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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Chris from Buckeye, Ariz., writes: Since for some reason you don't hate excel or charts, I'd love to see a chart of each NFC west team's turnover discrepancy per game (not an average, but for each separate game) and either points directly o
ff those, or difference in offensive plays, or time, or even just final score. The three turnovers the Cards caused against the 9ers was the only thing saving the Cards on Monday.
Mike Sando: Hate Excel? Hate charts? Sacrilege! I put together some of that information relating to the Cardinals. Here's the Excel file. The chart summarizes key points. Games lost are highlighted in yellow for easier identification. The last row shows differential for time of possession. For example, the Cardinals held the ball more than 14 minutes longer than the 49ers in the Week 1 game.
Mr. Zero from Alameda, Calif., writes: Sando, what do think about the idea of the 49ers going after Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels to be the Head Coach and signing Matt Cassel?
Mike Sando: That sounds like a promising idea, particularly after watching Cassel play so well most of the game Thursday night. I do think it's important to find people who have been associated with winning operations. If the 49ers could do that while also solving the quarterback riddle, that would be a win-win.
Mike Sando: Thanks for the tip. The image you portrayed seems consistent with the way Smith approaches his job, blue collar all the way. He's not the only guy with an affinity for cheeseburgers and lawn equipment. I'd like to upgrade my mower but haven't been able to justify the expense.
Are the Seahawks excluded from that because they play in a so-called weak division? They have been pretty good in non-division games. You can only win 6 division games, so if you go 13-3 you're doing a pretty good non-division job. Plus, when you look at the AFC East, it's been pretty "weak" over the last few years as well. The Pats get a free pass and the Outer Mongolian Seahawks don't? Rambling aside, shouldn't there be more noise about the fall of these three teams?
Mike Sando: Those other teams have won Super Bowls and I do think that distinguishes them from the Seahawks. Seattle needed a victory over the sixth-seeded team from the AFC in Super Bowl XL to join that club, but it didn't happen. Also, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the two best quarterbacks of their era. I wouldn't lump the Seahawks in with the Colts and Patriots. I would put them a notch lower.
Mike Sando: The Bears have beaten the Colts, Eagles and Vikings. The Ravens have beaten one team with a winning record (Miami). That was the primary consideration.
Mike Sando: I might consider Matt Cassel. We know for sure he has been well-coached. Did you see what happened when Kris Jenkins sacked him Thursday night? Cassel had both hands on the football. He did not fumble. Can you imagine what would have happened to J.T. O'Sullivan in that situation? Fumble, turnover, momentum changer, think about bringing in Shaun Hill.
Cassel could conceivably become the answer at quarterback. Then you draft a guy and see if he develops. The experience Cassel is getting this season is making him much more appealing that way. Let's see how he finishes.
Mike Sando: The Seahawks are in the best position if Matt Hasselbeck remains viable as a quarterback. The Rams badly need to overhaul their offensive line. They need to upgrade at linebacker, safety and cornerback. The 49ers can use help on both lines, safety and possibly receiver, depending on how the younger players finish.
The Cardinals' success hinges on the quarterback. We're spending a lot of time talking about the changing of the guard in the NFC West, but a quarterback change in Arizona puts that talk on hold.
But consider this.. If he continues to take these Cardinals into unchartered territory as he did with the Rams in '99 & '01, I think this 2nd chapter of his career would even be more incredible. St. Louis basically ran him out as a washed up, fumble happy "has been" in favor of Bulger. So he goes to NY & beats out the #1 draft choice only to have the job taken from him 1/2 way through the season. Again, he's ran out of town with no one giving it a second thought. So AZ comes along and AGAIN, he's on the bench after 1 1/2 seasons in favor of Leinert.
My point is that after all that adversity, for him to come into this year as the backup and win the job is impressive in itself. But what's truly amazing is that he's having an MVP year and assuming this continues, he's showing that he's still got it, even at 37! I believe he'll get the MVP and join Favre as the only 3-time MVP in history. To top that off, Favre could end up as the runner up! (Ironic) Again, I'm just a huge fan of beating of the odds and he's done that and then some.
Mike Sando: Very well said. His ability to sustain this in t
he second half of the season is key. A playoff victory would really cement his status, in my view.
What the Cards have consistently done well recently is draft players. Before, they would draft players and pretty much make them starters from day 1. Now, they seem to be drafting for depth. I've never been a guy to talk about trades or free agents, but I have this scenario that I can't escape.
