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 (1:01 PM)
Good to be here. We'll get started momentarily.
Have the Rams given the league a blue print on how to contain and defeat the niners or was the loss a product of San Francisco's own shortcomings?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
The "blueprint" part could come, perhaps, in the coverages St. Louis played. But I would think lots of teams would already want to play more conservative coverage to mitigate the big-play ability of Colin Kaepernick.
One game the 49ers look invincible, next game, not so good. Are they still your NFC SB pick, or are you going with another team, and if so, who?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
My preseason pick was the Packers. I've thought San Francisco had the best team most recently. I'll stick with the 49ers for now. Not going to overreact off one tough game in the division. Let's see how things play out. My preseason division winner picks were Patriots, Ravens, Texans, Broncos, Giants, Packers, Falcons and 49ers. Every one of them is right so far. Sounds amazing, but really, it is not. Usually there are new division winners and quite a few of them. This year, the defending division champs are faring well. I basically picked the teams that were good last season.
Mike, what do the Cards need to do over the final 4 games for Whisenhunt to keep his job? Also, do you think that Graves is in any risk of losing his job?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Nothing short of suddenly strong quarterback play would change opinions at this point, in my view. It could come down to how willing Whisenhunt would be to shake up his offensive staff. He has already changed up the defensive staff and gotten good results. I would have to think Rod Graves' job would be in question as well. The team has not gotten good enough results at quarterback. Someone has to be accountable for the decisions made there.
What does John Skelton bring to the game that Lindley does not?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Some experience and a baseline for expectations.
ravieus (El Paso)
The Rams have stepped it up this year in the NFC West, do you think they can turn that program around and possibly be a playoff team next year?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yeah, I do think they can do that. It's going to be a tough division, probably, but the Rams have some good young players and lots of high draft choices.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Do you think Browner choosing not to appeal his suspensions helps, hurts, or has no effect on Sherman's case set to be heard on Dec. 14th?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I don't know to what degree their cases are related or coincidental. I think the main product of his immediate suspension is to make sure the Seahawks have at least one starting corner for their first playoff game, should the team reach postseason.
hey sand, how are you feeling about the chances of the Rams winning out with SEA likely without browner/sherman, Viking without Harvin, Bills being the bills and the Bucs being inconstant? If they win out, and SEA loses a game or two, would the Rams sneak into the playoffs?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Thanks for tying together the issues affecting the Rams' upcoming opponents. Sounds like something I can build into a blog item. My first inclination is to downplay such a scenario based on wildly inconsistent results for the Rams (losing at home to the Jets, blowing a big lead at San Francisco come to mind). But I'll take a closer look for something on the blog. Thanks again.
I was surprised with the Seahawks cutting Edwards. We saw some good things from Bates with his brief time with the team but I'm still surprised Butler is teamless and that we didn't sign Lockette off the 49ers PS.Why not sign Butler?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
My guess is that Charly Martin is healthier than Edwards at this point. Also, Doug Baldwin is healthier and able to produce in key spots against the Bears last week. They've got 10 defensive backs right now and probably need the flexibility there.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor)
Sando, I know some things are inexplicable, but with the Rams and their success within what has become a strong division I am stumped. They play poorly against opponents outside the division but somehow have found a way to win inside... Is there ANYTHING that explains to you how they can beat the 9ers and lose to the Jets?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I think the Cardinals' weaknesses play into the Rams' strenghts. The Rams caught Seattle early, before Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' wide receivers got going. That could account for one or two of the victories within the division. I also think Jeff Fisher and staff have outcoached Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh this season. It feels like Fisher is really on point against those teams in particular. Maybe the offseason prep efforts really focused on getting competitive in the division quickly.
Loved the inside slant podcast with seifert......I know I'm a homer but I totally agree with your perspective. Don't agree with seiferts justification of the fail mary call needing to be filed under a different category rather than just "bad officiating". Probably would have been called an interception by the regular refs, but lots of bad calls at all different times during every game from the regular refs. I thought your argument was stronger that his.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Thanks. I felt a duty to represent the West Coast viewpoint on these things, and I did that.
Mike (Friday Harbor)
Sando, Sherman origionally said he "wasn't worried and all this will go away" but since then rumors abound. Is this delay simply Seattles way of staggering the suspensions to lessen the impact of losing both starting CB's at the same time, or is there somthing we are missing? also could he get a reduced time like just 2 weeks?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I suspect it's an effort to stagger things, but the fact is, no one has enough information to read the situation well. I would say even the Seahawks don't have all the information.
