Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider 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 (12:59 PM)
Here we go. Thanks for dropping by.
ray gordon reid ( orlando fla 32802)
Seahawks or 49ers?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Tough to go against the Seahawks at home. They have not lost there since 2011 (49ers 19, Seahawks 17 with Alex Smith and Tarvaris Jackson as the QBs of record). However, if this were a neutral-site game, I would take the 49ers against a Seattle team if I knew for sure Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril and Brandon Browner would not play. We know Irvin is suspended. We think Clemons is a week away from returning. We think Avril will play, possibly in a limited role. And we know the depth behind Browner should be sufficient enough against this 49ers WR corps.
Mike P (Greater KC)
The Chiefs have the Cowboys at home this week and the Cowboys had to hold on against the Giants to Win... What are the Chiefs chances of starting 2-0 this weekend
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Pretty good. Turnovers at QB are a key variable every week. The comparison is particularly interesting here because Alex Smith generally avoids them, while Tony Romo is sometimes prone to them. I picked the Cowboys to win their opener and I think Romo is a good player -- better than Smith. But when you see that 15-5 ratio of TD passes to INTs for Smith since the 2012 opener (30-20 for Romo), I think that could help the Chiefs win at home. Also, though, let's watch Smith on third down. He has not been a productive third-down player.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Pumping the brakes or punching the gas on the downhill Brandon Weeden mobile?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Pumping the brakes because it was Week 1 and Cameron Wake had a great matchup. Let's give him a few weeks here and take into account all that is going on around him -- including the personnel situation at wide receiver.
Not sure if there is a matchup I'm looking forward to more this weekend than Sherman/Boldin. Should be very, very interesting.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I would rather see Anquan Boldin vs. Brandon Browner.
Steve C. (MA)
I think this is the year that the Giants totally collapse. They haven't been over .500 since their superbowl run, which they were only really 1 game over .500 during. They had 0 RB depth, bringing in Jacobs reeks of total desperation. Their vaunted pass rush has been in steady regression since 2011, and I also feel like their offensive line is the worst that it's been since Coughlin took over there.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
We recently put together a project looking ahead to 2016 and I realized Tom Coughlin was going to be 70 then. It made me think about a potential end of an era with the Giants. I wasn't thinking about that era ending in Week 2 of this season, however. This is one of those games where perceptions about one team (Giants) are overly negative while perceptions about the other team (Broncos) are overly positive based on a one-week sample, primarily. Let's see how the Broncos' pass rush travels, and let's see if Eli Manning can put it together for this one.
Jeff (Eastern WA)
Will Boldin continue to make the Ravens look like fools for letting him go or will the Seahawks secondary bring his week one achievements into perspective?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
The Ravens weren't really fools. They just made a value judgment after paying big money to keep Joe Flacco. The price tag on Boldin ($6 million) was too high for their tastes even though they valued him. I'll be really impressed and a little surprised if Boldin puts up big numbers against this Seattle secondary. One key, though, is the Seahawks' pass-rush, which is missing some key contributors and will need the home-field edge on its side.
According to ProFootballFocus, Kaepernick stats under pressure were 2-for-7 for 39 yards and a 50.3 QB Rating. In a clean pocket: 25-for-32 for 373 yards, three touchdowns and a QB Rating of 146.5. Simple question, can Seattle consistently get to CK7 on Sunday night?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
We had Colin Kaepernick going 7-11 passing for 104 yards and two touchdowns with a 134.1 passer rating and league-best 99.8 Total QBR score when the Packers sent five or more pass-rushers. We had him going 0-1 on seven drop-backs when pressured. We had him running four times for 30 yards on those plays when he was pressured. No quarterbacks are consistently good when pressured. I don't think Seattle will get pressure consistently simply because the team's top pass-rushers are either suspended or injured. Could be reliant on coverage a little more.
Steve C. (MA)
I think the Cardinals could surprise some people this year. I had a feeling that Palmer would serve as a big upgrade over what they had last year if he was even average. I don't think it's crazy to think that they could at least give the 49ers/Seahawks a challenge if nothing else this year during their games. I think eventually their pass protection will cost them Ws, but against teams with lesser pass rushes I think they can score some serious points.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Let's see if they can win at home against the Lions this week. Winning at home is where it starts. The Cardinals are 1-12 in their last 13 games. The only victory was 38-10 over ... the Lions at Arizona. You are right about the pass protection being an issue. Still, I think Arizona has a good shot at winning this week -- but much less of a shot at contending in the division this year.
Read the article on ranking the young QBs and while I am bias, how does Griffin rank ahead of CK, given that he coming off such a bad knee injury, which is the second time on an ACL, plus he is so much smaller than CK, Newton or Luck, did future health factor into the rankings?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Yeah, that seemed strange to me as well. One reason is Colin Kaepernick hasn't played as much, but that gap is closing too.
