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 (1:01 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Drew Bledsoe (WA)
Hey Sando, it looks like Eli Manning is about to have his 3rd 20+ INT season. Seeing as how I only had 2, can we dismiss him as a guy who needs a great supporting cast opposed to someone like my nemesis Tom Brady who is clearly superior because he can make do with less?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
"Dismiss" is too strong of a word, but I think it's safe to say this season is a reality check along those lines. If you went into the Giants' locker room, Justin Tuck would tell you the Giants' success was never about Eli carrying the team. Tuck would tell you that Eli would say that, and Eli probably would say that. But the team success made people start talking Hall of Fame at one point, and I think this season tempers that talk, for sure. Most QBs need help. Eli certainly does.
Adam (St. Louis)
Hey Mike,Does it make sense for the Rams to franchise Rodger Saffold?Thanks
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I'd say no way. Saffold misses games periodically and has not played at a consistently high level over time. He has real value right now, but that value is in relation to what else the team has at the position, not in relation to how great Saffold is or has been. I thought they needed to draft for the offensive line even before Jake Long got hurt. Now they really need to draft for the line. They also probably could stand to target some free agents coming off their rookie deals. I'd try to keep Saffold but not at all costs.
Les Snead, GM of the Rams (St. Louis, MO)
Sando, what should I do with this top 3 draft pick we are about to get? Draft QB, Clowney, or trade down?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
The Rams have two firsts and I'd recommend trading down from one of them. Near the top, I'd go for an elite prospect at a premium position -- could be defensive line, offensive line, whatever. Just get a big-time difference maker with that pick.
Mike...with Seahawks / rams and 49er / cards playing in same time slot, will the 49 era pull their starters if Seattle is way ahead?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I doubt the 49ers would suddenly do that if they were in the middle of a competitive game. Also, Seattle has yet to score more than 20 points in a game against the Rams since Jeff Fisher came to St. Louis, and right now the Seattle offense is in a slump. So probably a close game anyway.
Larry Kennedy (Pittsburgh, PA)
Should Mike Tomlin take some blame for the Steelers struggles this year? Personally I feel like our scouting department has let the team down. We are usually pretty good at restocking our roster, but of late it seems that there have been more misses than hits. When we lost Joey Porter we had James Harrison waiting in the wings to step up. Now that we lost Harrison, it seems like there wasn't another guy ready to fill the void.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yeah, he has been part of the decision making process. I agree that every coach needs good players, but there is also some thought the Steelers haven't done as good a job developing their players in recent seasons. The head coach could bear some responsibility for that. I do not feel like the Steelers need to make a change at head coach, but if they did, I'd be really intrigued as to what direction they might head.
Sit Jamaal Charles for Knile Davis or Steven Jackson?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I personally removed Charles from my Gridiron Challenge lineup. You are obviously talking about a different league there, but I would lean toward Jackson there.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - when you look objectively at the job Rex Ryan has done this year a little bit of luck has helped the team get to 7 wins. Since they already have a decent D in place doesn't it make sense for the Jets to move on and hire a young, creative OC who can develop an offense that would actually win games for them?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
There are a couple issues as I see things. One, Ryan has done pretty well with an undertalented, rebuilding team. He does not really "deserve" to be fired. But it might also be true that change could help in the long term as the Jets get their organization aligned with John Idzik's GM vision. So, if Idzik feels as though another coach could better secure that vision, he probably needs to make that move now. We've seen around the league that good defensive personnel withstands coaching change. Arizona is a prime example. Ray Horton did a good job there, then left. Todd Bowles took over, and the defense is doing well still. Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson were constants there. Now they added Karlos Dansby. I think the Jets' defensive front is going to be good anyway. I do not think a team has to have an offensive-minded head coach, though. Idzik comes from Seattle, where Russell Wilson is doing pretty well with a defensive-minded head coach.
