Mailbag: 'Ignorance' alleged in MVP Watch

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John from Massachusetts writes: Your list of MVP candidates looks strangely like just a bunch of quarterbacks from good teams. I know the media has to boil the entire complex game of football down to just being about the quarterback for the sake of the average dummy fan, but you are showing your own ignorance with this list.

Mike Sando: The list of real MVPs looks like a bunch of quarterbacks (and a few running backs) from good teams. There's nothing strange about it, though. That's why those guys make the big bucks. They are more valuable. We can pretend players at non-skill positions are candidates, but what would be the point? No defensive player has won the award since Lawrence Taylor in the 1980s. The MVP Watch list reflects my awareness of this reality. If you want something that isn't so boiled down, check out the latest personnel report.

Steven from Winona, Minn., writes: Hey Mike, I just read your MVP ranker and I think it's really good. Obviously, I'm a Viking fan and I'm a little biased. But, if the Vikings continue to have a solid year and so does Jared Allen, what are the chances he jumps on the radar and gets recognition for MVP? Or would the much more obvious stats of Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre not let that happen?

Mike Sando: It's tough enough for a defensive player to win MVP without the competition he faces from his own teammates. I think Allen would have to have off-the-charts numbers to do it. DeMarcus Ware had 20 sacks for the Cowboys last season, but no MVP award.

Spentonbargains from Ft. Worth, Texas, writes: Where's Champ Bailey? So much a factor, that New England only threw his direction a couple of times, and he almost intercepted once.

Mike Sando: Great player. Not a realistic MVP candidate under the current setup. Elvis Dumervil's sack production would make him a more realistic candidate at this point, right or wrong.

Matthew from Chicago writes: I thought you were too smart to cite the inane 'record as a starter' stat for Kyle Orton. Record is a team stat. It is not an individual stat -- not ever. I am happy to see Orton doing so well to start the season. Let that be enough. Quit sullying things with a patently false accolade. Coming into last year, Rex Grossman had a 23-12 record as a starter, identical to Orton after Week 2 of this year. Meant a lot, eh?

Mike Sando: It's one element, and worth mentioning, but Orton would not have appeared on the list without completing seven touchdown passes with only one interception. Also, you are wrong about Rex Grossman's record entering the 2008 season. It was 19-12.

Frank from Frisco, Texas, writes: I really believe that Favre is the MVP so far in the NFL. I know the arguments for the others, but Favre has made the Vikings incredible and he has been under a tremendous amount of pressure with every eye that follows the NFL focused square on his No. 4. The media, NFL fans, Green Bay fans who want to bury him and Viking fans who did not want to embrace an enemy. He not only is the NFL MVP for his playing, but for what he brings to NFL in publicity. There has never been another player that commands our attention like he has. Because of all these factors it is obvious that he is the only real choice.

Mike Sando: I think Peyton Manning is in another class, but I also think Favre's revival is good for his legacy and good for the game by extension. The way his time in Green Bay ended and the way he has held franchises hostage soured me on him to a degree. I started feeling the cynicism expressed by those who think Favre gets a free pass, and then some, from media. I also thought the Vikings were taking a chance that likely would not pay off. I'm open-minded, though, and there's no denying what has happened so far this season. Favre had a great career in Green Bay. A strong finish with the Vikings would help preserve his full legacy, I think.

Cedric from Memphis writes: What's up Mike! All my questions are centered around acquisitions. Are my 49ers gonna pursue anyone at the trade deadline? Is there anyone out there they could use, whether it's trade or free agents? Did Jon Runyan get signed and would they take him? Also, how likely is it the 49ers would trade for Nnamdi Asomugha and move someone to nickel or safety? What about a receiver or QB?

Mike Sando: Runyan remains unsigned. The Raiders are not going to trade Asomugha to the 49ers, and the 49ers would have to give up too much to justify that type of investment, anyway. The team has gotten pretty good play in the secondary so far this season. Teams sometimes trade receivers near the deadline, but the 49ers would not be in that market. The 49ers likely would not be able to acquire a quarterback who was obviously better than Shaun Hill. It's possible the team could make a move -- no one knows at this point -- but I doubt we'll see anything significant to change the outlook for 2009.

kelphelper from Anchorage writes: The Seahawks-Cards game is difficult to read. I look at the stats, and am bewildered. The Cardinals have the firepower, but have been inconsistent. The Seahawks shouldn't be able to compete with that offensive line, and yet their stats are quite respectable. So I have two questions. 1) How have the Seahawks been able to get good production out of their offense with that pot-luck of personnel on the line? 2) Who do you think will prevail, and why?