If Kurt Warner retires (even if he doesn't, he's up in age) and the Cards aren't too excited with Leinart, Derek Anderson is gonna be sitting there as a legit qb with the ability to start for many teams. Many teams would love Leinart on their team, and the Cards will have their share of contract issues with current players they may not be able to give a raise to. Just a thought, but not a bad one in my opinion. Big game this week. They're not gonna get easier. Mandy
Mike Sando: I guess that depends on whether you think Anderson would be better than Leinart, and whether the price would make sense. The team is going to have to commit significant dollars to Warner next season.
The top priority, I think, would be to keep Warner as long as possible and build a stronger offensive line in front of him. Upgrade at tight end, develop more of a running game and see if you can't buy another couple seasons for Warner. Also, if you upgrade in those areas, Leinart has a better chance at success when he gets his chance.
Mike Sando: Thanks, and hang in there. I think the Cardinals can win a playoff game at home. I would not like their chances on the road. Their second-half schedule has gotten a little easier given the injury issues affecting Seattle and New England. That makes it more likely Arizona will win 10 games, which would be a landmark season. If you get desperate for ammo, ask the Arizona fans how long Warner is going to play and what the offense will look like once he moves on or retires. But don't tell them I told you to say that.
If the 49ers keep Singletary at head coach next year (big if) we all know he likes to win games in the trenches and pound the football with a power running game, could you see a Michael Vick and Frank Gore backfield in SF next year? I think Singletary is the right kind of guy for a Vick type player and we all know Vick had his best days in Atlanta with a great running game to compliment him.
And another thing, i think that type of offense would be great for Vernon Davis, he could be used like Alge Crumpler was in Atlanta with Vick. I know this is not ever going to happen but boy would it be great! What are your thoughts on this, do you think the 49ers will be interested?
Mike Sando: The animal-cruelty stuff probably wouldn't play very well in San Francisco, for starters. Also, the 49ers need to build their organization around people with solid foundations. Adding Michael Vick to the equation would constitute a gamble the 49ers can't afford to take.
Mike Sando: I don't have a good answer for that. Perhaps others could address this one.
Mike Sando: Jones seems better suited for the starting role because he has been more durable and he has proved he can carry more of an every-down load. Also, Jones is going to be with Seattle in 2009. This could be Morris' last season as a Seahawk.
But here we are in year two from a coach that seems to have turned things around but the Cardinals are still a league leader in total penalties. What will it take to get it under control? Do you know of anything the coaching staff is doing to address this continuing issue?
Mike Sando: I'm increasingly convinced it's mostly a player issue. We're talking about repeat offenders in a lot of cases. This doesn't seem to be a problem affecting the entire roster. Perhaps the Cardinals need to find a right guard who won't commit nine penalties in nine games.
From a coaching standpoint, the staff could probably help cut down on the delay-of-game penalties. Warner has six. Lutui and Warner have 15 combined penalties. Take away their penalties and Arizona has 57. That would rank 15th in the league instead of first.
Mike Sando: That is a very good point. Teams need players to make the outstanding play on occasion. I recall Bobby Engram making one such play a year or three ago along the right side of the South end zone at Qwest Field, a play that really had that type of "wow" factor. But these have been rare for Seattle.
Mike Sando: I don't see evidence of meaningful friction. Singletary has made clear who is boss. Martz has adjusted
Clayton's article opined that he thought it was the wrong move. I think it is the correct move for a road team who is almost unquestionably facing a superior opponent. Their execution on the final play was bad and maybe even the play call was bad, but the choice to win the game there was sound. Going to OT is the right call if you are either at home, and/or you're the better team. For KC this year those circumstances will not present themselves very often. What did you think of the go for 2 call by edwards?
Mike Sando: Clayton and I discussed that the other day. I also disagreed with him, although I see his argument and am open to changing my mind. I thought Edwards' decision was appropriate for that specific moment, given the things you outlined. I would agree with Clayton's thinking in general, but not in that specific instance.
Mike Sando: The Rams appear headed for a massive overhaul. I don't think we've seen the last blowout defeat of the season. The Jets game was the kind of disaster that will make it tough for Haslett and others to stick around.
The job security of those in place could depend in part on who else might be available to fill those roles. But I think there's a growing sense that the makeover should extend deep into the front office, and that something less than that won't fix the problems. Additional blowout defeats are likely to crystallize those perceptions.
Billy Devaney orchestrated what is looking like a strong draft class for 2008, but if ownership turns over other front-office positions, it's possible that no one is safe.
Mike Sando: Winning playoff games earns respect. I heard similar sentiments from Seattle fans even after the Seahawks started returning to the playoffs, but before they won in postseason.
