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 (1:00 PM)
Greetings. We'll get going here soon with a question from ... me.
Sando (Sando's Office)
Thanks for taking my question before all other questions. Mighty nice of you. Say, I was curious, about that Cowboys play call on second-and-6 last week. They threw the interception and everyone knew they should have run the ball. Just wondering, was that really an unusual play call under the circumstances, or was it just a bad result that has everyone upset?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Great question, Mike. I've been hoping someone would as that one. Because when Tony Romo threw that interception on second-and-6 from the Dallas 45 with 2:58 remaining and Dallas protecting a five-point lead, I immediately thought what I was thinking before the snap: gotta run it here. But then, once everyone reacted so strongly, I wondered what other teams had done in similar situations. Her goes: The last time someone was facing second-and-6 while leading by 4-5 points in the fourth quarter with 2-5 minutes left and had the ball at its own 30-40 yard line with the opponent down to 1 timeout, the New York Giants passed the ball. It was a called pass, too, at Washington in Week 7 last season. The Giants completed it for a 5-yard gain, and then, on third-and-1, they threw again! And it was incomplete. And the Redskins scored to take the lead on their next drive. But then the Giants completed a long TD pass to win the game and no one cared about the play call. Proving that results matter a whole lot more than process when it comes to the reaction phase.
Jerome (Making Noodles)
What is going on in Indy, do you give them a decent chance of knocking off KC?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Don't trust either team a great deal right now. Andrew Luck has 10 TD passes with only three TDs on the road, but some of that is ancient history. The Colts are allowing 30+ points per game on the road since their Week 8 bye. Now, the Chiefs are giving up a ton of points recently, too. I give the Colts' a puncher's chance just because I think Andrew Luck can win a game. But I think the odds favor the Chiefs being the more consistent team over the course of the game, and winning.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Which was worse, Romo throwing the pick, or Coach throwing QB under the bus?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
It's all understandable in the context of that organization. The owner is the GM and he's commenting on stuff. He's the one who paid Romo all that money. Jason Garrett should have phrased things differently, and he did that the next day. It was just an ugly situation overall.
49ers, legitimate SB threat or is no one winning in Seattle and it's Seattle vs AFC champ in SB?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Legitimate threat because they play defense so well and they have a very talented quarterback. I do think the Seahawks will win HFA and advance to the Super Bowl, but the 49ers are good enough to win anywhere.
Mike, know you are a believer in Russell Wilson, what I was wondering is if you think he is the next "great" qb? The current Mt Rushmore has "Brees, Brady, Manning, Rodgers", who will join them? It seems the class between those four and Wilson, or Luck, for that matter - Eli, Big Ben, Ryan - are very good but not great. Or maybe put another way, who is the fifth best qb in the league?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
We're seeing progress from Ryan Tannehill and I wonder if he joins that next tier over the next year or so. I don't think anyone is up there with the very top guys.
Ted Hoffman (Bells, Indiana )
The Cardinals have surprised people this year. My question is, can this be sustained? It seems to me that Palmer is probably good for another 2-3 years, but is age going to catch up to their defense with players like Dansby and Dockett getting up there in the years now?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
They are going to improve on offense as they improve their personnel on that side of the ball. They could slide back a little bit on defense as Tyrann Mathieu recovers, John Abraham ages and Darnell Dockett gets up there. But with Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington and Calais Campbell, they have a good foundation there. It would be nice to get something from Kevin Minter, but with Karlos Dansby reviving his career, they are OK. I think they'll get much better on their offensive line, and they will add a speed receiver as well.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How much does the loss of Browner hurt the Seahawks? Will the PED suspensions surrounding the team taint their season and possible Super Bowl championship?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Brandon Browner would help depth but the replacements for him are an upgrade. Remember, Browner was actually benched during the Tennessee game this year. His run in Seattle was probably about finished anyway. The PED thing is unrelated. Browner and Walter Thurmond were substance abuse policy suspensions. So, could suspensions taint the season in general? Sure, especially if they had another high-profile one over the next few weeks.
Frank The Tank (Somewhere)
Your most under the radar team capable of making a championship game right now?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Miami is about as under the radar as you can get, but in the AFC, I think there could be surprises.
