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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Mailbag: Revisiting Cardinals predictions

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Grant from Omaha, Neb., writes: I'm looking at the schedule and thinking if the cards can get to the bye week at 4-2 they'll be in good shape. Am i dreaming or could they actually steal the buffalo or dallas game? They used to play dallas pretty tough, but i think if/ when the cards are on, they can give both teams a run for their money? What are your thoughts?

Mike Sando: I had penciled in a Cardinals home victory over the Bills before the season. However, my view of the Bills has improved since then. I was a little skeptical on a young quarterback, but Trent Edwards has been fine so far.

My feeling right now is that the Cardinals might lose at Washington, beat the Jets and then face a tough game against the Bills that could go either way. But predicting these games is like playing golf. You're in trouble right when you think you've figured out things.


Toby from Granada Hills, Calif., writes: Mike, The Niners 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks have been inactive for the first 2 games. I don't they should be immediate stars, but I do think they should be able to contribute. Do you see it as standard practice or poor drafting/coaching that these guys haven't played yet?

Mike Sando: Add Manny Lawson to that list as a recent first-round choice not playing much depending on the defensive strategy.

The 49ers are marked by a gap between Mike Nolan's short-term needs and the organization's long-term priorities. Alex Smith fell right through the divide. I wouldn't lump the other picks into that category, but it was pretty predictable that Reggie Smith wouldn't make an immediate impact as a third-round choice because the 49ers were deep in the secondary.

In looking at picks drafted between rounds two and four since 2005, we see Ray McDonald, who is looking good right now. We see Michael Robinson, a core special-teams player. We see Frank Gore, one of the best running backs in the league. We see guards David Baas and Adam Snyder, who are borderline starters. And we see Dashon Goldson, who pushed Mark Roman for the starting job and plays somewhat extensively.

The list also feature a few players who haven't done as much, including Jason Hill and Brandon Williams.


Pete from Richmond, Calif., writes: One of the biggest dangers to recovering addicts is immersing themselves in the old environment which contributed to their problem. In consideration of the story about Jerry Jones hiring "handlers" for Pacman Jones, what, if any, steps will Paul Allen & company be taking to prevent any potential issues with K-Rob?

Mike Sando: Good question. First we have to see if the Seahawks actually sign Koren Robinson. Coach Mike Holmgren has indicated he would like to sign him. Team president Tim Ruskell released Robinson previously and Ruskell would have to sign off on adding him now.

Given all that Ruskell has said about off-field expectations, the organization would have to explain itself. Short of having someone monitor Robinson 24 hours per day, I'm not sure if any precautions would be failsafe.


Aaron from Redmond, Wash., writes: Hey Mike, after hearing what Holmgren said about trading for past players, I pulled up the roided out roster to see who that might include. Beyond Hackett and D-Jack, I didn't see any names that looked possible. How far back does the roster go? It looks like it goes back to 2005, but I didn't see Jurevicius who played in 05 (not that he's a possibility). Was he just missed or does he not fit the criteria of players listed? Do any other names on the list jump out at you? Are there any players you can think of, not on the list, who might be possible to trade for?

Mike Sando: I started maintaining the Seahawks' roster probably sometime in 2006. The other NFC West rosters go back to before the 2007 season. There simply aren't receivers available on the trading block. The position is weak in terms of quality across the league.


Quigs from Seattle writes: Hey mike awesome job covering the nfc west! My question is.. do u think Robinson would still have the same chemistry with Matt if he came back in? and if he were to come in... how would he fit into the Seahawks system? Would he be released after the hawks get there receivers back or do u think he has a chance to stay on the team for the long run if he shows he is clean.

Mike Sando: Great questions. I think Robinson and Hasselbeck would get back up to speed fairly quickly. Remember, though, that Robinson and Hasselbeck never developed the level of rapport that Hasselbeck developed with Darrell Jackson or Bobby Engram. As for Robinson sticking around, I think that would depend on how well he produced.


Toby also writes: Mike, At this rate is O'Sullivan going to survive the beating and make it through the season injury-free?

Mike Sando: O'Sullivan has zero chance of making it through the season if opponents continue to sack him on 23 percent of pass plays. Repeat: zero chance.


Mike from Seattle writes: Sando, Do you think the Seahawks should re-think the name of the practice facility and change from Virginia-Mason? Because it truly is starting to look like a medical ward. Similarly related, why hasn't Robinson been signed? He seems like he is the only guy available in free agency who knows the offense. And finally, do you see some weaknesses in the Hawks secondary? Russell and Jennings have been getting called out lately, and judging by the big plays given up in the first two weeks, I have concerns. I hope all of us Hawk fans have not given you a headache yet.

