Now that the Seattle Seahawks have their attention fully focused on the off-season, what is ahead for this team? In news that no one really saw coming, their first objective is to hire a new head coach. With Pete Carroll stepping down after 14 years as head coach, the Seahawks are heading towards a cultural shift and GM John Schneider is in unfamiliar territory.
Another team focused on the off-season is the Arizona Cardinals. Despite the win-loss record, Jonathan Gannon had a very good rookie season as head coach. A new culture has been established and with tons of draft picks and cap space, the arrow will continually point up for the future of this franchise. For the rest of the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are on a quest for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The 49ers, earning their much-needed bye week, will sit back this weekend and prepare for whoever they face in the Divisional Round. As for the Rams, they enter one of the more anticipated games of Wild Card weekend. Matthew Stafford returns to Detroit and tries to upset his former team who is led by the person he replaced, Jared Goff.
Final NFC West standings: Where everyone finished and what's ahead
Biggest Takeaway: Health is Wealth
Future Outlook: The playoffs will either confirm or prove otherwise about Brock Purdy
The San Francisco 49ers finished the regular season with top 5 offense and defense. They are arguably the best team in the NFL. However, as we have seen in years past, they often beat themselves in the playoffs due to health. At the moment, they appear to be healthy. This means that we will all see if Brock Purdy is the future of this franchise based on his performances in the playoffs. With pressure mounting in each snap played in the playoffs, I will be curious to see if Brock Purdy remains the same player from the regular season, who had success for the majority of it. Or, if he falters and potentially causes his team the game.
Biggest Takeaway: Strong 2023 NFL Draft class
Future Outlook: Matthew Stafford's contract
Really, what an impressive 2023 season for the Los Angeles Rams. Despite all the noise created in the off-season, this team enters the playoffs as one of the hottest in the NFL over the last two months. In large part, due to this strong 2023 NFL Draft class -- G Steve Avila, WR Puka Nacua, DL Kobie Turner -- as well as second-year HB Kyren Williams, outstanding play from Matthew Stafford, and great coaching from all sides of the football. The question that remains is, if they make a deep run in the playoffs, do they extend Matthew Stafford or turn to this upcoming draft to try and find a replacement?
Biggest Takeaway: Another strong rookie class
Future Outlook: Finding the right head coach plus QB position
With a vacancy at head coach, the Seattle Seahawks are probably one of the more enticing jobs given the talent on this roster. They followed up a strong 2022 rookie class with another impressive one. Fifth-overall pick, Devon Witherspoon, had an outstanding rookie campaign. Although he didn't put up the best statistical numbers, Jaxon Smith-Njigba showed flashes of his potential. He became a reliable target on 3rd downs. HB Zach Charbonnet compliments Kenneth Walker III nicely and even showed promise as a lead back when filling in due to injury. G Anthony Bradford quietly had a good year. One question that looms, whoever the new head coach is, will he stick with Geno or turn to the draft?
Biggest Takeaway: New culture has been established
Future Outlook: QB position + draft game-plan
The Arizona Cardinals fully bought into whatever product Jonathan Gannon sold them. In every game, they played hard with the intention of winning. They did not look like a team that was tanking. While this question seems to have been answered already, I am curious to see if they move off Kyler Murray. If the right offer comes along, I'd have to imagine they at least consider it.
With the 3rd overall pick in the draft, they could use that on a quarterback, select the best WR in the class, or trade down and acquire more draft capital. They have plenty of options to at least explore this off-season. Regardless of which direction they go in, they have the most draft picks (11) in the 2024 NFL Draft. I've said it plenty of times throughout the regular season and will say it one final time here, the future is bright.