Kevin C (Chicago)
Which quarterback has the better chance of making the pro bowl, Cutler or Palmer? Both had very good performances week 1.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
It's a really tough road to the Pro Bowl in the NFC with Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, etc. I'd say Cutler has the better chance in a higher-profile market and probably with a better shot at having a winning record, too. Update: Forgot about the new Pro Bowl selection process. No more NFC or AFC squads.
Im sure some people will disagree, but if RG3 hade a name like "Bert Livingston", he wouldnt get nearly the hype he does. He is simply not as good as CK7. And I live in D.C.!
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
That's really easy to say after the injury to Griffin and his shaky performance in the opener. Let's revisit that one at the end of the year.
Thoughts on what the Patriots offense will look like this week with all the injuries and the Jets probably focusing on taking away Tom's primary target, Edelman? A steady dose of the run game with some play action? Hopefully with a Boyce or someone else stepping up to stretch the field?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
The Jets will probably dictate that to some degree. Brady will find the open guy. Yeah, I would think it goes to Kenbrell Thompkins and then Josh Boyce if Edelman is taken away. Remember that Michael Hoomanawanui is in the mix too. The Jets allowed only one reception for one yard to tight ends in the opener, however.
How long can the Eagles play at that tempo? And Chip Kelly still thinking it's not fast enough - he does realize this is a longer season that in college, right?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I do not expect Michael Vick to last physically, regardless of the system. But with so many additional plays, maybe his shelf life is even shorter.
4949Centennial (San Jose)
I have few concerns from Packers game. It appeared that Packers front 7 out-played the 'elite' 49ers o-line. Is that a concern going into Seattle given how poorly the o-line played last time they played in Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I thought the Packers went overboard selling out to stop the run in all its forms, and the 49ers made them pay in the passing game. Pick your poison, as Colin Kaepernick likes to say. The venue -- raucous crowd at CenturyLink -- will make this a tough game for any offensive line. I think the 49ers need to test the Seahawks' run defense, which features journeyman DT Tony McDaniel. The 49ers' offensive line should try to get that ground game going against the Seahawks' front seven, which is not at full strength.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Tell that to the Cleveland media! I agree 100% with you. The WR position without Gordon is trash.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
It's tough not rushing to judgment when there is so much interest.
Josh (San Fran)
It's been widely known that over the past few years, Justin Smith/Ray McDonald/Aldon Smith/Ahmad Brooks have played a large majority of snaps. What's the plan for getting players like Lemonier, and down the road Carradine/Dial into the mix to keep the top 4 fresh for another postseason run?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
The 49ers had a small DL rotation in the opener. Some of that can be dictated by what type of opponent a team is playing. I'll be watching to see whether Glenn Dorsey gets more than the seven or eight snaps he got in the opener. Having Justin Smith wear down late in the year has to be a big concern given his age and the injury that sidelined him last season, ending his ironman streak.
Why the disparity in the play calling in Cleveland? Did I see that Weeden had 53 pass attempts and Richardson only had 13 carries? And it was a close game into the 4th quarter. Shouldn't Richardson be getting a lot more carries?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Most offensive coordinators want to throw all the time and have to remind themselves to mix in runs. The Browns had a 33.3 percent rush rate on first down. That was the 25th-highest rush rate on first down in Week 1. The average was 44.7 percent. Now, I haven't broken it all down to know what the Dolphins were doing scheme-wise. Sometimes a defense can force teams to pass a higher percentage of the time through their personnel and alignments.
How would you rate Bradford's performance last week? Is he finally turning the corner and ready to become a top NFL QB?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Shameless plug: Google "Is Sam Bradford better than average" and you'll find my take on it. In general, I thought he was pretty good in the opener. Let's see him get to the corner before deciding whether he has turned it. I think it's early, he started pretty well and now let's see how he fares for the next several games.
Jack Reilly (Lexington)
to me tyrann mathieu has had similar red flags in college as aaron hernandez, is it not a little bias for the media blast BB and the pats for drafting hernandez based on talent and not looking at the cardinals in the same perspective while also praising mathieu and his talents?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
It is possible the Patriots should have had a better feel for Aaron Hernandez once he was on their roster. However, before that, the team already mitigated its risk in the draft process by selecting him later than his talent would have dictated absent off-field issues. The Cardinals did the same thing with Tyrann Mathieu. Now, I don't know if it is fair to compare those two players' background straight across.
Jack Reilly (Lexington)
I didn't get to see the Chargers game this monday but there was a lot of hype surrounding how well T'eo played this preseason, did that carry over to the regular season as well?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
He did not play. We had Chargers rookies playing 82 snaps in the opening week, which was below average.
