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 (1:04 PM)
Not to worry. About to get going here. Will go a full hour for sure. Just about to post something to the blog and will be here right after posting it.
If the Rams' WRs can stay healthy, I think we could have a great corps. Quick and Alexander on the outside, backed up by Givens and Smith, and then Amendola in the slot, backed up my Salas. Do you agree?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Well, "great" might be a stretch, but the Rams have better depth at the position than someone might realize from afar. At least one of the receivers they release figures to catch on with another team. I would not expect a dynamic receiver to emerge right away, but it's a good mix of young players.
seth (orlando fl)
Will Orlando ever get a NFL team?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I haven't decided, but when I do, I'll let you know.
Will the Alex Smith/Cam Newton story ever die? I'm obviously looking at things through red and gold tinted glasses, but I don't think Alex was malicious in anything he said.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Agreed that Smith would not be malicious in his comments. I do think there was an edge to what he said, and that edge reflects qualities that are ultimately good for a quarterback to possess. It's good to see Smith stand up for himself. But he should probably think twice before mentioning another player by name in that context. Smith wouldn't like it if another quarterback referred to him as a game manager in a belittling way, while building up himself. It's bad form.
The Rams have invested a lot in their offensive playmakers in the last couple of years. They have drafted Salas, Pettis, Kendricks, Pead, Quick, Givens, as well as made several free agent additions. Will it pay off this year?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Yeah, I think the Rams' scoring will improve quite a bit. It bottomed out last season. The team will be healthier and there will be some superior options at receiver, plus young depth at running back (for a change).
I'm about to graduate with a B.A. in political science. How did you turn your degree into your current career?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
My major was irrelevant to my career. Having a degree was the main thing because people who do the hiring sometimes require one. Let's face it, this line of work requires decent writing ability, but not a degree in physics. If I could do over again, I'd probably major in economics or something that would promote the type of thinking that helps with analysis.
Two quick Seahawk questions. Any cause for concern with the Golden Tate injury? How has Turbin looked thus far in OTAs?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Yeah, there's some cause for concern. Sounds like he'll be back for training camp, but any ground lost to injury is costly for Tate. The team felt as though Tate turned a corner late last season and was close to becoming the player Pete Carroll and John Schneider envisioned coming out of Notre Dame. Tate had zero drops last season.
Dashon Goldson, 49ers. In 2010, he was offered a five-year, $25M contract, which he rejected. When he found a soft market, he went back to the 49ers, who rescinded the offer and gave him a 1-year deal. This year, he was franchise-tagged, but is reportedly seeking a $30M deal. There is no way he will get that from the parsimonious Baalke; he is a rather average player who can be replaced. Would Goldson show up five minutes before the coin toss? Would Harbaugh play Spillman if he shows promise in camp? I fully expect this to be Goldson's last season with the Niners.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I've wondered whether the 49ers would pull the franchise tag at some point later in the process. That would probably tick off Goldson and lead him to sign with another team. For that reason, I suspect the 49ers might not take the chance. I'd be more inclined to think Goldson would sign the tender at some point before camp or during camp. He cannot leave that money on the table.
Jim Harbaugh (SF)
Sorry to pop in like this, but I wanted to make sure everyone in this chat room knows we DID NOT want Manning over Smith. Alex Smith is our Quarterback, and at NO POINT did the name Peyton Manning even enter my subconcious all offseason. Alex Smith is my Quarterback.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Funny thing is, Harbaugh said nothing of the sort, but he could not control what people actually heard. I've got a blog post going live momentarily that drives home that point.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Mike, this is not a question, but I just wanted to say thanks for entertaining us the last few days. They have been the best blog days in mid May that I can remember. Keep it coming!
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Glad to hear. Thanks to all those who entertain me in the comments sections. Fun stuff.
Pete (Rutland, VT)
What's your take on Davis' comments about Moss looking like the player he used to watch?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Part of me says, well, what else would Vernon Davis say? Is he going to say Moss has lost a step? Would he even be able to tell from watching a few plays in a non-padded offseason practice? We can be certain Moss is feeling great physically after being out of the game for a year. What we cannot know is whether he'll remain interested if the offense falters, relatively few passes come his way, the team loses a couple games early, Alex Smith struggles some, etc. I think the 49ers will never be more pleased with Moss than they are right now, if that makes sense.
