How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch


1. Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals coach. The Cardinals' handling of the quarterback situation appears questionable, at best, now that Derek Anderson and Max Hall are racking up interceptions. Whisenhunt probably bet too much on both of them in the big picture when he benched and released Matt Leinart. He bet too much on Anderson in Week 8 when he called a fourth-and-2 pass play from the Tampa Bay 3-yard line while trailing by a touchdown late in the first half. Arizona got no points and lost by three. It's tough to blame Anderson or Hall for meeting outside expectations.

2. Mike Williams, Seahawks WR. Williams' stock was surging in recent weeks even though he ranked among the league leaders in dropped passes. The one Williams dropped inside the Oakland 5-yard line Sunday was particularly costly. Seattle trailed 13-0 at the time and the team would get no points from the drive. Williams took responsibility for the drop, another sign he's on the right track overall. He played through a bruised knee and did make a 27-yard grab late in the game, but it was his only reception after making 21 over the previous two games.

3. Olindo Mare, Seahawks K. Mare had made 30 consecutive field-goal tries before missing from 51 and 29 yards against the Raiders. Seattle normally might have gone for it on fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 33, but only 20 seconds remained in the first half and Seattle, down 10-0, needed points. The score was still relatively close (13-0) when Mare's attempt from 29 yards missed wide left.


1. Manny Lawson, 49ers OLB. Lawson wanted a new contract before the season. He's playing like a guy who deserves one. Lawson had three tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits, one pass defensed and one forced fumble during the 49ers' 24-16 victory over the Denver Broncos in Week 8. Coach Mike Singletary: "There’s a light that has gone on for him." Lawson appears to be playing more instinctively, allowing his considerable athletic skills to shine through.

2. Steve Spagnuolo, Rams coach. Getting to the bye with a 4-4 record stands as no small achievement after the Rams won three games in their previous two seasons. This team has taken on Spagnuolo's personality: tough, resolute, resilient. The consistency isn't quite there and the Rams haven't learned to finish games on the road, a potential problem given the remaining schedule. But the arrow is pointing up.

3. Steve Breaston, Cardinals WR. Inside linebacker Gerald Hayes deserved some consideration here after scoring on a fumble return in his first game off the physically unable to perform list, but Arizona allowed 154 yards rushing. Breaston, playing in his first game following knee surgery, caught eight passes for a career-high 147 yards. He proved he could make big plays even when the Cardinals have quarterback issues.