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. Here we go.
Steve C. (MA)
People are quick to dismiss the Patriots after a tough road loss against one of the best defenses in the league, however I contend that those thoughts are extremely short sighted. The Patriots have finally found the formula to play defense the way they traditionally have, lockdown redzone defense. In 2006, with a much worse set of WRs and an inferior defense, the Patriots upset a 14-2 San Diego team and were on the cusp of a Superbowl berth the next game. Whether people want to admit it or not, Brady will have this offense clicking by the end of the year and combined with a strong defense, will make a strong push for a Superbowl berth.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
We do tend to react from week to week. I mean, losing at Cincy seemed likely to me. It's not like teams go 16-0 (well, most of the time, anyway). This is an evolving Patriots team and I'm with you regarding the defense. The piece I wrote for today took a closer look at just how effective teams need to be on defense when their passing games aren't dynamic. The Chiefs and Patriots rank 1-2 in expected points added on defense. Now, the Saints do present a really big challenge this week.
Mike, are the Cards married to Palmer after this year. Arians talks like he loves Freeman.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I had the exact same feeling when I heard Bruce Arians speaking about Josh Freeman before the Cardinals' game at Buffalo. I think there's an intent for Palmer to be the QB for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but "married" is probably too strong of a word. Palmer has a couple million in guaranteed base salary for the 2014 season. That base salary is $8 million. I think the Cardinals will evaluate Palmer's play this season and have the flexibility to go in another direction if they want to do that.
Don't you think "shutdown corners" are becoming extinct in the NFL? The 2 best corners in the league are on losing teams. It seems like pass rushers are far more important.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
There are some really good cornerbacks right now, but a perfect pass often trumps the best coverage. I have also noticed that some of the best corners are not on great teams. I think it's unfair and a little lazy to just say top corners lack value based on that, however. We should just know that quarterbacks are by far the most valuable players on teams. A great cornerback isn't going to make a defense great on his own, but if you add him to a good deefense, he can really make a difference. I would say Aqib Talib is doing that for the Patriots this season, but if you put him on the Jaguars, he wouldn't have as much value.
Mary Ann (Greer, SC)
What is going on with the Steelers? I thought for sure they would be contending for the division crown. Is Big Ben all washed up?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
We're seeing this season how much quarterbacks rely on supporting casts. I would say that Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger are two Super Bowl-winning QBs who have been exposed a little. Not exposed, as in exposed as frauds. They are good players. But I think there's a tendency to give them exalted status because they won Super Bowls, overlooking at times the role defenses and other players played in those championship seasons. Both those QBs can be really good still, but things have fallen apart around them. Every QB has his breaking point. Even Tom Brady hasn't looked right at times this season. I also thought the Steelers would be better. Their defense isn't bad, but it's older and just isn't making the big plays. No turnovers in four games? Yikes.
Ted Hoffman (Westwood)
Are the Giants looking at a need for a total rebuild along both offensive and defensive lines? I have been trying to figure out what the problem is with them, and to me both lines' poor play are simply burying them right now.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I do think it starts on the lines for those teams, but I cannot say I saw it coming to this degree. The Giants have fared pretty well piecing together an offensive line that seemed to perform better than its individual pieces. Now, it seems like that is no longer the case. On defense, it's probably true that JPP is less dynamic, and the overall rotation up front is not what it was, depth-wise, when the Giants were a really tough team. I still thought Eli Manning and those receivers would be able to stabilize things and keep the Giants competitive in a weak division.
Thomas Ingraham (Yonkers, NY)
How good is the Jets defense? To me on Monday night they looked like they might have just made a comeback. Their front 7 is an impressive unit and Rex Ryan has gotten Cromartie to play like a true shut down corner. Provided the offense stays turnover free, can this team make a run at the playoffs?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
The Jets' defense is good. It's pretty shocking to me that they have picked off just one pass this season. I would guess that the INT numbers would start coming along for the Jets given how well they seem to be playing on that side of the ball. Could the Jets make a run at the playoffs if they avoided turnovers? Sure. But with a rookie QB, I would expect some up-and-down play.
