The latest NFC West chat produce several good ideas for future blog entries. Thanks for those. Full transcript here. Highlights below:
Todd (Mexico): Mike, thanks for your great coverage and for responding to queries via the channels you do (twitter, facebook). Really helps us fans feel connected. My question is how do you think the Seahawks pass rush matches up this weekend. Aside from Chicago (worst OLine in the league), we really haven't gotten much push on the road. Can they do better in Oakland?
Mike Sando: You're welcome, Todd. Matt Williamson and I were talking about that very subject on the phone this morning. He thinks Chris Clemons and the Seattle defense will get pressure in this game. I'm with you to an extent -- it hasn't always been there on the road -- and the Raiders are not the Bears. While neither Chicago nor Oakland is known for sound pass protection, the Raiders do try to run the ball. They have run the ball successfully at times this season. That can make it tougher to rush the passer. I do think Seattle has a chance to get pressure.
Bobby (St. Louis): Why does Steven Jackson get overlooked by Pat Shurmur when the Rams are inside of the 10? It seems like every game they have a drive stall in there because we run play action roll outs or quick drops. The Earl Thomas pick in end zone vs. Seattle, back to back sacks vs. San Diego, and a couple near picks vs. Tampa this weekend come to mind. Why not let the workhorse back (among the best in the league) pound the ball four times and test the defense's will? Thanks for your work on the blog.
Mike Sando: This is a subject I'd like to explore in greater detail. I'm going to be breaking down the Rams' personnel use here Thursday, and then I'll have a better feel for the red zone, specifically inside the 10. Teams are going to key on Jackson in those situations. The Rams trust Bradford. The rollout on fourth-and-goal from the 1 against Arizona right before halftime comes to mind. Bradford made an outstanding throw for a touchdown. Is Jackson a great red-zone runner relative to how he runs elsewhere on the field? I do not know the answer to that question. I do remember him fumbling down there against Minnesota last season. Overall, though, he should be a primary option down there.
Derrik (Gilbert AZ): Sando, I believe that the Cardinals need to send a draft pick to Andy Reid for Kolb at the end of the year. Instead of waiting a couple of years for Max Hall or a draft pick to develop, the Cards should be aggressive since the division will be wide open until the Rams get more weapons in a year or two. Derek Anderson won't be here next year. Hall can be the backup to learn. Plus, without a QB on the horizon, why would Larry Fitzgerald stay here in the desert when he holds all the Cards?
Mike Sando: You are really on the right path. I don't know whether the Cardinals could get a quarterback from Philadelphia, but this team does need to address the position. Right now, based on what we know, is there an NFL team with a worse quarterback situation than the one in Arizona?
Tim (SF): Mike, it seems like despite all the finger pointing, Greg Manusky is gettting a free pass. Why are they playing so conservative on D when they need to make plays? They made Matt Moore look like John Elway by not pressuring him. Patrick Willis was going to be a blitzing machine this year and he has one sack and is admittedly less effective than past years. Ahmad Brooks has regressed. Travis LaBoy peaked in the preseason. Why doesn't he get a little more aggressive and try to win the game instead of not lose it which doesn't work?
Mike Sando: I thought about this recently when noting that the 49ers' scoring per game is down 27.8 percent from last season. Basically, Manusky gets more of a pass because the offense has been worse than the defense. Defenses can play more freely and aggressively when their offenses put points on the board. Take last week. The 49ers scored one touchdown on defense as part of their 20 points. Take the Atlanta game. The 49ers scored one touchdown on special teams as part of their 14 points. Take the Kansas City game. The 49ers scored their only touchdown in garbage time. Even in the Seattle game, the defense came out and forced a turnover early, exactly what teams want to do on the road, only to have the offense fail on a fourth-down play.
The question about whether Arizona has the worst quarterback situation in the league has roots in my discussion with Matt Williamson. He made the statement flatly that the Cardinals have the worst short-term and long-term situation at the position. I hadn't thought of it in those terms primarily because Hall is just starting out. The jury might be frowning, but it has yet to return a verdict.