Mailbag: NFC West teams on paper

May, 23, 2009
5/23/09
2:45
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Adam from Seattle asks which NFC West team would prevail if each one suffered no injuries and every player played to his potential.

Mike Sando: Seattle and Arizona. Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Patrick Kerney, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Marcus Trufant, Mike Wahle and perhaps John Carlson would go to the Pro Bowl under your mythical scenario.

It's not going to happen, as you acknowledged. The implication is relevant, however. Do the Seahawks really have anything close to that kind of potential or has their window most likely closed? It's one of the compelling story lines in the division this season.

Hasselbeck appears to be on a mission. His motivation for silencing talk about his demise seems obvious when watching the Seahawks practice. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll hold up physically when someone such as Adrian Wilson drills him in the back.

I could also make a case for the Cardinals prevailing under your scenario. They were very healthy last season and it was enough to get them to 9-7, plus 3-1 in the playoffs.

We should consider which NFC West team is likely to remain healthiest this season. The Seahawks are probably sick of hearing about how Hasselbeck, Jones and Kerney are coming off injuries, but all three are in their 30s and the subject is at least as relevant as wondering whether Kurt Warner can make it through 16 games again.

The 49ers can work their way into this conversation if Shaun Hill [or possibly Alex Smith] plays consistently well over the course of the season. I like their chances better now than I did last season and even immediately following Mike Singletary's hiring as interim coach. But the questions that team faces -- about the quarterback, about Jimmy Raye as a play caller, about the pass rush, about the situation at right tackle, about Dashon Goldson as a starting safety, about Singletary as a head coach -- remain unanswered.


William from Tallahassee thinks the Cowboys' Greg Ellis would be a good fit for the Rams if Dallas traded or releases him. He could see the Rams lining up Ellis with Will Witherspoon and James Laurinaitis.

Mike Sando: Ellis turns 34 in August. The Rams are getting rid of older players, not adding them. I do think they could use more talent, even some older talent. I just don't see any evidence suggesting they'll add older players.


Brian from Phoenix wonders if Matt Leinart has indeed grown up and changed his work ethic after watching Kurt Warner last season.

Mike Sando: Ken Whisenhunt says he sees a difference. That is a good sign for Arizona. My instincts say Leinart probably wasn't as immature as he seemed last offseason and he probably has changed dramatically in one year. But if he is taking things more seriously, that makes sense. His career is on hold and he needs to play well when he gets the chance. I'll get a better feel when visiting the Cardinals during camp this summer.


Rich from Bellevue keeps hearing about how Adrian Wilson and Karlos Dansby remain the Cardinals' top priorities to re-sign. He wonders if we've got action, or merely words.

Mike Sando: I would think a deal with Wilson would be more likely than a deal with Dansby. Mike Jurecki of XTRA 910 in Phoenix recently said he got the feeling both sides were optimistic. Striking a deal with the safety shouldn't be too hard, particularly given what Wilson means to the organization. He is what every team should want in a player.


JC from San Jose suggests NFL teams could suffer from more than distractions by signing Michael Vick. He thinks they might also suffer revenue losses through diminished attendance, merchandise sales, sponsorships and other ventures. He could also see TV revenue falling.

Mike Sando: Much would depend upon how Vick handled himself. The things he says and does will largely shape how people will react to him. If he sounds genuinely contrite while taking responsibility for his actions, it becomes tougher to gain much traction picketing stadiums. Vick will need advice from someone skilled in media relations and public relations.


Ian from Phoenix wonders how much Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Bryant McFadden and the rest of the Cardinals' secondary might benefit from working against Larry Fitzgerald in practice.

Mike Sando: Cornerbacks who work extensively against Fitzgerald are constantly reminded to jam him near the line of scrimmage, buying time to see the ball before it's too late. That is what Rod Hood told me for this story during the playoffs last season. The first-team units aren't battling one another in practice as often as one might think, but working against the very best can only help.

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