Matt Hendon (Long Island, NY)
Sando as a life long Giants fan this team really frustrates me. When Bill Parcells was here you could count on the team being steady and competitive. While the current team has had it's championships, long term consistency has never been established. Is this because of Eli simply not being a consistent QB, or should the coaching staff shoulder more blame?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I do think Eli Manning's dependence on the supporting cast is increasingly obvious as that supporting cast withers away. This team needs to improve on the offensive line to restore some of the consistency, in my view.
Noam Litwack (Silver Spring, Maryland)
Mike, can you give me your thoughts on the biggest game of the week: Carolina vs New Orleans. I'm thinking I pick Carolina in my pick em pool...but Brees and company are always tough to bet against! Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Yeah, I'd cautiously go with the Panthers at home. Look at the Saints on the road in the division this season. They won 17-13 at Atlanta and 16-14 at Tampa Bay back when Josh Freeman was the quarterback for the Buccaneers. This is a game the Panthers really need and I think they are good enough defensively to win at home.
Mister Jameson (Village St)
Sando, please settle an argument between my brother and I.....he says Carroll should win coach of the year, while I say Andy Reid....what you say?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Andy Reid. Carroll has done a great job of team building and coaching over time, but even if the Seahawks win out, they'll be three games better in the win column, which is great coming off an 11-5 year, but in KC, we're talking about the difference between 2-14 and 10+ victories. I gotta lean toward Andy Reid unless the Chiefs really implode here late in the season.
Scooter (Liquid Nation, Cybex)
Is Eddie Lacy your Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I lean that way, but let's see how the season finishes. Keenan Allen is doing really well. Zac Stacy has put up good numbers and would need a really strong finish to get traction. I'd say Lacy has been the leader in the clubhouse but the final couple weeks could tip it.
Paul George (Still Crying, IN)
If Rodgers comes back against the Bears don't you trust him more than Jay Cutler. Do you agree with me thinking that the Packers are the favorites to win the NFC North?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, but I don't trust Rodgers to come back for sure.
Andy Reid should not win coach of the year. The only victory they have against a team over .500 was against the Eagles, but that was before Foles took over! Also, just like in Philly, Reid's team only does well when his DC is doing a great job, and you know that Reid doesn't go anywhere near the defense.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
On the flip side, if Reid meddled in the defense, he would be doing a poor job of coaching. It's not like Pete Carroll is drawing up plays on offense. Every head coach has his strengths and areas of expertise. I agree with you on the schedule part but think ultimately the results will carry the day on this award.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Would a change of scenery help Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I think it would help them, but it might help their current teams even more, harsh as that sounds. Every QB benefits from a good situation. Both of theses QBs had challenges, but in Minnesota, you had Adrian Peterson there. Great security blanket. In the end, it's just a reflection of Ponder being more of a project than someone who should have started right away.
Squeaky Mazz (Brighton)
If BB is a great defensive mind then why have the Patriots been in the bottom 5 in most major defensive statistics the last 5 years? #TheHoodieHasLostIT
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Personnel is always most important. I do think Belichick deserves credit for doing things such as containing Jimmy Graham when no one else had been able to do so.
John Kendall (Medfield)
What factor would you point to for the struggles of the Ravens defense this year? It seems to me people were too quick to anoint Jim Caldwell as the next Mike Martz during the playoffs last year. They have been downright awful at times, and really only beat the Lions due to the Lions own incompetency.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I've heard football people point to scheme changes in the running game as one negative.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - if you were the Jets would you look at focusing solely on the offense early in the draft and filling in your D through free agency?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
In general, yes, that would be the goal. Do they think Geno Smith can be the guy? They could really stand to add a young core of offensive players to grow around the QB, much the way the Bengals have done with Andy Dalton. It doesn't mean Dalton is the guy, but he at least has a chance to grow with younger players, and in that case, they've been to the playoffs every year.
Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)
The Cardinals can go 11-5 and the Chiefs, Dolphins & Eagles could all finish with double digit wins and only 2 of the 4 could make the playoffs. Does the NFL change the playoff system because the chiefs ARE the 5 seed at 13-3 or 12-4 and the Cardinals could be 11-5 and not make the playoffs
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
We saw the league change the Pro Bowl to make it more logical. Changing the playoff format would require a lot more. I think the teams want the division titles to mean something, so I do not expect change on that front. I do think the conference affiliations shouldn't necessarily mean much. Why not set up a system where the top two teams are on a collision course for the Super Bowl regardless of conference affiliation?
Mister Bean (London, England )
Do you think Jeff Fisher should get some votes for coach of the year? The fact he is getting his team to play hard/win games with Clemons at QB is quite impressive.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I'll agree to an extent. Tough to explain the game in Arizona, though.
Troy (Bakersfield, CA)
Who are your top 3 as far as DPOY voting?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I would put Robert Quinn first. Then it comes down to whether J.J. Watt should be in the conversation with his team's horrible record. I go back and forth on that. The defense down there is not very good this season. Robert Mathis, Luke Kuechly and Lavonte David are my next guys.
Linda (Paul Insurance Associates)
I think Matt Cassel is the answer for the Vikings. Is he? #springvalleycclegend
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I agree as long as the question is, "Should Matt Cassel be the No. 2 quarterback for the Vikings in 2014 with a chance to compete for the job against someone they draft?"
HK (Sunflower Seeding)
With the superbowl in NY this year, can Peyton Manning truly solidify his career by winning 3 cold weather games en route to another superbowl win?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I think that would do it, yes.
Yansmith Emmanuel Poindujour (Electric Avenue )
How far can the Patriots make it into the playoffs with the injury problem they seemingly have? The fact that Bill Belichick is still keeping this team competitive is impressive, proving the few who actually doubt him wrong once again. I can see them upsetting a team in the first round but beyond that it's going to take a herculean effort to win games.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I would agree except I might change it to "the fact that Tom Brady is still keeping his team competitive" because Brady is the key variable there. He might be the MVP in that sense -- not on raw numbers but on ability to keep winning despite the personnel issues. They've won a ton of close games. I do think the Gronk injury really makes it tough. Do not think the Patriots will make it to the Super Bowl this year. Too many hurdles to overcome personnel wise.
Who would be on your short list for both OROY and DROY? Out here in AZ we love our two stud Rookies, Matheiu and Ellington. Do you think either are in the conversation?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I'd say they are on the periphery of the conversation and will not win. Mathieu's injury took him out of the equation. It's pretty cool for Arizona that the team's 2013 draft class continues to make an impact via Andre Ellington even though first-rounder Jonathan Cooper and the third-rounder (Mathieu) suffered unfortunate injuries that ended their seasons.
Troy (Bakersfield, CA)
You don't have Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas as potential DPOY? Wow...Is that because they have a better defense around them than others on your list?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Oh, sorry about that. I do have those guys in there and forgot to mention them. I would put Earl Thomas over Sherman. My feel is that Sherman has been very good but was better last season, and Thomas is the key to that defense on the back end because he covers so much ground, enabling the style of play at corner. I'd put Thomas in the top five for DPOY for sure.
Jerry (Laredo, TX)
Follow-up to a similar question, if the Niners win out and finish 12-4, why would they be the 6th seed and on the road when the Eagles could finish 10-6 and get a home game, Division winners should mean something, but it should mean an automatic playoff berth. The Niners are punished because they are in a tougher division?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Yep, that is the way it works.
Law Magner (Norfolk, VA)
People are quick to get on Shanahan and RG 3 for the Redskins problems this year. People are overlooking to me what is the main issue, the 2013 Redskins might have the worse depth in the NFL. Thanks to Dan Snyder's foolishness, the cap penalties that the NFL handed down on the Redskins made it impossible to add depth and keep FAs this past off-season.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Depth is also hard to come by when you give up as much as the Redskins gave up to get the QB. In retrospect, it looks like Snyder pushed the RG III trade, Shanahan went along with it but wasn't fully invested, and now that RG III has shown some warts, Shanahan is even less happy about the situation. That is what it looks like. Doesn't mean it's true. Just reading tea leaves there. Snyder is the issue longer term in my view.