J Rome (Main Street Market)
Assuming Rodgers doesn't play; shouldn't the Packers feed the beast and ride Eddie Lacy to the division crown?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
They should probably do that anyway. Lacy had 150 yards on the Bears last time. Having Rodgers back would give the team a huge psychological boost. But remember, that running game was great for him this season, too, particularly as they weathered injuries elsewhere on the roster. And I would want to ease Rodgers back into things a little. Why not run it on that Bears D?
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Coaches to get fired on Monday or Tuesday of next week are... Frazier, Schwartz, Garrett, Allen, Munchuk and Schiano. Possible changes are Tomlin in Pitt, Fischer in St Louis, Coughlin in NY, Philbin in Miami. Obvious firings not included Kubiak in Houston and Shanahan in Washington... Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Jeff Fisher is not going anywhere. Tom Coughlin is not getting fired. We'll see if he wants to keep coaching, but I think he probably will. Joe Philbin, I think they'd have to have a really rough game here in Week 17, but you never know. I also think it's likely Jason Garrett comes back, based on what Jerry Jones has repeatedly said. And then I'm curious on Greg Schiano because A) Mike Glennon has looked OK, 2) they've built a very talented defense, 3) Schiano changed his ways as the season went along and 4) the team has slid backward a little bit recently while facing tougher competition.
Scott Fuzy (Stony Brook, Montana)
After the loss the Seahawks suffered on Sunday, what kind of chance do you give the Rams to go up there and win? Their pass rush has gotten to Wilson more than any other. Combine that with a strong ground game/rush defense I think they could be more of a challenge for them than the Cards were. If Clemens stays turnover free I have the Rams by 10.
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I favor the Seahawks to win the game about 60-40. Not 60 points to 40 points, but just 60 percent favoring the Seahawks at home with a lot at stake against a lesser team that does have some things going for it from a matchup standpoint.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
Which team is most likely to upset Seattle in the NFC playoffs? I've got to think it's the Eagles because no amount of noise can disrupt their communication.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I'd probably lean toward the 49ers based on their defense and improving offense. I did not like how the 49ers played the other night. Their pass rush did not get to Matt Ryan nearly enough, and the first half looked like SF playing down to the opponent. But overall, I think things have been looking up for the 49ers. They know Seattle well, beat Seattle pretty recently and have big-game experience recently. From a 49ers standpoint, I'm a little concerned about Colin Kaepernick still, as he has been lights-out against losing teams and not nearly as good against winning ones. But some of the inconsistency has had to do with the team losing key weapons for portions of the season. All in all, I feel pretty good about the 49ers chances.
Mike Sando (Tacoma)
Ive been driving the Sam Bradford Hater Bus saying for years he is not good and look how well the Rams are playing with Clemens #TootMyHorn
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
That is hilarious but I reject the premise. Sam Bradford is the best QB on the Rams' roster and if I were them, I'd probably come back with him as the starter next season, all things considered. My point has been that eventually he needs to produce at a high level, and that hasn't happened enough, in part because the supporting cast has not been there, but also possibly because he might not have the star power the team envisioned when drafting him first overall.
Raider fan here, I say the only reason Mark Davis would fire Dennis Allen is if and only IF he can bring Jon Gruden back, if Gruden does not come back then stick with Allen one more year, your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I'd also stick with Allen. It's a little concerning that the team hasn't given contract extensions to assistant coaches. But I think the feeling around the league is that the Raiders are doing pretty well relative to what talent is on hand, and this was not a quick rebuild job.
