Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Mike Sando (3:58 PM)
Greetings. Here we go on a special Friday edition of the weekly Thursday chat.
Hey Mike, do you think the Dolphins offense will be improved this year?
Mike Sando (4:00 PM)
Has to be. The line is improved, the QB is a year wiser, some of the off-field stuff has died down, etc.
williambryan (vancouver, WA)
What's your take on the Aldon Smith situation? More specifically, how the 9ers have/are handling it? Tim Kawakami has been pretty critical of the team.
Mike Sando (4:02 PM)
The collective bargaining agreement has made it tougher for teams to keep tabs on players during the offseason. I think that is a factor with a player such as Aldon Smith, who clearly benefits from structure. I do think the situation is to the point where the team probably need to take a stronger public stand, particularly if something additional transpires.
Sam (KY) [via mobile]
Why do the Rams still have Isaiah Pead on their team?
Mike Sando (4:03 PM)
Because they weren't able to trade him around draft time, presumably. I see no disadvantage to having him around right now.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mike - Will Johnny Manzel be the answer to the Browns QB problems, seems like the last time the Browns were in playoffs Brian Sipe or Bernie Kozar was the starters ?
Mike Sando (4:05 PM)
I'm saying there's a chance because I do think Kyle Shanahan will know how to set up the offense in a way that allows Manziel to build upon what he did in college. I was speaking with an offensive coach who said there's just no way Manziel is ready to succeed within a standard NFL offense, but we know from the RG III experience in Washington that Shanahan can tailor an offense. I presume that is what they'll do in Cleveland, and I would think it would pay some dividends at least sporadically. Longer term, I'm not yet convinced, but that is not a knock on him. We just need to see him play.
Bryan P (Eugene, Oregon)
Mike - The past few years we've seen a wave of young, star QBs take the league by storm. It seems like almost every year a young guy places himself on the map of potential greatness. Do you see any guys doing that this year and if so who?
Mike Sando (4:07 PM)
I would think it could be Manziel because he could have the best chance of playing right away; he has an offensive coordinator willing to tailor the offense to his special skill set; and Manziel appears to be a tremendous improvisational player, which could help him enjoy some success outside the usual framework.
williambryan (vancouver, WA)
To a lot of people, the reluctance of the NFL to change the name of Washington's team is worse than what happened in the Donald Sterling situation. How do the situations compare from your perspective?
Mike Sando (4:11 PM)
Sterling's remarks provoked outrage almost across the board. I don't see the same level of across-the-board reaction for Washington. The circumstances surrounding both are vastly different. One such circumstance has to do with the composition of the respective teams. If NFL rosters will comprised heavily of Native American players, I'm guessing we'd see more urgency regarding the Redskins' name. In the absence of that, and in the absence of a powerful political lobby, change will come more slowly. But I do think change will come and it will be the right thing. Remember when the Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards? They probably won't be the only pro sports team in D.C. to change their name.
Sam (KY) [via mobile]
Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have both insisted they don't need more WRs. Buy or sell?
Mike Sando (4:12 PM)
Implicit in that statement is the probability that the team could not realistically find receivers superior to the ones already on the roster. They don't really need numbers, in other words. And I buy that. I also think the talent at WR is good enough to remove that as an excuse for Sam Bradford in 2014.
Hi Mike! Will A.J Mccarron be bad average great all star or legend? If you think he will be bad is it because he was only good because he played for bama?
Mike Sando (4:13 PM)
I don't know the answer to that, but I do think the Bengals' offense under Hue Jackson will emphasize the running game a little more, and that will help Andy Dalton or AJ McCarron, when either plays.
Hey Mike,Can you tell me how the contracts given out by Seattle to Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will affect their ability to sign future players (ie Russell Wilson)? Also if this will influence the 49ers upcoming contract negotiations with the likes of Kaepernick, Crabtree and Aldon Smith?