Mike Sando: I think the Seahawks will probably find a way to win at home. They need this one more than the Cardinals need it, and the atmosphere could make it tough for the Cardinals' offensive tackles to function against an improved Seattle pass rush. The Cardinals will win, I think, if they exceed expectations in pass protection. The Seahawks won home games against the Rams and Jaguars by a 69-0 combined score. Those games are probably skewing the early stats somewhat. I do think the Seahawks have weathered their line issues quite well, a tribute to the players, staff, scheme and some opponents with weak pass rushes (Rams, Jaguars).

Kelly from Libby, Mont., writes: What is the injury status of Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant for Seattle?

Mike Sando: Jones remains out indefinitely and it's unclear how his knee will ultimately respond. Trufant has been making good progress. The team expects him back for Week 7.

Mark from Antioch, Calif., writes: A lot of people seem to be down on Shaun Hill because of a lack of production, saying he's not throwing over 200 yards a game because he doesn't have the big-play arm. But it's hard for me to put too much blame on his shoulders. Last year under Mike Martz, hill averaged roughly 230 yards passing per game. He just barely breached the 200-yard mark in one game this season and hasn't even sniffed it since. Hill has shown how good he can be and has shown that he is clutch on a fairly consistant basis.

The o-line has roughly the same issues it had last season, which to me places the blame squarely on Jimmy Raye. I agree that Martz's shcemes caused some turnovers and I agree with his firing. Jimmy Raye's offense may not be allowing as many turnovers, but it's also getting very little production. Since the beginning of the Mike Nolan era, the Niners have had a new coordinator every single season and that is not a streak that needs to continue, but I'm not sure about Raye's ability to construct a decent passing game to accompany the running game.

The defense can do wonders but as we saw on Sunday things can turn terrible pretty quickly. Sando, I'm lost and need some help assessing the situation. What do you got?

Mike Sando: I think you're onto something. The 49ers have said they're taking things slowly on offense. That buys them a few weeks to figure out things. Losing Frank Gore was also significant. A veteran running back is going to offer more than a rookie would offer in pass protection. That could be one potential issue. But if the passing game does not improve significantly as the season progresses, your theory will be tough to invalidate.

The top receivers in Raye-coordinated offenses have averaged 55 receptions per season, with only two receivers reaching 65 receptions.

M.J. from Boston writes: How did Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play last Sunday besides the interception? Did he give up big plays like he has all season?

Mike Sando: I thought Bryant McFadden wound up spending more time in Andre Johnson's vicinity than I might have anticipated. It's tough to evaluate the corners because the Cardinals have been playing pretty soft coverages. Rodgers-Cromartie is a man-cover guy. He did not stand out to me either way.

Mark from Fremont, Calif., writes: Thanks for usually getting to my questions, Mike. Just wondering, with all the blame Shaun Hill has been getting (even though it's quite possibly the O-line's fault) how realistic do you think the chances of Alex Smith stepping in at some point this season?

Mike Sando: That is not a decision to be made lightly. I don't see it happening unless Hill really falters or the 49ers get to the final couple of games without any hope for the playoffs.

Rams Fan from Pelican, Alaska, writes: Sensei Sando, do you expect the Rams to make an effort at retaining Alex Barron after this season? If not, would he have any trade value at this point (considering the Rams' season is over already)? There are several teams who could use an offensive tackle. Would Barron be an upgrade for Green Bay or possibly Seattle -- not that I would want to see him traded to a division rival? And would we get any value in return for a former first-rounder?

Mike Sando: I think the Rams have bled enough talent already. They need to win a game. Trading away Barron would make sense in the abstract, but not with so many games remaining. The Rams have already made the tough decisions in parting with high-priced veterans. I just do not see how they can justify further weakening their already horrible offense. It would create headaches in the short term that probably wouldn't be worth whatever the Rams might get in return (a lower draft choice at this point, I suspect).