Quick thoughts on recent events affecting the NFC West:
Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin, the new defensive coordinator at Florida, is the latest NFL assistant to seek career advancement in the college ranks. Nolan Cromwell left the Seahawks as receivers coach following the 2007 season to become offensive coordinator under Mike Sherman at Texas A&M, only to return to the NFL as a receivers coach with the Rams this week. Another former Seahawks assistant, longtime running backs coach Stump Mitchell, who spent the last two seasons with the Redskins, recently became head coach at Southern University. Coaching receivers and running backs rarely leads to becoming an NFL coordinator or head coach, a source of frustration for coaches hoping to advance through the ranks. The Cardinals had interviewed Austin as a potential defensive coordinator last offseason, but they hired Bill Davis instead.
The Dolphins' bungling of Joey Porter's release showed the value of a competent salary-cap manager. The Dolphins recently lost cap administrator Bryan Wiedmeier to Mike Holmgren's Browns. If the 49ers or Cardinals have interest in Porter, they now know for sure that Porter will be available. The Dolphins could clear cap space in the short term, allowing them to release Porter soon, or they could wait until the new league year begins March 5, at which point the salary cap will disappear.
Prospective Rams owner Shahid Khan has an interesting story, as outlined by Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Among my favorite revelations: "In a speech in 2000, Khan said his secret to success was heeding the lessons of ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tze, whose book 'The Art of War' gave advice on how underdogs can win against more powerful adversaries." I want to know more about Khan.
This looks like a good time for Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt to secure a contract extension. The team will have a tougher time replicating its recent success now that Kurt Warner has retired, no matter how skilled Whisenhunt might be as a head coach (and there's a lot to like about his approach to personnel matters and game management). Whisenhunt could do a better job in 2010 and still have a hard time matching the 9-7 and 10-6 records of the past two seasons. Might as well get that extension now instead of after finishing, say, 8-8 or worse with Matt Leinart under center.
Enjoy your weekend.