- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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We might need to consider Friday afternoon chats more regularly. Lots of fun in there.
The highlight for me, by far, was when blog regular Deccare, posting under the guise of Deccarizzle, lobbed a softball.
"Who's to blame for the 49ers losing the NFC championship game?" he asked.
"The Giants," I replied.
Gotta keep up your guard in the chats.
"I will sonic boom sando," Deccare replied in the comments beneath the full transcript.
The chat also generated spirited discussion on the St. Louis Rams, with Will from Tallahassee calling out my, shall we say, conservative projections for 2012.
"Are you saying that even if the Rams come into the season healthy, as opposed to last season, and maintain relative good health amongst their starters on offense and defense, that they would only get 4 or 5 wins?" Will wrote. "Really, Sando?"
I'm saying the Rams went 15-65 over the past five seasons, faring worse than expected at almost every turn. So, when asked for early victory projections in the NFC West, I had the Rams in the 4-6 range, with San Francisco (10-11), Seattle (nine) and Arizona (eight) ahead of them. Those projections invited another round of debate.
Once the chat had concluded, we had argued over how to characterize Alex Smith's career, with SFfan_inNY claiming in the comments section that "Sando is never gonna man up and admit what most of us know: Smith was a victim of a terrible situation that very well have ended the careers of Brady, Manning or Rodgers."
How many cans of worms could one NFC West chat open? Lets sift through a few more:
Griz from Montana asks whether I could see Pete Carroll switching to Russell Wilson at quarterback in 2013 if Matt Flynn were "moderately successful" as the starter this year, on the basis that Wilson's athletic ability might make him a better fit for Carroll's brand of offense.
Mike Sando: Moderately successful will not be good enough for Flynn to hold onto the job. The Seahawks love Russell Wilson and want to see if he can overcome the one big strike against him: lack of height. They feel like Wilson has everything else. They're optimistic, but they just don't know for sure based on the height. That one trait explains why Wilson was still available in the third round.
Randy from Toledo called my predictions a "kiss of death" and asked whether it was a "pact with Satan" when I pointed to the 49ers as division favorites in 2012.
Mike Sando: Football is largely unpredictable, especially in a division without established, reliable quarterback play. It's not like the AFC East, where everyone is trying to catch up to Tom Brady. We went into last season with Sam Bradford appearing on the rise, the 49ers breaking in a new staff under tough circumstances, Arizona spending big on Kevin Kolb, Seattle coming off a weird season featuring a 7-9 record and a playoff victory. So many variables in this division. The 49ers are the logical favorite based on what we saw from them last.
Will from Tallahassee also asked why Cortland Finnegan didn't land on an all-division team as published during a previous chat. "You really think that Carlos Rogers is a better corner than Finnegan?" he writes.
Mike Sando: I don't recall making that selection at cornerback, but the truth is, I watched Carlos Rogers every week last season. I did not watch the Titans very much at all. Might need to see Finnegan play in the division before putting him on an all-division team. Chris Long is very good and could be a worthy selection. He has competition in this division, however.
EDTGO from New York asks whether projections for Flynn dovetail with projections for Kevin Kolb a year ago.
Mike Sando: You could be 100 percent correct in that. I do see similarities, for sure. The feeling in Arizona last season was that the quarterback play had to improve even if Kevin Kolb were mediocre, and that the improvement would help the team win a few more games. The team did win a few more games, improving from 5-11 to 8-8, but how much did that have to do with quarterback improvement? The defense improved tremendously over the second half of the season. Patrick Peterson's punt-return touchdowns were huge. And then John Skelton, not Kolb, helped pull out some comeback victories.
Enjoy your Friday.