Mike Sando: Warner gets my MVP vote right now. That 2005 Seattle team was so much better on the offensive line than this current Cardinals team and I think that will show up in the regular-season records and in how far Arizona advances in the playoffs. That Seattle team had a nearly unstoppable running game and outstanding balance.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Winston. I appreciate the note.
Mike Sando: The league said the penalty converts to a false start if it's in the final minute, at which point the 10-second runoff would have gone into effect.
Mike Sando: Part of me thinks the 49ers just need some continuity. But continuity for the sake of continuity isn't good, either. You have to have the right people in place. Jed York seems determined to be aggressive in dealing with what he perceives as the problems. I'm expecting an active offseason.
Mike Sando: Quite a few observers agree with you, Rob. The officials determined that Gore never regained his balance after Chike Okeafor made contact with him. The natural question at that point becomes whether Okeafor caused Gore to lose his balance. I don't think that was part of the ruling, however. Okeafor made contact, Gore never regained his balance and so they called him down by contact.
1) According to ESPN.com's Rumor Central, Seattle is looking for a D-End. It also says they are NOT looking at KGB, recently released by the Packers. Why isn't Seattle looking at KGB? Yes, he has slowed down and turned 31 just last September, so he doesn't have a ton of time left. But wouldn't experience be attractive to the Seahawks to help out Tapp, Jackson and Atkins, who have a combined NFL experience of 6 years? Or is Seattle looking for more of a runner stopper at D-End?
2) After releasing Keary Colbert on Tuesday, I have to ask, what was Seattle thinking? Colbert does have potential but Seattle pretty much gave a 5th Round pick to Denver.
3) Why are the Seahawks letting Hasselbeck play again? Seattle is clearly not making the playoffs this year, why risk hurting your franchise QB even more? It seems like Seattle has much more to lose than gain in this one. Thanks for your time
Mike Sando: Thanks, Cam. The Seahawks are hoping Patrick Kerney can return relatively quickly, and they thin
k the current players can get them through in the meantime.
The Colbert move seemed like a potential overreaction following a rough game. I base that on the aforementioned compensation. On the other hand, Colbert had not done much to this point.
Bringing back Hasselbeck shows the team isn't giving up on the season. Also, backup Seneca Wallace is hurting. You can bet the Seahawks will hear about it if Hasselbeck suffers a serious injury upon his return.
Mike Sando: Sweeping the 49ers? I don't see the Rams winning Sunday. Admittedly, I struggle to reconcile the way the Rams played for two games (Redskins, Cowboys) with how they played in the other games. We can point to Steven Jackson's thigh injury in recent weeks, but there has to be more than that. This is just a fragile team. I also watched the Jets game. The Rams seemed irrelevant to what was happening in the game.
Mike Sando: I openly acknowledge that I would be fired during the first quarter of my first game as head coach. Fans at Candlestick Park would be chanting for Dennis Erickson's return after about 5 minutes. Fans at Qwest Field would be longing for the Tom Flores era. Fans at the Edward Jones Dome would be telling stories about the good old days under Scott Linehan. And in Arizona, I'd be swept away by nostalgia for the Joe Bugel era.
Mike Sando: Well, yes. The clock was running at that point because the Cardinals had tackled Gore inbounds. I stand corrected. Did I tell you what kind of head coach I would make?
Jason from Greeley, Colo., writes: Hey Sando, I have a questions about coach Whisenhunt. Have you ever seen him yell? It seems every time something happens, whether a player messes up or a bad call happens, he never seems to show much emotion? I am not saying that Coach Whiz needs to be John Gruden, but I would like to see some more emotion on his face during games. Am I way off here? Does he sometimes get fiery on the sidelines?
Mike Sando: That's an interesting observation. I think he appears engaged and intense without appearing wildly emotional. He does not appear to be a screamer. I don't see anything wrong with his sideline demeanor.
Mike Sando: That is a fair point. I would wonder, though, whether the 49ers could trust Shaun Hill in that situation after he had suffered turnovers late in the game. If he throws a pick in that situation, everyone accuses Martz of being greedy when he still had time to run the ball.
Mike Sando: I do not recall seeing this highlighted in the angles I watched. Others have pointed it out to me. I've deleted the game from my DVR at this point but I trust it happened. Too many people have brought it up.
Mike Sando: I don't know anything about the business implications, but if you believe competition benefits consumers, then you might welcome this. I would imagine there might be competition for talent as well.
Mike Sando: We all have biases, Ernie. I try to be fair, honest, transparent and accepting of criticism. If there's something specific that is bothering you, by all means let's discuss it.