Mailbag: Rams need defined structure

December, 3, 2008
12/03/08
5:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Justin from parts unknown writes: Hey Mike, Well the Rams season is/has been over so let the preparation for next season begin. Have you heard any rumblings about who the Rams are looking at for the HC? Please tell me that they are not still thinking of bringing back Haslett!

Yes, he has been put into a pretty bad situation, BUT... his D hasn't stopped anyone in 3 years! I am hoping that the new ownership cares enough about keeping fans to start with a clean slate at HC. Please throw us some names of people so that we have something of a bright spot during this nightmare of a season.

Mike Sando: Owner Chip Rosenbloom has made clear his dissatisfaction. He seems sensitive to the fans' concerns and complaints. He seems to share those concerns and complaints. For that reason, I expect sweeping changes during the offseason. Anyone associated with the last few seasons, on or off the field, could be at risk.

Ownership probably hasn't made up its mind on a course for next season. I do not have a list of likely candidates for the head-coaching job. Haslett will presumably get a chance to state his case. It's clear the Rams have personnel problems on both sides of the ball. Ownership knows it, Haslett knows it and the fans know it.

The question is whether you blow up everything or most things. Once you start fresh, it's important for players to know who is in charge and who is accountable to whom, from the front office on down. The Rams' current setup falls short that way. Rosenbloom has an opportunity and and obligation this offseason to set up the organization the right way.


Oz from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., writes: Mike - This has been a pretty big debate with Cardinal fans the last couple weeks so I wanted to get your expertise. Warner has undoubtedly played well this season but the last few games have been troubling (7 T.O's in 3 games) and have been against the best defensive competetion we have faced. Obviously we want to ride him out this season but things get tricky after the playoffs.

Warner is a FA, has had a good "statistical" year, and is likely going to expect a 2 year deal in the 8 -10 million range. Myself and many other Cardinal fans think this way to exorbitant and would rather use the money elsewhere and see what we have in Leinart. I am of the belief for as good as Warner can be, his flaws are too deep and he doesn't have the stuff to put us on his shoulders and win us games we shouldn't. And that's the definition of an MVP.

The stats look good but watching the games shows something else. So my three past question is this: How committed do you think Wiz and the team is to keeping Warner at all costs? Who would you prioritize to re-up and keep this offseason knowing we can't make everybody happy? And what do you think is a realistic expectation/offer for Kurt after this offseason knowing what you know now? Great stuff and thanks is advance for the insight.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Oz. The franchise tag is another option for Warner, but that would probably cost close to $15 million, all of which would count against the 2009 salary cap.

The way Warner and the Cardinals finish will determine how Whisenhunt and the organization feel about staying the course at quarterback. I think it'll influence how you feel as well.

No matter what the Cardinals do at quarterback, the team needs to upgrade its offensive line, find a tight end, reconsider its options at running back and find another cornerback. Anquan Boldin's contractual unhappiness is going to be an issue, again, but the Cardinals have other priorities. Re-signing Karlos Dansby is one of them.

Matt Leinart's contract doesn't become an issue before the 2010 season. I would bring back Warner on an incentive-laced deal, figuring Warner isn't going to run off and sign with another team for more money. I would then upgrade the other areas and see what happens in 2009.

It's important for the Cardinals to have an identity beyond the passing game. I know Whisenhunt wants that to happen. He needs to make it happen next season.


Teis from Belgium writes: Hi Mike, with all the problems the Seahawks are having with their D-line, do you think there is a chance they'll be picking up Marcus Tubbs? And how is he doing?

Mike Sando: The Seahawks were quick to release Tubbs when it appeared he wouldn't be ready in the short term. I see no evidence suggesting they'll bring him back. His long-term health remains a concern. Seattle could not count on him, that's for sure.

If Tubbs were healthy, we might see him signing somewhere, but we haven't seen that happen. The knee issues were pretty severe.


John from Woodbridge, Va., writes: Just curious to see if you saw the Seahawks Addicts frontpage, check out the mock draft posted by Steve S. You were drafted ahead of Crabtree!

Mike Sando: I did see that. It was pretty funny. I think they were referencing my frequent silver-linings posts following Rams defeats. They should know I'll hold out for the latest version of Excel and a DVR with greater capacity.


Trevor from Denver writes: Hi, quick question.. All of us fans are DYING to see the full Pro-bowl results, as in the top 5 for every position, both AFC and NFC. How do we acquire this knowledge, is there a site that is updated at least daily? Thanks so much.

Mike Sando: We linked to a file that included that information. The league tracks it and makes it available to reporters periodically. Download it here.


Todd from Orlando, Fla., writes: You have Denver ranked #7?? Miami #17?? Schedules, schmedules, that is too much of a discrepancy. The 'Fins dominated Denver AT Mile High. I'll admit that Miami's ranking is in the neighborhood. Denver is too inconsistent to be ranked in that category.

Mike Sando: I don't necessarily disagree with you but I was conflicted in putting together the rankings based on the most recent results. Denver's recent road victories helped their cause in my rankings. I'll definitely reconsider next week and see if I can justify moving them down (albeit after a likely victory over the Chiefs).


Chris from Richmond, Va., writes: Is there a computerized power rating index for NFL teams listed somewhere? I keep reading people's opinions but what I want to know is strength of schedule + total points scored for and against, ad infinitum and ranked wholly logically.

