- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Dude in Brooklyn writes: Sando, Sando, Sando. The Dude cannot abide. You cannot write "let's consult the games" and consult only one game before determining that offense wins championships. You're disappointing the Dude ...
The only Super Bowl teams this decade without a top-10 defense were the 2005 Seahawks (a slightly below average D), the 2007 Colts (the sole winner) and the 2008 Cards (considered a fluke by most and a miracle by all).
Since the merger in 1970, only three teams have won a Super Bowl with a below average defense: the '76 Raiders (18th of 28), '87 Redskins (18th of 28), and the 2007 Colts (21st of 32). The only defenses to play in the Super Bowl after finishing in the bottom 30th percentile in the NFL were the losing '91 Bills (27th of 28), losing '93 Bills (27th of 28), and losing 2008 Cards (28th of 32).
The Super Bowl teams without a top-10 offense include the 2000 Giants & Ravens (Champs), 2001 Patriots (Champs), 2002 Bucs (Champs), 2003 Panthers & Patriots (Champs), 2005 Steelers (Champs), 2006 Bears, 2007 Giants (Champs) and the 2008 Steelers (Champs). That's 10 of the last 18 Super Bowl teams and seven of the last nine winners. Those Super Bowls featured borderline quarterbacks such as Rex Grossman, Jake Delhomme, Brad Johnson (Champ), Trent Dilfer (Champ) and Kerry Collins.
Offense wins championships?! If you believe that, I've got some Chrysler stock and a PT Cruiser to sell you.
Mike Sando: I have proof that we do not necessarily disagree here. Scoring defense might be the most important statistic. I've made the case on this site, with the following notation:
Proclaiming that defense wins championships doesn't diminish the importance of other aspects of the game. Offensive categories have become more strongly correlated with victories over the past two seasons, particularly with Tom Brady and the Patriots' posting a 16-0 record this year [story was written in January 2008].
I think the importance of strong quarterback play grows in the postseason. The Jets didn't trade up to No. 6 to take a quarterback because they hoped he would become the next Rex Grossman.
John from St. Louis writes: Hey Mike. I saw your story about the rookies and who will stay. My question to you is what rookies do you think will have the biggest impact on there teams in the NFC west? I know its early but could you go out on a limb and try to pick rookie of the year awards? Thanks a lot sando keep up the good work!
Mike Sando: You're welcome. Chris Wells will probably get the most touches of the NFC West rookies. For that reason, and because he'll be joining a high-powered offense, I think Wells has the best chance to make the biggest impact among NFC West rookies.
Michael Crabtree would qualify as a close second. He could become the favorite depending on how the 49ers structure their offense. Aaron Curry and Jason Smith will have a harder time competing for such awards because of the nature of their positions, unles the Seahawks find ways for Curry to collect multiple sacks and interceptions.
I'm just not sure the 49ers' offense or the Seahawks' defense will perform as well as the Cardinals' offense. That could also help Wells.
Rich from Vallejo writes: Hey Mike, quick question for you. It's difficult to imagine a team or player holding out this long, but what would happen if a player received the franchise tag, never signed it and held out the whole season? Thank you.
Mike Sando: It wouldn't be a holdout, technically, because an unsigned player cannot hold out, by definition. I do understand the spirit of what you are saying, though.
A player needs to report in time to earn an accrued season, which would be in time for the final six weeks of the season. Otherwise, the player's contract "tolls" -- a fancy way of saying he didn't fulfill a year of his contract. A sixth-year player would still be a sixth-year player. If a player were under contract in that situation, he wouldn't get to the next year in his deal, the primary reason Joey Galloway reported to the Seahawks late in the 1999 season.
Penner from Snohomish, Wash., writes: Hey Mike, First off, love the blog. It makes sitting infront of a computer at work all day worth while. I know the Browns released Joe Jurevicius. Has he been picked up by anyone yet? If not, what would the chances he lands with the Seahawks again? I loved it when he was here. And as we know from last year, you can never have too many receivers.
Mike Sando: Thanks much. Jurevicius remains available. His injury situation could be career threatening. The Seahawks do not seem to need another big receiver at this point. They have a good receiving tight end in John Carlson and they have a terrific possession receiver -- and I mean that term in a good way -- with T.J. Houshmandzadeh. That is my take at this point. If injuries wipe out the position again, all bets are off.
