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)
Welcome, welcome. I've won the toss and elected to receive. The first 25 questions are scripted, but game plans can change at any time. Here we go.
For fantasy purposes, rank the rbs in the division.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I'd go with Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and then Rashard Mendenhall. I'd avoid the others for now.
Mike (Eugene, OR)
Sando, with Carp and Moffit being in "prove it" years, should we seahawks fans expect to see more shuffling along the O-Line? I was honestly surprised that the Seahawks didn't draft another lineman early this year. Do the coaches seem to think Carp and Moffit can do it or is this simply a matter of waiting until next year to address the line again?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
The Seahawks have faith in Tom Cable. They like their line depth a lot better than they liked it a couple years ago. I also thought they could have drafted one earlier this year. I'm glass-half-full on the two players you mentioned. Carpenter hasn't shown he can get healthy enough to regain his quickness and movement. Moffitt hasn't shown he can beat out JR Sweezy.
Derek (Prague, CZ)
I keep hearing the Rams are sleepers to possibly make the playoffs, but with a solidified offensive line, more athletic receiving options, Bradford being in the same system for consecutive seasons and a good defense, why couldn't they win the West?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
They could, but they would have to beat out two teams that won playoff games last season. The Rams in their current form would have been favored to win the NFC West as it stood in 2010. It is no longer 2010. The road is tougher for the Rams. I think they could finish second in the division, but suspect it could take injuries hitting one of the top two teams.
Have you heard anything concerning the progress that the Cardinals' defense is making with the new scheme? All I heard about during mini camps was how the offense was progressing.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
We mostly heard about Darnell Dockett being excited about how the scheme changes will affect him as an up-field player. We heard about Daryl Washington getting suspended. There's much to learn about this defense in training camp and beyond.
Rodney T (Atlanta, GA)
Hey Mike, one of your regulars. The only Rams fan in GA. With the new weapons on offense, and knowing Fishers past track record as a running type coach, how do you see the offense being utilized? 50-50, 60 run-40pass, 40run-60passI read an article on Turfshowtimes the other day about the "Magical 50 Play #" to reach in games to win.Whats your take?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
The premise about 50 plays says if your total number of rushing attempts and completed passes equals 50, you're going to win, generally. I think those types of stats tend to reflect winning more than lead to winning. Play well enough to control the game and you'll have more rushing attempts and more completed passes. We used to hear about teams having great records when certain players had 20 carries or 100 yards rushing in a game. Well, did they get the 20 carries or 100 yards because they were winning, or did they win because the player got 20 carries? I lean toward the former most of the time.
Mike (Eugene, OR)
I sincerely doubt we see Pete go to an air attack offense but with the addition of Harvin is it likely that we'll see more "two back" sets with Harvin lined up as a running back? If this takes a TE off the field there could still be 3 WR lined up. Do you expect the Seahawks to take this approach or are they likely to line Harvin up in more traditional slot roles and use screens and slants to get him the ball near the line of scrimmage?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Defenses generally set their personnel based on what is in the huddle, not where players line up. So, the opponent would not view Percy Harvin as a second running back even if he lined up in the backfield. I think we'll see Harvin line up in the backfield some, but not so frequently that anyone mistakes him for a running back. I'm also interested in seeing how he factors into read-option looks, especially when Russell Wilson uses play-action to throw.
What are your thoughts on Jaworski's top 2013 QB's? I thought Wilson would be higher than both Kaep and Schaub; however, number 12 is no slap in the face either.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
My take is that Russell Wilson had more ground to make up than just about anyone, and that if the season had gone another six games, Wilson would rank higher than 12th on Ron Jaworski's list. It's pretty remarkable that he ranks that high.
Please don't write anything about the monster year Fitzgerald is about to have. I'd like to get him in the 2nd round of my fantasy draft this year so keep the hype to a minumum please.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Ha. There's no way Larry Fitzgerald is going to slip under the radar. People know he's a great player and consistent producer coming off an unusually poor season in which many mitigating factors explained his dropoff.
