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 (1:03 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Sando it seems surprising to me that the Seahawks pretty much decided that they weren't even going to try to upgrade their pass protection this off-season. Seeing how they landed their potential franchise QB, wouldn't it be prudent to give him elite protection instead of banking on a bunch of project players outside of Okung and Unger?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
In Tom Cable they trust -- perhaps too much. They drafted Russell Okung sixth overall as an no-brainer pick (and before Cable was there). Since then, Cable steered them toward James Carpenter and presumably John Moffitt, a couple guys who haven't worked out to this point (we can blame injuries on Carpenter, but it's not like Carpenter was looking great when healthy, necessarily). Now, more recently, the team has tried converting seventh-round defensive linemen into guards, with somewhat promising results (in terms of bang for buck, but not overall quality). They like what Breno Giacomini brings. I do think they could have stood to draft another offensive lineman somewhere in there. On the other hand, Russell Wilson's scrambling ability gets them out of trouble. He is GREAT at scrambling and led the NFL in time before the pass last season.
Jeff Fisher (Ram OTA's)
If you had Austin on your team would yo give him carries out of the backfield? He had 62 his senior yr
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yeah, I'd give him some carries, enough to keep alive the threat and make other teams account for that element. The Rams will get some direct gains through the yards Austin makes, plus any indirect gains available through improved matchups elsewhere on the field. I would not want to give Austin lots of carries, for obvious reasons relating to his size. But I would want to run him on select plays, and keep defenses guessing.
Any chance the niners target a FA WR for a cheap one year deal? I know the cap space is tight.
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Cap space would not be the primary issue there, in my opinion. I think they want to strike a balance between having good enough veteran depth and still developing their younger guys. So they must consider whether adding a veteran player would help the situation overall or possibly stand in the way of developing guys like A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette. Because if you sign a guy like Brandon Lloyd, he is better right now than those younger players. But what is lost longer term if you just go with a Lloyd type for the short term?
Josh... Redding,Ca [via mobile]
Do you see a suspension in Moffits future? It seems to me that his off the field behavior might have the commish a little irritated. Sounds to me like Moffit should just stay out of shopping centers
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
John Moffitt seems like a fun and funny guy in the locker room, based on what I've seen first hand and what we've seen through media coverage, including the video reports from fullback Michael Robinson. At a certain point, though, every player must justify his position based on merit. Moffitt has not really done that yet. He has potentially lost his starting job to a defensive tackle the team selected in the seventh round. That is not good. The antics just aren't as funny when a player doesn't produce. The latest off-field stuff -- supposedly urinating at a mall, then getting in trouble for returning as part of a misunderstanding -- counts as a strike against him for sure. Remember, too, that when Moffitt incurred a four-game suspension for supposedly failing to clear his Adderall prescription through the league, this was also supposedly a misunderstanding. At a certain point, players are accountable. You don't see Russell Wilson or 95 percent of other players having these misunderstandings.
Why is the NFL in love with Thur night games??? Last yr especially in the NFCW it seemed every team that played each other in a thur night game, lost significant players to injury!
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
The league and the networks like to maximize revenue.
Does James Laurinaitis get enough credit around the league for being a rock in the middle?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
He is overshadowed a bit by better inside linebackers in his own division.
Which under-the-radar new addition to the NFC West will improve their team the most this season? Greater team success will help him as well.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I wonder if it might be Rashard Mendenhall. The Cardinals were a mess at running back last season. Mendenhall has real talent. This season is a big opportunity for him. I'm not betting on it. I'm not going out there writing blog items about how Mendenhall will be the under-the-radar new addition improving his team the most. But since you asked, yeah, I could see him qualifying. You figure he's going to get the ball a ton. And while other additions such as Carson Palmer, Anquan Boldin, Percy Harvin and Tavon Austin rightfully command our attention, Mendenhall is in position to do good things, too.
WIll Richardson be able to hold off Pead as the lead back in STL? You'd think Rams would want Pead to be primary back with that 2nd round investment
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Pead seems like a change-of-pace runner more than an early-down runner. I would not be surprised if Zac Stacy were the lead back. But it is hard to say because he's a rookie and we have not seen him yet.
