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Monday, December 27, 2010
Mailbag: Singletary, Rams draft, more

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jae from St. Louis writes: Why in every mock draft that I've seen, the Rams are picking in the twenties? If I'm not mistaken, it goes by record and then strength of schedule. As I see it, the Rams would be picking in the mid-teens in the 2011 draft even if they make the playoffs.

What would think of this move? The Rams trade for Albert Haynesworth, get him back into a 4-3 defense, draft a receiver in the first round and an outside linebacker in the second, or vice versa.

I think that would be an excellent move on the Rams' part, fulfilling their need at receiver, outside linebacker and defensive tackle. I would prefer if they went with an outside linebacker in the first, but depending on who is available -- say, Julio Jones or Justin Blackmon -- you should go with one of those guys to go along side Danario Alexander.

I'm thinking if he can stay healthy, then he will end up being the No. 1 or No. 2 receiver on the team. What are your thoughts on all of this?

Mike Sando: The NFL changed its draft-order criteria to make sure playoff teams drafted after non-playoff teams. The Rams would draft 21st or later as a wild-card team.

I like the way you're thinking in terms of the trade-offs teams make when looking to patch their rosters. The Rams cannot realistically fix all their problems in one draft. They've found some building blocks, including the quarterback, but they have significant holes elsewhere. And so it makes sense for them to consider acquiring certain veterans.

I'm not a big fan of Haynesworth at this point because he's a conditional player. He plays on his own terms. I would have seen more logic behind renting a Randy Moss for the stretch run -- with an ability to release him painlessly -- than investing anything long term in a higher-risk player such as Haynesworth. If the Rams were confident they could make it work, yeah, he'd make them better on paper. But is he the right type of guy?


GeoMak from Laveen, Ariz., writes: "Specifically, they cannot engage their players in shouting matches during games". Good God, Mike. Ever watch Lombardi? Parcells? Ditka? Among many others? Really. That comment is laughable.

Mike Sando: No doubt, those coaches' styles worked really well when head coaches held the hammer in NFL locker rooms. Mike Singletary called out players left and right, then got fired while all those players (most of them, anyway) kept their jobs. Lombardi was chewing out players 40 years ago. Circumstances are different now. Lombardi might have adapted.

Coaches will still yell at players, of course, but that approach should not define the way they interact. Singletary approached the job with a linebacker's mentality. A different approach would have served him better in the current era. He needed a changeup pitch, so to speak, but instead he knew only one way.

Singletary might have made for an excellent coach ... in 1962.


Matt from Seattle writes: Do you get grief from your colleagues about covering the NFC West this year? Please don't get on the radio and say anything is possible in the playoffs with Seattle. This is a bad team that is going in the wrong direction, or in the right direction if you think they need to rebuild. Do I get excited about an NFC West championship? No.

Mike Sando: I get far more questions about whether I get grief from colleagues than I get actual grief from colleagues. That is because none of us derives professional enjoyment from final scores. We would all like to cover competitive teams, of course. I suspect we're all too busy to worry about how the other divisions are stacking up. But if an NFC West team loses by 30 in the wild-card round, I do expect to get some "nice division" comments.

As for the Seahawks, they are already rebuilding. They went into this season with an NFL-low number of players back from last season. They tore it up. We can debate whether the Seahawks made the right moves or whether such a dramatic overhaul went too far, but there should be no debating what is actually happening.

The question was whether the Seahawks could remain competitive while rebuilding. At times this season, it appeared they could. But their overall fragility has caught up to them over time. They are now playing like the team I expected to see all season.

Coaches and management should benefit from the experience in the long term because they'll have a much better idea as to the specific additions that could help the team resemble the group that won at Chicago and showed positive signs in a few other games.


Shane from Los Angeles, Calif., writes: Sand-O! I have no league median to gauge this against, but I ran some numbers based on the raw data. Turns out more than half of the Cardinals' points this season have come from the defense or special teams (giving extra points and two-point conversions to the unit that scored the accompanying touchdown).

Not sure what you could extrapolate from this data, but I thought it was interesting enough to send to you. Happy Holidays!

Mike Sando: Great stuff. On the one hand, it's a credit to the Cardinals that they've managed to manufacture so many points in unconventional ways. On the other hand, it's troubling to think that a team with playoff aspirations would score so few points on offense.

I've done the math roughly and you're on the right track. The offense did recover a couple fumbles in the end zone, one by Levi Brown and another by Steve Breaston. The Cardinals have scored nine rushing touchdowns and nine passing touchdowns. They have 12 return touchdowns, counting those recoveries. They have 24 field goals.

At the very least, the Cardinals have scored 10 touchdowns on defense and special teams, plus 24 field goals. They converted once on a two-point conversion following an offensive touchdown. They have made all 28 extra-point attempts. They have 282 points.

We could break it down this way: 10 return touchdowns and 10 extra points add up to 70 points. Twenty-four field goals add up to 72 points. This would give the defense and special teams 142 points out of 282 total points, or 50.4 percent.