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 (1:02 PM)
Greetings. About to begin.
Jean-Luc Picard (USS Enterprise)
Is it time to say that Sidney Rice is officially a free agent bust? For what he is making, the numbers are just not there. He has either been injured, or simply unused in the offense. I know Wilson is still getting his feet wet, but it just seems like the Seahawks are OK with passing to Obamanu, Tate, or Baldwin while ignoring Rice. I'm not sure what the logic with the play calling is, but if I were Bevell I would design the majority of my pass plays for Rice.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Sidney Rice leads the Seahawks in targets by a wide margin. He has 35, Golden Tate has 25, Doug Baldwin has 18, Zach Miller has 15, Braylon Edwards has 14, etc. I would reject the premise based on that information.
Aaron R. (Pennsylvania)
Hello Sando, thanks for the chat! I think it'd be awesome if the Rams traded for either Dwayne Bowe or Dez Bryant. Do you think it could happen? Do you think the Rams will make any other trades? If so who for? Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I wouldn't argue with adding a receiver along those lines given the draft picks the Rams have. However, I think the team is looking longer term and might just use those picks in the draft.
Mike I believe that many times Manningham rides under the radar because of the attention Crabs gets. Do you believe that Manningham will be a bigger contributer going into the second half of the season since the running game will garner more respect from the secondaries?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Manningham had 10 targets in Week 6, more than any 49ers player has had this season. He missed the Seattle game, which was not a game featuring much in the way of a passing game anyway. I would expect Vernon Davis to take a higher priority. His targets have fallen the last couple weeks. Manningham should still be in that 4-5 targets range per game most of the time, I would think.
Gowazzu02 (Somewhere Out there)
Thoughts on Harbaugh coach of a tough in your face D whining about Seattles tough in your face D?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I don't have a problem with Jim Harbaugh answering the question the way he answered the question. I've heard other coaches answer questions similarly. I also don't have a problem with people tweaking Harbaugh over it, because if you're going to issue a retaliatory statement like the one Harbaugh issued in relation to Kevin Gilbride, you're inviting additional scrutiny. I thought it was a little telling for two of Harbaugh's former players at Stanford to call him out publicly. Doug Baldwin mocked Harbaugh for complaining. Richard Sherman called him a bully. It's all good when you win, but there are things about Harbaugh's personality that might not serve him well in defeat or amid struggles.
James (San Jose)
I read that Greg Cosell thought that Seattle should have been penalized more than once for PI. Does this legitimize Harbaugh's comments?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
There was nothing illegitimate about Harbaugh's comments. Those are typical complaints for people facing Seattle's secondary. It's not like the Seahawks are doing anything untoward. The officials are the ones who have to call the penalties as they see them. We've seen Seattle draw a lot of defensive penalties in the secondary since the start of last season. The Seahawks walk a line there and they came out great against the 49ers.
Will you be attending the Monday night game between AZ and SF?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Yes, and I am looking forward to that.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Sando you swapped our Marshawn Lynch for Frank Gore on your MVP watch list this week. Do you take into account players who do more with less supporting cast around them? I think we can both agree the Gore benefits from superior blocking (you mentioned his yards before contact stat)
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Yeah, I consider a lot of things. Also considered Adrian Peterson. But with only 10 spots, someone has to be off the list. In this case, I went with the impact Gore's running had on the game. I thought it was pivotal.
Last week I submitted a question about the 49ers not calling screen plays. WHat do they do Thursday night? They call a screen play. Will we see more screen plays called?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
That can make sense against a defense that sends added pressure frequently. I think the Cardinals have done a pretty good job defending those, however. They rank among the league leaders in yards per attempt allowed on screens. The 49ers are usually good for a couple screens here and there. Think they have attempted 10 true screens (not play-action screens) and completed all of them for 75 yards.
CYS (Lovers Lane, CA)
Two years ago the Rams were looked at as a up-and-coming team with a bright future and a solid young QB. What happened?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
We don't have time for that full discussion. They think they are presently and up-and-coming team with a bright future and a solid young QB.
