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!
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Glad to be here. Let's get this thing rolling.
Sully (Eternal Sunshine)
Good morning Mike. Football is back. How would the 2011 Panthers compare to the 2010 Rams? Both drafted QB's #1 overall. Do you think the 2011 Cardinals will have a better chance of beating the Panthers than they had when they played the Rams? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Hello Sully. The Panthers come into this game with no pressure, no expectations and they're playing against an opponent with a lot of new faces in important places (QB, defensive coordinator). I'd still expect the Cardinals to win this game against a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start -- away from home, no less.
Mike, I was lucky enough to pick up two NFC West tight ends in my fantasy draft: Vernon Davis and Lance Kendricks. As a Rams fan, I'm very aware of Kendricks potential, so I picked him up with a late round pick. Yahoo sports said Kendricks could be a good start as he will create match up problems with the Eagles linebackers, one of the weak spots on their "dream" team. They allowed the 8th most points to TEs last year. I don't like the QB's in San Fran. Should I start Kendricks or Davis? Do you think Kendricks will be a solid fantasy TE this year. It's no secret he's McDaniels' guy.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Two ways to think about this. One, go with your heart because you're a Rams fan and you'd be bummed if you were wise to Kendricks, then left him on the bench. Two, go with the known quantity, Vernon Davis, until Kendricks demonstrates an ability to produce consistently. Davis caught 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Seahawks last season. Personally, I'd go with the known quantity for now.
Cruse (Moscow, ID)
So hypothetical question: Lets say that Tavaris comes out strong for the Seahawks this season, against the odds he just does well. Is the rest of the team up to par for a possible playoff run? So much pressue is on T-jack to perform, but is the rest of the team playoff capable?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Pete Carroll believes in taking pressure off the quarterback by surrounding him with a strong support group. I think teams almost always need elite quarterback play to advance through the playoffs. Matt Hasselbeck played at an elite level against New Orleans in the playoffs last season. I don't think Seattle could have won that game with a game-manager type performance from a quarterback.
Dan Grimm (Ojai, California)
After Carlson went down to surgery, likely ending his tenure with Seattle, I'm a bit worried about Sidney Rice's shoulder. Do you have any insight into his injury? By now, Seahawks fans know Pete Carroll will insist players are close to playing even if they in a full body cast, so when he says Rice is close, I start counting on a year of Ben Obamanu.
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I was listening to Pete Carroll's interview with Mitch Levy on Seattle radio this morning. Carroll said he thought Robert Gallery had a better shot at playing than Sidney Rice, which was a bit of a surprise based on my perceptions. Carroll said Rice injured his shoulder when Marcus Trufant jammed him off the line in a non-padded practice. He said the team planned to be careful with Rice's injury and that Rice had a shot at getting on the field Friday, but they would be careful. He said Ben Obomanu would play the "Z" spot in this game, with Mike Williams as the "X" receiver and Golden Tate in the slot.
Aaron (Virginia) [via mobile]
The Rams have some really good talent this year. With that being said, how good do you think they will be and when do you think they can become Super Bowl contenders? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
The Rams should have a shot at the playoffs every season for the next several seasons. They'll have a shot at the Super Bowl if and when Sam Bradford develops into one of the very best quarterbacks. My guess is that would not happen for another couple seasons.
Mike what're your thoughts on Sidney Rice?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Sounds like the Seahawks will be careful with him in this first game.
Thanks for the chat Sando! In the preseason, Josh McDaniels' offense worked largely off Steven Jackson running and play-action plays. Was this just the Rams holding off on the full playbook in the preseason, or what we should expect from their offense?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
We should expect more downfield throws, more outside runs for Steven Jackson, more receptions for Jackson and, health permitting, more two-tight end personnel groupings with run/pass options based on what the defense shows. Those were expectations set during training camp.
David (Cold Lake, Canada)
Hi Mike, how are you feeling regarding the Hawks moving James Carpenter to guard and putting Breno Giacomini at right tackle? It seems that Giacomini came out of nowhere and is now the "answer" at this point at tackle. Is Carpenter at this point better suited to guard seeing that his footwork/speed did not seem to match up well against quicker defensive ends in the preseason? Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Yeah, I'd say Carpenter had a smaller window than he needed to develop as a tackle, and his deficiencies in protection would be less exposed playing guard. Seems like the best move for them in this first game if Robert Gallery isn't available, and possibly even if Gallery is available, based on what we saw from him in preseason. It's even OK if Carpenter turns into a career starting guard. Teams take guards late in the first round. It's not like Seattle drafted Carpenter in the top 10.
Hey Mike, I have a fantasy question for you. How do you think Beanie Wells will do for the Cardinals in Week 1? He has had a great preseason, he is finally THE guy, and the Carolina defense is a fantastic RB matchup on paper. That being said, the Cards had a horrendous running game against the Panthers last season. Do you think he is worth starting as a flex back this week?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Yeah, I'd give him a shot. It's a running joke on the blog that I've been higher on Wells than I should have been. He showed good ability as a rookie and I've expected him to break through. Might as well stay on him heading into Week 1 here. This should be a favorable matchup. Kevin Kolb's presence should change how defenses play the run against Arizona. I don't know what other options you have in that flex spot, but Wells should get his carries. It's not like the Cardinals have a lot of other every-down options.
What do you predict the biggest story is going to be following the 49ers and Seahawks game sunday?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Jae Moore (St. Louis, MO)
So Sando, it's finally time for you to stop hating on Danario. He made the team, so with the said do you see him being productive within the offense? Remember ... stop hating!