Alexander Owsik (Grumps, RI)
By all accounts this upcoming QB class is loaded....should be good news for Texans, Jags, Vikings Etc....
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Most of those accounts focus on the number of appealing prospects, not the quality of them. In other words, no one is seeing an Andrew Luck type of cannot-miss player in this group. So it's a little harder to know how they'll turn out ultimately.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
MIke - is the feeling that Coach-QB continuity leads to eventual success or is that unproven - it looks like there are equal amounts of long term Coach-QB tenures that are on both sides of winning and losing?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Yeah, I think you still have to be a good coach and good QB. But when you are good in both of those areas, you are going to have a better shot at winning, for sure. I don't know that, say, the Texans' issue this year "disprove" the theory, given that the team won a lot of games along the way. That continuity surely helped enable the winning they enjoyed even if it blew up this year.
Another point for the Crybaby niners fan, if you woulda swept the seachickens and then win these last two, you'd have the home game and probably #1 seed.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
The point is that it's a much tougher road in the NFC West than in other divisions, and that is something the 49ers cannot control.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Philbin isn't a bad choice for coach of the yr either
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
I suppose it could hinge on your view of his role in the Richie Incognito thing. Was that a self-created hurdle, and if so, do you get as much credit for clearing it? I think if the Dolphins win out he would have to get some consideration.
Scott Fuzy (Stony Brook, Montana)
Would it be safe to say at this point Dee Milliner has been a virtual bust? Rex wanted him to start right away and it seems to have caused much more harm than good. Is this a case where the player should have been forced to earn his starting job as opposed to just be given the starting job? Seems to me like another Rex Ryan blunder.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Disappointment is a better word. Bust implies he'll never be good. It's concerning but still early.
Tim (Los Angeles)
Seems like the officiating this year is far worse than years past. They are talking about centralizing replay. Could the next step be to allow a centralized group to over-rule the refs on the field? In game after game I watch, one could argue the team who won had more to do with which team the refs helped the most, versus winning on the field
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I could see it if there were limitations so that it could be used more seamlessly. Why couldn't the officials be in communication with the league during a review? I guess that would open up another avenue of suspicion if, say, the call were still made in error. Then we'd be wondering whether the league was favoring one team over another in a key spot, perhaps to get a desired matchup.
Wahhhhh! For once the NFC west doesn't suck. Didn't Seattle make the playoffs at 7-9 a few years ago? I bet the 49ers weren't whining then about the playoff structure.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
These things do tend to even out, but that doesn't help you are the coach and you aren't there when it evens out.
Nate (Home with Mommy)
My co-worker and I are trying to figure out how Schaub declined all of a sudden. It seems even just last year he was solid, and they were a Super Bowl contender.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Shocking implosion. I don't have a good explanation.
Richard Kuslikea (AZ)
Sando if my Cards get into the playoffs this year, could you seem them making some noise? We got a strong defense and Arians seems to have Palmer playing at a strong level. I also think we might have the best WR corps in the NFC, dare say the NFL at the moment.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
In the AFC, yes. In the NFC, a little tougher road. I could see the Cardinals winning in the wild-card round against one of the NFC East champion in particular.
Vitaly Potapenko (Anaheim, CA)
When will the McFadden experiment end in Oakland? He's so frustrating to root for. He's always injured and should be so much better than he is. He has to have some trade value; right?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
A salary cap manager wondered going into the season if the Raiders would move him at the deadline. McFadden hasn't had enough value because he misses too many games.
Any chance the Lions go down this week?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
That would surprise me even though it is the Lions. I just do not think the Giants are good at all. Did not think they were good when they were winning against bad QBs earlier in the year.
Ellen (LANDLORD MVP)
Sando, your named the GM of a team, only 2 QB's available, Cutler or Romo....who you taking?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Probably Tony Romo if I could get him away from the Cowboys and into a stable setting. It's not an easy one, though. Both are very capable. You can have one and I'll take the other.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Thanks for dropping by. I'll be jumping on 710ESPN Seattle here with John Clayton after the chat. Here is the link to listen live. Thanks again.