TheManTheMythTheMunkey (Haunted Cubicle)
Mister Sando Man, The work ethic and smarts of Russell Wilson are often lauded. While this is obviously a good thing, could it possibly suggest that he has less room to improve in future years ..... as presumably his work ethic and smarts may have put him ahead of the typical rookie learning curve for someone of his talent level.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
That is one of those questions of perception. Is he really being lauded disproportionately for things that aren't going to improve? I know he has a very strong arm and can throw the ball very accurately. Those things give him potential to improve with experience. Then we need to see how much the height limits him.
Has word around the water-cooler changed with respect to how others at the four-letter-word view the NFC West? Seems like pregame show hosts are starting to tip their cap to the hard hitting, stingy defenses we have in this division. What are you hearing?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I make it to Bristol zero to one time per year, and usually stay for 24 hours or so. My feeling, though, is that the NFC West has won enough games this season against good opponents to catch the attention of others -- inside and outside ESPN.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, with the back end of the Seahawks schedule much easier than the first half... what do you think we can expect over the last 9 games? I look at it and see 6-3 or 7-2.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
The Seahawks have five home games remaining. I like their chances to win at least five additional games, therefore. I think this team is in good position to go 9-7 and maybe a game better. The Detroit game is not one I was counting in the likely win column, so if they win that one, they've got some cushion.
Dan (Wash, DC)
How many deep balls has Alex Smith missed this year? Why do you think he's missing them so often?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Alex Smith ranks second in NFL passer rating on passes traveling at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He has completed 16 of 29 such passes for 445 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 120.3 NFL passer rating. Now, he has missed a couple recently. That could have something to do with his finger, the opposing defenses, whatever. Or it could just be random.
Is it play calls or talent or effort the reason Randy Moss has done practically nothing since his Week 1 TD catch?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
The 49ers are a run-oriented team that tries to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Also, Moss apparently isn't good enough to command additional playing time. He's a bit of a luxury for them. I see the 49ers keeping themselves in position to have much better depth at receiver late in the season, avoiding what happened to them at wideout in the playoffs.
While it is nice to have depth at key positions on a football team there are those that feel that the 49'ers are carrying too many RBs. Do you feel that they should trade one and pick up a mid to late round draft pick in this coming draft?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
What is the top priority for the 2012 San Francisco 49ers? Is it to build for the future with a mid-round pick that could help them build special-teams depth in 2013? Or is it to make sure they're deep enough to weather late-season injuries heading into a playoff run?
If Skelton lays an egg against SF this Monday do you think that the Cardinals may take the bye week to work Lindley into the starting role?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
That decision is complicated by the pass-protection issues. I think they would be asking too much from a rookie to make the transition under these circumstances, unless Skelton were injured or so horribly bad that the team had no choice.
What are the keys to the Cardinals defense getting pressure on Alex Smith against that top ranked offensive Line?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Ray Horton needs to dial up the inside pressures with Daryl Washington and Parys Lenon.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Mike, I was really impressed with the performance of Stephens-Howling in the game against the Vikings. Do you feel he can keep up that impressive running for the rest of the season (assuming no major injuries), and can this make the Cardinals a potential playoff contender?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
My opinion is that Stephens-Howling will not hold up physically for very long if he gets 20 carries per game. He is too small for that over time, in my opinion. But what are their options? They need to win games however they can win them.
OleSagginSeahawk (60 miles west of Seattle)
Morning Mike. Great work as usual. 9ers vs Cards. If the 9ers win, will Harbaugh file a complaint with the Officials ?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Haha. I was thinking how physical Patrick Peterson can be, actually. His matchup with Michael Crabtree is one to revisit on the blog.