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
You mean the DX Missile? I kid. The homegrown expectations for Danario Alexander have been too high. And when a reporter asked Steve Spagnuolo about Alexander this week, Spagnuolo gave a brief answer featuring the phrase "right now" not once but twice in relation to Alexander being on the roster. Let's revisit this one in Week 7.
Dustin (Baton Rouge, LA) [via mobile]
With the Jaguars releasing David Garrard, do you think the Seahawks or the 49ers should try to pick him up? And if either team does, do you think he could eventually be the starter?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
The Jaguars' willingness to part with Garrard raises questions about his viability at this stage based on the fact that Jacksonville would know him better than others would know him. Money had to be a factor. Garrard was going to earn about $8 million in salary this season, and that money was going to be guaranteed if he remained on the roster for Week 1. To answer your question directly, yes, I think Seattle and San Francisco would be better off with Garrard on their rosters. However, there are other considerations. One, Garrard is likely not a long-term answer. Two, adding him right now would destabilize the starters for those teams, possibly hurting the team in the short term. Three, Garrard would have to learn a new playbook, so he might not be ready to help right away.
Jim (South Jersey)
With essentially no intel between the two teams to game plan, who holds the Xs-and-Os advantage between Seattle and San Francisco.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Not sure I buy the premise. These coaches went against each other in college and should have a feel for one another. The 49ers have a slight edge because they can see what the Seahawks did on defense last season, and there should be carryover.
St. Louis vs. Philadelphia. How much of an advantage does the Eagles' defense have over the Rams' offense? The Eagles' linebackers are still an unknown entity.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
The Eagles' secondary should have a strong advantage against the Rams' receivers in man-to-man situations. That is a key area to focus.
Tyson Miller (VT)
Sando, I'm a long time Cards fan and am curious if you think their pass ruch will flourish at all this year. Campbell and Dockett are good, but all four outside backers have been pedestrian/bad in the preseason at rushing the passer. What do you think about having Stewart Bradley move outside? It's not like they signed him to play backup ILB. Might as well give it a shot I think. He can't be much worse than the rest.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
You have answered your own question and I'll agree to this extent: There are no indications Arizona will suddenly generate a strong, consisted outside pass-rush. This team will need Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett to get pressure. The inside linebackers will need to get pressure as well. Bradley is trying to adjust to a 3-4. I wouldn't ask him to change positions at this time. He did play some defensive end in college, and he does have 3-4 outside linebacker size, and he should be part of the blitz packages. But it's unrealistic to expect him to become a consistent outside rusher.
Arnold (San Francesca)
How do you explain Harbaugh's rationale for picking Tolzien compared to QBs with experience? If you were a HC, would you do the same thing and pick up Tolzien?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Depends on which experienced veteran backup quarterbacks were available. I'd rather have a young guy with some upside than an old guy who might not be able to win a game if needed. Let's see how Alex Smith fares. If he starts the first five or 10 games, the 49ers could win this bet. That would give Colin Kaepernick a little more time to get comfortable.
Hootie (San Diego)
Hi Mike, if Los Angeles can get a stadium built, how would you feel about the Rams moving back to the city where they started?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I'd feel horrible for Rams fans in the St. Louis area and in the Midwest in general. I'd feel happy for Los Angeles Rams fans. I'd note that the NFC West would make more sense geographically, and then I would prove it by making nice little training camp hops from the 49ers to the Rams to the Cardinals. But it would be a horrible thing for Rams fans in the Midwest. There are always high costs when a team relocates. Having the Rams flourish in St. Louis would be the best option.
Everyone is predicting 6-10 for the Niners. Is there any reason to believe they rise above?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Sure, there are definitely reasons to think the 49ers will do better than that. They were 6-10 last season and they should be improved. How is that for a basic reason? On the flip side, they might need to win another game outside the division. I doubt they'll sweep the Cardinals this year, but you never know.
If you had to pick one of the Rams receivers to be the Brandon Lloyd of this year for them which one would it be. Also have you heard of any teams showing interest in Donnie Avery?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Have not heard much regarding Avery. Mike Sims-Walker is the obvious Brandon Lloyd type here in that he's a talented player who has shown some ability in the past. Brandon Gibson has a chance as well, but he hasn't shown as much to this point as Sims-Walker has (despite 53 catches in 2010).
Why wouldn't the Niners or Seahawks bring in Garrard? He'd be better than what each team is sending out there.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
They would be more likely to do so if the calendar said January instead of September. That would be a primary consideration right now.
Are you buying the Danny Amendola = Wes Welker comparisons now that Josh McDaniels is in St. Louis?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Those are tired comparisons, and probably outdated. Amendola caught 85 passes last season. He has already established himself as a possession guy from the slot. McDaniels can try to enhance that.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
How serious is Robert Gallery's injury to the Seahawks? He was brought in to help tutor Russell Okung, but what happens when Carpenter excels as a guard against the 49ers this weekend? Any chance he stays there? Could Gallery try right tackle?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Sure, it's possible Carpenter could stay at left guard, giving the Seahawks a formidable combination on the left side. I do not think Gallery projects as a tackle at this stage of his career. He did not look all that great at guard in the preseason. Perhaps that was just a veteran being a veteran, and irrelevant to what we should expect when the games start counting. I'd rather see Breno Giacomini for a couple games before considering other options at right tackle, provided Carpenter is at guard.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
What kind of expectations should we have for Kevin Kolb? What are the low-end numbers you'd like to see from him this week that will make you feel that the Cards got what they needed?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I'd want to see some consistency and a higher completion percentage than the Cardinals had last season. Arizona completed 50.8 percent of its passes last season. That is horrible. Kolb needs to be in that 60 percent range, I would think -- not for one game, but overall.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I'm anxious to resume posting on the blog here. Thanks for hanging out through our second NFC West chat in less than 24 hours, a personal record.