So I've now heard Rod Woodson on NFL network, and all the Rams players talk about how good Janoris Jenkins is and will be. Even the best in the league. What is your honest opinion? If you had to bet where he would be ranked in three years would you have him top 5?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Cortland Finnegan said during my recent visit to St. Louis that Jenkins was by far the best defensive back on the team. I expect Jenkins to become more consistent. He seemed to be playing on talent last season. I want to see if he can become a more technical player this year. I could see him being recognized as a top 10 or 15 corner within the next year, but he has to prove it.
Jay Ramirez (San Francisco)
Being honest, what are you expecting of Vernon D this year and what are you expecting of CK7?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Wait, you want me to be honest? Ha. I think Vernon Davis has to have a big season. The offensive line shouldn't need him to help all that much in pass protection. There is no Michael Crabtree. There is no Delanie Walker. Seems to me we could see Vernon Davis become a 1,000-yard guy this season. On Kaepernick, I do think the receiving situation makes things a little tougher potentially until we see how the other guys develop. But I think he'll have a strong year.
Mike (Eugene, OR)
Which team is more likely to be the NFC West sleeper this year, the Rams or Cards? I know the Rams showed up big in the division last year so they're less of a sleeper but they still didn't do great outside of divisional play. I'm curious to know if you think the Cards can leapfrog the Rams or if we'll see a similar alignment to last year.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
The Cardinals qualify as more of a sleeper candidate because they went 1-11 to end the 2012 season. Expectations for them are lower. People are buzzing about the Rams quite a bit more.
Bo qui qui (Battle Ground, WA)
Walter Thurmond, I think he's underrated and could possibly break out. What do you think Sando? I mean break out as a nickel CB of course, maybe even beating out Winfield.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Thurmond could be one of those surprise players. Remember, he beat out Richard Sherman going into Sherman's rookie season. It's a little unfair to phrase things that way; Sherman was a fifth-round pick, and Thurmond had played some. Still, Thurmond clearly has talent. He just hasn't been able to stay healthy. I think it's a bonus if Thurmond finally stays healthy. It's not something to bank on. Ideally for Seattle, he would make a run for that slot position and factor there longer term.
Do you think Bruce Irvin can thrive as an OLB with the Hawks? I'd think his biggest flaw would be dropping back in coversge. Does his time at Safety in college help him in this case?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I think Bruce Irvin's greatest value is and will always be as an edge pass-rusher.
Victor Cruz recently signed a contract. Do you think the Seahawks overpaid for Harvin after seeing the Cruz deal?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I wouldn't tie together those players or their contracts for a few reasons. Harvin was a member of another team. Seattle had to pay a premium to acquire him by trade. That was part of the equation. Also, Harvin is a more dynamic and versatile player, someone who affects opposing defenses more than Cruz affects them in that opponents must be acutely aware of Harvin as more than just a slot receiver.
Bo qui qui (Battle Ground, WA)
Who do you think has the best RB core in the division?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
It's between Seattle and San Francisco. I have given the Seahawks a slight edge because I think Marshawn Lynch is the best running back in the division. Also, Robert Turbin and Christian Michael are the backups and I think they are about as good or better than the other backups in the division.
Do you think Kap acted out of line when he reacted to fans regarding the dolphins hat? and how do you think that affects him as a leader of his team?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Yeah, he could have handled it better. I didn't think he was horribly out of line, though. He's a young guy and it shows sometimes, but by all accounts, he works hard and plays well.
towards the end of the season will the combo of aldon smith on one side and tank caradine on the other be one of the best edge pass rush in the league?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I don't know about that. Do you have any questions about Aldon Smith's pure rushing ability in Justin Smith's absence? Justin Smith is back, so it might not be an issue. I thought it was a little interesting, however.
