NFC West teams haven't put on the pads or even held their mandatory camps for veterans. That makes it tougher to handicap various position battles, notably at quarterback.
ESPN's John Clayton and I considered some of the possibilities during our conversation Saturday. A few supplemental notes:
The Kolb conundrum: Clayton suggested Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was still waiting for Kevin Kolb to take leadership of the team. This was something ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck alluded to during a recent "SportsCenter" special on the NFC West. Whisenhunt said this week that he's not taking into account how much money Kolb is earning relative to John Skelton's salary. Two thoughts come to mind. One says Whisenhunt must favor Kolb because he cannot afford to be wrong on a player he pushed to acquire at great expense. When in doubt, follow the money, right? But we also know Whisenhunt cannot force Kolb into the lineup if he thinks Skelton gives the team a better chance to win. That would compromise Whisenhunt's credibility in the locker room while hurting the team on the field. No way can Whisenhunt go that route. This should be a fascinating summer for the Cardinals.
Very early going in Seattle. Clayton asked about the Seahawks' quarterback situation. The answer I gave was lacking in nutritional value. It's simply too early to pass judgment. Newcomers Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson have never played a game for the team. They have never even participated in a padded practice with the team. We have no idea how they'll fare. Wilson impressed initially relative to reasonable rookie expectations. Flynn has done fine without wowing. Tarvaris Jackson represents the known and an insurance policy at this point.
Running for power. The NFC West produced four 1,000-yard rushers. Will it happen again? We're still waiting to see when Steven Jackson and Frank Gore hit the running back age wall. Their teams have bought some insurance this offseason.
Ascending defense: Clayton asked about the Seahawks' defense relative to the one in San Francisco. Red Bryant, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor were three players I referenced in response. What about the Cardinals? Clayton and I did not discuss their defense in that context, probably because Arizona wasn't as consistent on that side of the ball early in the season. The Cardinals' true defensive identity and trajectory is a major storyline in the division. Quarterback issues will get most of the attention, but a strong defense is a critical stabilizing force for a team still figuring out where it stands behind center.
Note: 710ESPN Seattle had uploaded audio for the first hour of Clayton's show. Our conversation begins at about the 25:25 mark.
Update: They also have a direct link to our conversation only (not the whole hour).