What the NFC West Coaches Are Saying About the 2017 Season
The NFC West could easily be called one of the strongest divisions in the NFL. Any time that you’re talking about a group that includes the Seattle Seahawks, it’s clear that you’re talking about true prestige and talent. The Seahawks took the division title last year, and the 49ers have taken 19 titles in history. This is a tough division to be in and a tough one to play against. As we move closer to the 2017 regular season, let’s take a look at what the head coaches have to say about the road ahead.
Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians
Despite not having the best season last year and not qualifying for the Playoffs, the Cardinals placed second in the NFC West. With a record of 7 – 8 – 1, they’re going to have to perform better this year to keep owner Bill Bidwill Happy. Bruce Arians remains coach for his fifth year, and this is what he’s been talking about in the run up to this season.Arians has come right out saying that the Cardinals need to play smarter in 2017. In a recent interview, he offered a glimpse into what the team has been up to, telling the media that “We spent all off season practicing the scenarios that put you in critical situations.”He believes that some of the recent lack of form could be down to holding back in the training camps, a mistake that he won’t repeat this year. He told USA Today’s AZ Central that “We’re going to hit in camp more than we have in the past. That’s the one thing I decided. Tackling is a lost art. It’s really bad in college and it’s gotten pitiful in the NFL. We’re going to tackle more in camp and roll the dice we’re not going to get anybody hurt.”Could a harder training regimen help the team to bring better results? We’re going to have to wait and see.
Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
The Rams poor 4 – 12 record was not popular with players, nor with the higher ups. In December, head coach Jeff Fisher was fired after a crushing 14-42 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Sean McVay has been brought onto the payroll as the team’s new coach, and him and a refreshed coaching staff could make a big difference as the team starts what will probably be a long rebuild.McVay hasn’t been overly forthcoming with a strategy or declaration of what the team will achieve this year, but has shared that “I think what we’ve tried to preach to our players is we’re going to let the best players play. We’re trying to win football games and whoever we feel like gives us the best chance is who’s going to play. You always want to make sure that you’re playing the guy that you feel like gives you the best ability to win football games, because we owe it to our coaches, to our players and to this organization to do that.”He also spoke early about Jared Goff being the starter quarterback, telling NBC Sports “Right now Jared’s the starter and he’s done a nice job commanding that role.” At the same time, he doesn’t rule out Sean Mannion as a potential starter when the season begins.The Rams do need to improve on what can only be described as dismal season records for all of recent memory.
San Francisco 49ers NFC West Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Last year, the 49ers had a season that was worse than the Rams’, finishing last in the NFC West and recording 2 – 14 for the season. Chip Kelly was fired, and now the team hopes to start a new era with Kyle Shanahan as Head Coach. Shanahan is not giving much away, saying after early practice sessions that “The thing that I find out most with guys with the new staff or a new scheme like we have now or even rookies, it’s why you try not to judge people too hard through OTAs. Guys come in, you throw everything at them. They go through waves in OTAs, but usually they get away for a month, they come back, and then you actually get to see who guys are, if they’re more confident, they know the playbook better and they have a better chance to compete.”Shanahan’s father, ex-NFL coach Mike Shanahan, has also been around the camps to offer support to his son. Kyle said that “It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you, has a similar background, and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”Shanahan has previously focused on offense, so adjusting to the role of Head Coach is going to take some time. It could be part of the reason why he’s not making any bold claims for the season ahead, and it’s probably better that he takes things slowly in his first year so that he can find his stride and build rapport with the new team. Many observers are expecting the 49ers to begin an upward trend under Shanahan, so this first season under new leadership will definitely be something of a proving ground.
The Seahawks took first place in the Division last year, recorded a 10 – 5 – 1 record, and went all the way to the NFC Divisional Playoff game where they lost to the Falcons. It was a strong season, but they still aim for better, and hope that Head Coach Pete Carroll can take them to the Super Bowl this season.Carroll’s big aim for this season is to bring more of a running game to the way that the Seahawks play. Talking to ESPN he said that “We lost 100-something runs last year. And that was basically the story. That was basically the tale of why everything came about as it did. The defense had to do some more stuff. We had to throw the ball more. We had to pass protect more and all of that because the running game got knocked up. With the quarterback being a mess and the running back situation, everybody being banged up, we were just unable to find it. So I think we’ll come roaring right back at it.”Caroll also sees consistency as being an important area of focus, telling the press that “The inability to be consistently on it throughout the game where we saw that we had tremendous opportunity and had chances to do some great things, then they got away. Then we had our opportunity to come back, then we didn’t quite get it finished.”Overall, he’s excited about the future, stating in a press conference that “When we look at this team, the young guys who have a chance to come up and add to it, the ones who showed us stuff and the ones who almost got a chance to show us stuff, we’re going to get so much better that to think otherwise would be crazy. I think we have a great chance to put together a terrific squad.”The Seahawks are respected throughout the NFL and are probably the strongest team in the West. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to take their 2017 campaign all the way through the Playoffs.