What are your thoughts on the recent news that the Hawks are moving Irvin to linebacker? Is it simply a way to get Irvin,Clemons,Bennett and Avril on the field at the same time?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
They do want interchangeability with some of those outside front-seven players. I still think Irvin is going to be used mostly as an outside rusher, but we shall see. It's still in flux and we have to take into account Chris Clemons' health, too.
Much has been made about the Cardinals not having that double-digit sack artist to lead their 3-4 defense; do you see anyone on the roster you think is capable of being that guy and who would it be?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Daryl Washington had nine last season. That is pretty close to being a double-digit sack guy. I do think Calais Campbell could get that type of production as a 4-3 defensive end type. It remains to be seen how his responsibilities might evolve. I do not see the 3-4 OLB types they have becoming double-digit sack producers.
How does the rams front 7 with the addition of Ogletree and a full season with brockers compare to the rest of the division?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Well, if we count Justin Smith as a defensive end even though he does play inside as well, I would expect Michael Brockers to be the best defensive tackle in the division. I'd say the Rams' front four compares favorably already. Let's not anoint Alec Ogletree just yet even though he looks like an exciting prospect.
David (SoCal) [via mobile]
Which qb would you be more suprised to see take a major step back, Wilson or Kaep?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
It's a loaded question. I'd say we've seen Russell Wilson play more games, so he might be the safer guy at this point. That doesn't not mean I think Colin Kaepernick is likely to take a step backward. There are some changes at receiver and tight end for the 49ers, and with those changes come questions. But I don't see Kaepernick as a player with overriding flaws.
Nate (Dayton, Oh)
How comfortable/uncomfortable are your feelings towards the Rams at safety? It is fun to poke fun at Craig Dahl, but I feel there is a chance we are worse at both safety positions than last year. And that is bad!
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I've got reservations about the Rams at that position and wonder if they could be a candidate to sign a safety before the season.
I your mind does either SF or Seattle gain a significant advantage by winning that week 2 matchup?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
The 49ers would gain a big advantage because they would then be in prime position to sweep Seattle. We take home victories for granted, but beating a prime division rival on the road? That could be pivotal to the race.
Ben (Seattle )
Rams fan behind enemy lines here. Question about upside as a passer. How do Bradford's throw tools compare to Kaep and Wilson's? Does he have the physical ability to compete with them (running aside of course)Thanks
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Yes, I think he throws it as well as those guys do. I'm not sure he throws it as well when pressured. That is something I'd like to look at more closely, but my impression is that Wilson in particular would be excellent at that.
How do you currently rank the NFC West quarterbacks from 1-4.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Wilson/Kaepernick, Bradford, Palmer.
I was surprised to see Jaws pretty much totally miss just how good Bradford was in the redzone the second half of the season. I mean, since we seem to universally ignore Russell Wilson's stats from before week 8, maybe we can do the same for Bradford? His redzone TD to INT ratio was nothing short of impressive down the stretch.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
It's a little tougher to flesh out second-half splits within the red zone. Jaworski watches the tape and has a good feel. We're talking about a pretty small red zone sample size, but no doubt, it's worth mentioning -- and we have mentioned it (via Bernie Miklasz and separately).
What must happen this season with the Cardinals for Bruce Arians to be considered a success in his first year?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
The Cardinals improve at quarterback and on offense without losing what they had going on defense. And when the season ends, the team appears pointed in the right direction. That would seem like a successful first season.
joe oroville wa [via mobile]
I know talking about the oline isn't sexy but do you think kilgore passes goodwin on the depth chart this year
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Daniel Kilgore is in the mix, but the 49ers did give Jonathan Goodwin some guaranteed money in exchange for a pay reduction. I took that as a sign that Goodwin would probably be the starting center for this coming season. Now, if Kilgore is clearly the better option, maybe there's a switch. I just think the 49ers like what they have going on the line and don't want to mess with a good thing.
Mike Sando twin (USA)
Who would you take in for your fantasy team? Fitz or Harvin?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Larry Fitzgerald strikes me as the solid, safer, tough-to-lose bet there.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat today. See you on the blog.