Adam Schein of Sirius Radio and FoxSports.com is back with his second annual NFL organizational rankings. By his accounting, Cardinals fans can look down their noses at the rest of the division.
A look at Schein's rankings and comments for NFC West teams, followed by my own thoughts:
14. Cardinals (40.5 of 60 points)
Schein: "If Kurt Warner was still the QB, the Cards would be three slots higher. Take a look at Arizona's draft record over the past five years. Rod Graves, Steve Keim and a scouting staff on a relatively limited budget do an amazing job of drafting starters in every round. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt (pictured) is a winner. Russ Grimm and Billy Davis highlight his staff. The stadium and the PR staff are fantastic."
Sando's thoughts: The draft record is indeed mostly impressive. The organization has a newer stadium. Graves and Whisenhunt recently signed extensions through the 2013 season. The Cardinals have become more legitimate through all these factors. Whisenhunt's addition was an important step. He's sharp and wants things done the right way. The Cardinals earned a poor reputation for decades previously, but the fact that Whisenhunt signed a long-term extension tells me he feels good about strides the organization has made and his ability to affect change in the future. Davis might indeed highlight the staff, but age and injuries caught up with his defense when it mattered last season. This is an important year on that side of the ball.
20. Seahawks (38 points)
Schein: "The Seahawks facility is beautiful, and the fan support is excellent. And I believe in the new brass with GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. But if Charlie Whitehurst is the answer at QB, I'd love to know the question."
Sando's thoughts: I can help with the question part. Seattle basically asked whether any quarterbacks available to the team in the draft would appeal more than Whitehurst. "No" was the answer. Moving down 20 spots in the second round as part of the Whitehurst deal prevented Seattle from realistically considering Jimmy Clausen. The price paid for Whitehurst was less than it first appeared -- unless Clausen winds up being a far superior quarterback. One question Schein did not raise concerns the long-term ownership outlook while cancer survivor Paul Allen battles the disease for a second time.
25. 49ers (22 points)
Schein: "Do the Niners have a quarterback? Is the front office in good hands? Does the York family get it? Are they staying in San Fran? The 49ers have way too many questions. However, I think Greg Manusky is a great defensive coordinator, and the Niners have a well-respected PR staff."
Sando's thoughts: The questions Schein raises are legitimate ones requiring little elaboration. We simply need more time to know the answers. It's also fair to wonder how well Mike Singletary will fare as head coach. Despite all the long-term questions, the 49ers appear in good position to contend for an NFC West title this season. That isn't by accident. The organization probably would have scored a few more total points in my book based on that alone. There is still much to prove on the field, however.
31. Rams (13.5 points)
Schein: "The ownership situation is cloudy. And the forecast on the field, thanks to consistently questionable decision making, is awful. Poor head coach, Steve Spagnuolo."
Sando's thoughts: Most of those questionable decisions were made before the current leadership took control. The new leadership hasn't been around long enough for its decisions to succeed or fail. Schein absolutely pummels the Rams in his video piece (link below), but I think the offensive line is more capable than most people realize. The ownership situation, while still cloudy, as Schein noted, appears headed toward a predictable conclusion. Stan Kroenke will likely assume full control one way or another. He's a known entity. His track record running NBA and NHL franchises in Denver suggests the Rams will be in good hands. They'll also have deeper pockets.
Schein has also put together video vignettes breaking down each team. Here are his thoughts on the Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers and Rams. He questions Singletary's game-management skills and the quality of the Rams' coaching staff in general. Should be lots to discuss on these and other fronts.