As some of you might have heard, Pat Kirwan dedicated one of his many, many columns on NFL.com to predict that NFC West teams will perform worse this year than they did in 2010. Now, I’d like to argue that the West isn’t so bad, but after tallying up winning, losing, and 8-8 records for every team in every division since the last realignment, it would appear that this time the stats are not on my side:
|AFC South||AFC North|
|NFC South||Winning||Losing||8-8||AFC West||Winning||Losing||8-8|
|NFC North||NFC West|
So yeah, the Seahawks’ five year string of postseason berths and Kurt Warner’s last two years in the desert aside, the NFC West has been pretty bad. It didn’t start off that way, of course. Back when the Seahawks moved in to the neighborhood in 2002, the NFC West looked pretty strong. The Rams were coming off their second Super Bowl appearance in three years, the 49ers were making the playoffs regularly under Bill-Walsh-disciple-by-way-of-Mike-Holmgren Steve Mariucci, Holmgren himself was steadily rebuilding the Seahawks, and the Cardinals were, well, three out of four isn’t bad.
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Then the wheels began to fall off the Greatest Show on Turf, the 49ers fired Mariucci after a ridiculous internal power struggle and replaced him with a guy who spent more time asking the league to let him wear a suit on the sidelines than he did coaching his team, and the Cardinals kept right on Cardinaling it up. The Seahawks managed not to catch any of the suck that was going around for a few years, but eventually they had a head coach v. front office fight of their own that eventually led to Holmgren’s retirement and a talent-bereft roster.
But coming in to this season the Seahawks and Rams are on the rebound, Arizona still has its first legitimately good head coach since Don Coryell left in the mid-70s, and the 49ers are, uh, still stuck with Alex Smith (again, three out of four isn’t bad). Things are finally starting to look up, which makes Kirwan’s prediction all the more aggravating. Or at least it would be, if it was anyone other than Pat Kirwan making the prediction.
Now, I should probably point out here that I don’t know Pat Kirwan. For all I know, he’s an incredibly cool guy who plays jazz saxophone on the weekends, likes to take his wife shopping, and donates half his paycheck to fund digging for new wells in Ethiopia. But what I can tell you for an absolute certainty is that he is really, really good when it comes to being really, really wrong about football.
Don’t believe me? Well, for starters there’s his prediction last year that the Cardinals would do just fine without Kurt Warner, which makes me think that no one bothered to explain to him who Derek Anderson is. Then there was his truly amazing prediction that Cleveland’s decision not to fire Eric Mangini would end up “paying dividends” for them. I’m no accountant, but I’m pretty sure that a second straight 5-11 season does not a dividend make. There’s more, but I think you all get the point.
Kirwan also spent most of the 80s and 90s working as a scout and personnel man. More specifically, he was a scout for the Buccaneers in the mid-80s and a personnel man for the Jets for much of the 90s. Seriously, you’d have to go all the way back to the Miami Seahawks to find worse personnel decisions being made1, and it’s mainly Kirwan’s years in New York that supposedly make him a bona fide football expert.
When it comes to football, Pat Kirwan is basically a magic compass that points to magnetic wrong in all situations. So, if he’s predicting that the NFC West will be worse in 2011, that’s reason enough to put money down on the division improving instead.
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Lazarius Levingston was finally added to the practice squad, along with G Paul Fanaika. DE Maurice Fountain and DB Josh Pinkard were released to make room for them. Here’s what the practice squad now looks like, although it’ll probably change just as soon as I post this:
G Paul Fanaika
? Jameson Konz
DL Lazarius Levingston
WR Ricardo Lockette
OL Brent Osborne
CB Ron Parker
WR Owen Spencer
RB Vai Taua
One name noticeably missing from the list is 5th round pick Mark LeGree. According to the Sacramento Bee, LeGree was “disappointed by his performance during training camp,” which explains why the Seahawks’ coaching staff appear to be so disinterested in bringing him back. He doesn’t appear to have given up just yet, though — he had a workout with the Giants yesterday.
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James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini might have been competing for the same starting job during the final preseason game, but if Robert Gallery’s injury keeps him out of Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers we could end up seeing both guys starting. In that event, Carpenter will likely replace Gallery at left guard, with Giacomini filling the right tackle spot. (This comes from Pete Carroll’s press conference this afternoon.)
And you know what? That could actually turn out to be a pretty great move. Giacomini looked good in the preseason and plays with a satisfying nasty streak, and Carpenter played on the left side of the o-line in college, so he’s more comfortable with his technique there. It’ll be interesting to see how the blocking holds up now that games have started to matter. If it doesn’t, well, I’d hate to be trapped in that o-line meeting room with an angry Tom Cable.
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One last thing, and then I’ll turn it over to you guys for comments. The Everett Herald is currently running a 22 part series on past Seahawks greats and fan favorites, and so far it’s been a good read. The first two parts on sack machine (and Red Bryant’s father-in-law) Jacob Green and the short career of speedster Daryl Turner are already up, and at the end of each article you can see a list of all the other players included in the series. Personally, I’m looking forward to the articles on Paul Skansi, Dan “The Ram Man” Doornink, and Norm Johnson (what can I say, I have a soft spot for kickers).
1 Excerpt taken from Arch: A Promoter, Not a Poet by Thomas Littlewood:
The Miami club had pursued a quixotic policy, signing only players from southern universities. “I sure do feel sorry for you,” owner Harvey Hester told Paul Brown on the field before the contest. “You haven’t got any good ol’ boys from south of the Mason-Dixon line. No way you can win.” The Browns whomped the Seahawks, 44-0 . . .