My God, what an awful way to start 0-2. I won’t get into the details; we’re all well aware at this point how San Diego has lost their first two games. Why will they improve? I think a better question would be ‘why won’t they?’ Even without Roids Merriman they still have one of the better defensive fronts in the league, the greatest RB in the league, the greatest TE in the league and one of the better offensive lines. While I don’t think they’re anywhere close to great at QB or WR they’re certainly not liabilities either. The secondary has always been a question mark and Jyles Tucker (as much as our fellow Shark Swarm won’t want to admit it) is a step down from Merriman, but I don’t think it is such a great weakness that they’ll drag them down all year. Seriously, outside of injury – and Norv Turner – what’s not to like about this team? I mean, even if LT’s toe injury lingers I think Darren Sproles proved yesterday he may be able to at least (somewhat) fill LT’s enormous shoes. The schedule softens up at this time with the Jets, Raiders and Fins in the next three weeks. Three very winnable opportunities to get back above .500 and on the right track.
After they survive one more WR-less week versus the hapless Rams – insert choice Keary Colbert joke here – they should get Bobby Engram and Deion Branch back. While I am one of the most vocal in these waters about how overrated Branch is, he is still 10x better than whatever they’ll be forced to play against St Louis . It’s no mystery the offense has been horrendous the first two weeks of the season. The passing game has been bad and any backfield headlined by Julius Jones cannot be considered a positive. The defense really hasn’t played as badly as the box score would indicate, but there’s only so much the unit can do when the rest of the team is playing as terribly as they are. The return of the WR corps should get the offense back on track, and we all know the NFC West is not a very intimidating division. Yes, I think Arizona wins it, but how many years in a row now have people been saying that? It’s Seattle’s division until proven otherwise … but losing to the Rams this week would not be advised.
Yes, Tarvaris Jackson is still their QB (edit: at time of article submission he was, but he longer is) and Brad Childress is still calling the shots; still, there is just too much talent on this team not to bounce back. They get Mt. McKinley back in two more weeks, which can only help a running game that hasn’t really missed him anyway, while Jared Allen hasn’t gotten off to a fast start, and we all know what he is capable of. The Williams twins in the middle are still the scariest run stuffing front in the league, and the WR’s are better than the box score would indicate – maybe Frerotte can fix that. Frerotte isn’t anything special but anything is better than Jackson. Given how fast the Rodgers-led Packers have started off, a division title may seem like a tall order but in the NFC the wildcard is wide open for the taking. There’s no reason Minnesota can’t come back and take it.
You might be surprised I didn’t mention Jacksonville on this list … look for them next week when I submit my “0-3 Teams That Don’t Need to Panic” article. Maybe the crippled Colts are the Jags’ remedy but if recent history is any indicator I wouldn’t be betting on it. You may also be surprised I didn’t represent my Cleveland Browns. Between my bias, their brutal schedule, their awful showings weeks one and two and the ever-growing list of players on the shelf I didn’t think including them in this list was justified. If they play well vs. Baltimore I’ll re-evaluate, but until then I’ll return to my Braylon Edwards shrine and continue to prey that the shards of shale, granite and iron are magically removed from his hands.