Alex (St. Louis)
What's your opinion on the draft being moved back? I think it could really effect the draftees because it's another month for them to rise or fall on teams' boards.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I am not sure how much grades really change in the last week. There is a little more time for a prospect to prove he is healthy or to mess up in a way that hurts his stock. Mostly, though, I think it means more mock drafts.
Do players generally come back stronger, the same, weaker after Achilles injuries? Are tears easier to fix than partial tears?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I'm sure each person is different depending on age, body type and the like. It's something I'll look into with Stephania Bell, our injury expert.
If this year's draft class for the Rams contributes as much as last year's, does Les Snead start getting recognized as one of the better GMs in the league?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
That really depends upon the team's record at the end of the season. That will influence perceptions about progress.
Doesn't congress seem to pay waaay too much attention to the NFL all things considered? Whats your take on the Redskins name?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I think the team will be pressured into changing its name eventually, but not immediately. It's just a conversation that hasn't taken place in full yet.
I like Bruce Arians as the coach of the Cardinals with is vertical passing attack. Which wideout do you thing will benefit most from this offense other then Fitzgerald?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Michael Floyd's trajectory was rising anyway, so I'm not sure Arians' offense should get too much credit for what was going to happen anyway. However, I do think he's in position for quite an increase in production.
How much credit should Scot McCloughan be given the rosters of both Seattle and SF? I hear Baalke gets credit for many of SF's elite picks but wasn't it McCloughan that was the mastermind behind them?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Scot McCloughan is underrated in that regard. I think he's a very good talent evaluator with significant influence in Seattle as John Schneider's right-hand man for college scouting in particular. We all know he played a leading role in helping the 49ers put together a lot of their current core. The 49ers and Seahawks like a lot of the same types of players, and McCloughan is one reason for that.
Considering where he was drafted, it's my thinking that the Niners are gonna have to start getting AJ Jenkins some snaps soon. If he's a bust, so be it, but at some point you gotta give him a shot. Do you think considering the Crabs injury he'll work his way into at least 10-15 snaps at the beginning of the season?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
We don't know how Jenkins will respond to the opportunity before him. I do expect more from him and would say there's a pretty decent chance he works his way into that type of role.
Eddie Roche (Holliston)
Alot of people are always quick to point to Jeff Fisher's "average" record as a HC with the Titans. More often than not, these people fail to realize that he was often hamstrung by a notoriously cheap owner. As a result of that, he was forced to rebuild that team afew times over. Now that he is seemingly paired with an owner in Stan Kroenke that doesn't have a death grip around his wallet, is Fisher primed for a strong run?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
At the very least, people should admit that Jeff Fisher seems to be insurance against horrible seasons. A bad year for him is usually going to be 7-9. I also think Fisher hasn't always had a stable presence at quarterback. Sam Bradford is someone I think he can win with. What I saw from Fisher last season was impressive, especially within the division.
Chris (grantsville UT) [via mobile]
Thanks for the chat every week Mike. I read an article about top 10 QB's under 25 and Keap was #3 I believe that's not correct. He lead his team to super bowl,plus RG3 injury history should have been factored in. Do you agree? Or am I way off base?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
The problem with rankings is that they force you into making distinctions that might not exist or might not be all that relevant. Colin Kaepernick showed last season he was already better than the vast majority of starters in the NFL, with a chance to become one of the very best if he sustains what has been the best start for a QB through 10 starts over the last five years, and probably longer.
John Carbeau (Valley of Sin)
Thanks for the chats Sando, always a great read. How much production do you feel the 49ers can really get out of Boldin? It seemed to me last year that he maxed out for the playoffs in what he probably considered his last best chance to get a ring. All indications from his stats the past few years is that he has been on a steady decline. If Boldin were to go down to injury as well, I think you could say that the 49ers passing game would be in serious trouble.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I think Joe Flacco was pretty average before the playoffs, and that affected the numbers for Boldin. Flacco was outstanding in the playoffs -- a contract was on the line for him -- and his performance rose all boats, so to speak. Age is the biggest concern with Boldin. He will decline at some point. But in the short term, I think he's in position to outperform his recent regular-season production because of Colin Kaepernick.
