NFC West: Jay Barker
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:
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.
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].
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.
A scenario to consider for when the 49ers are on the clock with the 10th overall choice in the 2009 draft: Four offensive tackles are off the board, the top two pass rushers are gone, nose tackle B.J. Raji is gone and quarterback Mark Sanchez remains available.
Short of trading down, would there be a realistic option for the 49ers drafting someone other than the quarterback? I discussed the matter earlier Tuesday with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. He thinks the 49ers should draft Sanchez, if available, even if tackle Michael Oher and pass rushers Aaron Maybin and Everette Brown remained available.
Muench: "They missed on Alex Smith with the first overall pick in 2005, but they can't let that prevent them from making the right call now. Sanchez is a different quarterback from more of a pro-style offense. They need a quarterback now."
How the 49ers perceive their quarterback situation probably differs from how most outsiders view the situation. This is fairly typical. I think the Seahawks view their quarterback situation differently than people following the team from afar view it. The Cardinals appear to view their needs on the offensive line -- specifically at center -- differently than others view the situation. The Rams have lots of holes, but general manager Billy Devaney rejected the idea that St. Louis has enough needs to justify practically any selection.
With those things in mind, I'll take a look at 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan and the quarterbacks his teams have drafted since 1994.