After week 1 of pre season football in the NFC West it seemed as though the division has been separated into the haves and have nots, with the Seahawks and 49ers in the former grouping and Cardinals and Rams in the latter.
This week we take a look at the four teams, two today and two tomorrow and five things I will be looking for from each team this weekend, and as always we will start in Arizona, where everyone will still be talking quarterbacks in the NFC West Week 2 Preview (Pre Season).
1) D’Anthony Batiste, that’s your answer?
I really try hard not to bash players because let’s face it, we can’t do what they do. I also always try and give a guy the benefit of the doubt and let him prove me wrong, but this is crazy to me.
Batiste is a journeyman, 6 seasons, 6 teams, that has started four games in his career. Wait, let me say that again… 4 GAMES IN HIS CAREER.
He was moved to right guard to learn the position and give depth along a line lacking in depth and definitely lacking in experience, the Cardinals may employ rookies at back up right tackle Bobby Massie, center Scott Wedgie, left guard Senio Kelemete, and left tackle, Nate Potter, but with the ineffectiveness of Jeremy Bridges and the slow development of Massie, the Cardinals have kicked him out to right tackle and are telling him, this is your job, hold onto it.
My question is… Can he?
2) Jamell Fleming makes his move.
Fleming was a head scratcher to some on day two of the draft. The Cardinals need offensive line help and they are taking a corner back?
That pick looks to be paying off quickly, as Michael Adams has been ineffective and is now working through an injry, it seems that Fleming will be the fourth corner used by the Cardinals.
No one in the corner depth chart plays the run quite as well as Fleming, and his work in the slot, one of the most important spots to man in the league right now, has been excellent.
He still needs some technical work, and of course he is still a rookie learning, but I am hopeful this week we will get to see him work against the opposing first team offense, even if it is the Raiders wide receiving core.
3) Welcome back Ryan Williams.
Nothing more really needs to be said. Williams hasn’t been on the field in nearly a year, and Cardinals fans are more than anxious to see the 2011 2nd round pick in action.
All we as fans care about is him staying healthy, and showing the explosiveness and decision making that we saw glimpses of last year and in highlight packages.
4) How’s the toe Bobby?
I have already mentioned the offensive line once, and here it is again, the Cardinals will need either Batiste or Massie to step up, hell both would be fine, in order for there to be any clarity in this “Quarterback Battle”.
Massie is an important cog in the Cardinals future, but let’s be honest, the struggles of the offensive line may thrust him into action now, and hopefully those growing pains won’t be unbearable.
The biggest thing with Massie is he needs to finish his blocks, he continually is falling off blocks and allowing his man to get back into plays, improve his attacking on the second level, and get out of his stance quicker and engaged on speed rushers on the outside.
5) That Quarterback thing.
Honestly it has been beaten to death and there is nothing to add at this point, other than I feel bad for both QBs that they have had little to no help in the running game to lighten things up for them.
San Francisco 49ers
1) Can they stop a real pass rush?
I may be a Cardinals homer, and I am not afraid to admit that, but the 49ers have the chance to be a special team, and it showed in dress rehearsal part one.
The question I have, and many others, is can that right side of the line finally hold up?
Anthony Davis and Alex Boone looked very good against a meek Vikings attack, but can they play as well against the dominating Texans defense?
2) Is Kaepernick ready to be the back up?
Most places have Colin Kaepernick listed as the back up, and that may be true, but there was good and bad last week in his performance.
He has so much talent, but fundamentally he has work to do in order to be a potential starter in this league, and maybe even a viable back up.
I want to see him continue to grow as a pocket passer through these next two or three games, before we say this is the guy and not Josh Johnson.
Going against a fantastic defense in the Texans should give all of us an idea.
3) Can a WR step up?
I know it was only one pre season game, but the 49ers need to see some life from their WR core soon.
All the reports out of 49ers camp say that Michael Crabtree is poised for a big season, but he has to finally produce on the field and no matter what is said positively about Randy Moss, he isn’t a number one, and in my opninion isn’t a number two, receiver in this league anymore.
If Crabtree can’t step up, then it will be another year of number one receiver by committee, and honestly with their depth, but lack of top end talent, that may not be the worst thing with Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, and of course Vernon Davis.
4) Are Brandon Jacobs and Kendall Hunter really that good?
As good as these two were last week, and they were fantastic, this will continue to be a question mark for me until probably week 3 of the regular season, or if they show up really big this week.
The Texans were the number four rush defense in the NFL last season, and while I continue to harp on the fact this is a pre season game, this will be a very good test for the the 49ers running game.
5) Stay healthy defense.
Listen no one wants the 49ers to fall more than I do, but I want it to be from ineffectiveness, not injury.
This defense is really good, and while I think the secondary may take a step back this season, the rest of that defense is going no where.
It started last week with the Aldon Smith “hip pointer” issue. Even if they say Smith will miss no time, who knows how he will respond.
Just keep everyone upright.
Check out my Seahawks and Rams preview tomorrow.