Aaron R. (Pennsylvania)
I would like your expert opinion Sando. I look at Plexico Burress and think "There's a guy who the Rams should get. He's big, good in the Red Zone, and would be a good target for Bradford. He could really help our Red Zone woes. I've heard though that he might be a bad influence in the locker room. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
On the other hand, the Rams just drafted Chris Givens and Brian Quick. Givens is showing great promise. Quick has shown some promise. Those guys need snaps. Danny Amendola figures to return in a few weeks. I just don't see any advantages to taking away snaps from young players when the payoff seems questionable in the short term and detrimental in the long term. They also need to get Lance Kendricks going.
Tom Boulet (Colorado Springs, CO)
Do you think the Rams will trade Steven Jackson seeing how the emergence of Daryl Richardson is suddenly unexpected?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I think the Rams will probably keep Jackson on their roster for the remainder of this season, and then there's a decent chance Jackson will opt out of his contract and see what is out there. It was interesting to hear Bill Belichick speak so glowingly of Jackson when speaking with reporters this week. He especially talked about how Jackson is underrated in the passing game. And of course the Patriots already have Josh McDaniels. Jackson knows that offense. Maybe this needs to be a blog item!
Derriel Morris (Robins AFB)
Hi Sando, has the Rams' defense been exposed by the Packers as maybe not as good as we all once thought it was, or is there still room for hope? Turnovers have stopped and pass rush just isnt where it should be. your thoughts please?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Aaron Rodgers can do that.
Bink28 (Portland, OR)
Hey Sando, is getting Walter Thurmond back going to improve the Seahawks Defense versus the slot like I believe it will? Seems like Seattle's biggest weakness on the D-side has been against the speedy slot receivers where Tru is to slow these days to keep up.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Thurmond has the potential to upgrade it but he needs to stay on the field first. Would think he would be rusty for a while.
Alex Bader (Chicago)
Sando. You've been ignoring me all your life. Would you rather have the 49ers' Frank Gore or the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch? Lynch is a more physical back but I think Gore has better vision.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'd take Lynch right now for sure based on how he runs and the fact that he has lower miles. With both players at their absolute best for one game, man, that is a tough one. You take one and I'll be very happy with the other. Gore has the better track record long term. Really love how he plays the game and might take him at his best.
Zach (Washington, DC)
Mike, thanks for all the work - I'm a big fan. As a Seahawks fan, I couldn't help but notice the number of short and dump off passes the 49ers comleted Thursday agains the Seahawks. Did they discover a weakness in the defense and if so, what can the Seahawks do to fix it in the coming weeks?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Thanks. Seattle was taking away stuff down the field. I think that was the emphasis, and that the Seahawks were OK giving up some of the shorter stuff.
Lets assume the Hawks, 49ers and Cards are all jockeying for the Division crown over the rest of the season. What do your travel priorities become? You have typically taken a frontrunner approach in the past, but if there is no front team, where do you go?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Best game that week. If two division teams are playing, that can be a tiebreaker too. You left off the Rams, though. They could finish better than fourth this season.
Jean-Luc Picard (USS Enterprise)
The targets may be there, but where are the catches for Rice? It's nice that he gets targeted, but where is the production? For what he is paid he should be the top playmaker for the Seahawks.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Game-winning touchdown catch against the Patriots counts for something, right? I think he has shown up pretty well and that his production is more a reflection of the offense than anything he is not doing. He also looks sturdier this year.
The Hawks drafted Moffit and Carpenter and both picks were heavily critized. People even called Carpenter a bust because he isn't the starting RT. To me, this seems like unfair expectations. If you can get a late first round draft pick to be a starter, even if it isn't in the position you orginially drafted him for, aren't you still getting good value for that pick?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
That depends on whether you think the Seahawks should have taken Andy Dalton instead of James Carpenter, as some people said at the time. Given a second chance and armed with everything they know about these and other players (minus anything that was going to happen injury wise), do you think the Seahawks would take both Moffitt and Carpenter?
