Mailbag: Seattle and the Mora decision

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rob from San Diego writes: Sando, Is Seattle going to re-think their pick of Jim Mora as head coach in 09'? Our DB's are awful and he is responsible for that unit. Granted there are many other holes in the D.... But it seems to me like it might not be best to decision to hand over the team to a coach that is responsible for the 4th worst rated pass D in the NFL (that just got torched by TB!).

Mike Sando: Mora got credit for the secondary showing improvement in 2007. Are we to assume that he has become a bad secondary coach in the last few months, and that he therefore would not be the right head coach?

My analysis of the Mora hiring would include looking at how defenses have performed when he was a coordinator, and how teams have performed when he was the head coach. That is what I did when the Seahawks hired Mora as defensive backs coach in January 2007. Results here.

To answer your question: No, I do not expect Seattle to change its mind on Mora.

JThomas from Ephrata, Wash., writes: Mike, Given Jim Mora jr.'s U of W ties, do you see him backing out of the Seahawk coaching job to become the Huskies' head coach?

Mike Sando: I wouldn't assume Jim Mora wants the University of Washington job more than the NFL job based on offhand remarks Mora made to his college roommate on a radio show two years ago.

Kyle from St. Louis writes: Is it possible for you to list all of the TV crews that work together, in their rank?

Mike Sando: That is not only possible, it's advisable. These rankings are confirmed by the networks. They do not represent my views on the crews.

The CBS crews, in order, are:

  1. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

  2. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf

  3. Dick Enberg and Randy Cross or Dan Fouts

  4. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon

  5. Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots

  6. Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker

  7. Don Criqui, Bill Macatee and Steve Beuerlein or Dan Fouts

The Fox crews, in order, are:

  1. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver

  2. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa

  3. Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger

  4. Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan

  5. Matt Vasgersian and J.C. Pearson

  6. Ron Pitts and Tony Boselli

  7. Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick

Jeff from Redwood City, Calif., writes: Do the Rams have a chance on the road in Foxborough this weekend? Is Sammy Morris out this weekend? If so, who is his replacement at running back?

Mike Sando: I'm a little skeptical on the Rams' ability to handle the Patriots' defensive front. But New England is no longer as consistent offensively, which makes the Patriots potentially vulnerable from week to week.

Morris is hurting and could miss the game. LaMont Jordan is hurting and might not be able to carry the load if Morris does not play. Kevin Faulk then becomes the next guy in line for the Patriots.

Brad from New Castle, Pa., writes: I was just wondering if you had the numbers on where the rams rank on offense and defense these past two weeks only, in my mind that is how they should be represented, the 0-4 linehan start really hurts the team as far as these rankings go, because they are clearly a much better team then what they were just a few weeks ago

Mike Sando: I could figure it out by tallying yardage over the last two weeks. I could also get that from our research department, possibly. Let me work on that.

Adam from New York writes: Hey Sando, great job on the blog. I was wondering if you've heard anything from Alex Smith on Nolan's departure? Also, now that Nolan is gone, do you think Smith is going to get another shot in the Bay or is he done here?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Adam. Alex Smith hasn't said anything publicly to my knowledge. In theory, Nolan's departure would increase the odds of Smith possibly returning. But we can't know how that will shake out without knowing who will coach the team in 2009. If Mike Martz is on staff, it's tough to see Smith being in the mix. Remember, too, that Smith would have to take a pay cut to stay.

Doug from parts unknown writes: Mike, I don't know if you think Tim Ruskell is the problem, or a problem, with the Seahawks but I think he is THE problem. He's the one responsible for putting this team together, and in my view the team has gone downhill every year since 2005. Most of his draft picks have not panned out, his CB and OL picks have played poorly. And is not logical to presume that he's responsible for bring Jim Mora, the failed Atlanta coach, in here and getting him named heir apparent?
So now there is no one like Homgren to counteract the foolishness of Ruskell. He's into empire building like Bob Whitsitt was and the hands-off ownership is blind to it. It will take empty seats and declining sales of food and beverages and parking for Allen to awaken from his stupor, just as it took Holmgren threatening to quit to get Whitsitt fired. I fear my team is going to end up like the 49ers or Dolphins with no quick turnaround like the Phins. Years of Behringesque mediocrity, due primarily to one man, Tim Ruskell, is what I fear is in store if he remains as GM.

Mike Sando: In fairness, the 2005 team went to the Super Bowl after Ruskell added Lofa Tatupu in the draft and Joe Jurevicius in free agency, among others. That team wouldn't have gotten to the Super Bowl without those players, in my view. We need to acknowledge that before focusing on the negatives.

