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 (1:00 PM)
Here we go. Thanks for coming along.
There's been a lot of talk that at least one of the rookie or two year phenom's is going to "slump" this upcoming season, but is even that likely? With how talented and focused they all seem to be, it appears as if they're all going to continue to improve.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I assume you're talking about Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. Both play for very good teams with strong ground games and talented defenses. They're in good position to succeed again.
Supposing Witherspoon signs and makes the final roster, what would be his most likely role: a backup depth for any LB spot, a time share with Ogletree or starting ahead of Ogletree?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
I'd see him as insurance. They'll want Alec Ogletree to be the guy, but they also had almost zero veteran depth in backup linebacker roles. Josh Hull, who has 40 snaps and one start, was the most experienced backup behind Jo-Lonn Dunbar, James Laurinaitis and Ogletree. I wonder if we'll see a veteran safety coming into the mix as well.
If Fitz goes down for the season at any point, who would be our best option at the 3rd WR spot? Im not confident Swope is healthy enough and Byrd showed potential but nobody has been heralding him as nfl ready.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Now do you really have to allude to the possibility of Larry Fitzgerald suffering an injury. That's not allowed. But in a purely hypothetical sense, you raise a pretty good point here. They've got Fitz, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. Beyond that, who knows? Think that has to shake out during camp.
tim (costa mesa, CA)
I dont think you've ever covered women's sports, but are men allowed in the women's locker rooms? what is your take on women in the NFL locker room?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I really, really loved that Title IX special on ESPN the other day. Great background. The stuff they're discussing seems like it would have taken place 100 years ago, but it was happening in the 90s and we're still not where things need to be across the board, most likely. I have covered women's sports years ago and never went into the locker room. I really don't know the policies for reporters covering women's sports, but it's not that complicated. Teams just need to have policies that work regardless of reporters' gender.
Don L. Middaugh III (Alaskan in Texas)
Russel Wilson lost out on yet another award (ESPY), not that it matters much, but it sure seems like playing in the NW can get you overlooked for such events. I'm not doubting that Kaepernick broke out, but I still see what Wilson did as much more difficult. Anyway, my question is do you think that this current team could help future players not get overlooked because of their location?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I think quarterback is the one position people are familiar with regardless of the market, particularly when there is a star. Colin Kaepernick finished the season in the Super Bowl and has had a high profile lately. Those things surely helped him. Also, he was really good and deserving. I do think people were a little late in recognizing what Wilson was doing, and some analysts are just now getting to the point where some of us were maybe in Week 14. That is natural. Not everyone follows every team as closely.
Ramsey Musa (Denver, CO)
Hi Mike,I'm a loyal Rams fan, and for the first time in along time, I'm really excited for the 2013/14 season! Question: If you had to choose one team in the NFC West, that will not make expectations this year. It's okay if you pick the Rams, though I have a feeling they will surprise many this season.. Many thanks!
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Well, that just depends on what we think are the expectations. The expectations are sky-high for the 49ers and Seahawks, so it's more likely they'll fall short of those expectations, simply because they could go 10-6 and win one playoff game without meeting expectations. I think injuries will be pivotal for at least one of the top teams.
The Seahawks have a bit of a luxury at WR, depth wise, but assuming Tate has a statistical season worthy of a big contract this upcoming season, does the Seattle FO look to cut Tate or Rice first or is keeping both a plausibility?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Golden Tate is entering the final year of his deal. He would not be released. It's just a matter of whether he would earn a long-term deal and whether that would come at Sidney Rice's expense. I don't think we can say one way or another without knowing how they fare this coming season. I'd also like to know whether Rice provides something on the outside that the team thinks it doesn't get from the other receivers on the roster.
This must be a great time for you, with all of the talent in the NFC West. But straight up, assuming the NFC champ comes from the West, can they win it all?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Definitely. They've got the QBs and they've got talent elsewhere on the roster.
Sean (Herndon, Virginia)
Do you think Carson Palmer is still a good enough quarterback to lead a young Cardinals team into the post season a-la-Kurt Warner??
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
In the 2010 NFC West, yes. In the 2013 NFC West, that will be tougher. I think it's a longer shot than it was when Warner was playing for Arizona. The division is just tougher. Palmer could be the fourth-best QB in the division and still have a decent year.