Chad (Hot Springs, AR)
What do you think of Seattle's uniforms? Are they the best in the NFL?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
You're talking to a guy who would wear blue jeans, a blue shirt and blue-and-white shoes every day if his wife hadn't held a Wardrobe Intervention, OK? Thinking my opinion on uniforms probably not all that valuable in fashion circles.
Pete Carroll (Seattle)
I don't appreciate this blog making a mockery of my 7-9 seasons. I worked very hard for those records, so I would like some respect please.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
My apologies, Pete. Hey, you have as many playoff victories as the rest of the NFC West combined since coming to the Seahawks before the 2010 season. There is that.
Rich (Rio Rancho, NM)
Do you see a resurgence of Big Mike Williams in the Seattle offense is Flynn wins the job over Jackson?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Thinking it's an uphill fight for Mike Williams to earn a roster spot as long as Kris Durham is healthy and on track to fill a similar role. Throw in Kellen Winslow and I think it's tough for Williams.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
Brian Banks gets his tryout on the 7th with Seattle, what are his chances? How hard is it to learn NFL football even if the athleticism is still there? Would it be any different of a learning curve, say for a player who only played college basketball(i.e. Gates)?Would be a great story if he could make the team and become a successful NFL line backer.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I'm going to say it's a long shot he earns a roster spot or ever plays in the NFL after being away for so long. If he showed any promise, however, why wouldn't a team at least take him to camp and sign him to the practice squad? What a great story of redemption (and a sad one, of course).
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
How about some insight on Jason Jones and his OTA's so far?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Yeah, really impressive. He looks like an NBA power forward. Well, maybe a CBA power forward (not tall enough to be the NBA version). He's long and lean, is what I'm saying. The Seahawks have a very specific role for him: rushing the passer from the inside. They are not going to make him a defensive end. I would say all signs point to Jones fitting well in this defense. The coaches and personnel people in Seattle have done well in finding exactly what they want on defense.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
Seahawks Vegas line was 7 wins for the season, and initially was a PLUS 120(Hilton)for the OVER, now only a few weeks later it has changed to a MINUS 140 because the OVER is getting hammered, seems the same thing is happening on the OVER for the Rams as well.What does this say about the teams chances this year?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Sounds like I need to revisit those over-unders. Thanks.
Jeff Fisher Stl. Mo [via mobile]
Why is Harbaugh so intense? He pulls that Schwartz stuff on me, I'm punching him!
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Curious to see if Fisher baits Harbaugh into anything.
Hashem (Southern Cali)
Hey Mike, how's your morning going so far? My question to you is why is everyone automatically throwing the Seahawks in front of the Cardinals in the division standings? If anything, I think the Cardinals have a more appealing team. Both teams have unproven QBs, so that's a set off but overall I like what the Cardinals have more. Our defense is just as good as the Seahawk defense and I predict our defense will be better this year.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I made a similar point to someone while watching the Seahawks practice yesterday. The difference in perception stems solely from the fact that people view the QB glass half empty in Arizona, and half full in Seattle. It was half full in Arizona last offseason, before Kevin Kolb struggled. I would give the Seahawks' offensive line an edge simply because Tom Cable showed he could get great results late in the season even with a bunch of replacement players up front. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have bigger question marks on the line, and they have not shown an ability to coach up that group as well, counter to expectations under Russ Grimm. Perhaps that changes now that Arizona has some young line prospects to develop. As for the defenses, I think Seattle makes more efficient use of its personnel, whereas Arizona has Darnell Dockett playing out of position, for example. But the point you make is a valid one. Seattle is not automatically better.
Since he has nothing better to do now, would anyone in the NFCW pick up T.O. at some point before season's end?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Just don't see it happening.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the Seahawks try to use Winslow and Miller in a manner similar to Gronskowski and Hernandez in NE to create some mismatches and get some big plays down the field?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
They would love to do that, but they do not have Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez. I don't see Matt Flynn, Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow producing the same results. But I could see Seattle using two tight ends a lot, and getting some good receiving numbers from the position.
