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!
Bully (kansas) [via mobile]
I enjoyed your observations at Rams camp. I would like to know what, if there was anything, that you liked out of our O-line and if you saw Turner(C/G) making line calls; also your assessment on that. ThankU.!
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Thanks. Robert Turner did work at center. That will continue while Scott Wells gets all the way back from knee surgery. I do not know to what extent Turner was handling calls, or to what extent they needed calls at this stage of practice. Whoever plays center will make the calls, I believe. The Rams were not in full pads yet, so it was tough to say how the interior offensive linemen were faring. The tackles had their hands full with the defensive ends, but they were not totally overwhelmed.
Which group of NFCW receivers is the deepest? Which is the best? I think AZ has the best by default, Fitz is on another level from the rest of the West WRs, but what are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I'll also go with the Cardinals. Beyond Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have a couple good slot receivers in Early Doucet and (this season) Andre Roberts. I believe the Cardinals' coaches when they say Roberts had a good year in 2011, better than his stats, and that the QBs simply did not find him enough. I would probably then go with the 49ers' group next even though I still have questions about what Randy Moss has to offer. I'd guess that Moss will probably be a factor. Seattle has question marks beyond Doug Baldwin: Sidney Rice's durability, Golden Tate's consistency (looks good so far), etc. Haven't heard much about Kris Durham to this point either. The Rams have a bunch of unknowns. Not going to rate them til we see them.
So are you heading to Canton this weekend
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I am, and I feel really honored. Never been before. My wife and sons are flying out Friday. I will be blogging throughout the weekend. It's really exciting to think my boys will be able to see something so historic from a sports standpoint. They're into football and asked me if Jerry Rice will be there (he is expected to attend). My oldest as a photo of Jerry Rice scoring a TD. It's framed and he's very proud of it. He also wants to get some Cortez Kennedy gear.
I understand Steven Jackson gets overlooked because he isn't part of a winning program but how can so many "experts" talk about who they think the best RB's in the game are and his name almost never gets mentioned? If he was on the Packers or Dallas or the Giants he would be considered the runaway best RB in the league. Do you agree with this?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Yes! I respect no back more than I respect Steven Jackson. He is the total package in terms of being a team player, being tough, being consistent, being productive. I respect so much how hard he works. Reporting at 235 pounds and 5.1 percent body fat doesn't happen by accident.
Mike, Do you think Marshawn Lynch will be suspended for his DUI?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I'm thinking there's an outside chance of that. His case is ongoing and there were not any aggravating circumstances as far as we know, so that would generally lead to a fine of two game checks (out of 17 total checks, including one for the bye). There's a chance his violation of the personal conduct policy three years ago could lead the NFL to up the punishment for the DUI. I wonder, though, if we'll have any sort of resolution before the season.
Turn on auto update please.......thanks
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I turned on auto-update to begin. I wonder if it matters that I'm working in Firefox. Do not see why that would matter. Just know, I'm aware of that and did turn on that function.
timstantonx (costa mesa, ca)
Do you think Aldon Smith will be suspended for HIS DUI?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
No, that would surprise me. It's his first violation of any kind since coming to the NFL, to my knowledge. That should lead to a fine of two-seventeenths of his salary for 2012.
Aaron C (Idaho)
Firefox?????? Ewww. Chrome is your only choice from now on!
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I've tried it. Did not think it was better, or at least better enough for me to change. Like some of the add-ons in Firefox.
Alex Bader (Connecticut)
Do you think Aldon Smith will be suspended for being stabbed?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
If he is, all NFL players should march on the league office. I mean, sure, Smith needs to be careful who he hangs out with. But he was the victim here!
Which offensive line do you see as most improved from last year? Seems like each team had their own struggles over the course of last season.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Seattle was already much improved late last season compared to early in the season. That should continue if Russell Okung is healthy, which he is. I'm not sold on Arizona's moves improving its line in the immediate term. Bobby Massie's development at right tackle could change that. The Rams will be much improved from the injury-depleted line that finished last season. They'll run a lower-risk offense and that will make the linemen look a little better, or at least less vulnerable. The 49ers should improve gradually. They have to be better at right guard, it seems.
Michael (North Carolina)
Who are you going to be most excited about watching in the HOF game?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Kevin Kolb for one, and Ryan Williams if he plays. I'll keep telling myself it's only preseason and preseason doesn't matter a great deal. But I'll know perceptions matter for Kolb and it's important for him to play well.
Dan (St. Louis)
If somebody told you that one of the Rams 2012 draft picks was going to be a superstar in this league, who would you pin that label on if you were forced to make that choice today? In other words, who really showed you something that maybe you didn't expect?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Janoris Jenkins all the way. Looks like a special talent. Isaiah Pead and Michael Brockers look good too, but Jenkins was the one people were talking about.