Rodney T (Atlanta, GA)
Mike, me again. Boss outta town today so i can chat all during the time period.Who do you feel has best WR class in the division?Sea-HArvin, Tate, Rice, BaldwinSan Fran-Boldin, Vernon Davis, and etcAriz-Larry Fitz, Floyd, Roberts, SwoopeStL- Givens, Pettis, Austin, Bailey, Quick
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I give Arizona a slight edge right now with Larry Fitzgerald's presence and Michael Floyd's anticipated continued rise. However, I think Seattle's addition of Percy Harvin gives the Seahawks some claim to that title. The Rams' receivers are too young to evaluate right now. The 49ers obviously have some issues with Michael Crabtree rehabbing from injury. I thought Matt Williamson put it pretty well when he said Fitzgerald was the best receiver in the division, followed by Harvin and a healthy Crabtree, and that the gap between Fitz and Harvin was smaller than the gap between Harvin and Crabtree -- based not just on raw receiving stats but on impact.
Matthew Jenkins (Yuma AZ)
I enjoyed reading the article about what Baldwin had to say about all of the negative attention NFL players are getting right now. Although most media outlets might look at the player's charitable events as a given, what would it take for the media to actually highlight the good instead of the bad?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I suppose the good would have to matter more in relation to the product on the field. If a player gets arrested, he might miss games or not get a contract extension. That matters to the fans who pay for the product. If a player talks to kids at a school, that affects the product on the field how? The more I think of the subject, that is really a big part of this.
It's football so injuries happen. Which team in the division do you feel is setup best if they were to lose there starting QB? Which team do you see if hurting the most?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Tarvaris Jackson is more accomplished than the other backup quarterbacks in the division. I expect him to be the No. 2 guy in Seattle and would feel better about him starting than any of the other No. 2 QBs starting, although we have less to go on with some of the other guys. I just feel as though Jackson knows the offense and showed a couple years ago he could basically be a .500 starter with that team.
Joe (Jackson, WY)
Mr. Sando, do you think opposing defenses will have an answer for Kaepernick or Wilson this season?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I thought the Rams already had some pretty good answers.
PFF said that Earl Thomas is an above average safety but not high quality or elite like Weddle or Byrd. We use him as a single high safety/center fielder-type that doesn't rack up stats that other FS might. Not that it matters but does this skew the opinion on his value down a little bit for those that aren't as familiar with our defensive system?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Yeah, I saw where PFF docked Thomas for missed tackles. They have standards they use for grading players and probably want to be consistent in administering those standards. I think Thomas is a huge factor for the defense through his ability to cover ground when the ball is in the air, and I think his talent in that area is rare enough to consider him an elite player. It might be a tiny bit like docking Shaq for missing free throws. Yeah, those foul shots are important, but was he not an elite center?
Jay R - San Francisco [via mobile]
We've all heard of Kaepernick's work ethic but do you think all of this media exposure will affect him negatively? If so, what will the repercussions be for him? Go Niners!
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
My sense is that Colin Kaepernick will gain maturity as he ages, and that right now he revels in the fact that people can't seem to read him. I suspect things will settle down when he gets into the season, and that these fun offseason diversions will not matter so much. If he becomes an international star, yeah, you wonder how he'll handle that. Not everyone handles it well. But he is not one right now.
Don L. Middaugh III (Alaskan in Texas)
Everyone seems to lump Wilson in the "running QB" category, and yes I'm sure Seattle will make use of his ability to move, but to me it seemed as if Wilson was mainly extending plays and only running when chased out of the backfield. Even with Kaepernick I noticed he would read 1, then 2, then run. Do you think that perhaps Wilson by that will be a little harder to defend going forward after defenses adjust to the read-option? As Wilson doesn't rely on his legs like some of the other young QBs
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
There's no question he moves to buy time. Wilson led the league in average time before the pass. He also made an unusual number of passes from outside the pocket. Now, those things said, he was still productive inside the pocket. But if defenses can do a better job taking away his options when he moves, or a better job of preventing him from getting outside to buy time, that could affect the offense. Take the game against the Rams in Week 17. Wilson didn't get a lot going, but he did connect on at least one important deep pass that was not a rhythm throw. Maybe he can sustain that simply because it's tough to cover for a long time.
If Griffin was healthy for the playoff game, do the Redskins beat us (Seattle)?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I think there would have been a really good chance of it. Russell Wilson did not have a good game overall. I think that gets lost sometimes. Had he gone one-and-done in the playoffs and had people realized he did not play all that well, the narrative might be a little different right now. Seattle was on its heels early in that game for sure.
Daniel(Hobbs New Mexico) [via mobile]
Lots of talk about Bradford this year. Will this be a make or break year for this guy? What type of o do you think the rams will run this year with the amount of speed at the wr and rb position?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
It's only a "break" year if he's horrible, and I really don't think that is going to be the case. This is more likely a bridge year for him. The Rams' window could be in that 2014-2016 range given all their young players. As for the offense, just Google "you won't recognize rams offense" and you should see the piece I wrote about it.