Mike G (Friday Harbor, Wa)
Mike, Seattle looks a little lean at TE now. How is Luke Willson coming along in OTA's? Do you see Seattle picking up another TE off the wire?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Willson looks like a big wide receiver. I've seen good from him and not so good from him, but I've only seen 2-3 practices, both without pads. That is not a lot to go on.
droog yarblockos (MN)
The perception in Minnesota was that for all his explosive talent, Percy Harvin was not an adequate route runner. Do you think Carroll will use him primarily in the slant/bubble screen type of routes that the Vikings did, or send him downfield more?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I would expect Harvin's average route distance to increase from what it was when Christian Ponder was his quarterback. His yards after catch should shrink as a percentage of yards per reception.
Sando, please dispel the myth that Harvin is injury prone. Before last seasons high ankle sprain (which can happen to anyone) he played in something like 43 of 45 nfl games.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Percy Harvin has had health concerns throughout his career, from migraines to the ankle injury that sideline him last season. We can say those concerns are diminished now because the migraines haven't been an issue for a while.
It looks like the Rams are positioning themselves to be more of a sling the ball around, speed based team next year. This is not the type the approach you'd expect from a Jeff Fischer coached team. How do you think a speedy pass reliant team stacks up against the bigger physical defenses in the NFC West? More likely they'll run past/around the big defenses, or get pushed and bullied 6 games a year? Thanks1
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Smart teams play to their strengths. The Rams want to get the most from Sam Bradford. Building this type of faster-paced offense could help them do that. I think we still need to see how things play out. However, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook were the two skill players St. Louis spent the most on this offseason, and both are fast, relatively finesse-type athletes by NFL standards. The offensive line has some nasty guys on it, though. I don't see the Rams being a soft team on offense with Jake Long, Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl out there. Remember, too, that the Rams are still building. They are a work in progress. They will add more pieces next offseason. In the meantime, they look like a speed-oriented team on both sides of the ball. They have get-up-the-field pass-rushers too.
why is no one putting it past these young qbs to have a similar career path to that of Vince Young? He had a high level of success in year one and even made the pro bowl then went downhill from there. Why is no one worried about that from wilson/kaepernick etc
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Vince Young had issues. He was not as stable emotionally or as squared-away off the field as the young guys such as Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Pop Elias [via mobile]
How can people rate Sherman so high with peds. We thought merriman was great at one time.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I guess that depends upon what role you think Adderall plays in player performance.
EDTGO (THE IRON THRONE)
So Chancellor said Seahawks needed to grow up, Do you think Moffitt actions (Peeing in Public) was a sign of protest?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
That Moffitt incident happened in 2012, pretty sure. Timeline not related.
Jean-Luc Picard (USS Enterprise)
Alot of NFC West-ites are quick to point to Tavon Austin's lack of size as a determent to him succeeding in the NFL. I personally think his speed and elusiveness will make up for his small stature. I also think he is going to be able to take advantage of favorable matchups against NFC West nickelbacks, none of whom have the speed on paper to take him on. Another fact that should be considered is that he has 0 injury history going all the way back to his high school days.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
They are not going to play him at guard. They'll play to his strengths. Austin also said he's going to be smart. No need to be a hero out there. Get your yards and get down if necessary.
Where does Okung rank in your mind league wide for LTs
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Off the top of my head, I would say he is in the top five or six, probably.
Mike, if either Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson went down with season ending injuries in Week 1, do you think either of their respective teams would make the playoffs with their current backup QBs?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
David (SoCal) [via mobile]
Anquan Bolden looks good when he is the second or third wr on a depth chart and not so good as a number one guy. This year he looks to be the niner number one. Niner fans shouldn't expect much
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
That is a fair point for consideration, but remember, the 49ers' coaches are quite creative. Vernon Davis has very good speed. So does Colin Kaepernick.
