With one pre-season game down, and three to go, 5 fans have their first impressions of their newly acquired franchise quarterback Kevin Kolb. Considering his limited time to work with his offensive line, Kolb was able to display his athleticism, scrambling for a first down on a third and ten play on the first drive of the game. With greater protection from the offensive line, he was able to show the skeptics his arm strength and above average accuracy hitting Fitzgerald on a beautifully placed 43 yard pass.
The William boys of the offense, and Stephens-Howling left a mark on the game. S. Williams scored a touchdown with two receptions for 39 yards. Isaiah Williams had three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. Although Stephens-Howling only had 17 yards in total, he demonstrated his abilities and mirrored the liking of Darren Sproles. His ability is not limited, but the new regulations may confine him.
The new kick off rule is putting a damper on the style of the NFL’s elite return teams including our own LaRod Stephens-Howling. His talent will need to be displayed more on the offense considering this restriction is hindering his ability to be a primetime kick-off threat. The change of only five yards is going to ultimately be an advantage to the kicking team.
From a coaching perspective, it is apparent that work is to be done on both sides of the ball. But to the optimistic fan, this win should be tempered by the reality of preseason victories. Whether the Arizona Cardinals go 4-0 or 1-3, fans shouldn’t focus on the record but focus on the approach and execution.
In other related NFC West news, last seasons division champions the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers with a score of 24-17. Seattle’s post Hasselbeck era was off and running with Tarvaris Jackson starting the game. The Seahawks seem destined to have a season long QB carrousel.
My darling of the NFC West; St. Louis Rams seem poised to take all the necessary steps to becoming a playoff contending team with Sam Bradford at the helm and avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump. Saturday night’s game ended with a victory over the Indianapolis Colts with a score of 33-10. Both teams were without key players including Peyton Manning, Stephen Jackson and newly acquired Rams receiver Mike Sims-Walker. Still the Rams were able to show signs of being the most complete team in the West.
Bringing light to the division’s most fragile team, the San Francisco 49ers lost to the New Orleans Saints 24-3. Whether Alex Smith is deserving of a sixth opportunity to grab hold of the quarterback position or not is yet to be determined. Fans of the 49ers have to be conceding that this is a rebuilding year. Though they may have arguably the single best offensive player Frank Gore and Defensive Player Patrick Willis in the division, the road ahead is long.
With all teams back into the flow of football, I cannot help but be excited and optimistic about what the 2011 NFL season will unfold. Go Cardinals!