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 (1:01 PM)
Greetings. We'll get going in a second.
Since the modern SB era, how many times has a team won 12 or more games with a QB throwing fewer than 20 TDs?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
The 49ers did last season and I realize you're getting at that. I don't know the answer but can say the 49ers are set up differently than most good teams in the Super Bowl era.
Drew B (St Louis)
One of the biggest questions surrounding St. Louis this year is their below caliber core of WRs. With the Rams more than likely keeping Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Danny Amendola and Steve Smith, who fills out the other WR positions? Is there a possibility that Smith gets the ax as well?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The Rams have pretty good depth at receiver. They have lots of secondary-type receivers. They need a primary-type receiver. That is how I would describe their depth at the position. Smith's health will determine whether he fits as part of the group. Don't forget about Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas and Austin Pettis. Those are additional receivers to keep in mind. I don't trust Danario Alexander's knee to carry him through.
Do you think Alex Smith still has a chance of becoming an elite quarterback? He has shown glimpses of greatness, especially when connecting with Vernon Davis, but with so many different coordinators and with a terrible o-line (until last year), it has been his consistency that has hurt him. He is still only 28 and I only see him improving the more and more he works with Harbaugh.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I did not see Eli Manning becoming a championship quarterback, but he has become one. Doesn't mean doubters were unjustified in their thinking. It just means Manning improved more than anticipated. Smith is improving. I don't think he's going to put up elite numbers, but I think he can continue to improve in this environment, yes.
Bully from Kansas [via mobile]
Maybe in your next posts, could you give your top ten d-limnemen in the NFCWest? I wonder if the Rams could have two on that list.
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I'm working on something relating to one defensive lineman from the division. Was thinking today about how strong that group is across the division. Justin Smith tops my list. Then I probably go with Calais Campbell, Chris Long, Chris Clemons, Darnell Dockett, Ray McDonald, Brandon Mebane and, what, we're at seven now? I'm not quite ready to throw Robert Quinn in there until we see more from him, but it's fair to project him as likely to join that list this season.
Hey Mike, I guess the Rams missing out on Blackmon wasn't that bad after all. I know he's a great ball-er, but the rams just don't need another player with off the field problems after all the drafted at least three players with issue already.
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
The Rams absolutely dodged one there. Having their first-round pick (and a Top 10 player, no less) blow a .24 percent alcohol reading would have given St. Louis fans yet another reason to roll their eyes at the organization. The history with Leonard Little would be part of any reaction there.
R.J. (Portland, OR)
I keep hearing a lot about the Seahawks keeping six recievers and Mike Williams being one of them. Isn't he going to start the season on the PUP list? If so, which receiver gets his roster spot?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I'm not expecting Williams to wind up on PUP. The team has enough young prospects at the position to consider moving on from Williams this offseason. I base that on the fact that Williams' production fell last season, he has some injury problems and it's looking like the team already got the best it's going to get from him. Meanwhile, Kris Durham is back from injury and potentially ready to fill a similar role.
Paulie (So FLA)
If you had to assemble an army, and could only use fans from NFC West teams, who would you pick and why? (suggestion) Rams fans can take A LOT of pain.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I might have to go with the Seahawks' fans because there is such a strong military presence in the area. Quite a few people come to the Northwest through the military and presumably depart as fans of the local team.
49ers keeping all those RBs next season?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Not a chance. They will have to cut someone.
Les Snead [via mobile]
Why is everyone thinking that my first round pick of 2012 will be a bust? He's a mammoth of a beast if you ask me!
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
False premise. Who thinks Michael Brockers will be a bust? I bet it's a short list. Every pick carries risk. Big defensive linemen certainly do. But you can't get bigger and stronger up front without adding bigger and stronger players up front. Brockers is bigger and appears likely to play stronger than the defensive tackles the Rams have employed recently (most of them, anyway).
Pete W (Pullman)
Is the obsession with 7-9 from the 49ers fans, when referring to the Seahawks, due to the SF record of 69 and 91, essentially a 7-9 average, since the realignment that sent the Seahawks to the NFC West 10 years ago?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Now that might be the most creative stretch of an adaptation of the 7-9 theme. It's a great theme and one Seahawks fans will just have to tolerate until the team does better than 7-9 under Pete Carroll. All you need as a Seahawks fan is a respectable start to the season. Right now, 49ers fans can point to 7-9 all day long and there's not much a Seattle fan can say in return. I've really enjoyed the banter on this one, including the obscure references to all things seven and nine.