Any concerns about SF's age on defense?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Yeah, mostly as it pertains to Justin Smith's longevity and ability to maintain a high level of play following surgery.
rams d is on the rise can they have the best d in the divison next year or am i just dreaming thanks
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Yes, they could. Some would depend upon whether the 49ers' defense fell off some while transitioning (potentially) away from Justin Smith (depending on how long he plays). Safety is a position where I have some Rams-related question marks, also.
Chris (grantsville UT) [via mobile]
What your be your thoughts on, the whole chemistry thing with Davis and Keap? A lot of reporters are making a huge deal out of it. But I point to playoffs and looked like they got on same page. Is this chemistry thing overrated?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I think it is not a concern for the 49ers, but it's a natural offseason storyline for an offense in transition.
James (Mesa, AZ)
If the Cardinals o-line ranks in the middle of the league this year, would you think the credit would go to Levi Brown being back? I'm starting to wonder if it was just that Grimm didn't get the most out of his guys. That he hasn't been hired leads me more that way.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I also have questions about to what degree Russ Grimm was able to develop what little young talent the Cardinals had during his tenure there. Drafting Jonathan Cooper should help a great deal. I would think he would also get lots of credit if the line improved.
Do you think Todd Bowles can fix the problems the Cards D had on Run Defense? People talk about how the defense was strong, but I kept seeing them get gashed in the running game. Schedule is tough vs. the run this year for the Cards.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Todd Bowles is a question mark for me. I thought the Cardinals had a top-five defense last season. It got no help from its offense, either.
I love to get as much information as possible about the 49ers.. but it seems JH is stingy at best at giving info out. When you have spoken to him, does it really seem frustrating? How do you interview him different that other coaches?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Jim Harbaugh seems more open during the offseason when he's talking about bigger-picture stuff. He is very tight-lipped during the regular season, when everyone is interested in specifics and there are real reasons for coaches to guard information.
How much longer do you think Dahl and Wells have left in the tank? Seems like with them being up there in age and Saffold possibly gone after the season, the Rams O-Line might need a major overhaul.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
The line is a position the Rams must target next offseason. I think they'll get at least one new starter next offseason and possibly more if Rodger Saffold does leave.
Mike G (Friday Harbor, WA)
OK Mike....How big a deal is "The Moffitt Urinating in Public" issue gonna be?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
It's pretty irrelevant. John Moffitt is not a significant piece to the puzzle in Seattle at this point.
How can you say Adderall does not affect physical performance? For all we know, it might have been a worse drug but the NFL did not reveal the real substance. Richard Sherman, Bruce Irvin, and Brandon Browner do not deserve the recognition they deserve until they can prove they play the same without roiding up.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I didn't say Adderall has no effect on performance. I said determining the role Adderall played in Richard Sherman's performance "depends upon what role you think Adderall plays in player performance" overall (update: and whether you think he took Adderall, which he denied taking; Sherman won his appeal after the NFL said notified him he would face a four-game suspension). It's not a muscle-building substance or a steroid. There is a recreational component to it, and some unknowns.
chris (pleasant grove ca)
Chris Givens is not getting the respect he earned on the field last year. The rams felt comfortable enough to not resing there two starting wide outs with Givens progress and need to fill the slot position. Hense the drafting of Austin. I think Givens will lead the team in yards and TD your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Good point. Tavon Austin will get a ton of attention, but Chris Givens might be more likely to lead the team in receiving yardage. He was the primary reason the Rams ranked respectably in long pass plays last season.
Do you Lance Kendricks being involved much in the passing game or will most of his play time come from being a blocking FB?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Yeah, I see him playing more of the h-back type role with Jared Cook as more of the route-running downfield tight end.
OleSagginSeahawk (30 miles West of Seattle.)
After your Lebron James article,I heard Hockey players are organizing to try out for the NFL. You don't know what you've started
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
We talk about great athletes transferring their talents to other sports. Hockey is different. The level of skating involved goes so far beyond what any player in another sport could begin to replicate. I would be surprised if any player in another mainstream sport could succeed in the NHL even with lots of training. NHL players' skating ability is so ridiculously good that we don't even think about it. They make the impossible look easy.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. See you on the blog.