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. Great to be here. And here we go.
Four years from now, who is the better team based on their current path, Jags or Cowboys?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
I'll go with the Jaguars and I do not think it's going to take four years, either. My opinion is that having the owner directly involved and friendly with the QB in particular has a net negative effect on an organization.
Scott Fuzzy (Brothers MArketplace)
Will Luck's deal squash Kap's?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Yes, by a long ways, too. People in the league feel much better about Luck than they feel about any other young QB, moving forward.
Tigre (South Of The Border)
Hey Mike! Didn't realize the Chat was still happening after the whole FB switch. My question is? on a scale of 1 to 10, how good is the new CK7 deal for the 49ers' franchise?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
I think the structure of the deal is very good for the team. The rest depends on how well Colin Kaepernick plays.
Justin (Johnson City, TN)
Do you think Tom Brady is still in the convesation with Manning, Brees, and Rodgers? How has he declined so much when a severly weakened Manning is playing better than ever, maybe better than any QB has ever played.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Yes. I can tell you that zero people I've encountered around the league think Tom Brady is outside that conversation. One frequently used paradigm is whether a guy can really carry his team and carry his offense. We saw last season, at least early in the season, that when Brady lost nearly all his weapons, it was tough for him to carry things. But once he had a baseline level of weaponry in the second half of the season, he again ascended into that top echelon. The expectation for 2014 is that the Patriots will have a baseline level of weaponry and that Brady will make good use of that.
Tribe (Sando's Kitchen)
Without Daryl Washington, the Cardinals will have a hard time containing the more atheltic quarterbacks in the division, Wilson and Kaepernick. Does his exit and the Rams addition of a talented tackle push the Cardinals out of contention, allowing the Rams to overtake them for 2nd place behind the Niners?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
A lot will hinge on what the Rams and Cardinals get from their offenses. The Cardinals made big strides on offense over the second half of the season. Carson Palmer ranked sixth in Total QBR (68.9, right behind Tom Brady and Drew Brees) over the final eight games. He was 29th out of 34 qualifying QBs over the first eight games. Big, big difference. I feel as though Arizona is ahead of St. Louis offensively. The Rams need Sam Bradford to stay healthy. They need their line to improve. While those things could happen, I feel a little surer about Arizona on that side of the ball.
just OTAs ... but chatter on the Lions' young DBs seems pretty positive, you hearing anything?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Yeah, I saw some of the things Teryl Austin said recently and it sounded positive. His background is in the secondary so that should be one area he can really focus on. They have a good defensive line, which should help. I'd call it guarded optimism.
John (Philz Coffee)
Have you gotten a chance to look the Kap's deal? Seems like he took a much lower than market deal. Woudn't it have been better for him to play out this next year and get something closer to Flaco/Romo/Cutler kind of money?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Kaepernick took a lower than market deal because he was not on the market. He had a one-year, $1 million deal with no guarantees, basically. He was playing for a team that kicked Alex Smith to the curb the minute Smith suffered a concussion, even though the team had been winning a ton of games with Smith. So, before this deal, the worst-case scenario for Kaepernick was playing himself out of the job in 2014 and having $1 million to show for it. Now, the worst-case scenario for him is playing himself out of the job in 2014 and having $13 million to show for it. To get that security, he gave up some things in terms of structure. But he is very likely to be very rich as a result of this deal.
Terry Bruge-Hiplo (Iowa)
Sando I think it's a big mistake for teams to hand out big dollar contracts to game manager QBs. Joe Flacco last year got a massive deal which undoubtedly hurt the Ravens depth. After years of delivering average regular seasons, he delivers a sub par one because he's simply not capable of lifting the players around him. Not saying that CK's deal in SF is similar because I think CK has a much higher ceiling, but when are teams going to learn that just because a QB has a good record as the starter doesn't mean that it's all on them?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I think teams already know it, but they are afraid to be really horrible at the position, so they pay a high price to make sure they are at least decent and settled at the position. Kaepernick's deal gives the 49ers good flexibility, though. It is not a Joe Flacco deal where they will be back at the negotiating table out of necessity in a few years.