Michael (Cologne, Germany)
Houston Texans - are they a QB jackpot away from being back in Super Bowl contention or are they doomed to a long painful rebuild?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I think they'll be a competitive team next year, maybe closer to 8-10 wins. I'd hold off the Super Bowl talk. Funny thing is, when I was looking for a dark horse in the AFC this year, I went with the Texans as my SB pick from that conference (opposite Seattle in the NFC). I had Denver ranked higher in the preseason power rankings but just wanted to go in another direction. Houston has totally baffled me from the QB standpoint. Never thought Matt Schaub was great, but never expected a total collapse. Just unreal what has happened there, and the effect shaky QB play can have on a whole team. Let's see who they hire as head coach and who they get at QB. I do know Bob McNair expects them to win in 2014. So their mindset will be to flip it quickly.
spencer (Canada )
Do you think the Seahawks regret the Percy Harvin trade?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
I would think some in the organization might just because it would be logical to regret it based on how the year has played out. I mean, this deal never would have gone down this way if the Vikings had said to Seattle, "Look, you're going to have to pay huge money to Harvin, and then he will need hip surgery that will keep him from playing for most or all of the 2013 season while raising questions about his future." We all knew Harvin was coming off an injury but there were no indications he'd miss a whole season with a hip injury.
Kelly Clarkson (Strong Pipes, TX)
Toss up - Bigger disaster this season?...Houston's year long struggles or Detroit's massive collapse the last 6 weeks.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
There are some parallels with a dominant defensive lineman on each roster, plus pretty good talent overall, high expectations and a coach who had been there for a while. Houston's situation is worse because Schaub's viability as the QB is in question. In Detroit, I think the feeling could be more along the lines of, hey, we have the talent, but maybe we just need a fresh approach with a new head coach, maybe an offensive-minded guy who brings some structure/discipline.
John Kendall (Medfield, MA)
Can the Patriots realistically make some headway in the playoffs this year? Everyone is down on them but all they do is keep winning, and have really only lost this year near the end of games. I like their chances of getting to the big game.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I was leaning toward "no" after the latest Rob Gronkowski injury, but then the Patriots went out and hung a 41-7 score on the Ravens. I do think the Gronk injury is a big deal and it hurts their chances, but I also think the AFC is unsettled enough for the Patriots to have a decent shot anyway. This really could be a year where they make it to the Super Bowl, then lose to a healthier, more talented NFC team. People would use it against the Patriots, pointing out how the team hasn't won a title for "x" number of years, but in reality this would be a wonderful success story under the circumstances -- and testament to Tom Brady's abilities as well.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Is Tony Romo more like which QB that has started in the league before... Drew Bledsoe comes to mind when I say Tony Romo
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Brett Favre comes to mind first. Romo has patterend himself after Favre, embracing that gunslinger mentality. What about Matthew Stafford or Jay Cutler? I think those guys have been known to take chances as well. All could benefit from managing games better.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - how much of KC's success was schedule based? Outside of being able to run the ball they are average at best pretty much everywhere else.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
A lot of it was schedule based. They are 6-1 on the road this season. They beat teams quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Robert Griffin III/Kirk Cousins, Michael Vick, Matt McGloin, Jeff Tuel and Blaine Gabbert in those road games. Every one of those QBs was either a backup entering the season or lost their jobs during the season. The one KC road defeat was against Peyton Manning. That is not a knock on the Chiefs. They can't help which teams they have faced. They play their schedule, just like every other team. But when we look to evaluate teams with similar records, these sorts of things come into play.
Tom Carisle (Skyrim)
I think it's pretty fitting that Robert Quinn has a lock on the Deacon Jones award this year. It's too bad though that he doesn't have a shot at DPOY. 18 sacks and 8 FFs would get it on any NFC East team but sadly the national media is only too happy to look the other way. Whomever wins the award can have it, I'm sure the Rams will be happy to have the superior player.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Fair point, but some GMs would take Luke Kuechly over Robert Quinn if building a franchise. I named Quinn as my choice through 14 games. Both Quinn and Kuechly had monster games this past week. Quinn might need one of those four-sack games in the finale to get it. Either way, he should be in the mix.
