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!
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Sando! I somehow manage to get through a Sando-less week, and now I hear you are going out for another week! You're killing me smalls! Seriously though I hope you, Sando-Wife, and Sando-Kid have a great time, because as soon as you get back the lockout will end. I guess since I need a football question in here: how helpful are the Camp Alex sessions (i.e., how better off will the players be over those who didn't attend?).
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Hey, Steve. I did break up my two weeks this summer and I sort of like it. Being away for two straight weeks is tough. Feel like I'm abandoning the blog. Coming back for one week in between was pretty cool. Fun jumping back in, and nice knowing another week is coming. On the football front, I think these player-organized workouts will not make a huge difference on the field. For years, some have questioned the importance of the actual minicamps teams hold, and those are obviously far more valuable than informal practices without coaches. "Camp Alex" is really important for Smith because it builds upon whatever collaboration he had with Jim Harbaugh earlier in the offseason. That is big for Smith. I'm just not sure it'll make a huge difference on third-and-7 against a good defense. Smith must play well and there is no evidence to this point that a good offseason will make him into something he has not been to this point. He was taking charge last offseason too.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sando, which NFC West team improved its team the most for 2011? While I feel the Cards had a very strong draft, I look at their draft more long term in the sense they didn't draft the 3 biggest needs in QB, O-Line, & LB
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Free agency will answer that question more definitively based on what happens at quarterback. So far, though, I think Arizona helped itself the most by adding Patrick Peterson, who looks like a game-changer in the return game and an impact player on defense.
Hey Mike, the Cardinals' backfield is pretty packed right now. If they were to let one (or more) of the backs go, who do you think it would be?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Tim Hightower's issues with fumbling could make him expendable. The team invested too much in Beanie Wells too recently to give up on him unless he's shipped off in a trade that returns something of equal or greater value in return.
Is David Carr done with the 49ers? If so, is he out of the league?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I'm not expecting him back for 2011 given that Alex Smith will command decent money, and the team used a second-round choice for Colin Kaepernick. Seems to me there's room for an undrafted free agent as the third guy. But that is my talking. Have not heard anything directly from the 49ers on this.
Deric Hodge (Twin Falls, ID)
How good was Okung really against Peppers in that early Chicago meet up last year? With Peppers showing up in the top 10 of NFLN's top 100 show, I would love some clarification of how he actually performed in that game vs perception.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Russell Okung fared just fine against Julius Peppers in both games, I thought. He also got after Brian Urlacher pretty good on Justin Forsett's touchdown run. I seem to recall charting Okung's performance in that first game, but I could not immediately find my notes. The perception was that Okung fared well. I'd say the perception was true. It's not like Okung dominated, but he did enough to prevent Peppers from taking command.
Gary Watson (Porterville)
Everyone is saying that the Rams should go after a receiver in free agency. I feel that if the receivers they have stay heathy, and if the ones picked up in the draft are as good as their resumes, that they should go after a couple of defensive players. They would have the potential to have the best defense in the NFL. I am 72 and have been a Ram fan since I went to the games as a Boy Scout. If Kurt Warner would have stayed healthy they would have won three more Super Bowls! Love your blog, Mike.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Thanks, Gary. The Rams should consider helping themselves at receiver and defensive tackle. Their potential interest in a receiver does not necessarily diminish their ability to pursue a defensive lineman. Given a choice, though, I'd side with you. There's evidence to suggest Josh McDaniels can maximize the value of one or more receivers (Brandon Lloyd comes to mind). That is tougher to do at defensive tackle.
What are your expectations for Aldon Smith?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
They are probably a little too conservative. There's a tendency to buy into the idea that Smith is a longer-term project facing a significant adjustment to one or more new positions, and that his rookie season will be a wash as a result. I suspect Smith is going to play quite a bit as a rookie, and he'll outperform modest expectations.
I guess if you are a retired player, the lockout has had some public recognition benefits. All these sports writers with nothing to do are keeping busy with retrospectives on past teams and players that otherwise get very infrequent press attention.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Who said the current players aren't doing anything for the retired ones?
What do you think of the Seahawks going into the upcoming season?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I'm interested in seeing how their young, reconfigured offensive line comes together. That is the one part of the team I'll be watching most closely. Last season showed it's possible to contend within the NFC West even while rebuilding. I expect another rebuilding year, but I will not write off Seattle automatically to the degree I did last season, based on how low the bar has been set in the division.
Do you think if the Rams don't sign any WR free agents, they will stilll be able to win the division.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Sure. The division is not strong enough to rule out the Rams over what happens in free agency at that position.
Jason (Rochester, NY)
Hey Mike, John Clayton posted a piece that said that Seattle is poised to strike once free agency opens up. Do you happen to agree that Seattle will be a big player? They have the combination of a deep pocket owner and a front office that isn't afraid to take a chance. Do you think Schneider and Pete will continue to sign guys that others may ignore? (Vernon Gholston, Aqib Talib, etc.)
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Yes, I think the Seahawks will be aggressive again this offseason. Some of that will hinge upon the rules for free agency. Those rules will determine which players hit the market. I expect Seattle to be active in the trade market. There were no trades allowed during the draft, cramping Seattle's style. I could see John Schneider and Pete Carroll making up for lost time once the market does open.
Could you see the Seahawks going after the Giants' Steve Smith in FA? The microfracture surgery is a concern, but he would make sense. He's still young, they need more receivers, he played under Carroll at USC and the Seahawks drafted his brother earlier this year.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Steve Smith has said he intends to re-sign with the Giants. I appreciate you connecting those dots, however. Those types of connections can definitely come into play.
Does Michael Crabtree have a breakout year in 2011?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
I see his numbers for receptions and yardage improving. Not yet convinced he will have breakout numbers, however. There are too many question marks with the offense, specifically the quarterback.
