Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger 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 (1:10 PM)
Delay of game, Sando. I'm here now. Camp Confidential just posted.
Adam (Springfield, MO)
Mike, the Rams took a lot of grief drafting Lance Kendricks in the 2nd Round. So far, the talk in camp is that the kid is a stud. Do you seem him having a major impact on the season?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I do see him factoring for the Rams. GM Billy Devaney noted that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was particularly influential in this selection, moreso than on the selections of receivers later in the draft. Meanwhile, the Rams did not bring in a big-name, featured wideout. They waved goodbye to Daniel Fells and did not sign a veteran pass-catching tight end. All signs point to Kendricks playing quite a bit.
I know you try and watch the whole game in every aspect, but what part of Seattle's team are you going to look at the most? WRs? O-Line? I think I'm going to be looking at our DBs more than anything...
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
The offensive line is where I like to focus. The position is easier to monitor on TV, for one. What happens in the secondary is more complex and harder to see.
Kyle (Rockford, IL)
Now that you have seen them all in action, how would you rank the teams' QBs in terms of long-term potential? (Please use Kaepernick in SF instead of A. Smith)
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I would go with Sam Bradford, then Colin Kaepernick and then Kevin Kolb. Now, Kolb might be the best of the three right now. But we also have a greater sense of his ceiling, so to speak. We haven't seen what limitations might exist for Kaepernick, who happens to be the most athletic of the three. Tarvaris Jackson would probably be fourth just because he's played a fair amount without showing great improvement.
Does it make any sense to have T-Jax play so little today against the Chargers? You'd think Pete Carroll would want him to get at least a quarter of gametime. What do you think about Carroll's decision to play Portis for a whole half?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Tarvaris Jackson has bee practicing for only one week. He can get his feet wet this week and then play more extensively later. Josh Portis playing a full half could be an adventure, but the staff is most curious about him. The team has a better feel for what Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst can do. That would be the thinking, in my view.
Bradley (Dublin, CA)
As a long time 9er fan (since 1977), I like the direction they seem to be headed under Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke. Also, fans here seem to want to bury Jed York before he's had an extended opportunity to guide the franchise. Most 49ers fans long for Eddie DeBartolo, but they forget he hired Joe Thomas as his first GM and it wasn't until the Bill Walsh hire three-plus years later that things started to change. Patience is not something that 49ers fans are known for, but in this case it will be required. I certainly think it will pay off.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I've never suspected the 49ers of stuffing the mailbag til now. Kidding. You know your 49ers history. I've also seen those parallels, but so far mostly on the negative side. Eddie DeBartolo was young and arguably in over his head to begin with. He did make a couple bad hires early. He then made a great hire in targeting Walsh from Stanford. Jed York was young and arguably in over his head. He did make a sketchy hire. He did follow that up by targeting a coach from Stanford (Harbaugh). Now comes the hard part. And you're right, patience will come in handy.
Mike, do you think we will see alot of four-wide from Seattle with Mike Williams, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and John Carlson? Seems like very few teams would have the secondary to handle something like that. I am envisioning some nice gains for Marshawn Lynch out of that formation as well.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Yeah, we'll see that. It will technically be 12 personnel, or what the Seahawks (and 49ers, for that matter) call "Tiger" personnel. It is pretty much a base personnel package. But with two good receiving tight ends, opposing defenses do have to worry about the pass to a greater degree. The 49ers have used this frequently with tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. Teams still have to respect the run, but the pass remains a threat.
Sean (New Haven)
What's your take on Crabtree's talent level? Too slow to become a star? Has he become a lazy diva receiver that is headed for a NFL flameout or can he become a top 15 guy?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Another possibility: What if he is neither a lazy diva nor a top 15 guy? He is most likely to fall somewhere in between. Figuring out the quarterback situation would help too.
Barrett (Glendale AZ)
Question regarding the extent of Adrian Wilson's injury. Of what you know, should Cardinals fans expect to see Wilson starting Week 1, and do you think this injury will affect Adrian the way his abductor injury bothered him last season? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
All signs point to Wilson having suffered a partial tear of the biceps tendon near where it attaches to the elbow. He can play with it and it would not affect his lateral mobility the way the abductor injury did. But Wilson could have a harder time making tackles. He could be susceptible to tearing the tendon completely. Some players have toughed it out after tearing the biceps tendon where it attaches at the shoulder. That injury can be less problematic because two tendons attach there. A complete tear of the biceps tendon near the elbow would require season-ending surgery.
What are the Cardinals remaining holes that need to be filled?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I left Cardinals camp impressed by Kevin Kolb's overall demeanor and presence. In the back of my mind, though, I've really wondered about the defense -- starting with the outside pass rush. I'm just not convinced Ray Horton has what he needs in that area. I would also at least consider adding a wide receiver.
Beanie Wells just doesn't seem to be "the guy." I get the impression, based upon camp production, that Ryan Williams will be starting before the first half of the season ends. Does Wells really not have it? Or does Whiz just not know how to use him? Any chance we're looking at another Pro Bowl back who busts with the Cardinals Ã la Garrison Hearst/Thomas Jones?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I've had the same feeling about Ryan Williams possibly starting by season's end. I liked Wells' selection in the draft overall because value and need seemed to align. But hearing Ken Whisenhunt speak during camp about how Wells has had a tough time being away from his family, I scratched my head and thought, "That sort of thing is really a factor at this level?"
Things are a little too quiet from the Fitzgerald camp when it comes to talking contract extension. The Cardinals seem to be in a holding pattern on their spending (see #2 WR) until they lock him up. I don't like Arizona's chances of keeping him if something doesn't get done this year. Please tell me you have inside information that eases concerns he'll test the free agent market after this season!!!
