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)
Greetings. So glad you could make it. Here we go.
Tommy Rae (Parts Unknown)
Tony Gonzalez and the Pats look like a perfect fit...have to admit a 2 TE set with him and Gronk would look damn good.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
It would look great, but the Atlanta Falcons control Gonzalez's rights. Remember when they would not release him? That was because they did not want another team luring him out of retirement. The word last season was that Gonzalez would have loved being traded to a contender, but the Falcons did not want to make it look like they were giving up on the season. Gonzalez retired, but he had time left on his deal. That means his NFL rights reside in Atlanta even though he is no longer playing. What would be interesting -- unlikely to occur, but interesting -- would be if the Falcons accepted compensation from a team in exchange for Gonzalez's rights.
I feel like the lack of discipline handed down to Ray Rice actually bodes well for those folks that are facing disciplinary action (Gordon, Aldon, etc...) Am I wrong in thinking that?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Yeah, you could be wrong in that Rice and the other guys you mentioned violated different policies (Aldon Smith has possibly run afoul of more than one). The commissioner had more discretion in Rice's situation because the personal-conduct policy does not lay out punishment as clearly as the substance-abuse policy.
Jerry Carbo (Death Valley)
is there any market out there for Ryan Mallett?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
I think that market would potentially exist if another team came into a desperate situation. However, the problem is that Mallett really has not played to this point, and teams are probably less willing to make the Matt Schaub/Kevin Kolb type of commitment for player without much experience. I would say any market for Mallett would be a soft market at this point. He is a backup with some upside. Lots of teams have those.
Jameson Chiariello (Next President )
Don't you see Andre Williams vying for the ROY with David Wilson retiring?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I'm thinking Sammy Watkins is going to be in that discussion prominently, and that Brandin Cooks could have a chance as well.
Burnsmobile (Not exactly Short)
What do you expect out of Eddie Lacy this season?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Great stuff from Lacy. He is a big, powerful back who is also nimble. We have to remember that he wasn't a big factor early last season. He seems to me to have great full-season potential as a guy who gives as good as he gets from a punishment standpoint. Really like his future and present.
Yo Sando: I haven't heard that much about Donald out of the Stl (though there's plenty of news out of there). Is that Dline going to be as beastly as many think it will?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I do think it is going to be that beastly. The one guy I'm interested in seeing is Michael Brockers. Donald got some pub in the OTAs and minicamps. Quinn is Quinn. Long is established. Brockers was a first-round pick who unfortunately got hurt in the preseason of his rookie year. Seems like he should be more of a force than he has been, at least consistency wise.
Sando I got the Rams at 12-4 right now. 49ers are in disarray, Cards run defense is dead, and the Seahawks have the Madden curse. The NFC West is the Rams to lose.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
This confirms the Rams did indeed begin serving beer at training camp this summer! Look, I think the Rams have potential to break the .500 barrier, but I'll be surprised if they get to double-digit wins, or if they win the division. That would just be an outstanding season.
Quest for 2 (Spokane)
Sando I got the Hawks stomping the NFC West and going 14-2 this year. I doubt the Hawks lose another game until at least 2017.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
That means they will rest their starters in two games then, I suppose. My goodness, the optimism (and Optimator?) is flowing this morning.
Struggling Franklin (Patriots Lot)
Vick or Gino?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Geno now, Vick as needed.
Heel Ziggler (Hollywood, FL)
Sando, give us a couple sleepers for MVP candidates this year.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Sleeper picks would be Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler. All are QBs, but that is kind of the way these things have been going. I see reasons any one of them could have a bigger year than anticipated.
Maureen Ruane (Donde?)
What are the expectations from your ESPN brothren for Clowney?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I haven't polled the masses, but I penciled him in as my DROY pick after considering Aaron Donald. But who really knows how a season will go and how a guy will respond to a 17-week, 16-game season that will feature ups, downs, injuries and more?
