Mailbag: Best defense in the division
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Adam from Seattle wonders which team in the NFC West has the best defense, and why. He also asks about the best defensive players on each team in the division and whether Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Hill will prove themselves or fail.
Mike Sando: The 49ers have the best defense in the division, based on what we have seen. I know the Seahawks are excited about their offseason moves on that side of the ball, but the 49ers were playing pretty well defensively in the second half of the season. I know they played some weak offenses, too, but there was a sense they were improved on that side of the ball.
The Cardinals allowed more points than all but four teams last season. I think they have good potential, but more question marks after losing Antonio Smith.
Mike Sando: Content would be the wrong word. I just don't think the Seahawks found the right value at running back in the draft. The team does seem to think its blocking scheme will pay off in the run game, but I think the team would have strongly considered drafting a running back if the value had been right. They weren't going to take one at No. 4 and the top backs were gone when the Seahawks were on the clock in the second round.
I've heard no talk about bringing in an older back, but that type of move could make some sense if the price were right. I'm not yet sold on the depth at that position.
Joey from New York writes: Mike, this is regarding the post on Shaun Alexander and his recent interview. I am one of the Shaunabees. Even though I knew he was not going to lower the shoulder for extra yards unless it was for a short yardage first down or a trip to the endzone, that he never worked on blocking or for some reason (whether a conscious decision or not between him and Holmgren) stopped working on catching the ball out of the backfield (he did average 48 catches and over 7 ypc in 3 seasons from 2001-2003 so its not like he couldnt catch the ball), I knew he was still a special back with a unique running style and I loved watching him despite the flaws.
I still went out of my way to have the Redskin games on split screen in case he got the call from Zorn (though it was not much of a chance). I wish he was given the chance like Bettis had to be a goalline back. Say what you want about his ability to knock over tacklers for an extra yard, but when he was given the ball inside the 20 with his eye on the endzone, he knew how to get in there (with or without Hutch - for all of you to bring up that dead argument - See 2002 without Hutch [Chris Gray moving to LG and a right side consisting of two Floyds with a total of 3 years experience (Womack and Wedderburn) plus Chris Terry and Jerry Wunsch] though SA didnt get as much running room, he still was able to get into the endzone 18 times, third most in his career).
Here's hoping for some cheers for #37 when they bring him back to Seattle and place him in the ring of honor!!
Mike Sando: This debate has more longevity than Alexander himself. I agree with your last point, for sure. He's earned a spot in the Ring of Honor and should be applauded and embraced when the time comes. He put up huge numbers consistently for the best years under Mike Holmgren. You can't argue with the production during that time.
Jim from Tucson writes: Anquan Boldin has to understand why Adrian Wilson needs to be a higher priority at this point, right? If Wilson gets a new contract with more dollars and Dansby is NOT signed to a new deal, what are the chances it would even be possible for the Cardinals to sign Boldin to a bigger contract without exceeding the cap?
I know it's just posturing to an extent, but Boldin can't seriously expect a trade, and he can't seriously expect to jump ahead of Wilson and Dansby in line. A trade would be stupid, putting him in front of Wilson would be irrational and unfair, and putting him in front of Dansby would very likely be impossible. So what does Boldin get out of throwing a fit, other than scaring off potential trade partners by convincing them that he would be a headache?
Mike Sando: The cap isn't the issue. Remove that from your thinking. How much to value the player is the issue. How early to renegotiate a contract is the issue. How much to pay Boldin in relation to Larry Fitzgerald is the issue. I don't think Boldin has thrown a fit to this point and I don't think he'll go that route once the Cardinals get into the season. He would lose that battle in a big way. The public will not back those tactics and the Boldin doesn't have enough leverage to make that work.