The pressure on Ruskell ratchets up once Holmgren leaves. Then it's Ruskell and the coach Ruskell hired, with many of the players Ruskell acquired. Before this season, I thought Seattle might drop off some in 2009. Some of the injuries expedited that, I think.

We're going to find out what Ruskell and his personnel people know about building an offense, specifically a passing game. They have drafted and acquired some very good defensive players, from Tatupu to Leroy Hill to Brandon Mebane and Julian Peterson. The offensive acquisitions haven't done as well.

JonSki from Las Vegas writes: Hey Sando, thanks for the superb work on the blogging. Keep it up! But answer me this. Who's Jed York? Sure he sounds like Eddie D, but what's the difference between he and his parents that should give us Niner fans any true hope for the future? You're a pretty intense researcher, what's the deal with this guy? Thanks.
Mike Sando: Thanks much. There's no history on Jed York, so we're left to judge on appearances, which is always risky. There is nothing tangible to suggest 49ers fans should have faith in him. York must earn that faith.

Erik from Olympia writes: Any additional news or comments about Julius Jones' sideline blowup? see the following
Mike Sando: Holmgren isn't afraid to remind players who is boss. I would not expect a similar situation in the future while Holmgren is the head coach. Jones came from Dallas, where those sorts of things are taken for granted. Holmgren did speak with Jones about it. Jones was frustrated about coming off the field in the 2-minute offense.

Jeremy from Seattle writes: I was wondering why the seahawks are not going to Julius Jones more? When he was the lone bac
k and Morris was injured he was dominating and had 2 straight 100+ games and one was a win. Then when Morris came back both backs have struggled with only a few break out runs and neither have had 100+ game since being back. Why don't they give the ball more to Jones?
Mike Sando: Seattle's passing game was functioning better during those games against the 49ers and Rams. The 49ers played their sub package on defense and the Rams were a mess. Those factors explain the difference in production from this standpoint.

The passing game has absolutely vanished over the last three weeks. The Seahawks have also played the Giants, Packers and Bucs. Those teams have better defenses, on the whole, than the defenses San Francisco and St. Louis were fielding in the second and third weeks of the season.

Ken from Bellevue, Wash., writes: Sando, So much is being said about the poor performance of Seattle (both sides of the ball). Alot of pointing fingers and excuses but I dont hear much blame going to Holmgren though. How much is he to blame for this season? Honestly there have been many times I've seen them run a play that leaves me scratching my head. I personally think a coaching change in Seattle might be a good thing. What do you think?
Mike Sando: Holmgren should probably be able to get better production from the passing game even with the injuries. That is his area of expertise. He has become accustomed to operating with a certain level of efficiency. That no longer exists. Seems to me the Seahawks could be dealing with that better.

Some coaches think they run their course in a place after eight or 10 years. Change can be good from that standpoint, but you'd better have the right person lined up for the future. The Seahawks will find out whether they have the right person.

Caleb from Bellevue, Wash., writes: Mike, first off, great job covering the NFC West. Some would say that your bias to Seattle because you live in the area, but I believe you cover all the NFC West teams equally. My question is since the Jim Mora Jr and Tim Ruskell regime is taking over Seattle next season do you see them taking a chance at Mike Vick next season with all of our quaterback issues? I don't think he will unseat Hasselback, but since he knows the offense Jim Mora runs, he has been a successful quarterback in the league and he is better than the 3rd string quarterback we have now; would this make since?
Mike Sando: Thanks, Caleb. In a word, no. In eight words: never, ever, ever in a million zillion years. Of course, I never would have expected Ruskell to bring back Koren Robinson. But I do feel safe in saying the Seahawks would not assume Vick and his baggage.

Nick from Melbourne, Fla., writes: You have to be kidding me that you ranked the Panthers higher than the Bucs even though we just destroyed them at home? You must not have watched that game or you are from North Carolina.
Mike Sando: You are right on at least one count. I did not watch that game. Definitely not from North Carolina, though. My most recent rankings were the worst ones I've submitted all season. Generally, I don't take much heat for my rankings because they tend to make sense. I had some tough calls this week and didn't feel great about how they turned out. I'll try to bounce back next week.