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Agreed that the Cardinals need to get this done before Fitzgerald hits free agency. If he hits the market, good luck keeping him. Plenty of time remains, however. Getting the deal done before the regular season would be great for all parties.
Mike, the Niners seem to have good depth at the safety position but how did the corners look? With the front seven being the strength of their defense in recent years, will the back end be able to hold up their end of the deal and get off the field in third-and-long?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Carlos Rogers picked off a pass yesterday and has been pretty involved in the defense from what I've seen. Overall, though, I'm with you in thinking that position remains a potential concern.
Everybody up here in Seattle is worried (but won't admit it) that the Seahawks are going to never reach the potential of what the Rams have. Especially if we continue to look around and target other teams' backups as starting QBs. Arizona went out and grabbed a guy, cost them big, but they did it. San Francisco tried to get their guy with Colin Kaepernick. Does Seattle really think they can compete in this division beyond this year without a decent QB?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Pete Carroll has made it clear he thinks the Seahawks needed to build from the inside out -- along the lines first -- before investing in a quarterback. This probably explains why the team hasn't drafted a quarterback since Carroll arrived even though general manager John Schneider has repeatedly said he believes in drafting one or more every year. Seattle knows it needs a quarterback but hasn't felt good enough about the available ones to make the sort of investment you cited. The team will need to target one in 2012.
Does it bother you when guys like Colin Cowherd say the Seahawks are worse now than they were last year (which he said yesterday)? They rebuilt the O-line, brought in Tom Cable, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, and kept the key players on DEF. I dont get it. And do people remember that Hasselbeck, though I am a huge fan, had about 4 good games the last 2 years?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Here is the thing: Seattle went 7-9 as basically a four- or five-win team last season (sweeping Arizona certainly helped). This could be, in theory, a six- or seven-win team in 2011 that goes 6-10. That would be a step backward in the standings even as the team continued to build. There's no question Matt Hasselbeck was sensational in the playoffs last season. He has not been good consistently in a while, however, and some people tend to forget that when analyzing the position in Seattle.
Calais Campbell was expected to have a breakout season in 2010, but he along with the entire defense underperformed. From what you saw in training camp, could 2011 be his year to shine?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Campbell finished strong last season, so that was a good sign.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Did the Seahawks fail in the draft when they decided to pass on Andy Dalton? I thought he was a worthy prospect. Now that Carroll moved on from Matt Hasselbeck, I'm still sort of stumped as to why he did not draft a QB. Tarvaris Jackson is obviously not the QB of the future, so why not start addressing the situation in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Carroll thought he needed to build up the offensive line before using a higher pick on a quarterback lacking a franchise-player pedigree. It matches up with why Seattle did not go hard after Kevin Kolb. The team might have liked Dalton and Kolb, but not enough to invest heavily in them. Ideally, though, the team would have drafted a quarterback.
Mike, how do you rate the WRs for the Rams compared to the other NFC West teams? We may not have any studs (i.e. Michael Crabtree, Braylon Edwards, Sidney Rice or Larry Fitzgerald) but we have improved largely with Mike Sims-Walker and Brandon Gibson or Donnie Avery on the sides and Danny Amendola playing the slot.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I'd rate the Rams' receivers third or fourth in the division, depending on whether Crabtree was healthy and contributing to the 49ers. I think Sam Bradford would fare better with the receivers for the Cardinals and Seahawks at his disposal. It doesn't mean he cannot do well with his current group. Sims-Walker could make or break that group unless one of the rookies shines unexpectedly. But the players you mentioned from other teams -- Rice, Fitzgerald, even Crabtree or Edwards -- have more appeal. Perhaps Josh McDaniels can turn one of the Rams' wideouts into the next Brandon Lloyd.
Travis M. (Tucson)
Do you think that Marshawn Lynch and/or Justin Forsett will have a "breakout" season with the additions to the O-line in Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Lynch in particular should have better numbers. Don't overlook Leon Washington, either. He could get a longer looks as a backup.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, a lot of Rams fans have been arguing that their team did enough in Free agency at receiver, basically stating that they did not overpay for a big name. I personally thought they failed by NOT getting a Sidney Rice-type WR. What are your thoughts? Is a large quantity of unproven WRs better than grabbing one or two highly touted receivers?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Quality trumps quantity. You can always find quantity. It is, by definition, plentiful. Elite talent is scarce. The Rams weren't in position to draft one of the top receivers. Several of their assistant coaches were with the Vikings early in Rice's career, so the Rams should have had at least some feel for Rice. I also thought going after Rice would have made sense for them. They still could have had quantity with the same wideouts already on the team.
Hey Mike, just read your 49ers camp report.... seems like Kaepernick is ahead of schedule, but how close do him and Alex Smith look? Based on the practices you've seen, will he start games this year?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
I could see him starting, yes. It could happen out of necessity if something happened to Alex Smith. Smith has started no more than 10 games in a season only once since entering the NFL in 2005. I thought Smith looked significantly more muscular in his arms and shoulders this year. But his history is not promising. I wasn't blown away by either Smith or Kaepernick during three days of camp. There were no "wow" factor plays. That should not necessarily set off alarms. This is training camp and there's lots to learn in a short period of time.
Travis M. (Tucson)
How much do you think the defensive personnel changes will affect the 49ers this season. In your opinion are they better or worse against the run, the pass, and overall?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
My impression going into camp was that the 49ers would be worse for the changes. Having visited their camp, I better understand their thinking. I think they'll be better against the pass. Not yet convinced they'll be better against the run. They think they'll be better up the middle of the defense.
Mike, Seahawks players have been tweeting alot about this rookie Josh Portis, have you gotten a chance to look at him?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
Yes, he's a little skinny looking, but very athletic and has thrown the ball well.
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat today. I'm saving some of these additional questions for ideas.