Going again on the Rams' offense, I don't know too much about Brian Schottenheimer, but it has to be encouraging that Mark Sanchez threw for 26TDs and almost 3,500 yards last year in that offense. Right? If Bradford has more ability than Sanchez, he has potential to put up good numbers.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I suspect Brian Schottenheimer has a better shot at success working for a more understated and professional head coach. I also think Bradford is more talented than Sanchez and closer to the total package as far as being a leader/franchise player. So, yes, I think there is reason for some optimism there.
Mike we have a name bet going with many of the regulars here on the NFC west board and would like you to chair/track what are the odds of this happening?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
The odds are pretty good. I've been in touch with one of the organizers (is it you?) via Facebook.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
Three questions answered in a row!? Is that a new record?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Every record is a new one when set.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Michael Floyd will be the most productive offensive rookie in the NFL not named Richardson?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Robert Griffin III will have the football in his hands an awful lot.
In your opinion, who's winning the QB battle in practice?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
For the Seahawks, it's too early to say. Russell Wilson started hot, tailed off some last week and then bounced back yesterday. Matt Flynn might be more of a gamer than practice player (I'm not sure). To me, Flynn wins the starting job unless he's bad.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
So first JH says Crabs has the best hands he's ever seen ... debatable at best. Now he says Alex Smith has always and will always be his QB. Does he really think his guys need that much "positive influence" from him to really perform? This isn't Little Manning saying he's one of the best then going out and winning a SB. This is a coach standing up for his guys who thus far have been average at best. How are we supposed to take anything JH says seriously at this point?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Harbaugh never said that Alex Smith will always be his QB. He said he always wanted Smith to return, no matter what. And he said the team's interest in Manning had some limits. Harbaugh cannot control what people hear, of course, and they heard what you heard. I think it does hurt his credibility some, yes.
Mike, Do you think that Bradford's ankle is more serious than they are letting on.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
No, because Sam Bradford already publicly acknowledged that it bothers him some still. We know it's serious, but if it were THAT serious, he would not be practicing in May, in my view.
Now that we've heard Alex Smith tell us he's better than Cam Newton and Jim Harbaugh tell us he prefers Smith to Manning, are we going to hear from Smith's mother about how great his TO ratio is?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Good point. What should be the next improbable statement from the 49ers?
Ken "The Wiz" (Arizona)
How much you want to bet we will have a better record the fleehawks this year Mike?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I'm not betting on anything. It's no shock to me if the Cardinals beat the Seahawks in the division standings. They did so last year while getting spotty QB play. I do think some of the Seahawks' relative success appears more sustainable. The Cardinals were pulling out crazy victories with punts returned for touchdown. The bottom line is we don't know how the QBs will fare, so we don't know how the teams will fare.
Eddie Roche (Holliston)
Sando how do you feel about the people assuming that Bradford is a bust after his tough season last year? I'd like to see any QB survive having an inept HC, inept offensive coordintor and a parade of injuries along the offensive line and at WR.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Fair point, but the factors you cited can turn a promising prospect into an unsuccessful one, and any QB taken first overall will be branded a bust if he plays without succeeding. That is just the way it goes. Alex Smith could have been much more successful with a little more stability, I think.
Rahim aka Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
Any chance a team other than the Niners will win this division? For some reason I feel like San Fran is an injury or two away from an 8-8 season.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Definitely a chance. I think they'll be closer to the 10-win range, which opens the door.
Jeff Ross (Miami FL)
We never pursued Peyton Manning, Jeff Fisher or Jim Harbaugh. We did our research, but we knew we wanted Ryan Tannehill in the draft, Joe Philbin this year and Tony Sparano last year. Those were our guys. So I don't know where all those stories came from...
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
2 years in, Sam Bradford is on a path remarkably similar to another very high draft pick, Rick Mirer? After both being offensive rookies of the year and regressing year two, do their paths now diverge in 2012 and beyond?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Alex Smith is a good comparison from a coordinator turnovers standpoint (as Mike Nolan would put it, using the word standpoint frequently). I don't see any obvious links between them from a individual standpoint. But there are other standpoints to consider.
