Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
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 now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
SanAntonioRamFan (San Antonio, TX)
I was pretty upset about passing on Randy Moss, But the more i look into it the more it would mean trouble. Was your take on that whole issue?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I really thought the Rams should give it a shot, but I think the team probably had good reasons for not making the move. The Rams sounded as though they wanted to do this. They could certainly use the WR help. But if Moss weren't all that excited about joining the Rams -- and I'm think he wouldn't have been fired up about it -- then why invite trouble?
There's a strong sentiment in certain parts of Seahawks fandom that all of the offenses troubles come down to a decline or lack in Matt's arm strength. Everything from the problems in protection to Carlson not catching the ball to the Raiders playing press coverage to problems running the ball have been laid at his feet.Is there any truth in this or is Matt just being made a scapegoat? What really is the problem with the Seahawks offense?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Matt Hasselbeck does have some limitations along those lines. He has usually or always been more effective throwing between the numbers. His stats drop off dramatically throwing outside. At the same time, he hasn't had great outside-the-numbers targets, either. And he's been bouncing from one offensive system to another, with vastly different personnel around him. Hasselbeck is at his best when he's comfortable with those around him. I've seen flashes of that this season. Overall, the Seahawks do need to be thinking about how to upgrade that position. Hasselbeck's career is winding down.
Is Sam Bradford the best thing since sliced bread?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Next to Josh Freeman, of course.
Steven (Oceanside, CA)
I keep seeing rumors of Mcnabb leaving Wasington after the year and landing in Arizona or Minnesota. Would Jed York consider bringing Mcnabb in to San Francisco? Why or why not?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
NFC West teams showed no real interest in McNabb this offseason. Mike Shanahan has apparently soured on McNabb after less than half the season. The Eagles knew McNabb best and they determined they were better off without him. As much as I respect McNabb and think he would upgrade the 49ers' quarterback situation, it's looking like the NFL's opinion of McNabb isn't as high. That could be telling. I think the 49ers would be wise to consider McNabb, were he to become available, simply because they do not appear to have obviously better alternatives. They should try to get the best quarterback they can get. But they already had a chance to get him, and they passed on that chance.
It does not seem very smart for the niners to be given the whole week off for the bye. I know the players will still do some work outs, but it seems like it would be smart idea to use this time to fix their problems. I know players need a break, but the whole week! Come on Singletary! Thats why he is not a smart coach!
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
The 49ers are very young on offense, but they've also had a very difficult season to this point. Perhaps some time away will help them regroup.
So here we are midseason and I can remember asking you "if Leniart fails and Andersen fails..." you said "that's alot of if's" and you didn't know but the rest of the Cardinal nation went BERSERK. Asking why you even answered my question and that I didn't know what I was talking about. Now that its "a more appropriate time" to field this question what are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
The Cardinals are an easy target for criticism after cutting Matt Leinart without giving him a chance during the regular season. What would their record be if Leinart would have started the full season? Would they have won at St. Louis? Would they have won at Seattle? Would they have won at Atlanta? Would he have outdueled Josh Freeman? I say they might have won the Tampa Bay game. They might not have won against the Rams, a team that solved Leinart pretty well last season. My thoughts are that the Cardinals would not be worse off with Leinart at quarterback. But they might not be much better off, either.
Ryan (San Diego)
Can you explain to me how you do not rank Rivers in your top 10 for MVP? Struggling here to find a reason seeing as how he is dominating the passing game with practice squad players
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, no problem. We're to a point in the season where won-lost records can disqualify players from serious consideration. Rivers plays for a team with a bad record. If the Chargers win some more games, his candidacy improves. I also think Antonio Gates would deserve some consideration in that case.
mitchell hopp (minneapolis)
Hey Mike love the blog I check it pretty much hourly everyday. I was just wondering your thoughts on how much patience the 49ers are going to have with Troy Smith? Does he have to win the next couple weeks to keep his starting position? Or are the 49ers trying to figure out if he is the future quarterback? It has become clear in the past six years that Alex is not that Guy for us. But I don't think singletary has time to plan for a future qb if he doesn't win this year it seems his time will be up.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Mike Singletary cannot be so concerned about long-term plans. He needs to win games to save his job. Why develop a quarterback for the next head coach if that quarterback isn't giving you the best shot at winning? At the same time, the bar is set pretty low. Alex Smith did not have a good record as a starter. Troy Smith keeps the job unless he has a bad game in defeat, I think.