Do you think the niners will go back to the read-option more on sunday?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
They tried it against the Packers, but it did not work. I suspect Seattle's speed on defense will make that a tough one in terms of the yardage Colin Kaepernick might get. However, I think running Frank Gore inside on zone-reads could be something worth pursuing.
Mike: I am no fan of the old QB rating, so I am optimisitc about the applicability of QBR. However, for the life of me, I cannot understand how Bradford graded as 30% worse than Palmer, especially taking the 4th quarter into account. Can you provide any insight?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yeah, we discussed this at length in my Bradford piece for Insider, and in the comments section below that piece. Basically, the pick-six he threw from near his own goal line really crushed his QBR score for the game. We discussed whether this was fair. An NFL assistant coach indicated he thought Bradford was responsible for not getting the ball past the unblocked DE on a bootleg. Palmer got more credit for his passes because he averaged far more air yards per attempt, while Bradford was more reliant on shorter throws and yards after the catch. So the debate is really over whether that pick-six should have been that damaging, and whether a QB should get more credit on shorter passes. I think Sam played better than the middling QBR score would indicate and that his QBR score for the season will rise over time.
How well do you think Reid will hold up against the pretty deep Seahawks WR core?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Eric Reid left a positive impression with me. He seemed to fly around, as the coaches like to say, and he was around the ball. Now, the 49ers allowed three TD passes, continuing a recent trend as SF has played against a string of top QBs. I don't know to what degree Reid was culpable in those, but the fact that he was not a leading storyline in Week 1 was probably good. It's tough to say Seattle presents a greater challenge in the passing game than Aaron Rodgers presented. Remember, though, that Russell Wilson had four TD passes against the 49ers late last season, when Justin Smith was out and the SF pass rush was hurting. So the bar isn't all that high for Reid and the pass defense.
Keith H (Seattle)
Mike, just catching up (work). A reminder about the Pro Bowl: There is no NFC/AFC. It's a glorified "gym class pick your teams" game now.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
You're right! That totally slipped my mind. Offseason Pro Bowl news just raced right past me. Thanks for that reminder.
Adding on to QBR: How in the heck did Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler have a higher Week 1 QBR than Peyton Manning?!?!!!!!!
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Peyton Manning had an unusually high amount of yards after the catch, and QBs don't get a ton of credit for that. He had a 78-yard touchdown pass featuring 77 yards after the catch. Also, Manning was not off-the-charts good early in the game, when the score was close. He piled up a ton of stats after the score was lopsided. QBR looks at how QBs affect win probability. Once the win probability is extremely high, there is less a QB can do to improve it. By the way, 20+ times since 2011 a QB has had a higher NFL passer rating than Manning had in that game against the Ravens. That includes one game Tony Romo had in defeat.
What did you think of the young QB article? How do you rank the 5 QBs going forward - Luck, Kap, Wilson, RG3, and Newton?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I have no problem with Andrew Luck in the top spot, but I would put Robert Griffin III to the side. I thought Russell Wilson passed him late last season. Colin Kaepernick has passed him now. Those guys would be in my top three (Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick).
So QBR punishes a QB who can hit his receiver in stride so they can run after the catch? And if Manning didn't throw all those TD's, the game wouldn't have been lopsided. I'm not buying it.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Peyton Manning's QBR score was at an MVP level in the game against the Ravens. On the hitting-in-stride part, yeah, we need to figure out how to account for that. The idea is that these things will even out over time, and if you look at full-season QBR scores, you will see that is exactly what happens.
How in the world was Russell Wilson at 10 and Cam Newton at 8 in QBR??? Did they see how ineffective Cam was save for 1 drive?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Wilson had an off-the-charts QBR in the fourth quarter, but his QBR for the first three quarters really suffered -- largely because he took that sack and lost a fumble (really held the ball) when Seattle was in scoring position. Take away that one play and his Week 1 QBR goes to 80.1 from 70.9. I was surprised Newton's was as high as it was and have not taken a closer look at it.
Martin Stowell (The Swells)
Is AJ Green approaching Megatron standards? He is a freak athlete who consistently does well despite the defense knowing the ball is coming his way
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I was impressed with the deep-ball connection but noticed Andy Dalton still ranked only 24th in air yards per attempt in Week 1 at 6.52, below the 8.01 average. Dalton was at a second-ranked 91.8 QBR score on third down, a big change from his past levels. On third down, Green had three receptions for 36 yards and three first downs. That was of interest to me and a positive sign.
Too much is made of QBR as long as they win thats what counts!!!
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Is your last name Tebow or something? That was the theory on Tim Tebow ... and it was wrong.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks for dropping by. That went fast.