Mike Sando: No headaches here. I don't have to devise a game plan without all those receivers. Robinson hasn't been signed -- yet, anyway -- because the organization probably has some reservations about bringing him back, no matter how much Holmgren would like another weapon.


OK from San Diego writes: yo. do you think you could give your home team a little more coverage? really sorry that you had to even mention the 49ers in your blog of the NFC. if
i wanted to read this fixated [expletive] i'd go to the seattle newspapers, where you still belong.

Mike Sando: The best 49ers angle coming out of the Seattle game would have explored how much the team's offense has improved this season. Regular readers of this blog saw that story four days before kickoff. I saw no reason to write the same story again after the game, so I wrote about Seattle being 0-2 for the first time since the 2002 season. That was the thinking.


Kelphelper from Spokane wrote: i'm sure your mailbox is full of questions regarding potential seahawk receivers, bruce dehaven's job security, tim ruskell in general and why nfl officials hate seattle so much. i'll skip that stuff to ask about the late sack on hasselbeck during the niner game. it seemed pretty evident that it was a helmet-to-helmet situation, so why was it not called? (it also looked like it ran hasselbeck into the back of walter jones, who looked to be in pain afterwards. do you have any info on an injury to big walt?)

Mike Sando: I saw that play and immediately thought about what would happen if Seattle lost its starting quarterback and starting left tackle on the same play. Jones seems to keep on keeping on. Hasselbeck has held up better than I would have expected. I didn't notice the play in question as a dirty play, but I'll look at it.


Collin from Syracuse writes: Hey Mike, just wanted your thoughts on the 49ers. They look good so far and JT looks like a future franchise QB and the possibilities are endless, do you want to change some of those picks you had for them or is this just all in my head because i want it so bad. thanks

Mike Sando: I would like to see if O'Sullivan makes it through September in one piece before deciding whether he's the long-term answer. As we noted, opponents have sacked him nearly once in every four pass plays. That is a ridiculously high rate for a team with Frank Gore in the backfield.

My preseason prediction showed losses to Arizona and Seattle, then a victory against Detroit, then losses to the Saints, Patriots, Eagles and Giants, then a victory over the Seahawks heading into the bye.

That would have left the 49ers with a 2-6 record at the midpoint. I wouldn't necessarily come off that prediction based on what I've seen and based on what awaits. Perhaps 3-5? How do you see it?


Toni from Seattle writes: do you think the hawks are going to release Jon Ryan and sign another punter or just wait and see how Ryan responds next week? we all know the hawks need receivers but who's even out there in the market of receivers looking for a team that would be best suited in the hawks offense? my last question is where do you see the hawks going defensively? it seems like Marshall and Mora Jr. are getting beat by offensive coordinators on every play they're calling and our D made the niners and they're journeyman QB and those receivers look great. i know there's 14 games left but it just seems like the hawks are going to get worse before they get better...and next year we have a new head coach, this just has the feel of a team going down hard and fast. i'm just hoping that someone can help turn this thing around.

Mike Sando: I'm not sure how much worse it can get before it gets better. A loss to the Rams would be worse, but that would surprise me given what I've seen from both teams.

Holmgren sounded willing to give Ryan a little more time as the punter.

The defensive plan against the 49ers produced eight sacks and a defensive touchdown. That should be good enough to win despite the big plays allowed. I thought that game turned on two plays. Patrick Willis' sensational interception return was one of them. The interference penalty that negated Deon Grant's end-zone interception was the other one. The 49ers kept the ball and scored a touchdown shortly thereafter. Those two plays were huge momentum turners.


Craig from parts unknown writes: why are the seahawks not making any moves to try and pry roy williams from detroit? why are we getting retreads and never have beens? even when we get engram and branch back they are not top wr!!! engram's going to be what 37-38, what does he have left? and lets face it branch has been a bust and is not a #1 receiver. matt and walter are getting up there in age and pretty soon the team will need to replace them, and then what? this is the best the defense is going to get, and believe me, i take no comfort in saying that, but we need to be aggressive. why not give up a 1st and 2nd pick for roy, it's not like if we draft a WR they'll be able to contribute rate away. matt has never had a true #1 wr. would that be a drastic and a desperate move, yeah but in a win now league and what have you done for me lately you better be all in.

Mike Sando: Roy Williams is not on the trading block as far as I know. Dallas and Philadelphia also want veteran receivers. No one can accuse Jerry Jones of not being aggressive, and he hasn't been able to swing a deal, either.


Brad from Spokane writes: Sando, I hooked up to get the RSS feed from your blog, but I would prefer to only receive the posts that directly deal with the Hawks. Any way to do that? I was and avid TNT Insider reader....still grieving the loss.... Go Whitworth!

Mike Sando: You might be able to create a Google News feed based on the "Seattle Seahawks" tag that accompanies those posts. Beyond that, I do not know.