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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Mailbag: Edge the only one complaining

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Edgerrin James' comments about his role in the offense made the front page of ESPN.com today. Are comments like this going to be an issue for the Cardinals? Do you think James is more upset about his touches and statistics or more upset about how the media portrays his productivity?

Mike Sando: James' comments are irrelevant as long as the team wins and the offense produces. The Cardinals just beat the Bills and Cowboys. The offense is rolling pretty well.

James is right when he says the offense changed from the time he signed with the team, but such is life. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner are the best players on that offense. James is splitting time with a rookie and James is the only one complaining. The rookie, Tim Hightower, is producing situationally and helping the team win.

To answer your question, James' comments seem to speak to the diminished role in the offense more than the portrayal.


Harold from Columbia, Mo., writes: Mike - a couple things from the blog that intrigue me: Julius Peppers matchup with Levi Brown - he has struggled at times - particularly on the road (patrick Kerney/Jets game C Pace). Also - never is a long long time, great answer!

Mike Sando: Thanks, Harold. I don't think Arizona's offensive line matches up very well against the Panthers and I wonder how the Cardinals will compensate. Kurt Warner has to get rid of the ball quickly, I would think.


Steve from Bellingham, Wash., writes: When trying to understand the Rams' two-game winning streak the most important numbers are probably these: opponents' turnovers per game in the four losses 0.5, in the two wins 3.5. Opponents' penalties per game in the four losses 5.25, in the two wins 7.5. Before we decide that the team's fundamentals are dramatically altered, which they probably aren't, we shouldn't discount the simple possibility that sometimes your opponent just plays a terrible game.

Mike Sando: Yes, but if you've watched the Rams closely this season, there's no question that team has changed, too. The defense appeared much more sound in the last two games, and even in parts of the Buffalo game before the bye. And the emergence of Donnie Avery is certainly different.


Kelphelper from Anchorage, Alaska, writes: People keep asking about Holmgren being replaced by Mora during the middle of the season (since nearly everyone else in the division is doing it), but of course, that just isn't going to happen. The move that I would wonder about is Mora taking over the Densive Coordinator job for the rest of 2008. John Marshall has been highly criticized (deservedly so, in my opinion), and would not likely be retained next year anyway. Wouldn't there be several advantages to "getting a head start" on the changeover?

Mike Sando: Any move on the coaching staff has to go through Mike Holmgren, most likely, and I can't recall him shaking up a staff like that during the season. Mora is not going to be the defensive coordinator next season, so it wouldn't be a true transition.


Rob from Sacramento writes: Sando - With all the hype about Holmgren potentially coming home to SF, I've been wondering about something. Do you think the 49ers brass even wants to convince him not to take that sabbatical? After all, it seems every decision the Yorks have made since taking over has been designed to move the team AWAY from the Bill Walsh/Eddie DeBartolo legacy. From chasing out Steve Marriucci, their coaching hires (Dennis Erickson and Mike Nolan), the way they treated Bill Walsh when he was working for them as an advisor, Mike Martz as the current OC, etc.

It all seems to have one common thread: Nothing to do with the West Coast Offense or the way the team was run under the previous ownership structure. It seems as if they are desperately trying to avoid any thread of the team's past success from connecting with any success they might (someday) have. What do you think?

Mike Sando: You wonder if they would ever get to a point where the distant past appealed. On the Holmgren front, none of the talk seems to be coming from inside the 49ers. It's just people connecting the dots. My take has been that the 49ers might not appeal to Holmgren or other high-profile coaches. I hadn't thought of this latest Holmgren rumor from your angle. But the evidence does support your angle.


Chris from St. Louis writes: Just a little follow up to your rams statistical research. In the categories that actually matter, PPG and PPG allowed, with the past two weeks isolated the Rams rank 9th out of 32 in both categories, an impressive jump from the 30's of the previous 4 weeks. In addition, if you eliminate the teams that only played one game that week, the Rams are 5th and 6th respectively in the two categories of those 24 teams.

Mike Sando: I appreciate your characterization of stats that actually matter. I brought this up to a friend yesterday. Sometimes people spend lots of time developing complex models to show how good a team is faring. It's tough to argue with points! Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.