Law Magner (Norfolk, VA)
The Redskins have looked shaky at best this year, but the way the rest of the NFC East is playing I think we can make a push for the NFC East title. Dallas will be the test this week, and I think during the bye week Shanahan and company will finally be able to commit time to fixing the problems on offense and defense.
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Man, Redskins fans have to hope you are correct. I'm interested in seeing whether Robert Griffin III looks more like his old self coming out of the bye. He was so productive last season that it covered for weaknesses elsewhere. This is not a particularly well-constructed roster, in part because of the penalties that the league imposed against Washington, and also because the Redskins had to give up so much to draft Griffin in the first place. I think this team is overly dependent on the QB, so if Griffin looks better coming out of the bye, it's a big relief for the Redskins.
Acie Earl (Magner, MI)
Will we ever see another Mike Alstott esque player playing on Sundays? It seems like these days teams are only concerned about running backs who can fly.
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Well, how many guys were like that before? Alstott and ... cannot really think of many others.
BD (NFL Purgatory (LA))
Seahawks looked bad last week all the way around but especially on O-line. Expecting Harvin/Okung return in a month to right the ship by the time they go through roughest part of schedule. Do you see 13-3 as reasonable goal this year? Saints/9ers only tough matchups going forward.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I think the Seahawks are likely to win five of their next six games heading into a stretch against the Saints and 49ers. That is based mostly on schedule and venue. Right now, Russell Wilson is having to do too much. Just about any other QB would have been sacked 10 times over the past couple weeks, given the absence of protection while Seattle played without 3-4 starters up front. Max Unger comes back this week, but I still think Wilson is going to be under pressure. But look at the schedule: Titans, at Cardinals, at Rams, Bucs, at Falcons, Vikings. I think the Seahawks can manage that stretch pretty well. They will have the best QB in most of those games and the best talent overall in every one of them. To answer your question, I think 12 wins is realistic after Seattle won on the road against Carolina and Houston.
Eric Montross (Chapel Hill, NC)
Are the Vikings the perfect example on how the only thing that matters in the nfl is passing passing and passing. They have the best running back in the NFL, an above average defense and they are struggling. I miss the old NFL of running it up the gut.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I think the Vikings are a good example of the low value of rushing yards for the sake of rushing yards. Research shows that teams without great QB production can win, but usually when they are really strong on defense. How well they run the ball has not been as important. Having said that, every team in the league would be better with Adrian Peterson on the roster. Teams could win multiple championships with a dominant back. But it's true that QB play is king, particularly if the defense is unreliable. And right now, the Vikings aren't a great team defensively.
Jason (Greeley, CO)
I know what Peyton Manning is doing is remarkable. He's on pace for a record setting year. However, I don't really see how this is anything different than what he and the Colts were doing 2005 or 2007, going 14-2 and 13-3 respectively, but still losing in the playoffs. Have you seen anything in Manning's or the Broncos that convinces you they have what it takes to get through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The Broncos definitely have what it takes to get to the Super Bowl. That doesn't guarantee anything. And if they somehow fall short, it doesn't necessarily mean they had the wrong formula or Manning choked or any of those things. There are other good teams out there, and sometimes the other team plays better on a given day. I do think things get a little tougher when the temperature drops. Also, I have questions about the Broncos' defense. But there are lots of GMs in the NFL who would love to be in John Elway's seat right now.
hi Mike, follow up on skins - you are correct on the salary cap hit they have been operating under has restricted their ability to add to roster. that said, do you see there areas of biggest need as DBs or LBs for the future and a game breaker on O
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Hi PJ. I'm of the mind that a franchise quarterback needs weapons, so I would probably lean that way. But first, we just need to make sure Griffin is going to be healthy again and the same player. Everything hinges on that, for now. This team obviously needs defensive help as well. I'd probably focus on getting one big-time playmaker. Then I'd focus on defensive depth.
seems to me rushing is always important but to me the greatest value of rushing is getting two or less yards on 3rd down, abiltiy to score on the ground inside the 3, and an ability to run in the 4th quarter to consume time when you are ahead and get first downs - other then that it is a passing game today and a defensive game
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Yeah, that's a good way of looking at things. Winning leads to rushing yards more than rushing yards leads to winning, generally speaking.