Mike Sando (4:16 PM)
The salary cap will probably increase by a comfortable margin next year. I don't think those deals with Sherman and Thomas are going to affect in any way the deal Russell Wilson gets. I do wonder whether Russell Okung will get a big contract, but that might have as much to do with his health as the cap. On the 49ers, they are in position to get a deal with Colin Kaepernick before Seattle gets a deal for Wilson, which would prevent a Wilson deal from influencing a Kaepernick deal. Michael Crabtree's situation will come down to whether he thinks he is worth top WR money. I suspect he does think he's worth it, and I'm not thinking the 49ers are going to pay that to him. Aldon Smith's situation depends wholly on his off-field issues and on-field production, which are related and separate from what Seattle is doing. I just don't see the 49ers investing in Aldon Smith without building in some real protections.
Who will start at quarterback for the bengals this year? Who do you think should? (Dalton or Mccarron for both questions)
Mike Sando (4:17 PM)
Dalton will be the starting quarterback in 2014, and I think he should be the starter. Let's see how he does under a new coordinator. He has not been horrible. He has been highly inconsistent.
Rick (Long Island, NY) [via mobile]
Hi Mike: everyone is focused on the Broncos defense and the upgrades they made... but really the problem in the Super Bowl was the offense. As dynamic as it is, it's predictable; and I fear they still won't match the physicality of a Seattle or San Francisco defense. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (4:19 PM)
That could be, but what can they do about it, really? Those defenses are physical and formidable. The Broncos are who they are on offense, and they are outstanding. I think they have to keep doing what they are doing, with one key shift: make sure they build on the strides they made in the running game as the season progressed.
Ed (Queens Village)
If Texans were to trade Andre Johnson what is most they can receive back?
Mike Sando (4:22 PM)
Trading him is tough because the acquiring team would have to carve out more than $10 million in 2014 salary-cap space while also working to resolve whatever contract issues Johnson is upset about right now. That would probably involve new money beyond the considerably cash already built into the deal -- all for a highly productive receiver who is nonetheless 32 years old, unhappy and changing offensive systems. I don't think a trade is realistic.
Paul (Denver) [via mobile]
If healthy for most of the year, does Cutler finally make a big jump this season? All the pieces are in place.
Mike Sando (4:24 PM)
Cutler made a perceptible jump last season, at least while he was healthy. I think Bears fans can be optimistic about Cutler playing at a higher level a little more consistently. Marc Trestman is a positive force. The offensive line is better than it used to be. He has fantastic weapons. They need that defense to stabilize so that it's not on Cutler and the offense so much. I do not think Cutler is going to become a top-level QB consistently at this stage, but I think he can play the way he did last season.
In your opinion is A.J Green the best wide receiver in the NFL? If not is he in the top 3?
Mike Sando (4:26 PM)
I would probably go with Calvin Johnson, but A.J. Green would be in the top three, I think.
Sando I know you're all about maintaining the status quo in the NFC West, but let's look at this realistically here. The Cardinals just lost one of the top players on their defense, the 49ers also have lost arguably their best player on defense, while your Seahawks have also lost depth and enjoy continuing to blatantly ignore that Wilson was one of the most sacked QBs in the NFL last year despite the fact they are a run first team. I know you have your "questions" about the Rams being able to move up from 4th place in the NFC West, but here's a statement for you. They went 7-9 last year, in spite of their defensive issues, and in spite of having a QB who frankly is inferior to Shaun Hill or Bradford in any measurable sense. Tell me why they can't move up from 4th place and maybe even contend for a division title given the favorable circumstances I listed.
Mike Sando (4:29 PM)
Yeah, I was talking to John Clayton about this today. The Rams have only ADDED to their defense, specifically with Aaron Donald, while the other teams in the division have lost (or could lose) some previously productive defensive players (Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, etc). I think the upcoming season for St. Louis is rightly a referendum on Sam Bradford. One thing to note is that Bradford is going to face a ton of defenses we reasonable expect to be very good, and that is going to make things a little tougher. But we know the Rams are going to help him out by running the ball. They can improve from 7-9. I just don't see a reason to bet the house on Bradford right now. I see reason for optimism, but some question marks, too.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Do you think Brandon Flowers gets cut or traded? I know he's got a big salary cap number too, but before last year he was like a top 10 CB...