Full Timer Steve (Burlington)
IYO, will running backs continue to be more phased out the next decade?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
They will probably be marginalized as long as the college game continues on its current path. I think great backs still carry great value, and teams will draft them early when they can. But there aren't many great backs coming out of college, and teams are finding they can just go with 2-3 guys at the position instead of loading up one guy with 300 carries.
ill will (Tallahassee) [via mobile]
Do you see the rams joining the rest of the west with a top 10 defense?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
It could depend on how you measure such things, but I would lean toward saying yes, they'll be in that top 10 area.
Does ELi bounce back to 25+ tds 15(or less ints)?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
That would work out to a 1.67 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. I think there is a very good chance he will have such a ratio in 2014. He has been higher than that ratio in 2008 (2.1), 2009 (1.9), 2011 (1.8) and 2012 (1.7). I think there will be a conscious effort to eliminate some of those INTs both by design and through decision making. Also, the protection will be better.
Heef (Chesapeake, VA)
Do you think the Kap extension makes it more likely that the 49ers extend Harbaugh in the near future? Or do you think they see it as having more leverage since they have the Kap deal to fall back on in the eyes of the fans? I kind of see them as a package deal. Where you still want to put Kap in the best position moving forward.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
It probably helps a little bit in that there is some stability at the QB position from the team's standpoint, and Harbaugh has been a big supporter of Kaepernick, to the point that he benched Alex Smith so that he could play Kaepernick.
Jean Luc Picard (Rigel IV)
Sando if you had to pick a dark horse team from the NFC to make some noise this year, who would it be?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
It might be the Lions if you wanted a true dark horse type team. How many teams would really qualify as such, though? There are multiple realistic division winners in most or all divisions. If RG III is healthy, that offense could be really good in Washington. There aren't very many hopeless teams in the NFC. Are there any?
Imre (Missoula, MT)
Dark Horse NFC team = Da Bearssssss! Nuff Said!
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
They finished last season a half-game out of the NFC North lead, though, and they did it playing two QBs.
William Riker (A Yankee Clipper)
Remember all the talk in 2011/2012 that Eli Manning and Flacco were elite QBs? All the time I questioned it, and people would routinely tell me that since they won a SB it doesn't matter. Well, it's 2014 now and if either of those 2 guys were my QB I would not feel remotely comfortable. If Eli/Flacco were elite Eli wouldn't have tossed 27 INTs last year and Flacco would have carried the Ravens into the playoffs late instead of getting obliterated by New England.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I agree with you and would have agreed with you at that time.
Benjamin Gordon (Portland, OR)
How are the 49ers players reacting to the 6 year contract extention that Colin Kaepernick just signed, and in what ways can this affect the teams future?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I have not seen much reaction. Most probably have not studied the contract to know the full implications. Most have their own jobs to worry about.
Offensive rookie of the year your top three?and any sleeper pick?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
My sleeper picks might include the running backs who have gone to teams with potentially good offensive lines and openings for playing time. Bishop Sankey in Tennessee and Jeremy Hill in Cincinnati come to mind even though most analysts seem highest on Carlos Hyde going to San Francisco, where Hyde could have a hard time getting a ton of playing time right away.
Seems like the niners have had very few injuries over these last 4 years, yet teams like the Pats, Packers, etc all seems to get his hard year after year. Is it something in the water or is it just some kind of stat fluke?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Probably some luck. The 49ers have made an effort to have a big, especially physical team on the belief that those teams have staying power. It's tough to document or prove that it has worked.
Without Shoes (Bellevue)
Mike, who is the better passer right now, RW or CK?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I think Russell Wilson is ahead of Colin Kaepernick in terms of traditional passing, but both players went through last season with diminished weaponry. That should change in 2014 and we should get a truer test of both players as passers.
