Chat with Mike Sando
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions for Mike now and join him in The Show on Thursday at noon ET!
Mike (Algonquin, IL)
What is the latest on the Boldin story? Has he spoken to the media yet?
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
Boldin is scheduled to speak with reporters this afternoon at 2 MT.
Nick from Greenwich, CT
Hey Mike, I really don't see the Cardinals having a shot to beat the Steelers. On numerous occasions versus big time receivers, the Steelers have continued to shut them down. What do you think the chances are that Fitzgerald will have a big day?
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
Count out the Cardinals at your own peril. If Warner can get rid of the ball, that team can beat anyone in the league. I do think the Cardinals need their defense to force turnovers to win this game. That is something Arizona has had no trouble doing so far. I expect a competitive game.
Pete (Oakmont, PA)
How many trick plays do you anticipate in this game for the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
Probably two. Ken Whisenhunt loves them and isn't afraid to take a chance. He's had fake punts, onside kicks, fleaflickers, you name it. They also line up DBs as WRs.
Evan (DISPLACED AZ FAN, NY)
With that is being said about the Pitt D holding teams? how do you see their lackluster O being able to help them win? it?s not like the Cards D are pushovers right now... They have a ridiculous amount of takeaways this postseason.
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
The Eagles' defense had been allowing fewer touchdowns than the Steelers' defense over the final month of the season, plus playoffs. I do expect the Steelers to give Arizona problems, but I would not automatically characterize those problems as impossible to overcome.
Mike, have you heard the rumor that Mike Shanahan will be named the new Chiefs coach tomorrow? This is being reported by a local tv station.
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
I have not. I've been focusing on the NFC West and putting together a story on Tim Lewis becoming the Seahawks' secondary coach. Shanahan and Pioli would make a potentially great team in KC. I do not think the Broncos would like that combination within the division.
Ernie (Portales, NM)
Hey Mike, What do you think the chances of the Cardinals Defense have on slowing down Willie Parker?
Mike Sando (12:15 PM)
Pretty good. Arizona has played very good run defense most of the time. Adrian Peterson had his way, but other strong running teams, including the Giants, didn't find much room on the ground against the Cardinals.
Hi Mike, I am a little worried about the Niners and their OC situation. I want some continuity, but not if that means mediocrity. What can we hope for? Thanks for your blogs!
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
The 49ers have apparently overestimated how attractive others would view their situation. I think you should be concerned at this point. Firing Mike Martz made sense for obvious reasons, but if you're going to get rid of someone, you'd better have a superior alternative. The 49ers did not have a superior alternative lined up. They can still hire a good coach, but so far, not so good.
Mike, Good job covering the division this year im sure it wasnt always fun watching the bad football produced by the division but look at the bright side, because of my Cards your going to the super bowl! How are you taking in the game? I know common knowledge is everyones got the Steelers but I think people are overlooking a couple huge aspects of the game. 1. Coach Wiz knows Pitts D better than anyone not name Dick or Mike, so he knows how to attack it better than anyone. 2. Coach Whiz knows Big Ben and what he can and cant do, dont be surprised if he lays another stinkbomb in the superbowl. 3. The Cardinals will be ready for how physical Pitt is because they are being coached up the same way.
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
I'll have fun with my prediction. Truth is, nobody knows how these games are going to go. Before making a pick, I'll ask myself something along the lines of, "How many chances do you get to pick the Cardinals in a Super Bowl?"
Mike, if you had to take a guess... at this point who do you believe the 49ers OC will be next year? and who do you think they will take at 10 (kiper has them taking Maybin)
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
I had thought Linehan and then Chudzinski would have been the leading candidates. Linehan is out.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Tim Lewis-good hire?
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
I think so. His credentials are pretty strong.
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
The question of intra-divisional loyalty was raised in your mailbag... I have been struggling with the same question. As a Niners fan, am I ethically obligated to: 1) Root against the Cards, or 2) Root for the Cards? What makes matters worse is that I have been supportive of the Steelers as an alternate, AFC team for several years, (Niners are unwatchable sometimes). Indeed, I rooted against the Seahawks and for the Steelers in that Super Bowl. What is the right thing to do? Help us out!
Mike Sando (12:21 PM)
Those are special circumstances. I think you can claim moral high ground in casting the largest percentage of your support for the Steelers, since you have always liked them as a secondary team.
David (South Brunswick, NJ)
What are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl next year?
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
I question the value of playing a football all-star game at all. I love the drama associated with real games. None of that exists in an all-star game. If they're going to have one, I think it needs to be after the season, allowing Super Bowl players an opportunity to participate.
What are the chances Todd Haley becomes the next Chiefs head coach?
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
A very high chance if the Chiefs hire Cris Collinsworth as general manager, apparently.
Brandon (Belleuve, WA)
Cardinals vs. Steelers in the Superbowl=Hawks fans worst nightmare. As much as I would hate to see them succeed where the Hawks failed, I must say, I would hate it more to see another 8 months of celebrating Steelers. Even still, I would think that the Steelers are a justified favorite in this game. You agree?