Don L. Middaugh III (Alaskan in Texas)
How long to you think the "championship window" will be open for both Seattle and San Fransisco, and hey even the Rams. I've been impressed with what the Rams are doing and Bradford can play.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I believe those windows exist when there's a QB good enough to open them. We should see the 49ers and Seahawks with long-term QB stability. This year will tell us more about whether the Rams will have something that way as well. There will be years when Seattle and San Francisco aren't as good or are transitioning in certain ways, but as long as they have top quarterbacks, they'll be relevant.
Is it safe to say the number of targets Harvin gets will be less than last year where I believe you said he was 37% of targets? If that is the case, will Diva Harvin come out mid year?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Winning solves all that. Gotta win or else people look at the stat sheet.
Will [via mobile]
Can Sam lead the West in passing yards this season?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I think that's realistic, but that's not always very meaningful.
Thiago (New Jersey)
Remember when the NFC West was compared to the USFL? How long do you see the division being the best in the NFL?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Again, how long will there be good quarterbacks?
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando,Please address the situation with the blog switching to facebook, the VAST majority of your followers have left this site, is there any chance we could see ESPN take a 180 on this switch and listen to their followers and react to their disapproval of the new format. By now you should realize it's not just "trolls" that you have lost.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I don't know anything about plans regarding comments sections on the site. However, you can have 100 people combining for 1000 comments without revealing anything about the number of people visiting the site, which tends to vary based on predictable factors, including whatever happens to be going on that day. I very much value the conversations we have in the comments sections and hope to promote quality in the comments section, something I've aimed to do from the beginning. I think it's possible to add value through conversations in the comments section and think that value isn't dependent on the interface.
Will [via mobile]
Speaking of adding vets for the rams, do you see them adding a rb even if its just to help the rookies during camp?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Not necessarily. I don't think they want old guys getting in the way of the young guys, especially at that position.
With the exception of the Cardinals, do you think the NFC West will be tighter than people seem to assume at this point? The Niners seem to have a rough schedule and the Rams had since safety blitzes, etc....
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
I already think people realize it can be a tight division race. I'd say Arizona could be closer than people realize as well. They were 1-11 to finish last season but with improved health and some QB stability, they'll be much more competitive.
tim (costa mesa, CA)
what pre season game are you most excited for?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
The last one! I say that in jest. I really do look forward to the preseason games starting, but mostly because by then we've seen enough camp and want to get another level of evaluation. But the regular season is where it's at.
Who do you see winning the Seahawks second string RB position? Turbin being the incumbent seems to have a better chance than Christine Michael, yet many are very high on him even to the point of seeing him as the starter over Turbin a couple years down the line.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I'd expect Turbin to be the No. 2 this season.
Joseph New York [via mobile]
Do you think the Seahawks are going to be a better team on the road with the players that they added in free agency and the draft? Who do you think will win the OLB competition between Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
The Seahawks had pass-rush issues in some of those road defeats. They've addressed that, but with Bruce Irvin suspended to open the season and Chris Clemons coming off ACL surgery, I tend to think we'll see the improvements more late in the season than out of the gates.
Jean-Luc Picard (USS Enterprise)
With Michael Brockers emerging as a force, is it possible the Rams get even more sacks than they did in 2012? Langford I felt adjusted better down the stretch to playing in the 4-3, and obviously Brockers play was impressive. Am I crazy to think that Long, Quinn, and Hayes could all have 10+ sacks?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Not crazy but probably optimistic. I think you hit it with Brockers, though. He is the defensive lineman in the NFC West that I'm most interested in seeing this season. We saw some very encouraging signs from him. He had a really unlucky injury on a borderline cheap-shot block in preseason. If he is healthy all year, look out.
Seeing the pick that was tweeted of the Rams players after their workout with Sam it's crazy the kind of shape these guys are in. If I'm not mistaken my favorite player of all time, and a pretty good one at that, physically wasn't very good at all in Marshall Faulk? Which makes it even crazier how good he was.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Look, I'm in no position to rate physiques, but relatively speaking, yes, Faulk was one of those guys whose abilities exceeded the physical form. He was a freakishly good player without a freakish physique. I wouldn't call him the Tony Gwynn of running backs, but compared to guys like Eddie George, yeah, no comparison physique-wise.
Pablo Benitez (Stroke City, FL)
Mike, a lot of talk about second year Rams receivers having the potential for breakout seasons (i.e. Givens and Quick), but do you think Pettis has a chance to become a big name with his offseason work and success in camp this summer?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I don't expect him to become a big name but think he can be an important contributor.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat today. Hope to see you on the blog.