Mike Sando (4:31 PM)
I don't have a strong opinion on that at this time. It is a good question. The writing seems to be on the wall that he won't be there longer term, but in the short term, I don't think anything has been determined.
Sando I was devastated to find out about the loss of Daryl Washington for the year. Do you think we should look for some FA depth guys to at least attempt to hold the fort down at MLB? I feel that went from being an area of strength to a potential major liability now.
Mike Sando (4:33 PM)
It's the big story of the day in the NFL. Adam Caplan tweeted out a best-available list. Cardinals alums Paris Lenon and Stewart Bradley were on the short list! It's a tough situation. The statement Arizona released showed just how ticked off the organization is about this matter. I would bet they had some tough talks with Washington this offseason, and then to have him violate the substance-abuse policy anyway, ouch. In retrospect, should they have paid a premium to keep Karlos Dansby?
Al Brown (Gnome, Alaska)
It was mentioned that Wilson was sacked many times last year in a previous post. Given the potential problems along the O line, is it possible that the Hawks run the ball even more this year? I think they should continue to use Lynch but also let our young RBs get more of a shot at the job as well. It seemed like Lynch started really wearing down this season late.
Mike Sando (4:36 PM)
I think Russell Wilson could have better opportunities in the passing game based on his personnel on the offensive line and at wide receiver. When the line was horrible last season, the team was without both tackles and/or its center. The assumption here -- and maybe it's not a safe one -- is that the line will not suffer so many injuries at the same time. And then with Percy Harvin in the mix with the newly drafted guys, that should give Wilson more targets he can trust. There were times last season when it was tough getting people open.
Matt Hendon (NY)
I like the moves the Giants made adding depth along the offensive line, but I am extremely concerned about Eli right now. Since our last Superbowl run, he has looked below average to down right pitiful at times. If he has another down season in 2014, I want the Giants to take a hard look at a possible replacement. I don't think I can stand watching another 29 INT season from our QB.
Mike Sando (4:38 PM)
Teams need to continually invest in the QB position. The Giants have had fair warning here. They need to be using the draft to invest in the position. People in the league have mixed feelings about the direction Eli is heading. I think the scheme change offers some hope. The reality is, he is not a great QB who is going to carry the offense by himself. He has that in common with about 27 other starting QBs in the league. He needs a decent ground game. He needs a go-to receiver he can trust, preferably a big one. I just feel like he's going to be better this year.
Donald Price (Vermont)
Hey Sando love the chats. How do you feel about the Patriots WRs this year? It seemed like Dobson showed flashes from time to time. Edelman had a strong season while Amendola pretty much lived up to his injury prone reputation.
Mike Sando (4:42 PM)
Thanks. I also enjoy the chats. I feel as though the QB makes the receivers, and that New England will be OK as long as all the receivers don't get hurt at the same time. While good WRs do not turn a shaky QB into a good one, extremely poor receivers can drag down a QB. We saw that happen with Brady in the first half of last year. Brady was also responsible. He was not perfect. We saw that when we broke down film with a veteran QB. Brady missed throws. But we also saw how his unfamiliarity with unestablished receivers held him back. I think the WR situation is not great, but it has stabilized to the point that the team will be better prepared offensively than it was when it was trying to adjust on the fly to life without Aaron Hernandez (and others).
Harry (Babylon, NY)
some bounce back team possibilities, Falcons and Giants have to be at the top of the list right?
Mike Sando (4:43 PM)
Yeah. I also think Pittsburgh could bounce back from being a non-playoff team to being a playoff team. The Steelers weren't horrible, of course, so they have less room for improvement, but that is another team to watch.
Kevin Fry (Minnesota)
Sando do the Vikings have a chance in the NFC North this year? I keep hearing rumblings that Matt Cassell and Norv Turner have gotten off to a good start. Would a resurrected Matt Cassell combined with Peterson and an emerging threat at WR in Cordelle Patterson be enough to contend with the rest of the north?
Mike Sando (4:44 PM)
The offense was productive late last season. I can go along with your thinking there, but the shift to playing outdoors is potentially significant if late-season weather comes into play. I think that could hurt the offense.
