The latest NFC West chat has come and gone. Transcript here. Highlights below.
Shaj (El Dorado Hills, CA): What do you think about former Cardinals Scout Dave Razzano's recent scathing comments about Alex Smith: "I think he's exactly what I thought he'd be -- maybe a little worse. I thought he'd be a decent backup. But I watch him now, he just doesn't have the winning mentality. He misses simple 7-yard outs. He's just not accurate and he doesn't have the moxie."
Mike Sando: The evidence isn't really on Alex Smith's side at this point in his career. A lot of people thought he was a reach at No. 1. The 49ers probably knew he wasn't the ideal No. 1 overall choice. They went with him anyway because they knew the value of the quarterback position. The issue right now isn't whether Smith has lived up to expectations or whether the 49ers should have drafted him in 2005. The issue is whether Smith should be the starting quarterback heading into the 2010 season. I think the answer is pretty easy right now. Yes, he should be the starter.
Mitch (Austin, TX): Sando, long time follower of the blog. Keep up the good work. My question has to do with Mike Williams of the Seahawks. Everyone keeps talking about how Seattle needs a true #1 receiver but every player they have pursued seems to come at a high price tag and/or extra baggage. i.e. (Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, and T.O.) My question is why is no one talking about Mike Williams? I know he may not be the true burner that some other guys are but he's a huge target and a good red zone threat. If nothing else, he comes at a cheap price tag without having to give up any draft picks in exchange. Do you think the Carroll/Schneider regime has taken this into consideration and may be content with having him line up opposite Housh?
Mike Sando: Mike Williams still has lots to prove. He has exceeded very low expectations to this point. He has been in shape, a huge difference. It's just tough to trust a guy who has shown a penchant for disappointing NFL teams over the years. You still have to wonder if Williams will be someone the team can rely upon when it matters, or for the long term. I would put him into a bonus category. If he does the things you think he might be able to do, it's a huge bonus. But it's never something the team can take for granted. Pete Carroll and John Schneider appear cautiously optimistic.
Kevin (Maryland): Do you think the Rams O-line is better this year than last? We've parted ways with the Hot-head Incognito (who was anything but) and Alex "1st and 15" Barron. But now we're relying on Jason Smith (2nd year) and Rodger Saffold (1st year) on the edges. As the O-line goes, so go Bradford and S-Jax. What do you think?
Mike Sando: The offensive line should be upgraded from the second half of last season, when injuries decimated the line. The line should be upgraded for the long term. In the short term, though, there could be some growing pains. Jason Smith will be on the left side for the first time as a pro (he should have been there last season, I thought, but that is another conversation). Jacob Bell has to prove he can stay healthy enough to play at a starting level consistently. Saffold will have some rookie struggles. I see why the Rams parted with Alex Barron, but subtracting him from the roster hurts depth in the short term.
David (Temecula, Ca.): Hey Sando! I would like to know what you think about Cardinal fans saying Beanie Wells is going to run all over the West this year. I think he has a lot to prove considering every defense he ran against had a base nickel package and even a lot of six defensive backs. It should be a whole different story for him to run against three or four linebackers. thoughts?
Mike Sando: Beanie Wells ran effectively from one-back sets with two wide receivers and two tight ends. He wasn't as big a factor on obvious passing downs, so I might contest the idea that he was getting cheap yardage against nickel and dime defenses. At the same time, there's no question Kurt Warner's presence affected how teams played defense against Arizona even when the Cardinals were favoring heavier personnel and tighter formations. Wells' job could become tougher. But I think he showed surprising toughness in his running style last season. He should have a good career and a good season.
We also had a question comparing current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to former Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson. I pointed out a couple key differences in their situations.