Hey Mike, buy or sell, the Seahawks biggest problem is the offensive line.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Buy. They had Allen Barbre working at guard with the first-team offense Wednesday. Mike Gibson was at center. Chester Pitts was at left tackle. All three of those players have been essentially released from NFL teams this season (Barbre via injury settlement with the Packers). The depth on the line is tenuous right now. Pitts is gutting it out, but how many games is he going to last while playing on that knee?
Hey Mike, I love your work. What are the odds that the Giants give Whitehurst a chance to play this week? With all the injuries the Seahawks O-Line, do they take Hasselbeck out of the game a-la Jay Cutler? (for his sake I hope he is healthy... then the Rams can beat him in Seattle later)
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Sounds like we have a Sam Bradford-based Rams fan from Oklahoma here. Welcome. I think there's a good chance Charlie Whitehurst plays at least some against the Giants. That is my gut feeling. The Giants are going to hit Hasselbeck, most likely.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Matt Hasselbeck has completed 8 of 10 passes for 50 yards and an 87.5 rating on screens this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He ranks tied for 24th among NFL quarterbacks in attempted screen passes. He ranks 28th among NFL quarterbacks in yards gained on screen passes. For comparison, the Giants' Eli Manning has completed 14 of 14 passes for 126 yards, one TD and a 128.0 rating on screens. Alex Smith has completed 19 of 24 passes for 217 yards, one TD and a 118.2 rating on screens. Sam Bradford has completed 24 of 25 passes for 210 yards, one TD and a 115.0 rating on screens. Shaun Hill: 17-18 for 193 yards, one TD and a 129.9 rating on screens. Derek Anderson: 7-9, 24 yards, one TD, 116.2 rating. Screens take coordination and Seattle has shuffled its offensive line quite a bit. That could be a factor.
Ari (Richmond, VA)
Everyone seems to be on the Troy Smith bandwagon. Call me naive, but doesn't Alex Smith still give the 49ers the best chance to win when healthy? Evidence is in the offensive play calling. Your thoughts.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I'm about three-fourths of the way through breaking down the 49ers' offensive personnel against Denver. Been working on it off-and-on this morning. I think Troy Smith is showing signs that he can give the 49ers a better shot at winning. It was only one game and only against the Broncos. Future opponents will have better plans for Troy Smith based on seeing him over the course of a full game. But he did make some plays down the field after the team lost Vernon Davis. He found Delanie Walker. He threw accurately on a sprint-out for a 30-yard gain to Josh Morgan. He showed some fearlessness and moxie with that deep ball to Walker (ill-advised, perhaps, but it worked). I'd like to see more from Troy Smith before declaring Alex Smith the better alternative.
Rams Fan (Illinois)
How many games do you think the Rams will win?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Six or seven, most likely. Let's say they win one of their next two games (at 49ers, home against Falcons). They then play three in a row on the road (Broncos, Cardinals, Saints). Let's say they win none of those. They finish with the Chiefs and 49ers in St. Louis, followed by a trip to Seattle. Let's say the Rams win two of those. They get to 7-9 in that case. But if they do not win one of the next two, how do you see them getting more than six?
Reggie Noble (St. Louis)
Hey Sando, always great talking to you and I appreciate you taking the question. Looking at the strides that the Rams have made this year so far, do you see them being a prime contender or even a possible favorite to win the NFC West if we have football next year? (Pending offseason additions of course)
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Hi Reggie. I do think the Rams are in position to be a prime contender in the division next season. The quarterback makes it so. They'll give him some more weapons and probably have some better luck with injuries at receiver.
Tim (Costa Mesa, CA)
It's a 49er bye week, so excuse the hasty question. What do you think are some keys to the Rams vs. 49ers game?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
The Rams have not always done a great job protecting the quarterback on the road. They were better overall in that area against Tampa after some early troubles. But the 49ers got a pretty good pass-rush against the Broncos and I could see them getting after Bradford some. That is one key.
Tim (Brooklyn, NY)
Mike, it seems almost a certainty that the Rams' biggest hole is at WR. But when I look at a potentially healthy WR core for next year -- Mark Clayton (if he re-signs), Donnie Avery, Danny Amendola and either Danario Alexander or Brandon Gibson as a deep threat -- it doesn't look so bad at all. And that's not mentioning Mardy Gilyard or Laurent Robinson. Do you see St. Louis grabbing a playmaker? Thanks for all you do!