Tod (Sedona AZ)
Am I missing the outrage over Dufus Washington? My initial knee jerk reaction is to have the Cardinals try to recoup as much of his signing bonus as they can and cut this bum. I know he's talented, obviously, but man has he let this organization down.
Mike Sando (4:45 PM)
The Cardinals' statement showed some outrage. And you can bet they'll try to recoup money to the extent allowable.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks had an article about the top 5 receiving corps in the league..49ers made the list, Lions did not...I'd take Mega, Golden, Ebron, Pettigrew over Crab, Boldin, Stevie and Veronon. Would you?
Mike Sando (4:46 PM)
I would rather have the Lions' receiving corps than the 49ers' group, yes, but the fact that San Francisco is even in the conversation shows how much the team has potentially improved in the one area that I think held them back from winning the division last season. That offense in San Francisco could be much more consistent.
John McCarthy (Puget Sound)
Do you think a comparison between Drew Bledsoe and Carson Palmer would be accurate? To me, they both throw for alot of yards but also turn the ball over a great deal.
Mike Sando (4:47 PM)
Off the top of my head, without studying numbers, I would buy the premise. I do think Carson Palmer and that Arizona offense made some serious strides late last season. Check out my Twitter timeline (@SandoESPN) for some stats on that subject.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Which TE could you see really taking off, Jordan Cameron or Kyle Rudolph? Cameron with Manziel in, and Gordon out, or Mini Gronk with presumably a QB upgrade in Bridgewater and also Norv as OC, who historically gets a lot out of his TEs?
Mike Sando (4:48 PM)
The case for Cameron intrigues me because Josh Gordon could be out and they could need a TE safety blanket to an extent that Minnesota, with a wider array of weapons, might not.
Theodore Hoffman (Bells, IN)
how many wins are you expecting from the Chiefs this year.....I see them as an 8-8 team
Mike Sando (4:49 PM)
I also see their win total falling, in part because of their schedule. Instead of facing the AFC South, as they did in 2013, they face the NFC West. Big difference there.
Theodore Hoffman (Bells, IN)
do you think their is room in the NFL for 2 or 4 more expansion teams?
Mike Sando (4:50 PM)
I'd be against it. Not enough QBs to go around.
Al Snow (Sacramento, CA)
People seem to be excited about the Steve Johnson trade for the 49ers, but to me I view him as somebody who is going to flame out fast. While he is talented, I don't see him supplanting either Boldin or Crabtree. Once he realizes that he is at best the 3rd option I think he's going to want out of SF fast. My thinking is he came in here assuming that he could be a top target.
Mike Sando (4:51 PM)
Interesting point. Winning is the great cure. We'll see if that is the case for him in San Francisco. There will be games when he is not targeted much.
CB seems to be the biggest (and maybe only) weakness on the 49ers roster. Any chance they make a move for Flowers if he is cut? I know they don't have room to fit his current salary, so a trade is probably out of the question at this point
Mike Sando (4:52 PM)
They have kicked the tires on quite a few CBs. If Flowers were available, yeah, I think they'd look at him.
Greg Jennings (Millis High)
will Teddy Bridgewater be able to get the ball to me?
Mike Sando (4:54 PM)
I don't know how early Teddy Bridgewater will be playing, or whether some of the issues that slowed him over the past 6-7 months are going to be real issues for him in the NFL. We would just be guessing at this point.
Who are some of the players you like to break out this season we don't know much about right now?
Mike Sando (4:57 PM)
The young running backs in Pittsburgh (Bell) and Denver (Ball) come to mind. I'll have to think on that one a little more. Good question.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
I know draft grades are pointless, but I still shake my head at how well the 49ers drafted...I was hoping that the Broncos would draft either Hyde, Martin or Borland, and somehow they end up with all 3. Martin gives them leverage and insurance if Iupati walks, and Borland is a baller, no matter his measureables...
Mike Sando (4:58 PM)
Agreed. The 49ers' draft looks great on paper. They had a ton of ammo, a credit to them as well.
Mike Sando (4:58 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat, and have a great weekend.