Nick (Chicago, Illi-noise)
Should Niners fans be worried about Seattle winning the division? We should totally be worried, shouldn't we? Oh God, I knew it. Stupid Akers.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
"Worried" is too strong a word. I think there's an outside chance of that happening.
James (San Jose, CA)
What is the probability that the Cards could deliver an upset to Seattle this weekend with Skelton under center? Seems like a game Seattle could overlook, but the Cardinals offense is just so poor.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I'm quite sure Russell Wilson will be on point for this game after the Cardinals really overwhelmed him and the offense in general last time around. And then I think the Seattle defense will be good enough to keep the Cardinals' scoring in check. Even if your thought is on point, I am not sure Seattle could be off its game enough to lose to the Cardinals' offense in its current state.
Do you really think that Kaepernick is the best option for the 49ers. I don't really know for sure myself, it's kind of a love-it-or-hate-it situation.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, I still think Colin Kaepernick provides advantages Alex Smith would not provide. Let's give it some games to see how things play out. Also, let's not assume team would have gone undefeated forever with Smith at quarterback. He started this season with eight touchdown passes and one pick. He had five touchdowns with four picks after that.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor)
Sando, I've heard rumors of Goodell trying to eliminate the kickoff in pro football. To me, that is absolutely ridiculous. I can't believe that kickoff's are generating that many injuries anymore since they moved the kickoff up. Do you have any stats on injuries during kickoffs to back up my claim?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I do not have those stats, but I do think there is a good change the NFL will be kickoff-free at some point in the future.
Are you liking what your seeing from chris givens? Do you think the Rams like him in the slot enough to let Amendola go (given his injury history)? Is it safe to say that Issiah Pead and Brian Quick are busts?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
LOVE what I'm seeing from Chris Givens and think Danny Amendola's recent troubles with injuries would make it tough for St. Louis to pay him what he would be worth if healthy. And I would never call those rookies busts only 12 games into their careers. Graduation rules prevented Pead from reporting as early as most rookies, as I recall. Quick has a 36-yard TD catch against the 49ers. Let's give these guys time to grow.
OleSagginSeahawk (60 miles west of Seattle)
Mike, when you're typing away in your "Man Cave office" and it's dinner time, does the wife text you to say it's ready or just dump the main power breaker to get your attention?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Please don't give her any ideas. I did relocate my office from one of the upstairs bedrooms to the downstairs former playroom area. That let each of our two sons have his own room for the first time. And it gave me a lot more room. There is actually a couch down here. I've slept on it before, a la Joe Gibbs. Haha.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
The Seahakws featured the read option heavily at the end of their game against the Bears, do you think other teams will see this tape and find a way to stop it, or is it too tough to defend?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
It's going to be something the Seahawks sprinkle in when they see openings. They used it more times in the fourth quarter and overtime Sunday than in all their previous games combined. Thanks for reminding me on this one. I need to build a blog item around it.
freyguy6 (Bellevue, WA)
Danny O'Neill said that he thought that Thurmond had a shot to take the starting job from Browner even after Browners suspension is over... agree?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Agree completely. Look what happened last season when Marcus Trufant got hurt. Richard Sherman took over and was much better. Seattle knows what it is doing from a personnel standpoint. The question on Thurmond is whether he can stay healthy.
What's your prediction on the Rams 1st round picks next draft: do they pick higher with their own pick or the one they got from the Redskins?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Yeah, it's tough for the Rams that the Redskins have won three in a row. The Redskins have a half-game lead over the Rams right now. The Redskins finish against Baltimore, at Cleveland, at Philadephia and against Dallas. I think they'll be at least 8-8. The rams finish at Buffalo, against Minnesota, at Tampa Bay and at Seattle. I would say the Rams are looking at no better than 7-8-1.
Chris Grantsville (Utah ) [via mobile]
So I am so excited about Aldon Smith being so close to sacks record. If your were a betting man would you say he will break record.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I give him a 50-50 chance at least. You figure he gets one or 1.5 sacks at home against the Dolphins and again against the Cardinals. Just takes one big game.
Chris Grantsville (Utah ) [via mobile]
Hey thanks for working the chat every Thursday. So people are all over keapernick saying we need smith. But is it just me or did no one see that keap put us in position to win game. And Akers shanked it.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
You're welcome. Jim Harbaugh put himself in position to be second-guessed. I'm not going to overreact, though, because it's just lazy or dishonest to say the team was assured anything with Smith remaining in the lineup. As long as the team finishes reasonably strong and Kaepernick looks like the guy, I think the move was OK. Also, I think Kaepernick did hurt the team in some ways against the Rams, but overall, he was pretty good.
retodd1454 (Wonka Chocolate Factory)
Is next year the make or break year for Bradford?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
That is probably fair to some extent. I mean, it's a really important year for him. Playing so-so would not necessarily run him out of St. Louis, but a bad year would really hurt him.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Do you think that the Seahawks will use a high draft pick on a WR? They released Braylon Edwards and it seems they have no one with top end speed at the position, a la Mike Wallace.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Not necessarily. The need at that position diminishes with every Sidney Rice and Golden Tate touchdown catch. Each has seven right now. I think the position is still a need, but there is less urgency to draft one early.
