Mailbag: Airing complaints on power rankings

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ben from parts unknown thinks my No. 24 ranking of the Redskins will "expose the fact" that I know very little about football.

Mike Sando: I'm afraid that fact was exposed a long time ago when I thought Jason Campbell might flourish under Jim Zorn. Perhaps he still will.

I don't know the Redskins as well as I know the teams I cover, that is for sure, although I do know some of their coaches quite well. I do know they have the oldest roster in the league at 26.9 years on average, thanks mostly to the fact that they have grown quite old on offense. It would be a great story if Campbell could lead them to a winning record.

RC from Colorado Springs wonders why I ranked the Seahawks 20th and not higher.

Mike Sando: Because it's mid-May and the Seahawks still have some health-related questions to answer. I've got plenty of time to move up Seattle in the rankings if those questions become non-issues. That has not happened yet.

Brian from Los Angeles is baffled by the Seahawks' low standing in the power rankings. He wonders why people are downgrading the Seahawks and not the Patriots, even though quarterback injuries are key variables for both teams.

Mike Sando: I had the same thoughts about Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck. One difference might be that the Patriots went 11-5 last season even though Brady missed 15 games, while Seattle went 4-12 without Hasselbeck, and Brady is recognized as the better quarterback. The Patriots also had lots of injuries last season, but they persevered.

Wilson from Doylestown, Pa., thinks my No. 8 ranking for the Eagles was insulting. He demands an explanation.

Mike Sando: I'll assume you wanted them ranked higher. For the record, I was the guy who picked the Eagles for the Super Bowl in our 2008 preseason rankings.

This offseason, I ranked them lower than I ranked the Cardinals based on the teams' meeting in the playoffs. I had the Cardinals seventh. That's the explanation. It's not an air-tight one, but it'll have to suffice.

Tedy from Seattle writes: I was curious if you know anything on how Max Unger will fit into the Hawks line this season. I get the feeling he will be a great addition for many years, but can't decide who he would replace.

Mike Sando: I think he'll replace Chris Spencer at center no later than the 2010 season. I think he's got a good chance to push for a starting job right away at one of the interior spots. Injuries could clear the path some. Spencer has frequently missed practice time. Rob Sims is coming off surgery. Mike Wahle broke down last season.

Eric from Dallas wants to know if the 49ers should consider trading a sixth-round choice for the Cowboys' Greg Ellis.
Mike Sando: Ellis is scheduled to earn more than $4 million in base salary for 2009. Any team acquiring him by trade would inherit that salary. The 49ers would then be parting with a draft choice -- remember, they found Josh Morgan in the sixth round -- to acquire an aging player with an inflated salary. I'm not sure that would be a wise move.

Matt from parts unknown writes: Sando, after reading your "Who you would want to start a team around" piece. You chose Willis over Lofa and I dont get it. Could you explain to why? I know Willis had more tackles but that's such a crazy stat, because each team calculates it differently. Some team could look at a play and say that lofa got a tackle, while another team could look at the same play and say lofa, trufant and mebane all got a tackle.... So besides tackles what does Willis have on Tatupu? Or is this another size argument.
Mike Sando: Tackles are not relevant to me. I do not consider them or even look at them. Patrick Willis is more dominant physically and coming off a better season. He is also two years younger. Once I singled out Willis, I targeted players at other positions. Both Willis and Tatupu are players a team could build around, no question.

Adam from parts unknown writes: I noticed the question and answers about who you would want to build a franchise around. I noticed that you chose players to win a super bowl a couple years from now and I also noticed that you chose younger players over older players. Now for my question. If you had to chose a player in the NFC West to build a super bowl team around this year who would you chose? Why?

Mike Sando: Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh at receiver. Steven Jackson and Frank Gore at halfback. Walter Jones at left tackle. Reggie Wells at left guard. Eric Heitmann at center (I need to see Jason Brown). Richie Incognito at right guard. Levi Brown at right tackle based on how he finished last season. Justin Smith, Brandon Mebane, Patrick Kerney and Chike Okeafor up front. Patrick Willis, Lofa Tatupu and Karlos Dansby at linebacker. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Marcus Trufant at corner. Oshiomogho Atogwe and Adrian Wilson at safety.

That is off the top of my head. Who did I miss? Nate Clements? Put him on the
re, too.

Carl from Cedar Rapids thinks Anquan Boldin should take a positive approach toward the Cardinals as he moves forward with a new agent. He thinks Boldin needs to get coach Ken Whisenhunt in his corner, pushing for a new contract. Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald are already on Boldin's side. Adding the head coach -- by showing up for offseason work and keeping a positive attitude -- could help put Boldin over the top.
Mike Sando: That probably makes too much sense to actually happen. It might not mean much, but Boldin did not show up for voluntary workouts Tuesday. Darren Urban was not surprised. I agree with his reasoning [if Boldin planned to show up this week, he would have been there Tuesday, given that he fired his agent days earlier].

Leo from parts unknown wants to know if I think the Cardinals have a good chance to get back to the Super Bowl.
Mike Sando: I'd like their chances if they could get the NFC title game at home again. That was key last season. I think it'll be hard for them to make it back if they had to play multiple playoff games on the road. The odds grow longer for most teams in those situations.

KC from Wenatchee wants to know what I think about Sports Illustrated's backfield power rankings, which showed the Cardinals 13th, the Rams 19th, the 49ers 20th and the Seahawks 31st.
Mike Sando: The rankings included quarterbacks and halfbacks. The Colts were 10th, but I cannot find nine backfields I'd rather have than the one featuring Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai. Can you? Add the No. 31 ranking for Seattle to the things Matt Hasselbeck can reference for motivation this season.