Harry from San Francisco writes: Hi Mike, I think your blogs are great. I can easily sort through all of the local web postings simply by hitting your blog everyday. I don't want to beat to death the choice of JTO over Alex Smith, but I think Smith was never given a fair shot simply because he was practicing hurt during training camp. He was not sharp in camp or in games probably because his shoulder was not right. A stress fracture does not develop in one throw (a non-contact throw as well). Clearly, he was playing hurt and not playing well. JTO won not because he was better but simply because he was healthier and thus performed better in practices and games. Thanks. Harry
Mike Sando: Thanks, Nick. You're right. This is a dead horse. You are also right that the 49ers didn't make every effort to help Alex Smith succeed as the starter. Mike Nolan figured he didn't have that luxury. In the end, it didn't matter. Smith got hurt and Nolan got fired.

James from Bellingham, Wash., writes: Is there anyway the Seahawks front office would let Holmgren go now? The only time he talks to the players is when they miss an assignment or at the half. It doesn't even look like Holmgren cares. Let "the coach in waiting" (Mora Jr.) start now. What could it hurt? Love the blogs, thanks.
Mike Sando: Thanks, James. I don't think Holmgren would quit on a season like that.

Kevin in Turnersville, N.J., writes: Sando, I'm real excited. We all know the Yorks really don't have much interest invested into the 49ers, at least John and his wife. John wasn't even in the building when Nolan was fired. Jed seems to really care and pay attention to the team and seems like he wants to get involved. Please tell me Jed is starting to take more of a role in ownership. Please. If so, do you expect things in the organization to get better?
Mike Sando: Jed York definitely has a higher profile. I do expect the organization to get better. Some of that is because it couldn't get much worse from a wins and losses standpoint. Change is often exciting for teams that seem mired in mediocrity and sub-mediocrity. Still, it's probably unrealistic to expect an inexperienced owner to suddenly be a great owner right away.

John Henry from Phoenix writes: If they can win against Carolina this week, do you see the Cards being a top 5 team?
Mike Sando: Yes. That would mark a huge step forward for the Cardinals.

Garry from San Francisco writes: Will Shaun Hill start for the remaining of the season or for this sunday game
Mike Sando: Looks like O'Sullivan gets the call until further notice.

Steve from Redmond, Ore., writes: Hey Sando! I have been reading your articles for years now and I am still a huge fan!! Do you think that Seattle made a wise decision, since we are in week 7 of the season, in naming Mora Jr. as their coach before the season? Do you think looking back that it was a wise decision seeing the disaster with the Seahawks so far this season? Also, what is up with Washington state with sports? I would hate to say that God looks down from heaven and absolutely hates that state!!
Mike Sando: Glad to hear you're still a fan despite reading my articles for years. Much appreciated. I do not see a compelling advantage to naming Mora the head coach with a year to spare, given that so many things can change within an organization. The Seahawks were seeking stability and continuity. This move provides a degree of that. It's only a wise move if Mora proves to be a very good coach.

Tyler from Seattle writes: I've come to the realization that the Seahawks aren't going to be raising the Lombardi trophy this year. With aging players like Walter Jones, and Matt Hasselbeck are the Hawks heading towards a rebuilding period in the franchise?
Mike Sando: That is looking more likely. Hasselbeck's health is a key variable. If he has a few more very good years, the team should be able to remain competitive and fight for the playoffs. Right now I think it's fair to wonder how well Hasselbeck is going to hold up for the long term. He is 33 years old and having back trouble.

Tom from Lockport, N.Y., writes: Mike, did I see your ranking on Buffalo @ 7th? or is that a typo? Please explain.
Mike Sando: I moved down the Bills after their loss to the Cardinals and I kept them below the Cardinals based on that outcome. Definitely worth revisiti
ng next week. As I said, I didn't feel great about the rankings this week.

Jeff from Seattle writes: Mike, while this season seems pretty bleak for the Seahawks, I seem to remember some other teams in similar situations (Carolina comes to mind.) They were devastated by injuries and ended their seasons with terrible records. The silver lining is that the next year, not only did they get a favorable draft pick but they also got their star players back. Is that sort of turnaround in the cards for the Seahawks or will the aging offense and coaching change likely derail them again next season?
Mike Sando: The coaching change will threaten continuity. Holmgren and Hasselbeck have built quite a bit working together over the years. With Jim Zorn already gone and Holmgren on the way out, I think it's imperative to retain some sort of link -- Gil Haskell comes to mind -- for Hasselbeck's well-being. The team spent the 2008 offseason rebuilding its running game. That worked. But the next offseason must focus on putting together the pieces around Hasslebeck and upgrading the defense.