With the season ending, the NFC West representative in the Superbowl lost to the Patriots in one of the lowest scoring games of all time. As the game and it’s results have been covered ad nauseam, it’s time to move forward and preview each NFC West’s teams needs and concerns heading into the 2019 off season.
Los Angeles Rams: 13-3, NFC West Champions and Conference Champions. 6-0 in the NFC West in 2018
Causes for Concern: At the moment, the health of Todd Gurley would qualify as the biggest concern. Since the game against the Bears in early December, it was pretty clear his knee had become a problem. Since that time, the player who had finished the 2018 season leading all RBs/WRs with 21 TDs was essentially no where to be found. The theory on the matter is that due to the inflammation of his knee which began around that time, that the Rams decided it was better to limit his exposure opposed to having him re-tear the same ACL he did in college – only 1 year into a new contract he signed. Earlier in the season, Cooper Kupp had a similar issue with his knee. He missed two games, only to come back and tear his ACL upon his return. That might have had something to do with the route they took with Gurley, but it’s all speculation on my behalf. The Rams also have a number of free agents looking to hit the market. DT Ndumokong Suh, LG Rodger Saffold and FS Lamarcus Joyner being the headliners. Depending on Suh’s price he has a chance to come back. Joyner is likely gone as the Rams did not re-sign him after franchise tagging him this year. Rodger Saffold is likely back, as the retirement of LT Andrew Whitworth hangs over the offensive line at the moment. He has yet to make a choice one way or the other at this point in time.
Reasons for Optimism: The core of the team will be around for a long time. Despite the poor offensive showing in the Superbowl, it’s not the first time Belichick has devised a gameplan and shut down an elite offense. The defense played their best game in 2 seasons under Wade Phillips. McVay and Goff put a lot of stuff on film that will stick with them the entire off season, as it should. In the end they’ll be better for it. Since the Rams have hired Sean McVay, he is 10-2 against NFC West opponents in 2 seasons. Until the rest of the division finds a way to beat him, it’s the Rams division to lose.
Seattle Seahawks: 10-6, 2nd place in the NFC West. 3-3 in the NFC West, #5 Seed in 2018 playoffs
Causes for Concern: The biggest concern from where I sit is Brian Schottenheimer. Seahawks fans of course will defend him tooth and nail, but he is a proven bad commodity at OC. While having an elite QB has made him look better than he is this year, the blame for their first round playoff exit rests solely at his feet. With him at the helm, the Seahawks are more concerned with getting their RB stable touches as opposed to putting the ball in their best player’s hands. More often than not, it has lead to disappointing results. The Seahawks should have been able to defeat Dallas with a balanced attack, but instead insisted on running the ball when it was clearly not working. How long this marriage lasts is anyone’s guess. It would seem that Pete Carroll is fully behind Schottenheimer at this point. Even with him, they were only 1 game better this year than they were with hated former OC Darren Bevell. Seattle finished first in rushing but 27th in passing yards. A team led by Russell Wilson should at least be in the top 10 in that number.
Reasons for Optimism: On defense, Pete Carroll and the FO did a fine job restocking a depleted unit. Players like Shaq Griffin, Tre Flowers and Bradley McDougald emerged as solid starters. Bobby Wagner is arguably the best MLB in football. Frank Clark also had a nice season rushing the passer. However, they still need to address the pass rush and the impending departure of Earl Thomas. History would suggest that Pete Carroll and John Schneider will find a replacement, but you don’t simply just replace a potential HOF player that easily. Chris Carson emerged on offense as one of the better RBs in the league, and Tyler Lockett continued to improve as a receiver/go to option for Wilson in the passing game. Rookie WR David Moore also had his moments, scoring 5 touchdowns.