Niners seem overstocked at WR and RB now. Who of current players do you see not on 53 man roster?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I can find the top six wide receivers pretty quickly. Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Jenkins, Ginn and Williams would be the six favorites. At running back, I might go with Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and Bruce Miller. Then we need to see what's up with Rock Cartwright. He's listed as a fullback but is a special-teams player.
Bully from Kansas [via mobile]
I'm just bombarding you with questions hoping to get a response, but I have to say you answer all my questions even if not directly! Can't wait for mini-camp reports!
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
And I finally answer your non-question? Sorry I haven't seen the other ones yet. We get quite a few. I'll be hitting three NFC West camps next week: 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks. There isn't time for me to make the longer trip to the Rams without sacrificing additional trips within the division. For that reason, I'll open training camp in St. Louis and spent close to a week there.
Peter Carolina (USA womens soccer field)
Given the recent suspension for having the HAWKS participate in contact drill during the NON-contact part of the season, how much will this affect how refs view the HAWKS physical play in the games? Do you see it affecting the ref perception at all?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I think the referees and officials have more pressing concerns -- like getting new contracts. The OTA punishment will not be a factor on the officiating front.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
I know they aren't letting media in to watch Banks try out, but have you heard any rumblings or anything about him? Any clue on if he stands a chance on making the team or even be a contributor?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
There is nothing to know about him from a football standpoint. He has know observable history in the game. I think he's a long shot.
I'm going up to the Seattle and the end of next month. Any places you recommend to get some good Alaskan King Crab Legs?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Lots of places. Seastar is a favorite seafood restaurant around here.
Tevin Broner (North Little Rock)
I'm nervous about Brian Quick. I hope the Rams don't put a lot of expectations on Quick, like they did with Kendricks. Anyway, who do you think will be the Rams' best WRs this season? What are some reasonable stats for Quick?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I hear you. Quick figures to need some time. The over-under for receptions might be 35 or 40. That is a guess, but he's going to play extensively and get a chance, at least. The Rams have lots of receiving options, though, so they will not be overly reliant upon Quick. The hype on Kendricks and the expectations for him were legitimate; those things reflected how well he was faring during practices. If Quick fares that well in practices, it's a good sign.
Joe C. (Fort Worth)
Cards fan here with a question pertaining to all teams in the division: Who are some late round picks from this recent draft that you think have a chance to become standouts and/or significant contributors - what some might call "sleepers?"
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Welcome, Cards fan. Greg Scruggs could have a chance as a seventh-round pick in Seattle. The offensive linemen Arizona selected are walking into a favorable situation. Trent Robinson is getting good reps with the 49ers at safety this offseason. I must say, though, we really do not have much to go on here. They can't put on the pads til summer. I was looking to see if any late-round receivers stood out, but NFC West teams did not take a receiver in the final three rounds. Just noticed that.
I really think they rams have upgraded their talent level significantly all while becoming much younger this season. How long do you think it takes Fisher to turn around the Rams woes?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Their wins will increase right away and probably would have anyway just because the team cannot possibly be less healthy this season. I would think the Rams would improve this season and then challenge more seriously within the division in 2013. They need to hit on these draft picks, though.
Hey MikeCards fan wondering whether you either Floyd or Heap playing a bigger role in the teams offense next year?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Todd Heap broke down physically last season. He's healthy now, but I don't trust his 32-year-old body to suddenly become more durable with age. Gotta think Floyd plays more snaps this season. Remember, the Cards want to develop Rob Housler at tight end. They also have Jeff King. Let's see how healthy Heap appears in late August.
How has Chris Givens looked so far? I've read a few of his teammates say he has looked great in no pads.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Givens has tremendous speed. He's going to look good running in shorts. I trust those observations but read only so much into them under the circumstances. Offensive players should look good playing in shorts.
Is Robert Quinn projected to be a full-time player this season?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Yeah, I think we can assume that based on the team's decision to part ways with James Hall. Quinn becomes the starter and must play across more situations. It's easy to forget that he did not play his final season in college. Then he had no offseason because of the lockout. I think Quinn should make a jump this season.
