Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Five Good Questions with - Clare Farnsworth & Art Spander about the Seahawks & Raiders

Today we have another doubleheader.....today’s segment of "Five Good Questions" is with Clare Farnsworth of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.....Clare covers the Seattle Seahawks.....in the second game of the doubledip, we have Oakland Tribune columnist Art Spander.... Art has been covering the country’s top sporting events for over 40 years....Art discusses what is up with Raider Nation....

First, Clare Farnsworth about the Seahawks.....

Q1. The Seahawks do not have a first round pick this year because of the trade for Deion Branch. Now after-the-fact, are the Seahawks sorry they dealt for Branch and lost their first round pick?
Funny you should ask. I actually did a story on just that topic at the NFL scouting combine. Club president Tim Ruskell first offered a humorous response when asked if he was having any second thoughts: "Maybe on that day, I could see going, 'Who would I pick at that spot?' I might get a little shake when it gets close to the Patriots' pick." He quickly added, "No. No regrets." Coach Mike Holmgren said: "Absolutely not. No. No. Any time you think about trading a No. 1 pick for anybody, the simple question you ask is, 'If he was available to you in the draft, where you pick, would you take him?' Easy answer. I'm glad Branch is on our team." Since the combine (in February), I've revisited the subject with both - off the record - and they still say it was a no-brainer trade.

They did think the pick would be lower in the round, because they expected to finish better than 9-7. They do admit that Branch did not produce the kind of numbers last season that he probably will this season. But the bottom line might have been provided by Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who weighed in with the "known commodity" vs. "crapshoot" aspect: "I think it was a heckuva move by the Seahawks. Deion Branch is an outstanding player."

Q2. Seattle has the 55th overall pick. Is there any chance they may trade to move back into the first round? If so, who would be that "special" player to make them want to trade up?
I don't see the Seahawks moving back into the first round because of the cost. It usually takes your first-round pick plus a second- or third-round pick just to move up in the round. To go from 55th overall even into the bottom of the first round would cost them almost their entire draft this year, or their first-round pick next year. They are in a situation where they don't have to come out of this draft with a player who can start immediately, but they do need depth and a couple of players who can develop into starters. So they seem content that they can get two good players on the first day.

Q3. As of today, what positions are the Seahawks looking to fill with that 55th pick?
These guys are married to the "best available player" philosophy, and it's hard to blame them. The Seahawks have been burned when they reached to fill a need and gotten some good players at positions that weren't pressing needs by going BPA (Alexander, Hutchinson, Spencer). Their priority positions are defensive tackle, guard, tight end and defensive end. Who they take, and at which position, will be determined by what happens above them and who's available. Sorry for the coach-speak, but it's true.

Q4. Are the Seahawks done in the free agent market? How would you rate their off-season moves so far?
The Seahawks still could revisit the free-agent market depending on what happens in the draft. They need more bodies on the offensive line, another pass-rushing defensive end and run-stuffing defensive tackle, more depth at cornerback, a young tight end. But they won't make another "splash" signing in free agency. First, that player isn't out there anymore. Second, they don't have the money. What they continue to look for is a veteran quarterback, which would allow them to use backup Seneca Wallace as a situational receiver, runner and returner. They can't get caught in a situation where Wallace gets hurt, then Matt Hasselbeck gets hurt. That would leave David Greene, and he's just not ready. The problem is, finding a veteran QB that will come in under these strange circumstances. They talked to David Carr, but he went to Carolina where he can be No. 2 behind Jake Delhomme.

Q5. Shaun Alexander suffered through various injuries last season. How has he been doing in the off-season and is he ready for training camp?
Shaun is actually enjoying this offseason, because it has been an "off" season. Last year, after the team's Super Bowl run and his short-lived run into the NFL record book, he was here, there and seemingly everywhere doing a little bit of everything. It took a toll. This year, he's been able to spend some down time with his family and concentrate on his offseason conditioning. As for training camp, Shaun never has done a lot - or in the preseason, either. They get him enough work to get him ready, but never overwork him. The thing to watch with Shaun is that he turns 30 on Aug. 30. Turning 30 has been the undoing of some great backs in NFL history.

Now Art Spander about the Oakland Raiders.....

Q1. First off, what is your impression of new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin? Does he possess any unique qualities that could help him turn around the Raiders?
One thing I (and others) have learned in dealing with Al Davis ("I am the organization'') since the late 1960s is you'll never know what we will do (for example, such as drafting) Janikowski? By-passing Leinart? etc. But nobody has been able to coach them the last few years (personnel is one reason, maybe Davis intervening is another) so a change wouldn't hurt. How much control will he have? If Gruden were to answer....well, you know.

Q2. As of today, what do you think the Raiders will do with the first pick in the draft?
The consensus is Jamarcus Russell....(something I know; you can't play in the NFL without a QB) but maybe the Raiders manuever and get a (later first round) pick and somebody else.

Q3. Kiffin has stated that Randy Moss is not on the trading block. All the talk last season was that Moss is a cancer on this team. What is the lowdown on Moss?
We hear it both ways. Davis probably wants to keep Moss, for which he gave up too much, and Kiffin (smartly) wants to get rid of Moss. But for what? Rumors are Moss somehow will end up with the Packers. Good riddance. By the way, regarding Moss and our old SF friend T.O., I heard a guy on a talk show say whoever the Raiders or 49ers (who also gave that number to the dear departed Antonio Bryant) end up with as WRs.don't give out No. 81.

Q4. Does Al Davis still make all the final decisions concerning the team or has he relinquished a little of that power to new coach Lane Kiffin?
Yes. End of story.

Q5. The offensive line did a poor job at protecting the quarterback last season. Just two years ago the Raiders took lineman Robert Gallery with the second overall pick. Why has Gallery been a bust so far? And, are his days with the Raiders numbered?
Gallery may not be any good. The Raiders may have blown it. Or when they moved him from RT to LT, he may not be able to handle the biggest pass rusher. Gallery will be around at least this coming season. You don't give up on second picks so fast.

I want to thank both Clare and Art for their time....it is much appreciated!!! Also, I want to correct an error in yesterday’s column – Jim Polzin works for The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin.....

2 comments:

Mini Me said...

How do you get all of these interviews? It is unbelievable.

If the Raiders had taken Leinart or Cutler last year, they could have take Johnson this year. They screwed that up.

Zach Landres-Schnur said...

ditto on mini me. these are big time writers!

and the raiders would be sooo tight if they picked calvin johnson. probably won't happen, but it'd be cool!