Saturday, September 17, 2011
Mailbag: Carroll's approach to building
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
The Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll spent the offseason building a supporting cast around the quarterback position.
Scott from Gunma, Japan cited the Seattle Seahawks' approach to rebuilding when reading Mike Wilbon's column about poor pass defense in the NFL. Scott sees the Seahawks emphasizing the run by focusing on offensive linemen in the 2011 draft, a year after the team acquired running backs Marshawn Lynch and Leon Washington. He wonders whether the team was addressing chronic weak areas or putting in place a questionable run-oriented strategy.
Mike Sando: Coach Pete Carroll's vision for the Seattle offense was on display during the team's victory at Chicago early last season.
"This is very reminiscent of the formula I have become accustomed to -- the big back [Marshawn Lynch] hitting it hard and the flashy guy [Justin Forsett] and the big receiver [Mike Williams] and the quarterback [Matt Hasselbeck] getting the ball to every guy," Carroll said after that game.
The New York Giants, Chicago Bears and (to an extent) Pittsburgh Steelers have proven a team can reach a Super Bowl and sometimes win it without building an offense almost entirely around an elite passer. But the best teams in the NFL right now -- Green Bay, New England and New Orleans come to mind -- are equipped to win shootouts if necessary. The same was true for Indianapolis before Peyton Manning's injury.
There's no sense in building a team around an elite passer in the absence of such a passer. From that standpoint, the Seahawks are wise to build up the rest of their team. They cannot make an elite passer magically appear just because you, me and Mike Wilbon think that's the way to go.
Carroll, like every coach, wants an elite passer on his team. Carroll envisions relying on one less heavily than some teams rely on them. By not drafting quarterbacks and by signing second-tier players to man the position, Carroll lends credence to the thinking that he doesn't value the position sufficiently.
We'll have a more definitive answer after one more offseason. The manner in which Seattle addresses the position in 2012 will be telling.
Joseph from Grand Prairie, Texas watched the St. Louis Rams drop four passes in Week 1 and wondered why the team wouldn't go after a veteran such as Terrell Owens.
Mike Sando: Owens has been known for dropping too many passes over the years, so perhaps he wasn't the best example of a veteran the team could target. In looking at a 2010 list showing all players with at least four drops, however, I see Owens ranked 10th in catch-to-drop ratio (14.4 to one). Larry Fitzgerald topped the list (22.5 to one) and the Rams' Danny Amendola was third (21.3 to one).
In general, though, the Rams have resisted going the Owens/Randy Moss route even though they've had needs at receiver and opportunities to pursue both players. Their new coordinator, Josh McDaniels, believes in versatility over specialization, one reason the team released speed receiver Donnie Avery.
I think the Rams would have been well served pursuing a bigger name wide receiver this past offseason. Sidney Rice came to mind. But history shows many of those receiver signings in free agency wind up doing more for players' bank accounts than for a team's position in the standings.
Mike from Scottsdale makes a good point about the apparently misguided roughing-the-passer penalty against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Richard Marshall and its impact on national perceptions. The play wiped out the interception Cam Newton threw on the play. Newton would have finished with considerably less than his 422 yards, and he would have had two interceptions, not just one. Daryl Washington would have finished the game with two picks, not one, and he could have been a consideration for defensive player of the week in the NFC.
Mike Sando: The Cardinals are no less responsible for the big plays they allowed after officials gave Newton a second chance. But the overall point stands.
The call against Marshall appeared wrong. Marshall subsequently tweeted something about not being fined on the play, another indication the league did not find anything wrong with the play he made.
Newton completed passes for 15 and 26 yards, the latter for a touchdown, on the two plays immediately following the penalty against Marshall. Those plays were the final plays from scrimmage before halftime, giving the Panthers a 14-7 lead and changing the complexion of the game.
Removing those final two plays of the first half from Newton's stat line and replacing a touchdown with an interception doesn't necessarily give us an accurate read on what Newton's final numbers would have been without the penalty against Marshall. Both teams might have approached the second half differently in that case, affecting opportunities for Newton and everyone else.
But if we did subtract those passes just for the sake of this exercise, Newton would have finished with 381 yards and a 73.9 passer rating, compared to 422 yards with a 110.4 rating. Big difference.
Matthew from San Lorenzo, Calif., wonders why James Walker ranked the San Francisco 49ers higher than I ranked them in our power rankings. Writes Matthew, "This fits in perfectly with Harbaugh's Rodney Dangerfield narrative this week about the national media. Beat the Cowboys this Sunday and earn respect. There's a new sheriff in town!"
Mike Sando: James ranked the 49ers 19th. I ranked them 24th. James ranked the 49ers over the Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. I ranked those teams over the 49ers. It's early and Harbaugh would surely acknowledge that the burden rests with his team to change perceptions. Harbaugh even said as much.
Beating the Cowboys would definitely send the 49ers moving up my ballot. It's just hard to know where the 49ers stand after Week 1. Their defense fared well against a weak Seattle offense. Their own offense didn't do much because it did not have to do much.