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, Wi)
I know it's what they "have" to do, but don't you find it kind of pointless when television stations blur out someone flipping the bird? Like, we know what's behind that blur lol It's not like they are saving the public from something they haven't seen. More relevantly, to me it seemed like Manziel did it out of fun moreso than frustration. If he did it out of frustration, I don't think he would have been playing around with the idea during his conference. I don't think Manziel is going to be more than what Michael Vick ever was, but I think people are going out of their way to rip the kid now. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I think we will get to a time society-wise where that gesture will not be blurred out. I'm not saying that is good or bad, really. Just seems like we're trending in that direction and younger people aren't really phased, in general. Not that I'm a trained sociologist or anything.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Watching Manziel's coaching tape, how can anybody even pretend this guy is close? I would argue he will never be ready before I clamor to see him play this ENTIRE season.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I think you could watch the games through the view finder on a VHS camcorder and still see that Johnny Manziel has a ways to go before being ready. And I know what I'm talking about. I've got a 1986 RCA camcorder in storage somewhere.
John C. (Spring Valley)
Sando the Pats secondary on paper looks stout. However, are they ever going to generate an even above average pass rush to go along with the upgrades in the secondary?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I think the Patriots had that in mind when they selected Dominique Easley as an interior pass-rusher this past spring. You should Google "Rookie Dominique Easley brings pressure" to see Mike Reiss' report about Easley's quickness and spin moves. Durability is a concern. I think Easley is a key variable.
With the losses the Cardinals have suffered, has the door been opened for the Rams to ascend to the 3rd spot in the NFC West pre-season bluster rankings? The way some pundits put it out there, Rams/Cards fans shouldn't even bother following their teams this year since it's already been determined that no one on the face of this earth can ever challange the all-mighty 49er/Seahawks.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Yeah, I think there is a decent chance the Rams will overtake the Cardinals this season. There is some thought that Arizona caught several teams at the right time last season in going 10-6. They got Tampa Bay when the Bucs were in disarray. They got Carolina before the Panthers really put it together. They played Atlanta in the one season recently when Atlanta was horrible. They got a spiraling Texans team. They got the Texans when Jake Locker was out. I don't know if that is entirely fair. We could poke holes in any team's schedule. But those things come into my mind when projecting for Arizona this season. Winning 10 was great, but I expect fewer Ws for that team this season, lowering the bar for St. Louis to clear.
Sara Nolan (On The Record)
Sando, whats your favorite beer?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I average about 10-12 beers a year and usually like something lighter, served in a frozen mug on a hot day, and then I rarely drink a second one.
HK (17 day vacation)
Sando, what would have happened down in Dallas if they actually picked Manziel?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
The offensive line would have suffered because they would not have drafted Zack Martin. Manziel would have created a stir, but Tony Romo would have remained the unquestioned starter this season.
Matt Hendon (NY)
Eli Manning has looked beyond atrocious this pre-season. Is there a realistic chance he could be benched at some point this season if he continues to turn the ball over and generally just play at an ineffective level? It seems to me that up to this point, he's almost spiraling out of control.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Manning has attempted 16 passes this preseason and has not thrown an interception, so it is tough to say we have seen a whole lot. The one thing I'm interested in seeing is how Tom Coughlin, a veteran coach, handles things if the offense fails to show progress early in the season. They changed over their offensive staff, but it's not like the new coordinator just runs the show no matter what.
Bigger loss for the Cards, Dockett or Washington? From what I've heard from Cards fans, the Dockett loss stings more to an extent because he was an emotional leader on that defense.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I think the emotional leader angle tends to be overrated. I'd rather have Daryl Washington than Darnell Dockett at this point. To me, it's the cumulative losses that are troubling. Dansby leaves, Minter doesn't really step up initially, Washington is out, Dockett is out, Mathieu is still working his way back.
Lots of folks in Chicago worried about Bears special teams. Isn't this a non issue?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
No, I think it is an important issue in a game with small margins.
