Lots of ground to cover in the NFC West chat Thursday. Transcript here. Highlights below:
Shane (Los Angeles, CA): Sand-O, What did you think of the Cards' defense? I like they are flying around the ball a lot and really hitting people in the mouth. That being said, they still gave up over 350 yards total offense to the Rams!
Mike Sando: They gave up 325 yards, for the record, but I did not see great things from the Cardinals in terms of team defense. Sam Bradford hit a couple long throws. Mark Clayton was wide open for another one, but he dropped the ball. The Rams converted 10 of 23 times on third/fourth downs. The run defense against Steven Jackson was fine for the most part. The safeties made good plays on the ball. I thought the Rams' offensive line held up better in protection than I would have imagined, and Sam Bradford got rid of the ball quickly.
Trevor (Kelowna BC): Good morning.......aside from the obvious home field advantage at "Mile High" where do you see the strengths and weakness' versus the Broncos?
Mike Sando: I've seen only highlights from the Broncos' first game, but it looks like there could be some pass-rushing opportunities against the Denver tackles. Can Chris Clemons keep getting a strong rush without the benefit of a pro-Seahawks crowd to help him get a jump on the opposing tackle? I'm not clear on the answer there, but that is a key matchup. Seattle's run defense appears strong. I also think it's very good for Seattle to have Elvis Dumervil on injured reserve. That allows Seattle to play Tyler Polumbus at left tackle without helping him as much.
Aron (STL): Sando, is it a sign of how bad the Rams receivers are when Mark Clayton after only five days in the books was our best WR on Sunday? Is there any hope for this group or am I waiting for some stud in the draft next year?
Mike Sando: The Rams' offense is similar to the one Mike Holmgren ran successfully in Seattle even though Holmgren never had a dominant receiver. Guys like Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram were effective players in this offense. Clayton's quick emergence does reflect the lack of established receivers on the Rams' roster. It also reflects Sam Bradford's accuracy and the fact that Clayton, though not an elite receiver, is a quick learner and could fit well in this offense.
Bill (Vacaville, Calif): Mike, early in the 49ers' loss, they used Delanie Walker with success when they were moving the ball. Why did they not utilize him in the second half? He is so versatile and opens up others in the offense. Also, what about Brian Westbrook?
Mike Sando: The 49ers' third-down and two-minute offense features three wide receivers. Frank Gore stays on the field, as does Vernon Davis. That makes Walker the odd man out. Walker's presence is maximized when the defense must respect the running game. But when the 49ers fell behind, the running game wasn't something the Seahawks had to worry about. They were going to play the pass. Perhaps having Walker still would have given the 49ers some advantage, but the circumstances would have been different. We cannot assume Walker would have had the same impact under different circumstances.
As for Westbrook, I can't see him being more than an occasional situational player as long as Gore is healthy. It's just tough to justify taking Gore off the field. I would think we'll see Westbrook sporadically.