Joseph from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: I was thinking about the Cards releasing Rod Hood and was a little surprised by the move. It seems to me that Hood was at worst a solid third CB, and at best a serviceable number two. My surprise is based on the lack of another CB who I feel comfortable with in the nickel spot and/or for injury depth. Gregory Toler has potential, but he's a rookie, and Ralph Brown & Michael Adams are career backups. Here is the meat of my question: Do you think the Cards are planning on shifting Rolle to corner and playing Rashad Johnson at safety in nickel packages, or do they think another corner will perform well enough to be used in the nickel spot? Thanks as always for your work
covering the NFC West!
Mike Sando: The Hood move was all about how much money he was making. I know of no plans to move Rolle back to corner. He seems to have made a smooth adjustment to free safety. The team needed to draft depth at the position somewhere along the line because Rolle's longer-term future with the team is not known (based on his contract situation). I also thought the Cardinals were better with Hood, but the money he was making apparently no longer justified the investment after the team signed Bryant McFadden.
Jeremy from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike. I would like to go on record with you on a bold prediction. Crabtree will be a bust. Obviously, it takes several seasons to find out whether or not a player is a bust and by that time you might have already climbed the ESPN ladder to bigger things. But just remember Jeremy Stebbins from Phoenix predicted Crabtree will be a bust. Personally, I didn't think any of the receivers in the draft were worth taking in the top half of the first round. Crabtree will never be a quality #1. He will be a #2 at best and will never live up to being a top 10 pick. 2-3 years from now he will just be another high first round pick that 49ers fans love to write in to you to complain about.
Mike Sando: First off, the ladder doesn't go any higher than blogging about the NFC West. Secondly, what happens if Crabtree emerges as a Pro Bowl receiver? Will you issue an apology? A retraction? Quite a few factors go into whether a player realizes his potential, but I think a healthy Crabtree will become a very good receiver.
Jason from Fayetteville, N.C., writes: hey mike i was wanting to know do you think the niners have a good chance trading for peppers before the season? and do you think that they will be contenders and make it to the playoffs this season? and my last question is, do u think mike crabtree is going to make a big impact right off
Mike Sando: I'm a little skeptical on Julius Peppers and the 49ers at this point in the process. One, Peppers remains unsigned. The Panthers couldn't trade him without his approval. He would need to reach a long-term contract agreement with the acquiring team. If Peppers didn't want to play for the 49ers, he could essentially block a trade. your defense for him? If so, how much? I'd like to know how well Peppers would fit in the 49ers' scheme.
As for Crabtree, I think he has a chance to lead the 49ers in receiving touchdowns.
Osoviejo from parts unknown writes: Is there a deadline for the league to announce player suspensions for the start of the 2009 season, for transgressions this offseason? In particular, any idea when we'll find out one way or the other about Leroy Hill?
Mike Sando: Those things sometimes filter out over the summer. Last year, the league didn't say anything about Rocky Bernard's suspension and Jordan Babineaux's suspension until about a week before the season. The team probably had an idea earlier than that.
Ismael from Omaha, Neb., writes: Hey Mike, What is your take on Nate Davis. I am probably the only one Niner fan that feels Nate Davis has a shot at being our QB in the future. I think he sits and learns for a year and he should be in the mix 2010. I think he has a good stong arm and he would compliment Crabtree really well. Like to know your opinion on that one.
Mike Sando: I'm already cringing every time someone asks him about the learning disability. Davis faces better odds in San Francisco -- for now, anyway -- given that the team doesn't have an established starter. I think there's a good chance the 49ers will make a substantial investment in the position by next offseason, though, depending on how well the current starting candidates perform.
If you look at other quarterbacks, taken in te first round, you see quite a few players who either never earned a chance or were never given a meaningful one. Ingle Martin, Omar Jacobs, Dan Orlovsky, Adrian McPherson, Craig Krenzel, Brian St. Pierre, Randy Fasani, Kurt Kitner, Brandon Doman, Craig Nall, Mike McMahon, A.J. Feeley, Tee Martin, Kevin Daft, Jay Barker and so on. A few have gotten chances, but most did not.
Mike from Connecticut writes: Hey Mike,What will it take for the media, fans and critics to finally say Shaun Hill is a good quarterback?
Mike Sando: Putting up good numbers while starting for a full season and finishing with a non-losing record.