John (Providence, RI)
Why did Cleveland draft Manziel, if their intention was to basically neuter the kid? Not only does he have to learn an NFL offense, but he has to also re-invent his style of play. He went from playing fast and lose in college, to have to worry about all types of restrictions in the back of his head. He would have been a perfect fit for Rex Ryan and the Jets.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
There is some thought that the owner pushed for Johnny Manziel. We do not know this for sure, but if the owner is more excited than the coaching staff when it comes to a player, sometimes that gap shows up. I'm not saying that is the case, but I am wondering it a little bit.
Mike (Stockton) [via mobile]
Hey Mike, does living in the Northwest make it more difficult travel-wise now that you cover the NFL in general (not just the NFC West).
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
It makes the trips longer, but I don't mind. Privileged to do what I do.
Just curious, but how does the NFL not have a mandate with physical violence, but do with a relatively harmless recreational drug?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
That is a rhetorical question that should be addressed in terms of whether the NFL needs to rethink its policies in light of A) the Rice punishment and B) changing laws regarding marijuana. The direct answer to the question -- that the league's discipline regarding Rice met or in this case vastly exceeded the courts' punishment of him -- is not particularly satisfying.
David the Character (Foxwoods Hotel)
are you a golfer Sando?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I love to play the game but am fortunate to play more than two rounds in a year at this stage. I really do love it, but not enough to make it a priority at the expense of work or family.
Do you think Kaep can step up and improve his decision making this year? he has the tools to do it and it would be nice to finally quiet all those Alex Smith Lovers out there!
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I think Alex Smith will have a tougher year because he'll have to face the NFC West, and his line might not be as good this season, and his weapons in the passing game are not great. On Colin Kaepernick, I do think he can improve in that area if he focuses on it. He has the physical ability and he works hard and he has a very good TD-INT ratio overall, and now he has greater depth at receiver.
Will Kirk Cousins or Terrelle Pryor get traded to the Texans at some point during the season?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I cannot see Terrelle Pryor having value as a starting candidate right now. I could see Kirk Cousins having appeal. I also suspect that Jay Gruden really likes Cousins, and after watching Robert Griffin III play human pinball the other night, Washington might need Cousins.
Eldridge Maynard "E.M." Brockweiler (Godthåb)
Will Golden Tate make any significant impact on the success of the Detroit Lions this season? How would you rate the current Detroit receiving corps?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Yes, I think he will. Very good receiver with strong hands and a strong competitive drive, based on what we've seen recently, including when I visited Lions camp this summer. I do not think he is going to have a "breakout" season with 90 catches or anything like that, but I think his catches will provide great value.
Mike, I think 3 NFC South Teams will make the Playoffs, and the Chargers will take over as California's best team once again?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Which three from the NFC South? I think Carolina is a team that is getting written off prematurely. I'm picking the Panthers to be a playoff team again. I do not think the Chargers will be better than the 49ers, however.
Rick (Long Island, NY)
The Broncos look loaded this year, besides injuries obviously, what pitfalls do you think they face en route to another Super Bowl appearance?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I keep looking at my watch wondering when Peyton Manning hits the wall. That is a concern, but not a huge one. Also, I think New England can be better and a threat in the NFC West. Also, I think Andrew Luck is dangerous in a one-game playoff situation. Finally, I see Pittsburgh improving this year and threatening in the AFC.
Mike, for all the praise Trent Baalke gets for his great drafting, don't you think he could have spent one of his umpteen draft picks on a back-up QB at some point? There's no excuse for trotting out dumpster fires like Blaine Gabbert and Colt McCoy when you have so many picks. Some teams seem to draft a QB every year almost.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I agree with you in theory and just wonder if it's been a case of the team wanting someone with at least some NFL starting experience, or the team really not liking any of the rookies enough to take them. Good question, though.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Better chance at having a comeback year - Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
If they swapped teams, I would say Britt for sure, based on the QB. Right now, I like Britt better but like Nicks' situation better. It's tough for me to endorse Nicks.
