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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Chat wrap: Four big-picture questions

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

We've gone from wondering whether Arizona would win another game to having one NFC West chat participant asking whether the Cardinals might suffer a letdown against Cleveland.

The Browns-Cardinals game could become a Backup Bowl after both teams' starting quarterbacks suffered concussions in Week 14.

Thankfully, we had much more to discuss. A few notes:
Jordan from Boise thinks the St. Louis Rams' coaches have made too many mistakes of game management and too few effective in-game adjustments to avoid a coaching change.

Mike Sando: Changes are likely. Is there enough evidence for Stan Kroenke to know for sure he has the right head coach and general manager? I doubt it. If Steve Spagnuolo were watching the current Rams as an assistant for another team, he would be right if he thought, "Hey, I realize they've had some bad breaks, but it's been three years. The record is what it is. Give someone else a try." And it would be very hard to argue with that thinking.

9er Fan East asks whether a poor showing from Alex Smith in the playoffs could lead the team to move forward with Colin Kaepernick next season.

Mike Sando: I see Alex Smith returning. He should return. He fits well with the team and would, at the very least, serve as a good bridge quarterback. I've been thinking about how quickly perceptions change. The 49ers have lost two of three. If they were to lose a couple more and then lose in the wild-card round with Smith playing poorly, then it's pretty easy for the team to consider other options at the position. But all parties must know San Francisco is the best fit for Alex Smith, whether or not Smith projects as a starter.

Amro from Arizona thinks defensive improvement is about all the Cardinals will have to show for this season, with the quarterback situation remaining unresolved.

Mike Sando: Beanie Wells made strides. Daryn Colledge was a good pickup. The run blocking was pretty good overall. Those would be some positive things to take away from this season. I'm with you on the QB front. They probably have to pay the $7 million bonus to Kolb in March, get him up to speed during the offseason and give him the best possible chance to succeed in 2012. They do not know enough right now, most likely.

James from Seattle questions whether using an early draft choice for a pass-rushing defensive end would make sense for the Seattle Seahawks. He suggests a pass-rushing linebacker to replace Leroy Hill might work better because a defensive end would take away plyaing time from Red Bryant.

Mike Sando: I remember when Leroy Hill was going to be a pass-rush force at one point. Going young on defense seemed to make it tougher for the Seahawks to dial up some of the DB pressures that worked well with Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux around. Seattle needs to improve in that area. Red Bryant has played about 65 percent of the snaps. I think this team could justify using a high pick on a pass-rushing defensive end type. They would have insurance for Chris Clemons and a possible replacement for him, plus someone to pair with him on passing downs.

On Kolb, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic gets the feeling John Skelton will start Sunday even though Kolb is doing more in practice. Kolb has attempted 26 passes in games over the past six weeks.