Also, I would like to know how different teams would rate if you were to take into account the opponents' condition during that one game. For example, I think the majority of fans feel the Cards beat themselves vs the Redskins, and it coincided with the Skins playing the best game of their young season at that point.

Then most would agree the Cards were especially abysmal vs the Jets in the first half of that game and the Jets were also having their best game up to that point, arguably .

My point is if you go down the line, you see they should have beaten the Skins and Panthers, and games like Seattle and the 2nd 49'er game those opponents played their best games of the year. Just wondering if there is some sort of hot and cold meter. All in all, I think the Cards
have battled some tough circumstances, the most glaring being the Eagles game and therefore I am more proud of the 7-5 record than what it looks like.

Also, is T Brandon Keith getting any snaps for the Cards? He looked very promising in the preseason, I keep expecting to see him playing but if he is I am missing it. He's a big athletic guy, seems to me we'd be able to run behind him.

Mike Sando: There are certainly computerized power rankings. Jeff Sagarin's are here. My method takes into account results of games, to a point. I could design one to consider your criteria, to a point. But it might take a little free time to pull it off. It's something I'm interested in, so it's probably a matter of time before I design something like that.

At guard, the Cardinals have stuck it out with Deuce Lutui in the interests of continuity. That seems like a position to target for 2009.


Ryan from Washington, D.C., writes: Will Vernon Davis ever become the player he was billed to be when he came out of the draft?

Mike Sando: He doesn't seem to be a very level-headed or consistent individual. I question whether he'll become a consistently productive player.


Nick from New York writes: hey sando, any chance that the hawks front office can throw a whole lot of money at monte kiffin? hopefully that situation will deteriorate much the same way things with mora deteriorated in atlanta. maybe then we can snag em?

Mike Sando: Kiffin signed what ESPN.com described as a multiyear extension with the Bucs before this season. If he leaves, expect him to join his son at Tennessee. I'm not sure the Bucs would let him leave for another NFL team.


Ryan from San Francisco writes: Mike, looking toward the draft, what do you see the 49ers going after? If Crabtree is there, I would pick him. Otherwise, I would like to see an impact DE or another LB to put next to Willis. I think we can grab a QB in the second round, maybe Nate Davis from Ball State. What do you think?

Mike Sando: In general, I would build along the lines. I would not risk everything on a quarterback. Drafting receivers tends to be risky, but if you're absolutely convinced a guy is a dynamic talent at that position, you would have to consider it. The 49ers need receivers.


Chris from Bakersfield writes: Mike, I have been reading your stuff all year, got one question. How can you rank The Cardinals 16th, but you ranked Denver 7th?? Is there something you see in them? Thank you

Mike Sando: The rankings reflect short-term performance sometimes. This would be one of those times. I think the Broncos and Cardinals are both capable of good things. Neither is consistent. But that's the case with quite a few teams in the top half of the rankings. As a result, I move them around based on how they are playing.

I expect the Broncos' ranking to fall in the future, but beating the Jets at the Meadowlands struck me as impressive. I've seen other Western teams, notably the Cardinals and Seahawks, lose horrifically there.

The Cardinals fell in my rankings after failing to compete very seriously in that game against the Eagles. That was a horrific performance with a chance to claim a division title.


Michael from parts unknown writes: Do you think the 49ers will keep Sing. or replace him? Is there a chance to get Bill Cowher?

Mike Sando: It's still probably an uphill battle for Mike Singletary. This is something I addressed in the most recent mailbag. I'd be surprised if Bill Cowher took a job there. He could have his choice of jobs and I'm not convinced the 49ers' situation would be most attractive. I'm not even convinced Cowher will coach in 2009.


Ikee from Philadelphia writes: Mike, What do you think the chances are the 49ers could land Donovan Mcnabb next year if the Eagles decide to part ways with him? I would think that would be a smart move if it presented itself to the 49ers, what do you think? Can it happen?... and also on a side note, I've been going back and forth with a few Eagles fans lately on a certain scenario and they seem to disagree.... If McNabb was with the 49ers this year along with Andy Reid and JTO was with the Eagles do you think the 49ers would be in playoff contention while the Eagles would be looking forward to a high 1st round draft pick?

Mike Sando: The 49ers would have competition for McNabb if that happened. At that point, the 49ers' coaching makeup might matter a great deal. Having a coach or two with ties to McNabb could help the process. Asking McNabb to learn the Mike Martz system might complicate the situation.

As for your other hypothetical, I do think the 49ers would have been in playoff contention with Andy Reid coaching them and Donovan McNabb playing quarterback. Just take a look at the rest of the division.


Cam from Kelowna, B.C., writes: Hey Mike As much I would love to talk offseason, I'll refrain as you wil need SOMETHING to blog about after January. Since Seattle is not making the playoffs, what do you feel would be the best thing to do as the Seahawks for the franchise? The fans seem to want to sit Hasselbeck and rest him for next year, and I'm all for that. Also I would love to see Babs take over for Russell, and maybe a little CJ Wallace or Jamar Adams would be nice too. Also, resting Peterson and/or Hill and putting in Hawthorne could be fun. Your thoughts?

Mike Sando: The last four games give Hasselbeck a chance to really build that rapport with John Carlson. That strikes me as important for next season. Jordan Babineaux has had chances at the safety position in past seasons and didn't really stand out as a starter. I think Deon Grant and Brian Russell need a pass rush more than anything. I could see working in the other guys for a series here and there, just to see. Resting Leroy Hill makes sense because he's hurt. I think you play the rest of the guys.

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