Mike Sando (12:26 PM)
Yes, the Steelers should be favored. They won more games. They were more consistent during the regular season. I will not be surprised if the Cardinals win the game, however. They've had terrific plans for their opponents so far.
Am I getting greedy? Can you break down some of the potential free agents out there who the Niners might consider picking up? Also, will you continue blogging during the offseason? We all hope so.
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
Free agency is still vastly overrated even though everyone keeps writing February stories about how free agency isn't what it used to be. The list of available free agents is horribly weak at most positions. As for blogging during the offseason, there is no offseason. This is a year-round gig for me and I love it.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
5 NFC Championships, 1 Super Bowl appearance, 0 rings. What will McNabb's legacy be? Is he a Hall of Famer?
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
I do not think electors would vote him five years from now or probably ever in if McNabb were to retire right now. I think he has a chance to strengthen his credentials as his career continues, however.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Who is more "physical" (and by physical I mean a cheap shotting agro maniac), Hines Ward or Adrian Wilson? Follow up-is it possible for those two to get personnal foul penalties against each other at the same moment or could this end the world like "crossing the streams" was supposed to in Ghost Busters?
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I think they are both exceptionally physical. Ward is more physical relative to his position. Wilson inflicts more punishment because he's on defense. Both embody everything a team should look for in a player.
Mike (Avondale, AZ)
In your opinion, is Boldin gone after this season regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
No, but I would put the percentage higher now than I would have six weeks ago. Injuries have slowed Boldin. Larry Fitzgerald has become even more dominant. The sideline incident will linger in terms of how Boldin is perceived, fairly or not. And then the overall team success allows the Cardinals to operate from a position of strength in that the organization is definitely bigger than any one player.
Do you agree that Pendergast has to rush more than 3 guys on 3rd down for the Cardinals defense to be successful?
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
That depends upon what types of decisions Ben Roethlisberger makes in reading coverages, to a large extent. I think the Cardinals need to rush more than three on third down if rushing three isn't getting the job done.
Hyman (rochester, ny)
Mike, Do you think that the Seahawks would improve the most by adding a big, run stuffing D-Tackle in the draft/FA? Mebane certainly has proved his worth, but we haven't had anyone that commands a double team since Marcus Tubbs was healthy. If I remember right, Lofa and Hill had their career high in sacks in 2005 when Tubbs was in front of them. This would also force the fewer double teams on Kerney and the other DE's. What do you think?
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
Let's frame it another way. If you could add a future HOF player at any position but quarterback, which position would you address? I might go with a running back or receiver under that criteria.
Mike- what are you hearing about "spags" as Rams head coach and the newly appointed OC/DC in Shurmer-Flajole
Mike Sando (12:37 PM)
The first impression on Spagnuolo was positive. I do wonder if he's banking too heavily on inexperienced people in key positions. This is something I addressed on the blog this morning. The Rams now have a first-time head coach with first-time coordinators on both sides of the ball.
What is your prediction for the Super Bowl?
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
I'll make an official prediction as part of our predictions package. That is scheduled for next week. As noted, I'll have fun with it and I'll strongly consider picking Arizona.
Can the Steelers get pressure on Warner by bringing only four? If so, this game's over, right?
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
That depends on how effectively Warner can get rid of the football. The Eagles got pressure, but Warner threw quickly to running backs and receivers, beating the pressure. I do think the Steelers' ability to get pressure against the Cardinals' tackles will be a key to the game. I'm expecting the Cardinals two use two backs and/or two tight ends to give them more options in protection.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Mike, what do you suppose Tennessee and Arizona will do with Leinart and Young? Stay on the bench for another 2 or 3 seasons?
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
The Cardinals can afford to carry Leinart as a backup for one more season. After that, I think his contract becomes less tenable that way. I see the Cardinals probably giving Leinart a chance by the 2010 season, figuring Warner won't play forever.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Over/Under: 70% of the Crowd in Tampa waving Terrible Towels?
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
Seventy percent sounds about right.
Ryan Greeley, CO
Hey Mike, what/who do you think was the biggest Oscar snub this year? Oh, wait, wrong place. Do you think this Superbowl is more about Steelers Offense vs Cardinals Defense rather than the opposite. I mean, they're the weaker points of each team. Thanks for your hard work and Go Cardinals!
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
I thought the Cardinals' defense would play more of a pivotal role against the Eagles. Teams have been able to pressure Roethlisberger and I think Arizona will have some success that way as well. It's only decisive if Roethlisberger makes poor decisions under pressure.
How much influence do assistant coaches typically have in draft decisions? Specifically wondering if Solari will have any input in possible O-line selctions for the Hawks.
Mike Sando (12:45 PM)
I would not describe their input as decisive, particularly early in the draft. But I think organizations listen to them more in the later rounds, probably. And then it depends on the assistant. A coordinator might have lots of input in helping them decide between Player A and Player B, even early in the draft.