B (Glendale, AZ)
Mike, both Nick Eason and Dan Williams have cut a significant amount of weight so far this offseason. Campbell just re-signed, Carter is coming off a rookie season that ended strongly and Dockett is solid. Could the Cards have the best depth at defensive line in the division this season? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Under that scenario, we would be counting Aldon Smith as a linebacker for the 49ers. Seattle might have the best DL numbers in part because the team plays a 4-3 defense and keeps more players at the position. The Cardinals do have very good front-line talent along their line.
Will Seattle make more of an effort to utilize Zach Miller this season? He is too good of a weapon to not play a prominent role, right?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I spoke with Miller about that this offseason. I agree with his assessment: Miller's numbers will climb if the offense improves. He is not going to suddenly produce 60-catch seasons without the offense improving significantly. Few players -- think Larry Fitzgerald -- are special enough to get their 90 receptions no matter what is going on at quarterback. Miller had 25 receptions last season. It's an upset if he fails to exceed that figure in 2012, but if you said the over-under was 55, I might take the under.
Jeff Peabody (n/a)
Mike, since division realignment, what individual season team has been the best (i.e., 2005 Seahawks, 2008 Cardinals, etc.)?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
That sounds like a great project. I might have to look into that a little more. The 2003 Rams would be easy to overlook, but they were 12-4. Do they factor in there? I need to research it. My first thought was that the 2005 Seahawks and 2011 49ers would be at the top. The 2008 Cardinals were less consistent during the regular season.
Mike, how did we end up with 10+ articles on Harbaugh and Alex's comments then have to go searching for our own info about Hawks OTA fights and contact drills? One seems more substantial and football related than the other.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
We only had between 7-9 items on Harbaugh and Smith, just for the record.
Bobby (Port Orchard)
We are in the doldrums of the offseason. Do you ever wish the season was year-round so you had something to cover the whole time? Ignore the realistic aspects of the question like injuries and CBA agreements. I just want to know how highly you value your vacations over the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
What vacations? The offseason is actually harder than the regular season in some ways. The season is like swimming in a river. The current carries you. The offseason is like swimming in a lake. You gotta work harder to get as far, but if you want to go in another direction, you have the freedom to do so. I look forward to the season but will first want to take some time away, which I will do in July. You guys need a break from me!
Mike, Cards Fan here. Do you track any of the Rookie UDFA news for any of the teams? Or is it too many guys to track this early? Anyone from that list standing out in the OTA's with a likely shot to have an impact? Guys like Lyle Sendlein are always my favorite because they came from the brink of nothing and are making an impact on their squad.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I do keep lists of those undrafted players, but do not have files on them at this point. We tend to hear more credible tidbits on them during training camps. We should pay particular attention to some of the undrafted guys in Rams camp, simply because that team had some depth concerns, particularly at linebacker.
Bobby (Port Orchard)
We know you grew up a Raiders fan, Mike. Do you ever wish you were covering them or the AFC West as a whole instead of the Hawks, 49ers and Cards?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I've never wished that. That would have been a wish if you had asked me in, say, 1997, because I was still a fan at that time. I'm not a fan in any way right now. There is no emotional connection to the current Raiders, only to the teams I followed years ago.
Assuming the Cards get at minimum average QB play this season (which would be a dramatic improvement) and the defense continues its progrerssion.......how do you see AZ's season shaping up?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Last season, I said the Cardinals would improve simply because their QB play could not get any worse. And they did improve, from 5-11 to 8-8. But I'm not sure how much the QB play had to do with it. I also think it's easier going from 5-11 to 8-8 than from 8-8 to a significantly better record -- especially when getting average QB play.
Bernie (Burien, WA)
Mike, can you settle an argument I've been having with a Cards fan? I don't think either Adrian Wilson or Patrick Peterson would start in Seattle ON DEFENSE. I do like Peterson as a KR ...
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Selective argument there. To suggest Wilson would not start would be to imply he wouldn't be one of the 11 best player on defense in Seattle, when in fact what we're saying is that Seattle also has a Pro Bowl strong safety, so it would be tough for any other strong safety to project as a starter. Peterson would definitely start for the Seahawks, in my view. They would find a way to get him on the field. Put it this way: If the Cardinals called and offered Peterson for Brandon Browner or even Richard Sherman, would the Seahawks decline the offer? Even if they could not use Peterson in the return game? I doubt it.
Dominic (New York)
Do you expect the Niners to take the West again this year?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
I think the 49ers are justified as favorites, but that their win total will fall some and the division race will be more competitive. The 49ers are not a lock in my view.