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
You're welcome. I do see the Rams addressing that position. They can no longer count on Donnie Avery to be healthy or even to produce. It's a bonus if he does, but not something to assume will happen. Mark Clayton's knee injury means the Rams cannot necessarily count on him picking up where he left off. It's great if he does, but they cannot bank on it. I just see too many question marks throughout this WR corps. The Rams need some more reliable options. Danny Amendola is one guy they seem able to count on. Alexander's knee makes him a serious injury risk. Can he make it through a training camp? He had trouble lasting a couple games this season, after all. Gilyard should take the next step with another offseason. But they need more. Look at how the Colts have continually invested in weapons for Peyton Manning. The Rams need to do the same for Sam Bradford.
If the Cards get decent play from the quarterback position, can they win this division?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
No doubt about it. Decent play at QB, combined with a favorable schedule, would lead the Cardinals into the 8-8 or 9-7 range. But will they get decent play at that position? It's a huge waste of a season if they do not.
Rick (San Francisco)
I am a 49ers fan but in your breakdown to Rams Fan, I don't see a single game aside from @NO that is a definite loss for the Rams. Is beating Atlanta at home really a bigger stretch than beating San Diego at home was at the time?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I give the Rams a decent shot against the Falcons because of venue. I give them a decent shot against the 49ers, too. Two decent shots probably equals one victory before it equals two.
Mackay (PG, UT)
If the Cards had a decent quarterback they would win and or compete in more games. Solving Lienart? Rams did not solve him, he came in for Warner midgame. The rams did not gameplan around that. They still lost too.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Matt Leinart made no dent in that Rams defense.
If you can take Beanie Wells or Tim Hightower right now to start who would you take?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Tough one. Probably Hightower because he's healthier. Let's see whether Wells gets through practice OK today. If he does, go with Wells.
Tim (San Diego)
Why is the perception that only teams above 0.500 have viable MVP condidates? So why is Rodgers on the list?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Aaron Rodgers was not on the list this week.
Glad to see more Rams-related questions in these chats than at the start of the season. Before (and right after) Bradford was drafted, the focus was on the durability of his shoulder. No one seems concerned with that now, but in the second half of the season, his pass total will eclipse any numbers his put up in college. Any cause for concern about his durability?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Good observation. The concern I have stems from the fact that the Rams play four of their next five on the road and it's just tougher to protect in those situations. The Rams will probably face more obvious passing situations than normal simply because teams tend to fall behind more on the road. That is one potential concern. Overall, though, he has shown good durability. He has weathered some big hits in the last few games (notably against San Diego) and a scary high-low hit against Oakland earlier.
tom page (Bellevue,wa)
I saw you write something about Mike Williams not being a number one receiver because he is not a deep threat, I think that is shallow thinking, Art Monk, Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Irvin and bunch of other guys were not deep threats but they were number one receiver types. Isn't being a number one receiver more about consistent production than deep speed?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I don't recall writing that in such stark terms. Perhaps you inferred it from something I wrote, but I think a No. 1 receiver can come in more than one style of player. The Jeremy Bates offense does value the downfield receiver. But the downfield throw is not a strength for Matt Hasselbeck. Mike Williams can be a No. 1 receiver based on some of the things we've seen from him.
All these 'Troy Smith future' questions are amusing to me. The whole world knows Singletary is gone, and the QB position will be blown up, and put together by the new staff. Unless Troy Smith plays like Manning, his play doesn't matter to the future of the franchise.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
You are probably correct.
Brad (Visalia, CA)
Looks like you didn't enjoy my little joke about needing to insert a compliment about your blog to get a question answered...
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I missed it, but will look.
Jeff (St. Louis)
Why are NFL teams so resistant to transparency? I listened to Bill Devaney's interview about Moss that you posted earlier. The entire interview he is avoiding questions. Why is it a huge deal for him to say, "Yes, we talked to Brad Childress." That's not exactly revealing a ton of information as it would be assumed regardless. And why not just give a brief explanation of passing on Moss? A simple, "He would hurt team chemistry," or, "His contract wasn't worth it," would do. Obviously he can't reveal all of his information, but don't the fans who pay his salary deserve more than that?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Billy Devaney surely does not want headlines to say Brad Childress dissed Randy Moss and talked the Rams out of making the waiver claim. When the Rams call Childress or anyone else in the league, the people on the other end of the line need to know the information they provide will not be passed along to the public. Otherwise the Rams would have a harder time getting straight answers in the future. The relationship would be compromised.
Mike, you heard it here first: 49ers will be at least tied for first place by the end of the month of... NOVEMBER.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
They then play three of four on the road in December. I don't think leading the division at the end of November necessarily means leading it when it matters.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat today. Good stuff. Never did find that other question raised by Brad from Visalia. Maybe next time. Or you can find me on Facebook too.