The latest NFC West chat has come and gone. Full transcript here. Highlights below:
Mike (az): Oh Sando, you just killed me. I know you're smart enough to not use the Pro Bowl as a judge. Adrian Wilson, while one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and my all-time favorite Cardinal, cannot cover anything. See Greg Olsen for non late season/playoff evidence. This unit struggled in pass defense all season long. They showed an inability to stop late-game long drives. 49ers week 1, Titans 99-yard drive. These were before the injuries you speak of set in (although Dansby not being out there against the Titans was a factor).
DRC is becoming a great cover corner but still can't tackle. A-dub can't cover. Rolle finally came into his own as both a sure tackler and playmaker. Obviously, Bryant McFadden was a bust of a move and will doubtfully be around next year. The sub-package CBs also struggled mightily in coverage, though are fantastic in special teams. You can toss around Pro Bowls if you'd like but that Cards secondary was undoubtedly the weak point of the team and needs improvement (alongside the pass rush which in it of itself will improve the secondary).
Mike Sando: Adrian Wilson is an elite strong safety whose coverage skills have actually improved, even though he still has some bad games in coverage. You don't become one of the few players in NFL history with 20 sacks and 20 picks by being a liability on balance. Eleven players in the NFL had more interceptions than Wilson last season. Only three were safeties. The Cardinals should find a linebacker to run with those tight ends so they can let Wilson do what he does best: affect games at the line of scrimmage.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID): Did you ever notice that pretty much every argument against Carroll's success in the NFL centers around his previous NFL record without ever going into the details of those years (Curtis Martin and Front Office problems?), and comparisons to recent college coaches that have tried and failed to convert, while never noting that only one of those coaches had previous NFL experience (Petrino at two years, while Carroll has 16 years experience). Just say'n.
Mike Sando: Those are valid points that bear mentioning. Thanks for bringing them to the table. Pete Carroll definitely should be better equipped the second time around. He has no excuses. The Seahawks have given him control of the roster. They let him help choose the general manager.
Paul (Albany, OR): Mike, in looking at QB for the Rams (because I want them to take Suh No. 1), where do they look to get "that guy"? Do they try round 2 or do they fill the lines in the middle of the draft and then go QB late, with someone like the Central Michigan kid LeFevour or Canfield from Oregon State. They need so much help, why pay a QB big money right now to hinder the rest of your roster development?
Mike Sando: Salaries for quarterbacks drafted high are indeed lucrative, but they are actually less lucrative relative to what established elite quarterbacks earn in the NFL. For example, the Rams drafted Jason Smith second overall last season and had to make him one of the very highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL. If they drafted a quarterback early, that quarterback would make more than players drafted at other positions, but not enough to rank among the very highest-paid quarterbacks already in the NFL.
Louis (San Diego): Mike Singletary didn't exactly give Alex Smith a ringing endorsement. Do you believe Smith will be the QB next season?
Mike Sando: Alex Smith is the most likely starting candidate by default right now. The 49ers have shown in the past they will not sign a quarterback just to sign one. They passed on Jeff Garcia last offseason because they thought he wasn't going to be better than Shaun Hill at this stage. Unless the 49ers can find a clear upgrade, which could be tough, Smith looks like the starter.