Heading into the important part of offseason preparations, it’s relatively fair to take a look around the league and get a good sense of what teams will be heading into 2019. Sure, injuries, training camp, and preseason will shake a lot of it up, but as far as majority of the offseason plan (especially roster transactions), it’s all been laid out.
Let’s take a look throughout the NFC West:
The Rams were in a class of their own as it pertains to the NFC West as they rattled off a 13-3 regular season record, won two separate playoff games, and ultimately punched their ticket to a Super Bowl 53 showdown with the New England Patriots. The Rams were the second-ranked offense in the NFL with 30.8 points per game, and the 18th-ranked defense in the league allowing 23.3 PPG.
Not much has changed for the team in terms of offensive personnel. LG Rodger Saffold and C John Sullivan departed, and are likely to be replaced by Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen. The health of Todd Gurley will obviously be a big question mark moving forward, though the Rams can quell those concerns with their usage of third-round running back Darrell Henderson. Defensively, the team adjusted in a major way. Key veteran additions such as S Eric Weddle and edge Clay Matthews will play important roles. Other newly-injected starters include ILB Micah Kiser and nose tackle Greg Gaines.
The Seahawks are no longer a dominant powerhouse like they used to be, though they still pose as a potential threat. Under the tutelage of Head Coach Pete Carroll, they’ve been a consistently strong and tough team, and that looks to remain heading into 2019. The Seahawks finished with a 10-6 regular season record in 2018 before losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Seahawks ranked seventh in the NFL in offense with 26.5 PPG, and 13th in the NFL in defense allowing only 21.8 PPG.
QB Russell Wilson is the engine behind the entire team obviously, and as long as he’s playing, the Seahawks are capable of winning any game. The offense outside of Wilson won’t have a ton of shake-up to it as the major change is the retirement of WR Doug Baldwin. Rookie WR D.K. Metcalf could pose as a potential threat, though receivers Jaron Brown and Amara Darboh have impressed in OTA’s.
Defensively, the team’s biggest changes came along the defensive line as the Seahawks decided to trade stud defensive end Frank Clark as opposed to committing a long-term contract extension to him. They’ll look to replace his production with first-round pick L.J. Collier and free agent addition Ziggy Ansah.
The Cardinals are the team with the most amount of changes as they head into 2019. Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury will launch his career as a rookie HC in a tough division, though he does have the luxury of having Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph on his staff (Joseph was the Denver Broncos’ HC last year). The Cardinals had a 3-13 record in 2018 under Head Coach Steve Wilks. They were ranked dead last (32nd) in offense in 2019 with a measly 14.1 PPG, and 26th in defense allowing 26.6 PPG.
Offensively, it all starts at the QB position as the Cardinals moved on from rookie Josh Rosen to the first-overall draft pick in Kyler Murray. Murray is an explosive, fast, strong-armed and accurate QB who doesn’t have many limitations, and that’s likely why Kingsbury chose to make the move. The offensive line remains a major weakness for the Cardinals, as does the tight end position. At receiver, they have a group of guys spanning from a veteran like Larry Fitzgerald, to promising players like Christian Kirk, to rookies Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. Look for RB David Johnson to bounce back in a big way in 2019. His usage as a runner will improve leaps and bounds, and his fantastic receiving ability will finally be utilized fully.
The Cardinals’ defense took some steps forward in terms of personnel over the offseason. They added veteran players such as edge Terrell Suggs and ILB Jordan Hicks. D.J. Swearinger also made his return to the team. The biggest step forward here is a promising rookie class that seen DE Zach Allen, CB Byron Murphy, and FS Deionte Thompson all get added outside of the first round of the draft. The defense looks to have a solid foundation for the future, though 2019 likely wont be a very good season for them.
The San Francisco 49ers are looking forward to 2019 as they’ll finally have their starting quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo return to the field. The 49ers made no major coaching staff changes, so the team will remain similar to the 2018 version. The 49ers had a rough year as they finished with a 4-12 regular season record. They ranked 22nd in offense with 21.4 PPG, and 28th on defense allowing 27.2 PPG.
When talking about the 49ers, you’ve gotta start at the QB position. They’re hoping to finally get a full season out of Jimmy Garoppolo, though nothing is guaranteed at this point. The major offensive additions are rookie WR’s Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, and free agent running back Tevin Coleman. Not much else changes for the 49ers offensively, though TE George Kittle proved to be a major weapon with his record-breaking 2018 season.
Defensively, the 49ers made some big-money additions in acquiring (and extending) edge rusher Dee Ford, and free-agent signing ILB Kwon Alexander. They also spent the second-overall pick on Nick Bosa, truly attempting to fortify their pass rush. Their defense needed all the help they could get with their horrible 2018 performance.