Josh ( Mesa, AZ)
How dependent do you think the Cards D is on Todd Bowles? Do you think if he lands a HC job will the D see a big drop off?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I think the defense is dependent more on the players. It was good with Ray Horton and good with Todd Bowles. Both coordinators did a good job. Both had good players.
Shane (Pewter Palace)
Greg Schiano is going to be unemployed in less than a week, right? This team has good players, but NO leadership from that guy.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I don't know that for sure. There has been improvement. Schiano has changed his ways. They have a lot of money invested in him. They have built a talented defense. That one seems like it could go either way, and Week 17 could influence it.
Harry Doyle (Major League 1)
Dolphins are finished after last week. Jets are going to be 8-8. I'm sorry but none of you experts gave them a chance to be .500. I hope Sexy Rexy gets some coach of the year votes getting 8 wins out of that 1920s offense.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I did not expect them to reach .500 this season. Rex Ryan deserves credit for their ability to get into that range. Nice job. Does not deserve to be fired, but could be replaced anyway if the coach/GM wants to go in another direction.
How crazy is it that Denver and NE are #1 and 2 in the AFC despite both of their crazy number of injuries. If both teams had just normal injury luck we'd be in for a real AFC championship treat, now they are just two heavily flawed teams in an even more flawed conference.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
It shows on some level the ability of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to carry teams. Brady had some issues earlier in the year, but he recovered. I'd say most QBs in their situations -- particularly in Brady's situation, which has been more challenging -- would not have fared nearly as well.
What are the chances Mike Pettine gets a head coaching gig? I think it would be a huge loss for Buffalo as their defense has been much improved. It would be such a big loss that I would rather lose Marrone and have Pettine promoted. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
You could be right there. I also think that defense has made a huge jump. In fact, I was looking at that this morning and noticed the Bills are 81 points better in total points allowed through 15 games. That is one of the biggest positive changes from last season. And if we adjust for situations using the expected points metric, Buffalo's gains on defense rank second only to the gains made by Kansas City from last season. On the positive side from a Bills standpoint, few defensive-minded head coaches were hired last offseason. Maybe the trend continues and Pettine stays as a result.
Scott Fuzy (Stony Brook, Montana)
Bill Belichick recently told a media outlet in Massachusetts that he felt the new rules lead to players being less prepared and as a result suffering more injures as a result of the reduction of off-season workloads. Would you agree with this?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
It's an interesting theory and I think it probably has some merit. I've been aware of that line of thinking for a while and have made some inquiries and done some research. I don't think it's conclusive. It's more just interesting. More research is needed. I've been looking into it some.
Darryl (Livermore, CA)
There isn't a college job out there that could pull Jimmy away from the Niners, right? Regardless of any supposed conflicts with Baalke, he sure seems like he's in a perfect spot...
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I don't think Jim Harbaugh is leaving the 49ers for a college job. I do think some of the recent reports have merit and raise some questions about the future -- not so much because Harbaugh would leave, but because it'll be important figuring out within what parameters he'll stay under a new contract. I do not think Harbaugh would leave while the championship window is open in San Francisco. And it is clearly open right now.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Do you think there will be more teams looking to build on what Chip Kelly is doing offensively this year - are there any proteges who will try and take that O to another level?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think you nailed it with the word proteges. Coaches run what they run. No one is going to suddenly run what Chip Kelly runs just because Kelly got some results early. These things are wholly dependent on who gets hired.
My friend (an AZ fan) and I always argue over the value of Carson Palmer. I'm of the belief the cards are good enough to win in spite of CP3. He sees more value in his qbs game. What are your thought on the matter. Thanks
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Carson Palmer has provided an upgrade from what the Cardinals had at QB late last season. I think that has value to the team. Now, the team won in spite of him last week, but Seattle has a terrific defense. Many QBs have struggled against that defense. I think there have been enough positives from Palmer and the offense over the second half of the season to bring him back as the presumed starter in 2014. Do think drafting a guy could make sense as well.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure as always. Enjoy Week 17.