Season Takeaways For All 32 NFL Teams: NFC West Edition

Season Takeaways For All 32 NFL Teams: NFC West Edition

How did your favorite team perform in the 2018-19 season and what are the biggest questions that need to be addressed this offseason and beyond? This week, I'll be reviewing the four teams in the NFC Wast.

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It's been another exciting season in the NFL. At the beginning of each year, each team/fanbase has a slue of expectations for their team whether you're in the middle of a rebuild, seeing how rookie talent pans out or plotting for contention in the playoffs. Regardless of the team, expectations always change. Injuries, free agency and coaching changes all play a role in how a team re-evaluates their priorities, and there's never a shortage of any of those three in this league. Here's how the NFC West faired this season.

1. Los Angeles Rams - The window for a Super Bowl is closing

The Rams were, by and large, a favorite to come out of the NFC to make a shot at the Super Bowl. They started the season explosively and didn't lose their first game until a Week 9 35-45 slug fest against the New Orleans Saints, another favorite in the NFC. The Rams ranked in the top five in the entire NFL for major offensive statistics (PTS, YDS, PASS YDS, and RUSH YDS) and their defense was equally dominating.

It's hard to imagine that the wheels would begin to fall off after their Bye Week. In the faces of stout defenses like Chicago, the offense began to show cracks while their defense began letting up massive numbers to teams that really had no business doing so. A mystery injury to Todd Gurley throughout the end of the season into the postseason could have been the end of the Rams' season had it not been for the resurgence of CJ Anderson.

The season ended in a disappointing loss to the New England Patriots in one of the most criticized Super Bowls in recent history. It's difficult to say whether or not the Sean McVay coaching tree took a hit after that loss. Wade Phillips and his crew held strong against the Patriots, only allowing one touchdown the entire game. But the offense faltered for most of the second half of the season.

The question now is whether or not the Rams can hold their crew together long enough to continue to compete for a Super Bowl. Key players such as Andrew Whitworth, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters will all be unrestricted free agents in 2020. Both CJ Anderson and Ndamukong Suh are both free agents this offseason and both played integral roles in the offense and defense respectively.

2. Seattle Seahawks - Over-performing in a rebuild year

At the beginning of this season, there were many who counted the Seahawks out as a serious contender with very little chance for a playoff berth, myself included. The team was very deep in rebuild mode. After trading away key defensive players such as Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett and then trying to find a new offensive identity, it's difficult to imagine the Seahawks to bounce back the year after.

The Seahawks found a lot of success in their young offense and was able to surround Russell Wilson with a competent core. Running backs Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny was second in the league in rushing attempts, lead the league in rushing yards and lead the league in rushing yards per game. In addition, receivers Tyler Lockett and David Moore performed amicably while Doug Baldwin continued to show sparks of brilliance down the field.

Expectations are going to be higher for the Seahawks next season as we've seen the team in its current state can already make it into the playoffs.

3. San Francisco 49ers - How seriously do you pursue AB?

The San Francisco 49ers had to have been one of the most hyped up teams heading into this season. In a highly confusing move to most, the Patriots traded away their backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers where he proceeded to win out in his last five games. He came back to Earth slightly once the season began and he performed amicably. I was optimistic, but I also drafted him in my fantasy football team so that probably swung my opinion slightly. But ultimately his season was over due to an ACL injury. After that point, the 49ers essentially put the season up as a wash and planned for a future where Garoppolo is healthy.

That plan might include Antonio Brown. As mentioned earlier, the Steelers and Browns have reached a tumultuous period in their relationship, so much so that the Steelers have reportedly been shopping Brown around for potential trades. Not one for subtlety, Brown has dropped multiple "hints" that he'd like to land in San Francisco. Theoretically, a 49ers offense with a developing Jimmy G, emerging star TE George Kittle, and the NFL-leader in receptions last year with Antonio Brown could find themselves a competitor in the NFC West.

4. Arizona Cardinals - Another directionless year

The only thing that's been consistent with the Arizona Cardinals is Larry Fitzgerald. Ever since the Super Bowl, the Cardinals have lost in the divisional round, the wild card and the conference round in all three of their postseason appearances since 2009. They've also had losing seasons in six of those years.

if they're in a rebuild, I'd consider this one of the longest rebuilds in NFL history. From a front office perspective, I'm not entirely sure what direction the team thinks its headed in. With the 10th pick in this year's draft, the Cardinals selected Josh Rosen as their quarterback to replace Carson Palmer. Given the choice, I don't think the Cardinals would have chosen him given all the QBs that had entered the draft but with the 10th pick, it's hard to work around the situation given to them.

The coaching staff has also been questionable at best. They fired their offensive coordinator Mike McCoy after a 1-6 start and much had been said how he had used their star talent running back David Johnson and the development of Josh Rosen. Having fired both the offensive coordinator and head coach, it'll be interesting to see what Kliff Kingsbury and Mike McCoy can make of this team.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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6 Best Feelings You Get When Playing Volleyball

While you're avoiding getting hit in the face, you just might gain something in return.

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Volleyball can be intimidating to get into, especially if you have had zero experience before. From the extremely bruised forearms to knee burns, it's understandable why people try to avoid this sport as much as possible sometimes. However, after the initial few weeks of struggle, the bruises will disappear, and the knee pains will feel much less terrible. In fact, after experiencing these six feelings, you will get hooked onto the sport.

1. When you get the perfect set

Every team needs a good setter, because without good sets, it is incredibly hard to get good hits. Every once in a while, when you do get that perfect set, you don't have to worry about repositioning closer or further away from the net or where to hit the ball. Instead, all you have to do is swing your arms and hear that satisfying bounce of the ball hitting the floor on the other side of the court.

2. When you dive for a ball and actually save it

Sacrifices to the knees are a must in volleyball, but a lot of times, they're sacrifices in vain. When a dive actually turns into a save, it can be one of the best feelings in the world. Not just because your knees didn't just take another bruise in vain, but because your reflexes have actually improved and you just saved your team a lost point.

3. When you get your first ace

Whether it was your serve that was too fast or the other team that just made a mistake, there's just something extremely satisfying about being able to serve a ball that others cannot return. It may also be due to the fact that you wouldn't have to run back onto the court or spend extra energy on this point, but nevertheless, the pride you feel when you get that ace is priceless.

4. When you find a good team

Some people work better with certain people than others, and when people on your team somehow naturally know how high you liked your sets or covers the areas that you can't at certain moments, as a team you will play much better. This can be attained through training and practice, but when you meet those people who naturally work well with you, you know the game is going to be good.

5. When you get a good rally going

When the ball is going back and forth for five or six times with 3 hits on each side, you have a good rally going on. At the end of it, even if your team loses the point, you'll feel an intense satisfaction from all the adrenaline still coursing through your veins. It's not every day that you can get everyone on the team on their feet, passing, hitting and making great plays!

6. When your teammates become some of your closest friends

This is probably the best reward that you can ever get from playing any sport. Whether it's a group trek to the local donut shop or just walking home together, you could end up meeting some of your closest friends. Volleyball is a team sport, and that bond established through numerous games is something that is irreplaceable. You'll naturally gravitate those who you work well with and find out that honestly, you guys get along pretty well off the court too.

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