NFL based upon ownership, quarterback situation, coach, front office, coaching staff and intangibles. As Jess announced, the Cardinals were placed as the 16th best team in terms of organization, which took the silver medal in the NFC West. Ahead of our beloved team was the Seattle Seahawks organization. Paul Allen is probably the main reason the Seahawks were considered to be the 12th best organized team in the league, as he has what seems to be unlimited resources. The intangibles also came into play, which is basically fan support, facilities and public relations. The Seahawks scored a 9.5 in this section (largely due to the 12th man situation), while the Cardinals scored a meager 4. As for the Rams and 49ers, they placed 19th and 24th respectively.
The San Francisco 49ers took Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, out of Missouri in this year’s draft. The team also hired a new defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio to help coach the likes of Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith (another Missouri alum) and so on. Fangio will bring in new blitz schemes that will be critical to the success of their defense, especially the rookies. The plan is to not have Aldon Smith in coverage too much, but rather to have him either rushing the passer or going man to man with tight ends and running backs in stints. As Fooch over at Niners Nation states, what Fangio decides to do will drastically affect the way this defense goes. Not unlike the Cardinals, the 49ers have just as many questions on the defensive side of the ball as they do on the offensive side.
A question Arizona Cardinals fans are finding themselves asking is whether John Skelton will be placed second or third on the depth chart this next season (it will not be first). It seems that 49ers fans are also asking themselves the same question in regards to newly drafted QB Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has the potential to be great, but the 49ers do not want to rush him into anything, which is why they are bringing back Alex Smith. Smith had a rough go when he entered the league as a rookie due to the fact that he was forced to play right away. San Francisco does not want to risk the same thing with Kaepernick, so they will likely sit him until he is truly ready. Whatever the case, new head coach Jim Harbaugh still has a man crush on Alex Smith, so Smith will probably start week one.
So we now know that there is no chance that Plaxico Burress will be coming to Arizona anytime soon. Now reports have come out that Burress may have interest in joining a Cardinals division foe, the St. Louis Rams. Who is the person validating these reports you might ask? None other than Plaxico himself. Burress recently stated that he would have no problems playing for Steve Spagnuolo (the former defensive coordinator of the Giants, where Plaxico used to play). A veteran presence that can stretch the field could do wonders for the Rams. There is also the possibility of a poisonous figure entering the locker room and tainting the young stars that the team has. In my opinion, it is probably for wise to go after a guy like Sidney Rice or Vincent Jackson, but if the Rams are willing to take the risk on Plax, then I am all for it.
In the NFC West, there are currently two elite running backs. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson fit the bill of a premiere back pretty well, but both are aging and could be wearing a little thin due to all of the downs they have played over the years. The injury bug is a part of both of their careers and a lack of depth behind them doesn’t help either. In the link, Mike Sando from ESPN has put together a chart comparing various statistics for both backs. Arizona Cardinals fans would not mind seeing a downtrend in the "vs. Arizona" category, while also seeing the total yards column dwindle. Hopefully Beanie Wells and/or rookie Ryan Williams can move into the "premiere" level, but for now, who do you think is the better back between the two? Gore or Jackson?