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, I saw your power rankings this week and i was pretty dissapointed... you put the Pats and the Packers above us along with the Steelers and Broncos... I am confused by this. Seattle has played probably one of the toughest schedules in football, (Packers, Patriots, 49ers, Cowboys, Cardinals) - all those teams are or have been tough this season... I really think you're starting to buy into the bias about needing a great offense to be a great team. I know our passing game is pretty weak but at what point do you think highly of this team Sando? We've beat 2 teams that everybody figured would be in the thick of a SB hunt this season... only lost to division rivals on the road... Haven't lost to anyone outside our division... Honestly I don't see how that's not more impressive than what your 3-3 broncos and Steelers or the 4-3 Pats and Packers have done (both lost to us).
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I ranked the Seahawks higher than the Patriots. The Patriots were 12th on my ballot. Did rank the Packers higher than Seattle based on how they are playing offensively.
Dario (Rochester, MN)
Sando, what are your thoughts on 49ers D? They looked a little confused by the Seahawks formations in the first half. Was that more of a shortened week or something to worry about? Seems like they prep a certain way (for Lynch in this instance and for Peterson vs MN) and if the teams break out of their shell and go the other way, they have tough time to adjust.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
My general feeling is that the 49ers' defense hasn't been quite as ferocious or dominant. The stats don't really back up that feeling. I wouldn't make a case for that position. It is just my feeling right now. It could be that the defense hasn't had field position working to its favor as much this season, and that is making it harder for the defense to pounce on people and dominate to the same degree.
Dalton is struggling in his second season in the league while Carpenter has become a big contributor on the line. If you can typically expect a QB to slump in season 2, doesn't that factor into improving your line before drafting the QB to stand behind it?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Carpenter has become a big contributor on the line? I would not say that yet. He's getting healthier and could have a bright future. That seems reasonable.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Do you see a Seattle win in Detroit this week? Detroit is without Nate Burleson and they don't have much of a run game. Even with the road woes of late, the Hawks should have this one in the bag right?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Yeah, I could go along with that thinking. Not sure I would want to bet on it, but do think that is a game Seattle can win.
Jeff S (Seattle)
What's your favorite stadium to watch a game in, and why?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Green Bay, Seattle and Chicago are three places I like for different reasons. The Packers' history and the charm of Green Bare are special. Seattle has the noise coupled with the downtown setting and football-type dreary weather and the long trip for opposing teams. It all combines together to differentiate Seattle. And then Chicago has the combination of history, frigid weather. It just screams football there.
EDTGO (IRON THRONE)
So what's the reason for Baldwin numbers not being the same as last year or better? I think he saw the benefit (for him personally) having Tjax on the team. Why he made the comments of seeing not much difference between in and Flynn(When it looked like Flynn was winning the starting job)
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Baldwin is young and fiery. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think that can affect some of the things he says and thinks. He had a good thing going with Jackson last season, no question, and he knew that was going to change with a new quarterback. The team could not very well stick with Jackson just to help Baldwin's numbers, which were inflated some by the absence of other healthy receivers on the roster. This season, Baldwin has been hurt a fair amount. He hasn't gotten time to develop much of a rapport with his quarterback. And you know Wilson is the unflappable type. He is probably not going to play favorites. If you're open and he sees you, he's going to throw it.
Dial up the "way back" machine. What was your favorite win when you were a young NFL fan? And what was your favorite win while you were a mere NFL reporter not ESPN Blogger supreme.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Wow, I might need time for these. My favorite win as a fan might have been a Raiders playoff victory over Denver about 20 years ago. One of my good friends (and an old roommate) was a huge Broncos fan. I liked the Raiders. We used to really go at it. There was a run there where the Broncos just couldn't beat the Raiders, it seemed, and I think there was a two-week span where the Raiders beat them twice, including in the playoffs. I'd have to go back and look, but that was what I remembered about it. Also was very excited when the Rams were in the Super Bowl against the Steelers. The game didn't turn out how I hoped at the time, but it was still fun. As a reporter, that is tougher. Not invested in the outcomes the same way at all. But it was cool being there when the 49ers beat the Saints in the palyoffs, and when the Seahawks beat the Panthers to reach the Super Bowl, and when the Cardinals beat the Eagles to reach the Super Bowl. Those three stand out for different reasons.
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. See you on the blog.