So if Aldon can outperform those modest expectations, are you taking the over or under on five sacks?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
That is a good over-under. I'd lean toward the over. Could be right in that range.
Gregor (Norwalk, CT)
Mike, saw your post on the Rams schedule with no division games till later in the season. Does this give them a significant edge over the other three as they have longer to install the new offense?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
John Clayton and I had a discussion about that yesterday. I am undecided, which means the impact probably is not huge. The Rams are the only team in the division with an established quarterback. They might be better off facing division opponents early in the season, before those opponents have been able to get their quarterbacks up to speed. It is weird, though, to have no division games on the Rams' schedule until Week 9. Every other team in the league has at least one division game to that point.
Mike A (Godfrey IL)
I am not 100 percent sure how the supplemental draft works. I was wondering if you could briefly explain it, and if there are any NFC West teams that will be involved? Also who besides Terrelle Pryor are some of the more notable names that will be available? Will it be all of the UDFA? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
No problem. Every team is eligible to participate in the supplemental draft. Not every free agent is eligible for selection. Teams submit bids on players. If a team won a bid with a second-round pick, that team would get the player and lose its second-round pick in the next regular draft.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the best and the worst NFL stadium that you have been to?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Oakland might be the worst. Minnesota's is bad. Candlestick Park is outdated, but there's a lot of history there. I like the ones in Seattle and Arizona.
Toby (Lost in Idaho)
Mike, love the blog man. Keep up the great work. What do you think happens with Mebane and the Seahawks? Will they break the bank for him?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
No, they will not break the bank for him. That became clear when the team tendered him to a third-round choice. I think there's a good chance he leaves this offseason if he qualifies for unrestricted free agency.
Deric Hodge (Twin Falls, ID)
So basically you are saying that the supplemental draft is like a silent auction with the player going to the highest bidder(draft pick wise)?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Yes, that is my understanding.
Sando! Give me football! I'm sick of women's world cup soccer.....
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
On the other hand, there would be no football at this time of year anyway. This is the dead period.
Deric Hodge (Twin Falls, ID)
My wife asked me yesterday what teams have missed because of the lockout(mine camp's, ota's, ect.), I couldn't answer off the top of my head.If they do manage a deal this weekend, what would have been missed up to this point?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Getting free agents signed and assimilated in a timely fashion. That would be one thing lost to the lockout. Also, teams with new coaching staffs would have gotten a jump on installation by running players through minicamp practices. And then the undrafted free agents would have been given a chance to get a running start heading to camp.
Jim (East coast)
When do you think San Fran gets a new stadium?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I would take the over on four years.
What are you hearing about Seattle's possible targets in free agency? John Clayton said in an article that the new salary plan would help the Seahawks. We will be required to spend at least 30 million dollars, right?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
John was talking about one possible scenario. The Seahawks will spend on players they value. That will be the case either way. Teams looking to hit certain spending requirements in the absence of attractive free agents could sink money into long-term deals for young, core players. The Seahawks do not have enough of those players at this stage. As for names in free agency, we've connected the dots on some possibilities, but I'd rather see the free-agent list and rules for free agency before guessing.
But at least I could be tracking free agent pickups and draftee signings..... At least I have the surprise (skidding) M's to watch.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I have not updated rosters in months. That is the strangest part of this offseason. Roster maintenance has previously been a year-round endeavor for me.
AndyStandsUp (NFL purgatory)
Supposedly, handing out playbooks and contact between players and coaches has been doing brisk business these days, even though the league has forbidden it. Have you seen or heard any evidence of this?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think the suspicions are valid, but I haven't seen it happen.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Does Arizona have the strongest secondary in the division now with the addition of PP7? On paper, the secondary could be one of the best in the league. Ray Horton, the new defensive coordinator, is a former NFL cornerback. I would expect the Cardinals to get more from their secondary with Horton as coordinator.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Arizona has the best secondary in the division without question. Adrian Wilson is the best strong safety. Kerry Rhodes is among the best free safeties. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, though coming off a rough year, would start for any team in the division. Patrick Peterson would, too.
Would you trade Tim Hightower and a fifth for Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Um, yes. The price would be higher, however.
Joe (Ft Bliss TX)
What is your take on Colin Kaepernick? I hear a lot of feel good stories, but whats the real deal in Mike's eyes?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Most of the feel-good stories are focusing on Alex Smith. I think there will be a tendency to assume Smith is the sure-fire starter just because he's acting like it heading toward camp. Smith does not have a good record when forced to compete for his starting job. This year could be different, but I think Kaepernick has a chance to play earlier than expected.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Why would the Seahawks be willing to let Mebane walk? Is it a scheme issue or do they question the talent?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
I believe there's a natural tendency to undervalue what you inherit from a previous regime. I've seen it happen over and over through the years. In Seattle, Mike Holmgren inherited guys like Sam Adams, Phillip Daniels, Ahman Green, Joey Galloway, etc. None lasted long in Seattle once Holmgren arrived. There wasn't huge urgency to keep them. Tim Ruskell came along and suddenly the value system changed a little bit once more. Theses cycles repeat themselves. In Mebane's case, the Seahawks think he is good, but are they convinced he's a guy they have to keep? I do not get the sense they see him that way.
Dan (Tacoma, WA)
Jim Trotter of SI says "the name I'm hearing will surprise you" regarding the Cards trading a player for Kevin Kolb. Have you heard any other names other than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
I saw that from Jim. I'm not sure how many players Arizona could trade that would shock me. They likely would not trade Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett or Adrian Wilson. Beyond that, who is off-limits beyond the 2011 draft choices? The situation at running back is interesting. We can see some crowding there. I'm not going to start guessing which player Arizona might trade for a quarterback the team may or may not target.
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. This one went into overtime.