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The season begins again

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What a strange weekend for the NFC West.

The 49ers opened up on the Patriots, only to end up losing 30-21.  Of note: Frank Gore didn't get a rushing attempt in the 3rd quarter.

I think the other two games say a lot about the division, and about the Rams, since they were against teams the Rams have already played.

The Seahawks stomped the Rams 37-13 for their first (and only) win of the season in week 3.  The Giants had similar success against the Rams a week previous, winning 41-13.  It wasn't unthinkable that this could have been a close game, but Seattle proved what I've been saying since the preseason: they're really not that good.  Even with the return of Bobby Engram and Deion Branch (who left in the 2nd half), the Seahawks got pounded 44-6, a worse embarassment than the Rams.  Hell, the Giants did this without Plaxico who was suspended.  The Seahawks were able to limit the Giants' pass rush to two sacks.  What's disappointing is that the Seahawks were able to destroy the Rams without their starting WR pair.

In the other NFC West game, the Arizona Cardinals faced the Bills.  The Buffalo game was the Rams' best (which is tough to say, since we lost 31-14, but at the end of the 3rd, we were up 14-13.  Again, my presumptions were way off.  I thought that having locked up Lee Evans as the league's third highest-paid receiver would have boosted his morale.  On the other side, Anquan Boldin was still recovering from facial surgery and Adrian Wilson (S) was still coming off a hamstring injury.  I really thought the Cardinals were going to struggle against the 4-0 Bills.  I can admit when I was wrong.  Wilson played, and on the third play of the game, knocked Trent Edwards out and the Cardinals opened it up from there, winning 41-17.  The Rams are going to have their hands full in week 9 when they welcome the Cardinals to St. Louis.

So at 0-4, obviously, the Rams sit at the bottom at a very confusing division (for me, the second most confusing after the AFC West) with Jim Haslett leading the team into the post-bye period.  The Rams' first game under Haslett will be against the Redskins, who are playing solid, solid football.  After beating the Cowboys 26-24 in week 4, they turned the NFC East on its head by beating the Eagles in Philadelphia 23-17.  I watched the 'Skins-Eagles game, and Washington plays hard knock football.  Donovan led a great opening drive for a touchdown, and DeSean Jackson returned the Redskins punt for a touchdown (even though the penalty for a block in the back wasn't enforced) putting the Eagles up 14-0.  This could have gotten out of hand very quickly, but the Skins clawed their way back into it by leaning on their O-line - who did a great job helping out Clinton Portis (who rushed for 145 yds) and giving Jason Campbell time to find a target (who hasn't thrown an interception this year) - and their defense.  Washington's defense really turned it up the entire game after Philly's opening drive.  Westbrook only rushed for 33 yards against the stingy defense Washington brought which saw Rocky McIntosh and London Fletcher all over the field.  Washington, ESPN's new favorite team, looks for real and with the Rams, Browns and Lions as their next three games, they face teams over the next three weeks with a combined 1-11 record.

Haslett's going to have his work cut out for him.  The STL Dispatch's Jim Thomas had a Q&A with Haslett, here, with some interesting nuggets.  To me, this was just shocking:

I've talked to (offensive coordinator) Al Saunders about getting our playmakers the ball. Torry Holt, Donnie Avery and Steven Jackson.

And this:

I'm going to know exactly how many times Steven Jackson touches the ball. How many times Torry Holt touches the ball. How many times Donnie Avery has the ball. And (Keenan) Burton and (Drew) Bennett when they get back. And if I don't think they've touched the ball enough, I'll let Al know during the game. ... I'll have a say.

Was Donnie Avery considered one of our playmakers under Linehan?  After sitting out week 1, in week 2 he didn't register a catch, and only returned one kickoff while Dante Hall returned 6.  Why would one of your three playmakers sit on returns for Dante Hall?  In week 3, Avery didn't get a single return, though he did make his first 3 receptions of his NFL career.  In week 4, he matched both those totals.  So why does one of your playmakers only have averaging 2 receptions/game and only 1 kickoff return?  As someone who's been dying to see Avery get involved, it's very frustrating to see these kinds of quotes when he hasn't been on the field enough to make an impact, especially if he's a "playmaker."  Let's hope Haslett can back up his statements with some playing time for Donnie.