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Monday, October 6, 2008
Mailbag: New low for Rams fans?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Brad from New Castle, Pa., writes: if you had to pick players from all the 0-win teams so far this year, to make a "all-star" team, how many players do you think the rams get? you've got to have Steven Jackson and Torry Holt on that list, I can see Orlando Pace gettting on it too. and as for defense, i think we could get quite a bit on that team. Possibly Chris long (more likely mario williams), Leonard Little, Will Witherspoon. From star power alone, i think the rams would have the most on that team, my friend argues for the texans and so i was wondering who you would pick for the no win all stars team?

Mike Sando: Is this what it has come to for Rams fans?


Jason from Rochester, N.Y., writes: Sando, Nice work on the blog. I am a huge Lofa Tatupu fan, but I think he is getting a pass from the media. This nonsense about the Ear Piece is BS. Why isn't anyone talking about Tatupu the way they piled on Shaun Alexander after he got the big contract. The team invested $42 million in Lofa and since then he has lit up Green Bay in the playoffs, got a DUI in the offseason, predicted that this defense would have 5 shutouts this year and then lead the league in arm tackles. Any chance this starts to become more of a topic that Lofa is a bit full of himself now that he got paid.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Jason. I don't think an earpiece is the problem for Tatupu. Injuries to his knee and hand might have limited him a bit before the bye week. You are absolutely justified in expecting more from a player coming off such a rich contract signing.

For the record, the Seahawks paid Tatupu after the Green Bay game. But it's not unreasonable to hold him accountable for picking up a DUI conviction and then failing to meet expectations on the field. The fortunate thing for you, in my view, is that Tatupu has generally held himself to high standards. He owned up to the DUI, pleading guilty when he could have fought it.


Jersey Niner from Princeton, N.J., writes: Mike, excellent work as always. As a die-hard niners fan I was wondering if you could go a little further down the rabbit hole with respect to the hypothetical addition of a quality nose tackle to the niners d-line. As in, can you name a few young, quality nose tackles the niners could possibly trade for (example: haloti ngata, ravens) or throw out the names of a few draft prospects with solid NT potential? I think that a pro-bowl caliber NT should be the niners first priority bar none going into the 2009 season as no other position, be it wideout, offensive lineman or quarterback, necessitates improvement as urgently.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Jersey. Let's see what kind of defense the 49ers are going to run next season. The team is running Mike Nolan's defense at present, but he has to earn the right to coach in 2009 before the 49ers worry about investing in a position that is difficult to man with frontline talent.


Austin from Seattle writes: I know the Hawks got hammered yesterday and they looked pathetic. But the 10AM start for all West Coast teams seems to be a real problem (San Diego yesterday). Why doesnt the NFL look into making sure that when West Coast teams (Hawks, Niners, Raiders, Chargers) travel to the east coast those games kick off at 4pm EST? I think this would be a great way to alleviate that difference...Although I am the first to admit the Hawks got completely outplayed yesterday.

Mike Sando: The league schedules games with TV in mind. Being a little sluggish early is one thing. The Seattle defense that showed up Sunday generally couldn't have hit hard enough to turn off a snooze button.


Bob from Collierville, Tenn., writes: Does a new coach [in San Francisco] save Alex Smith next year? I can see anyone other than Bill Cowher clearing the decks and that would mean "no" to both coordinators and JTO. Should we be shopping for a Holmgren right now or is he done after Seattle?

Mike Sando: Mike Holmgren will almost certainly sit out the 2009 season. I think he'll probably get back into football for the 2010 season unless he finds his new life fulfilling.

As for Alex Smith, I think it's unlikely he comes back. Too much baggage associated with his time in San Francisco. He would have to take a paycut. Now, if the 49ers brought in a new coach and that coach wanted to develop Smith and Smith were agreeable to a new deal, then I suppose it's possible Smith stays. It just seems unlikely.


Terry from Seattle writes: Okay, not only am I beginning to think we're done for the year, I also now fear for NEXT year as well. Jim Mora already does NOT seem to be the answer for us.

Mike Sando: The Seattle secondary has not played as consistently as expected. Marcus Trufant has played well on a consistent basis this season.

As for the broader Seattle team, my feeling was that Holmgren would get one more division-winning season out of this group. Right now it just doesn't appear meant to be.


Lee from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, so my first pitch is about John Marshall, I am a huge hawk fan and it seems to as though we don't blitz when we play on the road and is that because Marshall is scared? I mean what's the deal, no pressure in fact I think his packages are horrible. I can recall one time where we came on an all out blitz and forced an incompletion. Why not more of that? If he's worried about the run well i think we know how not filling holes works out a massive amount of yardage on the ground a little more aggressiveness wouldn't hurt.

My next topic is Branch. Can we write him off yet? I'm tired of hoping he'll be healthy, also maybe you can find the answer to this or ask the team, how come we haven't developed any receivers? The one that we had they let go and now nothing. Obviously, McMullen isn't the answer unless he starts to play with more motivation, all he does is wait for the ball he doesn't fight to come back to it or make himself an easy target. Bumpus and Carlson are some answers but I didn't see them this weekend. I can see why Philly didn't want him.

As for the rest of our O, I can't blame them entirely because the defense didn't ever give them time to develop a rhythm. That and the fact that Matt didn't play all preseason so i'm sure he's not real tuned with any receiver but Bobby. But what happened to this team? I need some closure Mike help me figure out what's going on cause if the Hawks expect to send Holmgren out with a bang they are sending him out the wrong way. Thanks for the time. Lee

Mike Sando: I do think the Seahawks have been reluctant to blitz on the road, and I do think that will change next season with Jim Mora as the head coach.

Go ahead and write off Branch in your mind. That way, it's a bonus if he comes back. The contract he signed created expectations that have not and probably will not be approved.

The f
eeling here was that the offense might understandably need time to get things going, but that the defense would be good enough to compensate. Seattle had four defensive players in the Pro Bowl last season. Three were Pro Bowl starters. And this is the result? Baffling.


Mitchell from Toronto writes: I'm just curious to know Tim Hightower's 3rd down and 4th down conversion rate for the season? Is it just me or when its third or forth down they give the ball to Hightower?

Mike Sando: Tim Hightower is indeed the Cardinals' short-yardage back. The more success he has, the more chances he's going to get in other situations. He converted twice on third-and-1 and once on fourth-and-1 against the Bills in Week 5. That included a 17-yard touchdown run on third-and-1. Very impressive.


Colin from Washington, D.C., writes: When do the 49ers look to fire Nolan? I mean it is pretty obvious that Nolan doesn't know how to game plan and doesn't know how to prepare a team. He is constantly out coached and the hiring of Martz just exemplifies that. Also, when they fire Nolan do you think they promote from within or look outside the organization? If they do look outside who do you think would be a good fit?

Mike Sando: The bye week comes after the eighth game. A 2-6 record might lead to a change. I've thought defensive coordinator Greg Manusky might be the guy to finish the season in that type of situation. Beyond that, it's too early to say. This franchise needs credibility right now, so you should think about established names.