You know the St. Louis Rams are becoming relevant again when talk of their improvement grates on other teams' fans. I'll kick off the chat wrap with an item along those lines. Transcript here. Highlights below:
Steve (San Francisco): Mike, it seems like a lot of people think the Rams have really grown up this year. I see exactly one impressive win on their resume (SD, although I guess Seattle could count), and really moreso they've found ways to lose games they could have won (Oakland, Tampa Bay, SF). Why does everyone seem to think they're poised to get it done down the stretch?
Mike Sando: The Rams get a bit of a pass as a feel-good story because they went 1-15 last season and 6-42 over their last three seasons. They have improved, no doubt. They have the quarterback situation settled. They have two of their final three at home. That guarantees nothing. They still have to get it done and they still have not proven they can do that. But when you look around the NFC West, it's not like those other teams have it figured out, either.
Jeff (Peoria, Ariz.): Hi Mike,I am a Cards fan and our defense has been bad since going to 3-4 a few years ago. A 3-4 requires a good, deep linebacker corps. We don't have any linebackers. A 4-3 would make more sense considering current personnel. Plus, Darnell Dockett is a more natural 4-3 end. One other reason is that you have to have a DC who knows how to scheme for a 3-4, and Bill Davis cannot. What do you think?
Mike Sando: Ken Whisenhunt has that Pittsburgh background and I've always thought he would favor the 3-4 scheme. You are right about the personnel. They do not have the linebackers. Dockett is indeed more of a problem as a traditional defensive tackle. I would not argue with a change to a 4-3. I also think we'll see defensive staff changes this offseason. That could facilitate a scheme change.
Scott (SD): Lifelong 49ers fan, but I don't get my "fandom" revoked if I'm hoping they lose and don't make the playoffs so we can finally end the "Alex Smith" experiment and move on, do I?
Mike Sando: Revocation of fandom might be a little strong. You could be put on probation, though. Actively hoping is probably going too far. How about hoping he plays well enough for the team to win, but not well enough for the team to stick with him?
Steve M. (Redmond, Ore.): Sando, as a longtime Seahawk fan, I have been so frustrated all my life with the up and down roller coaster years. One year the Hawks are rocking, the next year we completely stink. Holmgren came in and did very well after a few years. Do you think that Carroll will need one more year to turn the Hawks around? Or, do you think that Carroll needs a lot longer? I just want to see the Hawks have a positive win record for more than two years.
Mike Sando: The important thing is to understand where the team really stands in its development. And that can be hard because the head coach isn't going to just come out and say they are rebuilding. He's going to try to convince the team it can win now. But in the back of his mind, he knows what we know. This team is not very deep or very good, and it's going to take time. The state of the division allows the Seahawks a better chance to compete. But we should not mistake competing within the current NFC West for being competitive overall. Seattle has to solve its quarterback situation, too.
By the way, Jordan from Boise reacted strongly to my Rams response about the team getting somewhat of a pass this season based on where the team stood in its recent past. Fun stuff.