Who starts at QB for Seattle week 1?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Matt Flynn is my guess. He seems to be doing pretty well in camp. If that continues, the team has every reason to see how he fares during the regular season.
Are there any NFCW QBs worth drafting as a backup fantasy option? Which one would you choose?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Alex Smith was one I picked up in the very late rounds last season. That worked out well for me. He was a decent fantasy starter, especially at home, as I recall. Would also consider Sam Bradford.
Mike, about our WR in Rams camp, has Quick looked good and what about Givens.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Quick looked like a promising rookie. Good one play, not so good the next play. Good to start one play, then not finishing the play. Givens showed a couple flashes. I'm skeptical on receivers early in camp because I've seen young ones look good early, then disappear during preseason games.
Ryan (So Cal)
Mike, awesome article about Rams Camp. I think you hit the nail on the head with the OLB situation and it really being a minute issue. The position is so undervalued; as long as you have a solid player there you can be pretty OK. My issue is at LG. You talked about how the players are saying "if we protect this guy, he'll take us places" but I'm extremely worried that much of the pressure Sam sees is going to come from a "so-so" left side of the line. I understand it's hard right now who might be the starter there, but is there any small indication who the favorite is at the LG spot? Tthanks.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Thanks, Ryan. Quinn Ojinnaka is the favorite right now. He's played multiple positions in the NFL and is the most game ready of the candidates to fill that role. Rookie Rokevious Watkins reported out of shape and hasn't shown anything yet. I see left guard and right tackle as the most concerning positions on the line. If they have to go young at left guard, at least they'll have a seasoned vet at center to help out. Scott Wells will be ready for the season.
Who is the best QB in the division?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Alex Smith, until Sam Bradford proves otherwise, which he will as soon as the Rams give him a little more help (could be this season, not sure).
Brandon J (Utah)
Do you think Harbaugh's outspoken defense of his players, both bolstering good opinions and getting on negative ones, in the media is a good thing as it shows he has the players' backs?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I do like a coach having his players' backs as long as the coach believes what he's saying. I also think there can be a self-fulfilling element to the praise. The players Harbaugh has praised -- Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree and A.J. Jenkins -- were first-round draft picks. They're talented guys. They have the ability to play well. These sorts of comments from Harbaugh would become a negative if Harbaugh were proven wrong repeatedly. If Crabtree were to suffer from an inordinate number of drops this season, Harbaugh would lose some credibility.
EDTGO (Iron Throne)
Alex Smith is the best QB in the NFCW, until Bradford gets protection? But but, did you not see Flynn vs the Lions and the other game?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Sam Bradford is the most talented quarterback in the division. Sure, you put Flynn with the 49ers' team from last season and I'll be he'd get good results. I think the 49ers would be better with Bradford at quarterback. Just think he's different from a talent standpoint. Has all the intangibles. Can flat-out throw the ball too.
Mike what is the general opinion in the media group of Harbaugh? The man has come out and ripped into you guys a few times now and I cant help but feel that should leave some damage even among the thick skinned media folk.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I suspect the guys covering the 49ers think Harbaugh is criticizing all the other reporters. Media guys care about access mostly. Harbaugh limits access. He gets a little snippy sometimes if someone asks about injuries or something else he doesn't want to talk about. Those things make covering the team tougher, but I think most of the guys covering the 49ers enjoy covering Harbaugh overall. I find Harbaugh interesting to speak with once you realize he's a little quirky. Sometimes you're talking to him and not sure if he's there.
red12thman (montana) [via mobile]
Who is the hardest player to get a interview from in the NFC west.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
My guess would be Randy Moss. I doubt a reporter could get access to him one-on-one. The team has made him available only a couple times since signing him, both in group settings.
CoasterNiner (Top of the NFC)
Can Braylon Edwards make the cut? I feel the team is looking at him as injury insurance for when Sidney Rice is invariably injured. If Edwards is healthy, he can make plays. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Edwards has a better chance for success this offseason because he's joining a team earlier in the process, and he is apparently healthy. Edwards could also compensate for Mike Williams' departure in the even Kris Durham doesn't develop on schedule.
Hashem (Southern Cali)
What do you think about Daryl Washington having a Pro-Bowl year? Coming off the performance he had last season and with a full offseason to fully understand Ray Horton's scheme, I believe he is in line for a huge year and will be the heart of our D! What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Really like Washington and think you're on the right track, but remember, the NFC already has some inside linebackers ahead of Washington in the respect hierarchy. Patrick Willis and Brian Urlacher have been in that group for a while. NaVorro Bowman joined that group. The Rams have high hopes for James Laurinaitis, but like Washington, he could have a hard time beating out established elite players at the position.