Mike (Avondale, AZ)
is it me or are there a lot of bitter Seahawks fans? Follow up, what do you think of Cardinals being the powerhouse of the NFC West for the next few years?
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
The NFL is a season-to-season thing for most teams. Tell me how long Warner plays and we might have an idea as to the Cardinals' staying power at this level. I expect Arizona to compete for division titles most years as long as Whisenhunt is there.
Hyman (rochester, ny)
What are the chances that Seattle resigns Leroy Hill, cuts Julian Peterson and drafts an younger, cheaper LB, like this kid from Wake Forest that everyone is raving about?
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
Would that make Seattle any better? The team would basically be replacing an experienced talented player with an inexperienced talented player. I would call that treading water.
Who are the Cards potential free agents who will be looking to up their value on the world's biggest stage?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
Bertrand Berry, Antonio Smith, Karlos Dansby, Kurt Warner, J.J. Arrington, Terrelle Smith. Those would be the main ones.
Do you see The Edge staying now the Cards made it to the big dance? How about them going after LT if he's released?
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
His $5 million price tag might seem a little high to the Cardinals, but we'll see. I can't see him taking a pay cut to remain in Arizona, given that a pay cut would indicate a diminished role. If the Chargers turn loose Tomlinson, they would presumably have real concerns about his health. The Cards do not need an injured back.
Hyman (rochester, ny)
But for how long will Peterson stay productive? He only seems to play well against the Niners and is going cost $10Mill+ on the cap in 2010. If we can use the extra money ot strengthen another position, that isn't treading water.
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
Perhaps the team could ask him to take a pay cut at some point. I missed the part where you talked about applying the money to another position.
Should Cards fans be concerned that after building a 24-6 halftime lead they couldn't move the ball in the 2nd half, except for the winning TD drive? Their other 4 posessions in the 2nd half were 3 3 and outs and all 4 combined for about 7 minutes.
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
Yes, because if that's the way the Super Bowl goes from the beginning, the Steelers would have to like their chances. I do think Arizona would take its chances with a 24-6 halftime lead against anyone, however.
Regarding "treading water", wouldn't the Hawks be treading water with a lower cap number, allowing them to sign a free agent that would make the team better? Not saying that I want Hill or Peterson gone, far from it, but cap wise it might make sense.
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
How many free agents out there are gong to make the team better than it would be with Julian Peterson? The free-agent lists are horribly weak at most positions. Signing any of the big-name free agents requires overpaying. Does Seattle need another Patrick Kerney contract on its books?
Joe (Pittsburgh native in Lansing MI)
Can Ike Taylor effectively defend Larry Fitzgerald? How can he do it? What will this look like in LeBeau's zone blitz scheme?
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
I think the Steelers will have to find ways to be physical with Fitzgerald. I don't care if it means having a linebacker jam him at the line. They have to do SOMETHING to make life harder for No. 11.
As a followup to JD's question, I think one of the great forgotten points in that game was Jim Johnson's ability to make adjustments, and Todd Haley's apparent lack of ability to recognize those adjustments and react. Or was Haley just being stubborn, kind of a "We don't care if you know what we're going to do, we're still going to do it" attitude like the Hawks used to have with Alexander?
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
The Cardinals managed to put together a 14-play touchdown drive in the clutch, so someone must have been doing some good adjusting. Games have ebbs and flows. Arizona had answers for Jim Johnson's questions for more than half the game. I count that as a victory for the Arizona staff.
Sando is the Mando
Think Ryan Clark sends any cards out on a stretcher?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
Larry Fitzgerald is very good at getting underneath defenders at the point of impact. Most of the big hits he takes are the ones he welcomes by lowering a shoulder into the defender, as was the case in the Carolina game when he gave nearly as good as he got in a collision near the sideline after a long gain.
The sideline incident doesn't bother me very much with Boldin, I think the fact that he skipped celebrating with his teamates after winning the NFC Championship game to get the teams first Super Bowl appearance is much worse. Is there any justification for that? And even though they won't say so publically won't his team mates have that on their minds somewhat?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I'm probably too cautious in not wanting to convict a guy, but I must agree that the thought of Boldin ducking out of the celebration doesn't look very good on his resume. I want to hear his explanation for what happened. Right now, though, that does seem potentially troubling.
Oz, Ft Lauderdale FL
Being that the Steelers O-line has been pourous protecting Ben, and Arizona has been blitzing well and causing turnovers don't you think that is a matchup that is being over looked? Arizona had one of the best pass rushs the first half of the season and then dropped off until the playoffs. With the pressure they are creating again I think that is a matchup many are missing. Especially if that pass rush includes Adrian Wilson..
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Yes. Arizona forces lots of fumbles. The Cardinals recovered more opponents' fumbles than any team in the league during the regular season.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Time's up. It flew by. Thanks for joining me.