Mailbag: Passing out NFC West dunce caps

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Leesters from parts unknown writes: Hey Mike. Just a silly thought, maybe you could use it: 2009 Off-Season Dunce Awards.

  • The masterful player management skills of a new coach that alienates his franchise QB in a matter of weeks. Isn't he a QB coach? Nice skills.

  • The other smooth player management skills of Todd Haley alienating his entire team with his charming responses. This team will hate him by the end of training camp.

  • T.O. for being such a diva that not even the Cowboys want to deal with you.

  • The Eagles for firing a concession guy for showing passion on his personal Facebook page.

Any other complete blunders that rank up there? NFC West only?

  • Graves' near blunder of losing Warner

  • Singletary has a few candidates

  • Hard to find a dunce in Seattle lately? I like what they're doing.

  • Hmmm.. How are the Rams doing? Who follows the Rams, for crying out loud? Oh. Sorry.

Mike Sando: I'm sure we all qualify for dunce awards from time to time. The challenge becomes analyzing what really went wrong.

No question, the Broncos could have handled the Jay Cutler situation more effectively. In the end, they probably found out Cutler wasn't who they thought he was, to put a twist on the famous Dennis Green quote. And they might be right. Still, it's tough to part with a talented quarterback.

In Kansas City, Scott Pioli would be the one setting the tone, at least in the early going, for how the Chiefs value relationships with their players. Haley can certainly rub people the wrong way, but I think that wound up being a strength for him in Arizona (I wasn't always so sure, but the more I watched the situation, the more I felt it was working for him). We'll see how that translates as a head coach. No head coach will succeed without good players.

Terrell Owens is going to rub people the wrong way no matter what. I wouldn't want him on my team if I were a coach or general manager, but quarterbacks sometimes cannot resist. Trent Edwards was the one who pushed for that addition.

The Eagles might have underestimated how their disgruntled ex-employee would react, but that one isn't going to cause lasting damage for them as an organization. And I'm thinking other employees got the message. They will watch what they write online.

Within the NFC West, Cardinals GM Rod Graves never came close to losing Warner, in my opinion. Arizona arguably should have taken care of Warner earlier in the process. In the end, the Cardinals bet he would not leave, and they were right. Is that the best way to conduct business with a franchise quarterback? Arguably not. But Warner did re-sign with the team.

In San Francisco, Mike Singletary seems to be learning from his experiences. He has made a quantum leap from relatively inexperienced assistant coach to head coach, which means we can expect him to learn the hard way from time to time.

The Seahawks do seem to have come out OK this offseason unless you thought they got scammed in the Cory Redding trade. Opinions differ. The decision to rework Redding's deal in a way that allows him to hit free agency after one year surprised me. Why not have him under contract for at least two seasons? I suppose they wanted him supremely motivated, figuring they were going to release Julian Peterson anyway, in which case a bounce-back year from Redding would be well worth the risk associated with shortening his deal to one season.

The Rams get a bit of a free pass in the short term because they are rebuilding and they have addressed one of their primary problems by restructuring the front office.

Are the Rams better off on paper without Torry Holt, Orlando Pace and some of the other veteran players they released? No. But were those players going to be part of the long-term future? If not, then this is probably the time to take corrective action with the roster.

The Pace decision is one I think might be risky. Keeping Pace would have given the Rams some security at the position, unless they thought he was essentially finished and not worth anywhere near what he was going to earn. If that winds up being true, then the Bears are the ones deluding themselves. Time will tell. I just thought keeping Pace around might have provided some insurance.