Patrick (Tacoma, WA)
Why do people keep talking about WR Kris Durham for the Hawks? The guy has done nothing and apparently hasn't been that impressive in training camp?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Who is talking about him? I just know the Seahawks drafted him thinking he could be in the Mike Williams mold, but faster and more athletic. It's fair to discuss him in that context, but way premature to say he's going to be a big factor. You're right, he's done nothing yet. Just starting out.
Keith H (Seattle)
Over at SI, Jim Trotter made the observation that with the emphasis on the running game, the NFC West will be the most physical division in the NFL. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Jim is one of the most physical writers out there. I kid. He's a great guy and I always enjoy bumping into him on the road. We both worked at the Tacoma News Tribune, a few years apart and a while back. I think Jim is seeing things accurately there. We saw it late last season. The defenses in San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona were physical. You know Jeff Fisher will have a physical team in St. Louis before long as well. That is his MO.
WHO'S THE NEXT SEAHAWK HALL OF FAMERS?? MACK STRONG, WALTER JONES??
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Walter Jones is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. He would be the choice. I think Kenny Easley should get some consideration from the Seniors Committee before too long. He was great, but might not have played long enough (HOFer Jack Christiansen could provide some precedent, though).
Bruce (Chick Fil A)
A lot of the blog commenters are saying it's likely Tarvaris Jackson will be traded. Your thoughts on the chance of that. It seems like backup to Flynn is much more likely.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Acquiring Jackson would mean acquiring his contract. I just don't see a team acquiring that $4 million salary. Now, I could see the Seahawks asking Jackson to take a pay cut, and if he did, maybe he's easier to trade.
Jim (St Louis)
Hello Mike, Any chance that Steve Smith returns to old form based on what you are seeing and hearing? 1,000 yards 6 TDs?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I saw one glimpse the other day. Smith made a fantastic catch and looked great doing it. They are cautiously optimistic. Preseason could be telling.
What is up with the plethora of fantastic writers coming out of the Northwest? Trotter, Clayton, Sando and to a lesser extent Les Carpenter? This place is a hotbed of writing.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Love the "lesser extent" reference on Les. I'll be sure to let him know you said that. Actually, you did not mention the most accomplished writer from a current sports staff in the NFC West. Google "Guernica novel" and you'll have your answer.
Bobby (Port Orchard)
What do you think of the recent admission by Seattle that they plan to move Carpenter to Guard?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
We've been saying that would happen for months, so it's just an affirmation of the next logical step. Carpenter had issues in pass protection at tackle. Breno Giacomini outperformed expectations at right tackle. Carpenter's knee injury was borderline catastrophic. Career altering. The team doesn't have a long-term prospect at left guard. Carpenter has a guard's mentality. I think the team should be excited about putting him next to Russell Okung on that left side. Carpenter was the 25th overall pick. That's not way out of line for a good guard, should he become one. It's not like he was a top-five pick or projected to anchor the left side for years.
Aaron (Des Moines, IA )
Followed the blog now since late last season...I remember seeing something (I think) about a game you play amongst the blog viewers. Is it fantasy related? Do you have a fantasy league you would invite us to play in? If so, DIBS! :)
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Yes, we run a Gridiron Challenge league. I need to get that set up again. Thanks for the reminder. I'll post info on the blog once it's set up.
Wasted Away (Anchorage Alaska)
Do you expect the Cardinals to continue using Patrick Peterson as a primary punt returner? As he becomes more valuable as a full-time corner, wouldn't it make sense to risk his exposure?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Not if he keeps scoring touchdowns.
Deuce Letui (Popeye's Chicken)
How's your weight thing going? Did you regain the pounds from last year?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Have kept off every pound! I've also gone vegan except for that chicken sandwich I just ate. So we have that in common!
Patrick (Tacoma, WA)
At what point does Pete Carroll's decision to maintain the 3-way QB competition undermine his credibility as a head coach (at least in regard to his decisions on the offensive side of the ball). decision-making on the offensive side of the ball??
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
A week ago, for some. It only undermines his credibility if the results are bad.
Patrick (Tacoma, WA)
Mike, some are picking St. Louis already as a dark horse for the NFCW division. Based on what you've seen in camp, do you expect them to overtake at least one team in the division this year??
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
There's a decent chance of that happening given that the QB situations elsewhere in the division allow for some volatility. There are no perennial Pro Bowl passers on the other teams. Another team could suffer through a down season easier because of that. Would anyone be shocked if Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, Russell Wilson or even Alex Smith had a poor season? I believe the Rams' Sam Bradford has the highest so-called ceiling among QBs in the division.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Thanks for joining the chat this week!
Flash80 (Santa Cruz)
Getting my comment posted is on my bucket list.
Mike Sando (4:19 PM)