The 2023 season is fast approaching, and teams have started to report to training camp. With the season coming up, there are still a lot of questions teams need to address.
The NFC West should be an interesting one this year, with teams at various stages and levels. There are still some unknowns when it comes to how the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals will look.
Let's take a look at questions each team needs to answer before Week 1:
San Francisco 49ers
1. Will Brock Purdy be 100%?
The quarterback situation in San Francisco has been chaos since last year, when they had three starters in the regular season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is gone to the Las Vegas Raiders, but they still have Trey Lance and Brock Purdy returning. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, is on track to be ready for the season after recovering from elbow surgery. We will certainly know more once Purdy hits the field for team activities and has some reps under his belt.
Lance is also coming off an ankle injury in Week 2 and was medically cleared to play this offseason.
2. Who is QB2?
With Purdy recovering from elbow surgery, Lance and Sam Darnold, who the team added this offseason, have split first-team reps.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said training camp will be the determining factor for how the quarterback situation will shape up. Lance knew his position with the team was not certain, but said he still wanted to remain in San Francisco.
Who will be the backup and who will be the third-stringer could surprise people.
3. How will the transition to Steve Wilks as DC go?
The 49ers have a solid defensive group led by Nick Bosa, but will be under new leadership with Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator.
Wilks has an opportunity to maintain the success of the 49ers defense, one of the best in the league in recent seasons.
1. Can Geno keep it up?
Quarterback Geno Smith had a breakout year in 2022 at 32 years old. He played a full season, something he has not done since 2013. Smith went 9-8 and helped lead the team to a playoff spot. He finished the year with a 69.8 completion percentage, 4,282 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, earning him a three-year extension with the team.
Living up to last season will not be easy for Smith. However, the team has shown confidence in Smith since the beginning, and now that he has shown what he is capable of, we could see an even sharper Smith this season.
2. What will the defensive line look like?
The Seahawks added Dre'Mont Jones by way of a three-year, $51 million contract. They also brought in Jarran Reed on a two-year contract. In the 2023 NFL Draft, they took Mississippi State's Cameron Young in the fourth round and Michigan's Mike Morris in the fifth round.
Reed's status as he gets older is unknown, and whether he can still perform at the level he was at before is a question. Jones seems like the player to stay long-term and could elevate his play this season.
Then there are the rookies, who have the potential but will have to work on the transition into the NFL. Training camp will give good insight into where the defensive line, and these four players in particular, stand ahead of the 2023 campaign.
3. What is Jamal Adams' status?
Safety Jamal Adams' recent history is filled with injuries, missing more than 20 games since joining the Seahawks in 2020. He is now recovering from a torn quad that he suffered in the first game of last season.
The injury was significant, and his status for the start of the season is still not known. Adams was present for the team's mandatory minicamp, but was on the sidelines.
With such a history of injury, if Adams cannot make an impact this season, the team and the fans could start wondering if it is worth keeping him on the team.
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Los Angeles Rams
1. Can Matthew Stafford bounce back?
It was not long ago that quarterback Matthew Stafford was holding up the Lombardi Trophy in his home stadium, but last season he went 3-6 in nine starts. A stark difference to say the least.
He missed the final seven games of the season due to a spinal cord contusion. A healthy Stafford will be crucial for the struggling team to bounce back. Stafford will also be a good veteran presence to help the younger players acclimate and excel. Before going out with an injury, Stafford had 2,087 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
General manager Les Snead is. "I think we're going to definitely rely on Matthew, he's definitely one of our pillars.
The team certainly believes Stafford can still be the quarterback to lead them to wins, and his first snaps back at training camp will be a good indication of just how far he still needs to go, if at all.
2. Who will replace Jalen Ramsey?
The Rams traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins this offseason, getting a 2023 third-round draft pick (No. 77 overall), plus tight end Hunter Long, in exchange. As one of the best at his position, Ramsey's presence will be missed. He was also a reliable player, missing just three games in the last three seasons.
Los Angeles added to its secondary this offseason both in the draft and through free agency. The Rams signed cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and selected cornerback Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson in the sixth round. There will surely be some competition throughout the defense and specifically the secondary during training camp.
3. How will their draft picks perform?
The Rams have given up many draft picks in recent years, and when they did draft, it was far back in the process. The Rams have not had a first-round selection since 2016, and 2023 was no different.
This year, however, they did have 14 draft picks. As they enter this rebuilding era, they need to get young talent who can perform at a high level.
One notable selection is defensive lineman Kobie Turner out of Wake Forest, who will benefit from Aaron Donald returning this season. Other rookies to look out for are guard Steve Avila, edge Byron Young and corner Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. With such an emphasis on needing the rookies to play well, there will be a spotlight on them at training camp.
1. What is Kyler Murray's status?
Quarterback Kyler Murray played 11 games last year, going 3-8 in those starts with a career-low 87.2 passer rating. Murray then suffered a season-ending torn ACL.
The season was a mess for the Cardinals, and Murray's injury did not help their chances. The fifth-year quarterback has remained positive regarding the injury, saying he plans to turn it into a positive and that he is
A positive outlook will help the situation, but Murray still may not be ready to start the season. Even when he is cleared to play, it does not mean he will be at the same capacity he was at the start of the 2022 season, before the injury.
2. How will the wide receiver room look without DeAndre Hopkins?
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins only played in nine games last season, but he still led the team in receiving yards with 717. Marquise Brown came close with 709, and there was a significant gap between No. 2 and No. 3 Greg Dortch, who finished the year with 467 yards.
Hopkins is now with the Tennessee Titans, leaving the Cardinals without their most-reliable pass-catcher. Brown must now step up even more than last year.
Brown noted that the offense is going to look "a lot different" under offensive coordinator Drew Petzing. The new OC has talked to players about relying more on the run this season.
3. How will the new coach and GM fare?
The Cardinals cleaned house this offseason and lost some longtime members of their organization due to personal reasons.
The last-place NFC West team has a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort, the first outside hire for GM in 30 years. The former Titans and Patriots personnel executive was hired in January by Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill.
Ossenfort replaces Steve Keim, who left the team this offseason after taking a medical leave of absence starting on Dec. 14.
The team also has a new head coach, with Jonathan Gannon replacing Kliff Kingsbury. The former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator is coming off a Super Bowl appearance, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Arizona fired Kingsbury in early January after four years with the team and hired Gannon the next month.
So many changes can be positive, but there is also a learning curve and adjustment period to account for. The team does not have Super Bowl expectations by any means, though some improvement is expected, especially with new faces in the building.