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, WI)
How do other people you've talked to view the 49ers struggles? To me, it would certainly be nice if they didn't get blown out. But the reality is they haven't been a strong preseason team ever under Harbaugh. He keeps the offense sort of vanilla even in the REGULAR season (to help for the playoffs), let alone show anything in a PRESEASON game. Combine that with having a dozen or so starters out, and having Blaine Gabbert trying to score points for you the rest of the game, and it's pretty clear to me that come the regular season the team will be back to it's 12-4 ways. Although, I am worried about Dawson. Seems dangerously similar to Akers - older player with a great first year with the team, gets an extension, and then nosedives the second year.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I love this question and need to get a better answer for you on it. Good thinking.
And I predict the Super bowl to be Baltimore vs Seattle
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I'm wavering on the Ravens a little bit and leaning toward Pittsburgh and Cincinnati being the top two teams in that division.
Johnny Sizzle (Walking down the aisle with Large )
Will the Lions finally make the playoffs this season?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I lean towards saying no, but the Lions are a very intriguing team to me, and I'm a little more optimistic about them -- enough to make them a curiosity and a team I could see taking that step, but we obviously need to see more.
Dennis Naughton (NE)
Sando you're too into the status quo. Let's make some bold predictions here, it's easy to pick all the teams with the best records from last year to maintain success. What team that was .500 or worse last year makes the best push for the playoffs this year?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Last year the status quo was rewarded. Last year I had Denver and Seattle going to the Super Bowl, but in an effort to go against the grain, I changed my AFC pick to Houston. The Texans then went 2-14 and I should have stuck with Denver, right? If you ever played blackjack before casinos changed the rules to make it impossible for anyone to get an edge, the smart players learned not to play hunches. Go by the book. But I can still answer your question. I turned in my season predictions yesterday and included Miami among the AFC playoff teams. Pittsburgh was another playoff team. Those teams were 8-8. The losing teams I could see making a push would include Buffalo, someone from the NFC East, one of the NFC South losers (no offense!) and St. Louis.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Been watching Hard Knocks, and I love how Matt Ryan has his fingerprints on every facet of the org - he knows the ballboys and girls, throws passes to coaches kids, does everything...is this vital to being a franchise QB, and can you see this aspect holding Manziel back?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I don't think that aspect is vital. I'm sure there are and have been championship QBs who were not this way. I think Matt Ryan needs a better defense and running game more than he needs those positive traits you described.
Do you think Rob gronk plays week 1? if so, Do Tom Brady move back up in top 4 with Brees/Rodgers/Manning/Luck
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I think Tom Brady was in that realm over the second half of last season, and I think he will be there this season as long as he does not lose all his weapons at once for the second year in a row. I talk to a ton of players, coaches and evaluators throughout the league. There is not a QB more universally respected than Brady. I think he is the most respected guy in the league.
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, WI)
*for the record, I meant Dawson, not Dorsey
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I changed that back. Sorry.
Why do some players have to be waived/injured while others can immediately be put on IR? Ex. Packers with Colt Lyerla (waived/injured) and Arizona with Darnell Dockett (placed on IR)
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Vested veterans earn the right to bypass waivers, allowing them to become free agents once released. Other players with less experience must first clear waivers.
Obrendo Moengotapoe (Paramaribo)
Any favorite sports to watch other than American football?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I love to watch baseball from a ballpark because it means I've got several hours to kill and not a worry in the world while I'm there. I used to be really into boxing years ago. Mostly, I will watch just about anything if the stakes are high. Love watching golf's majors. Love a great NBA playoff game. Occasionally miss covering college basketball.
First to become a head coach again? Jon Gruden, Herm Edwards, Brian Billick
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
My perception is that Gruden would be in the highest demand and have the best shot, but he has a great thing going now, too, and presumably it would have to be a perfect opportunity.
Which new DL Bear makes the biggest impact- Allen, Houston or Young?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
I'm tempted to go with Houston based on his age and career trajectory. One thing about Allen is that he plays so many snaps, even at an advanced age. Think he might be better if he backed off just a little.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the latest chat. Loved the back and forth.