Shaun Church (Glendale)
Oh my god. Is Bernie serious? Adrian Wilson is the best safety in the NFC, and it's not even close. So that's my question. Is Bernie serious?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
A reasonable person could say Chancellor was better than Wilson last season, or vice versa. Earl Thomas is probably better than both of them.
I was in the band with Greg Scruggs in high school (yes he did play in the marching band until his senior year) and saw your comment earlier. What have you been hearing about him so far?
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
Funny, I meant to say Jaye Howard was a guy catching the Seahawks' eyes among late-round defensive linemen. Howard played for Dan Quinn at Florida. Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive line coach previously. Quinn would know what the Seahawks want in a defensive lineman and he could give them a good steer on Howard. Which is not to say Scruggs was unworthy of a mention there. The Seahawks think an overall rough final season at Louisville dropped Scruggs' stock further than his talent would justify. The Seahawks think they got a huge bargain. GM John Schneider called Scruggs the biggest bargain Seattle got in the draft.
Bully from Kansas [via mobile]
If Wilson turns out to be a stud for the Seahawks, will that serve as a "Kevin Kolb" situation for them? Who would they keep?
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
I accidentally selected this question and now must read it. OK, I've read it! They would keep Wilson if he were a stud.
So are you saying that avg. QB play in AZ offsets the big plays that won games in OT, because the big plays are chance happenings?
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
This was the question I intended to select. That auto-update actually makes it tougher for someone with an average mouse-clicking time. I do think it's unlikely the Cardinals will score as many times in the return game this season. The QBs will have to do more.
Bernie (Burien, WA)
"Starter" is a relative term in the NFL anyway. Yes, to clarify my point was that A Wilson & P Peterson would both be 3rd @ their respective positons on Seattle's depth chart. Your point is well taken I should have been more clear. I've just always thought Wilson was overrated.
Mike Sando (2:13 PM)
Wilson was not overrated last season. He had a good season. I thought Chancellor was a little better -- more of an intimidating force, which I think is important for a 220-pound safety. Peterson would be better than the third corner in Seattle, I think. Even if he were not, he would be soon enough.
Alex (Davis, CA)
Why do teams trade for back up QBs from the Eagles? Have any of the back up QBs they've fleeced other teams in trades for ever succeeded with their new teams? It seems that the school of thought that "Andy Reid develops quarterbacks" needs to be thrown out with the trash.
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
I'd be skeptical too.
Alex (Davis, CA)
Yes, Mike. A reasonable person could say that Chancellor was better last season when Wilson was playing with a torn biceps injury that would have put most players on IR.
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
I've got tremendous respect for Wilson and have no problem with anyone ranking him above Chancellor last season. I would take Chancellor, but a reasonable person could disagree.
Dave (Elko NV)
Hi Mike, Card fan here....There is open division on the Cardinal website message board about who should be the starting QB. Skelton fans point to his win/loss record, pocket presence and Kolb's seeming "injury prone". Do you have an opinion on this?
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
If it's a tossup or close, go with Kevin Kolb because of the money. If Kolb then falters, you can go back to John Skelton and let him have a run at it. I just think Kolb would have a harder time recovering if the Cardinals benched him to open the season. He's on a higher perch because of that salary and would suffer a harder fall as a result, whereas anything the Cards get from Skelton is a bonus given his draft status. He could easily take over and then grow into the job.
Bully [via mobile]
Wow lots of jabs. Just participating
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
Glad to have you here. We throw a few jabs around in good fun.
Pete ( )
I think Bully was wondering whether they kept Portis or Jackson. You have to figure they'd keep Flynn and Wilson would get the #2 spot.
Mike Sando (2:18 PM)
Oh, I see. I'd think Jackson would only stay at a reduced salary. If Jackson would take a cut, he would be the guy to keep on the 53, I think, with Josh Portis going to the practice squad. That would be the safe move unless Seattle felt absolutely great about its starter before cutdown day.
You have started a war here with the 7-9 hawks fans and the 8 cards fans. now we dislike each other even more...thanks alot
Mike Sando (2:20 PM)
It's funny how we defend the NFC West to outsiders but rip the teams when it's just us. It's like a family. You can fight with your brother but if someone else does, you defend him no matter what. Seattle fans can say 14-16 over the past two seasons beats 13-19 over the same period.
Mike Sando (2:20 PM)
Looks like we've gone 20 minutes long. Time flies when you're having fun. See you back on the blog.