I was first called an enigma by my secondary school maths teacher, I had no idea what this meant and when I was asked I was told “a strange one, you get the difficult things right and the easy things wrong”. It was a lack of concentration when I thought things were going to be simple and this has so many parallels to this year’s Seattle Seahawks.
It seems to me that the Seahawks build up expectations, in fans as well as themselves by having a good win at the Giants, or by winning a huge offensive affair against the Texans, and then just as they get confident, they forget to put in as much effort when expected to win at home against the Redskins, or have any offence at all against the troubled 49ers.
They should make the play offs, perhaps as a wild card given the form of the Rams, but is that good enough for a team so full of stars as the Seahawks. Expectations are rightly high and perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong within the mind-set of the team at the moment. They should be playing a lot better than they do.
Rookie Watch – Shaquill Griffin. Griffin started the season high on the depth chart due to injuries and some lack of names at corner. Early in the season Jeremy Lane was ejected and Griffin found himself as CB2 opposite Sherman and he looked good. Since then he has forced his way into that spot regularly and with Shead soon returning from injury the position has gone from a potential weakness to overloaded with players – to the point that the Seahawks felt they could trade Jeremy Lane to the Texans as part of the Duane Brown trade (albeit he was sent back with an injury).
The Cardinals appear to be suffering from losing talent to other teams and not replacing them with players of equal standing. Their stars on offence are ageing, Fitzgerald is still a star but must surely be in the twilight of a fantastic career now, Palmer has gone down for the season with injury and even future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson should not carry such a load alone, despite his career high 37 carries last week against the 49ers.
The Cardinals have a decent record at 4-4, yet I have to agree with NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal that they look quite weak at the moment, especially with Drew Stanton now at quarterback. Similar to the Packers and Texans, the promising season appears over without the first choice quarterback.
Rookie Watch – Budda Baker. As suspected Baker has had a tough time breaking into the team which has a lot of good players already in the secondary such as Tyrann Mathieu, Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea, however the rookie has looked a star on special teams.
9 weeks in and Baker is currently joint second in the NFL with 11 special teams tackles with Chargers’ Nick Dzubnar, with just Derrick Coleman of the Atlanta Falcons ahead of them with 12 stops. Baker is an investment for the future and they appear to have a good one.
Los Angeles Rams
What a revelation Sean McVey has been! Last season’s number 1 pick in the draft Jared Goff had looked lost until this season, but now that he has been given some receivers and a scheme which suits both him and star running back Todd Gurley, the Rams O has been completely unrecognisable from previous seasons.
The defence now run by Wade Phillips has also stepped up and rank 16th in the NFL. Star players Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree have lived up to their name but also underrated players such as leader in tackles Mark Barron, or number 2 corner Nickell Robey-Coleman have been playing at a really high level.
Rams should now be thought of as favourites for the NFL West this season.
Rookie Watch – Cooper Kupp. Watching All or Nothing you knew that the main aim for GM Les Snead and new coach Sean McVey was to bring in new receivers for their young QB Jared Goff, enter Cooper Kupp.
Kupp was one of the stars of the college season and had a great week at the senior bowl, yet as the off season moved on so did the hype around the wide receiver, not least during the combine when he put up some middle of the road numbers. Yet as I will always preach, trust the game tape, Kupp has been every bit the player they needed at receiver and has built and excellent relationship with Goff, with 370 yards and 3 touchdowns.
San Francisco 49ers
What can I tell you about the 49ers? I have to be honest I’ve barely watched them, and I think that is an indictment of how the season is going. They have made a move from Brian Hoyer to CJ Beathard at quarterback which did nothing to energise fans. The new stadium remains half empty and the team is looking desperately for something to energise people. This has now occurred thanks to the deadline day trade for Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots.
The big decision now is do they throw him to the wolves, with the current protection and receivers, or give him time to learn the playbook and try to build around him in the future. As brighter prospect as he is, perhaps it’s best not to stick him in immediately.
The defence is working itself out and looks to have found some stars in Rueben Foster and Soloman Thomas, as well as last season’s first round rookie DeForest Buckner coming into his own.
Rookie Watch – George Kittle. The 49ers drafted George Kittle in round 5, which was a little later than his projection, yet given his low draft status he seems to be solidifying himself as the teams number 1 tight end. He is 3rd on the team in receiving yards and has 1 of the teams 6 receiving touchdowns – all 6 have been to different players. This form may be due to his already established relationship at Iowa, but he looks like a good prospect all the same.
It was quietly a good draft for the 49ers, the star turns being Foster and Thomas, but QB Beathard, receiver Trent Taylor, Kittle and undrafted running back Matt Breida have all made contributions on offence.