DOes the addition of Tate and Ebron make it possible for Megatron to get over 2k in yeards this season?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I think teams are still going to focus on Calvin Johnson first, which could, in theory, open up opportunities for other guys. I don't see defenses gearing up to stop Tate or Ebron at the expense of covering Johnson.
Do you think the Rams will lead the NFL in sacks this season?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yeah, they should be right up there. However, the opponents St. Louis faces in 2014 took 638 sacks last season, which is tied for the seventh-lowest total in the NFL for any team's upcoming opponents. That does not mean things will carry over, and to be clear here, there is not great variance in the sacks-allowed numbers (11 teams' opponents allowed between 636 and 646 sacks last season). It's just something to keep in mind. Sometimes the opposing QB gets the ball out.
Brown (Brown's Day Care)
Between the 49ers and Seahawks, which team do you think would be the least capable of over-coming an injury to more than 1 starter? Could injuries realistically bring either squad to .500 or below?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
That depends on who gets injured. If the QBs get injured, it could be rough. But both teams lost starters in the recent past, and still won.
Who are your NFC Division winners?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Right now, on June 5, I lean toward Philly, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Francisco. I go back and forth on the NFC East and NFC West.
Dave (Shawnee, KS)
What is going on with the Alex Smith contract this moment?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Haven't heard much lately, and I do not see urgency here. Smith makes decent money. Smith has already made a ton of money. The Chiefs like him, but I don't know that they love him. There is not compelling reason for either side to act right this minute, but I do think they will work out a deal at some point.
Mark (Miami, FL)
Are the Saints and Packers physical enough to dethrone the NFC West Champ?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I tend to think not, but if the games are played in New Orleans, that changes a lot.
Steve Shirello (Yes Movement)
% Manziel is a complete bust?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Maybe 33 percent, but who knows? I feel like there is a good coordinator fit in Cleveland and that Johnny Manziel might be able to function well in a Kyle Shanahan-designed offense.
Sheriff Ramb (Tri County)
I keep hearing that the Hawks may use more RBs this season due to the high mileage on Lynch. Who do you think would be primed to do better, Michael or Turbin?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
There is a Marshawn Lynch succession plan in place and if Lynch stays away from OTAs, minicamps and especially training camps, we're going to hear Pete Carroll talk about how excited they are about using multiple backs. But if Lynch is available and his usual self, he is going to be the guy.
Robert (Jamestown, NY)
Not sold on E.J. Manuel in Buffalo at all. The they have a viable backup at this point? Might they bring a veteran in for insurance?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
The Bills have been willing to play without a safety net at that position, and I see no evidence their thinking has changed. It's something we've been critical of in the past. Louis Riddick was quite critical of it in his assessment of the Bills.
Tigre (South Of The Border)
Right now? who do you think will have the #1 pick in the NFL Draft next year?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Let's see what happens in Oakland, where I think they've upgraded the roster, but they also added some age. Just look through the teams and tell me which ones are more likely to pick first overall? It's an interesting exercise. I think it's a little unfair to the Raiders to just single them out, but what other teams look like first overall pick teams? Bad things have to happen.
Jan Skylar (Kansas)
Does Jamaal Charles have a shot at the rushing title this year, or will Andy Reid go back to his pass happy routes the more comfortable he becomes with this team?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I could see them throwing it more this coming season, yes.
Wayne Skylar (KC)
Thank you for the chats Sando. What do you think the chances are of the Chiefs winning the AFC West this year? Everyone is down on them last year because of their easy schedule and utter collapse in the playoffs, but I think the foundation is there for a competitive team with good coaching that can compete with elite teams.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
My pleasure. One issue the Chiefs have this season is shared by the AFC West. They face the NFC West in the scheduling rotation. Last season, they faced the AFC South. I think it'll be tough to have as good of a record. What I'm most interested in seeing is to what degree some of the attrition costs the Chiefs from a depth standpoint. I don't feel like they got better on paper this offseason, but the changes they made seemed calculated.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. I have to say, some of the questions that were not usable were nonetheless entertaining, as usual.