Matt (Phoenix, AZ)
Why does everyone just assume that the 49ers are leap and bounds better then the rest of the divison. I recall Arizona beating the 49ers last season. I also recall Seattle almost beating them twice. I think the gap between first and thrid place in this division is a lot closer than people think.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
The main reason is because the 49ers were leaps and bounds better than the rest of the division in the standings last season. No doubt, though, things got more competitive late in the season. Check out the point margins in NFC West rematches with the 49ers. The 49ers blew out NFC West teams the first time around, but not the second time around. They had to fight for victories and actually lost to Arizona.
What are the chances Marshawn Lynch improves or at least matches his productivity from last season?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Pretty good. Seattle did not sign or acquire a running back likely to get tons of carries. The offensive line depth is better. Players have had time in Tom Cable's system. Lynch probably has a better shot at producing more consistently throughout the season.
Al Brown (Wellesley Hills)
What are the chances the Rams have the most depth at CB of any NFC West team? With Fisher pubically endorsing Janoris Jenkins, and with Bradley Fletcher and Johnson battling for the nickel spot, the Rams could surprise alot of teams with quality and depth at the postition.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Yeah, they could have the best depth. The Cardinals really like their depth at the position. Seattle loves having what it sees as two Pro Bowl-caliber starters, plus Marcus Trufant now in a nickel role. I like what the Rams have done at that position, but Seattle has proven it can identify and develop very effective corners for the scheme it runs.
Talent wise, how far behind are the Rams from the other NFC West teams, if at all?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
They are ahead of the other teams at quarterback, just on talent. They have closed the talent gap on the defensive line. I think they've made a nice dent in the gap and should catch up in the next two drafts if they select wisely.
SFC_HawkHomer (Seattle, WA)
How do you think Harbaugh will handle the adversity of having to travle to Seattle on Wild Card Weekend?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Appropriate moniker there, homer. I suspect Harbaugh would tell people the team planned it all along. Maybe Trent Baalke could say he put it in writing before the season and even wrote "at Seattle" on a card that he placed in an envelope, just like he said he did for the A.J. Jenkins pick. These are the little things that come back to bite a team when it loses. The 49ers have only won under Harbaugh, so they're fine.
I read your piece on Sam Bradford restructuring his contract, but I'm still a little confused. Is this a case of a player restructuring their money to free up some cap room or just rearranging when he gets the money?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
There was no effect on the cap, or in the guaranteed money Bradford received. The team altered some language, and Bradford received $6 million up front that would have been due to him over the course of the season. It looks like a non-issue as far as I can tell.
After all the mess ups and turn overs Skelton had in the "wins" he has under the belt do you honestly think he will start for the Cardinals? I don't believe he won most of the games he claims. Two safeties in one game, all of the sudden he is our savior. I'm not buying it. I'm sticking with Kolb. After a full offseason, I think he will prevail.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
That is a refreshing line of thinking and I appreciate it. I would agree that John Skelton did not play as well as his won-lost record would suggest. However, the results are the results, and they have to count for something. And I also think Ken Whisenhunt will not just hand it to Kolb. However, if the team goes with Skelton, that could be curtains for Kolb in Arizona. That would be an expensive failure and one that could threaten Whisenhunt if the team were to struggle with Skelton as the primary starter. I think there's every reason for the Cardinals to make it work with Kolb.
Everyone talks about the Niners bringing back the same team that went 13-3 last year. Well, it was basically the same team that went 6-10 the year before. In 2001 the Bears went 13-3 with Jim Miller and a great D. Can you see the Niners falling way back down to earth this coming season?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
I'm on record saying the 49ers are much more likely to finish with a lesser record. The last 13 teams to go 13-3 won 8.3 games on average the following season. It's tough to be that good again. But it's also a big stretch to compare the current team to the 2010 team, simply because the current coaching staff is obviously so much better. We could actually say the 2010 team should have been more like the 2011 team, not vice versa.
So, you're saying the last 13 teams to go 13-3 won 7-9 games the following season?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
That is exactly what I'm saying! Brilliant way to end the latest NFC West chat. We'll be back with another one in 7-9 days. Probably closer to seven.