Randle (El Centro)
Sando..... BE HONEST with me..... Do you think the Rams will beat the Seahawks when they eventually play them without Browner/Sherman?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
No, I think the Seahawks will win that game at home barring another unforeseen change. Tough place to play when Seattle is good on defense and can run it. Unlike going to Candlestick or Arizona.
Mike (Friday Harbor)
Where you going this weekend....I'm betting your taking the 'Discount Double NFCW Homeland Game'??
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
It is looking like I will not make another regular-season road trip. Seattle has three games at home, all against division opponents. I'll definitely be going to Cardinals-Seahawks this weekend. There's no way I'll miss 49ers-Seahawks on Dec. 23. And then I would think Rams-Seahawks will trump Cardinals-49ers in Week 17. The tough one is the 49ers' game at New England. Normally, that would be a no-brainer to attend. However, it is a Sunday night kickoff across the country. It would cost me three days, basically, and then I would file a postgame column at maybe 1:30 or 2 in the morning ET. So I'll probably watch the NFC West games from home that weekend.
SC9er (Charleston, South Carolina, United States)
Mike -Thanks for the chats. Gives me something to do at work. Is this "blueprint" thing a little overblown? I mean, sure, the Rams' coverage was troublesome for the 49ers, but all teams scheme to stop opposing teams, right? So why make such a big deal out of one good game plan? If the "blueprint" theory were the case, it would seem each team would have to change their strategy completely every week.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
The "blueprint" idea is generally overrated in my view.
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Sando, Isn't starting Kaepernick wasting a huge opportunity? This is a team that was 2 muffed punts and 2 dropped interceptions (we keep forgetting that part) from being in the Super Bowl last year. The team is in the best shape to win a championship in a generation. If we play mistake-free, we win. Kaepernick is flashy, but what are the chances he goes 3-4 games without committing a fatal mistake? That's what it is going to take to win a Super Bowl, not his explosive big play ability.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I am not sure I agree with your line of thinking. Last season was last season. The 49ers do not get to pick up where they left off last season. The 49ers made a bold move and it's fair to hold them accountable if Kaepernick holds back the team. However, if Kaepernick continues playing as well or better than Smith played, it's really tough to blame him for not reaching the Super Bowl. Smith could have played as well or better than last season and it would not have guaranteed the same level of team success.
Cruse (Moscow, ID)
If the draft was today what position do you think each team would be taking in the first round?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
In a best-case scenario, here is what I would target for each team in the first round: QB for Cardinals, BPA for Rams, DL or RB for 49ers and DL for Seahawks. Also see second-tier needs. Fore example, Seahawks need another corner and outside linebacker possibly, and perhaps a second tight end.
Terrell (Gary IN)
Mike, most have been saying that Kapernick had a bad game against STL. I don't see it that way. STL played good defense. However, if Walker catches that perfect pass to him at the pilon thrown by Kap--game over. Not sure what happened with the T.O.-like alligator arms on that one.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I think your point of view needs to be part of the evaluation, but not necessarily the entire part of the evaluation.
Sloppybeast (Traverse City, MI)
How come the safety in the 49ers Rams game wasn't reviewed? I thought all scoring plays have to be reviewed.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
They don't consider turnovers on downs to be turnovers for review, and they do not consider grounding in the end zone as a scoring play for review. Seems to me they should change that.
Shouldn't all the NFC North Smack talk be shut down by the NFC West? Our best team beat their best team at GB. Our 2nd place team beat their second place team at CHI. Our top two teams are 4-0 against their top two team.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I'm gonna run down the hall, knock down Seifert's door and tackle him with this info.
I'm excited to see Lane get some PT. He plays pretty rough and I remember him getting into with team mates a few times at practice.Trufants replacement? Maxwell seems to fit our system well, is Lane just healthier or better in the Nickel?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
I share your thoughts to a degree. Always interesting to see what the next guy offers at a position where we have seen guys suddenly emerge as better than advertised. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were not even on the radar heading into the 2011 season.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. See you on the blog.