Alex Prohodski (North Dakota)
Was the Packers game against the Lions this week somewhat of a revival for their defense? I know the Lions didn't have Calvin Johnson but holding them down the way we did I thought was encouraging moving forward. The Matthews loss stings but even still I though the defense finally had a decent day.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
That's tough for me to read much into it when the Lions are so dependent on Calvin Johnson. I was really looking forward to seeing how the combination of Megatron and Reggie Bush would fare in a big road game against a front-line opponent. It felt in retrospect like a positive game for the Packers but lacking in anticipated impact. They did get some outside pass-rush production from multiple players, but again, no Megatron puts a damper on it for me.
Matthew Wilson (Newton Center, MA)
Don't you think the Falcons are a good middle linebacker away from getting back to limiting their breakdowns on defense?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I'm not really seeing it. They got rid of John Abraham, which made some sense because he was an aging player. But then they replaced him with Osi Umenyiora, who is also an aging player. Net gain? Negligible, at best. Losing Sean Weatherspoon hurt. I think the Falcons could use multiple defensive linemen and another linebacker to fortify that front seven.
Bill Dooling (Utah)
With the Cardinals being a surprise 3-2 right now, can they realistically expect to go into SF and win this weekend? As a Cards fan, I think if Palmer can cure his INT problem that our defense can at least contain the 49ers offense. I like Fitzgerald's matchup against the 49er secondary.
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
It sure doesn't feel like the Cardinals are a game out of first place in the NFC West, just based on the offense to this point. I do think the Cardinals' defense gives them an outside shot at winning this game. If Patrick Peterson can lock down Anquan Boldin and the pass-rush can force Colin Kaepernick into an off day, who knows what happens then? I would think Vernon Davis will be a tough matchup for Arizona. Also, I would think the 49ers' ground game would be a real stabilizing force for San Francisco. Also, the Cardinals' offensive line is going to have problems in this game. Could be big problems, too. It's tough for me to see the Cardinals winning without points on defense.
Jean-Luc Picard (France)
As bad as the Rams have looked, if we look at Bradford's stat line of 10 TDs to 3 INTs on paper it looks like he is having a good year. Now, we all got to see his bad game against the 49ers not long ago but can that be attributed to him simply having a bad game, or should the Rams really be concerned considering his stats don't seem to warrant the blame being placed on him by many.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I guess that depends on what you want from Sam Bradford. If you want a No. 1 overall pick who lifts up the guys around him and makes dynamic plays, we're not seeing that. If you want a guy who looks as though he could be efficient with a strong supporting cast around him, then you're probably feeling better about things. We have Bradford ranking in the mid-20s with a 41.4 QBR score. His passer rating (mid-80s) is not all that great for a guy with a 10-3 TD-INT ratio. Bradford leads the league in TD passes when trailing by 10 or more points. He has six in those situations.
John Dodge (Boise, Idaho)
I like the Chiefs chances of eventually taking down the Broncos when they play. Chiefs have played strong ball control offense coupled with strong defense. I think our pass rush can expose Denver's offensive line and Alex Smith can play keep-away from Peyton and end drives with touchdowns.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
The Chiefs have done a great job forcing turnovers. They have 43 points off turnovers, fifth-most in the NFL and about 15 points above the average. How many of those will they get against Peyton Manning? I favor the Broncos in those matchups, but we'll see.
Jerome (Watertown, MI)
With NFL being 75% passing (sure seems like it)...any chance the nfl rules change to 1st and 15 in the future. I mean...this is ridiculous. Broncos averaging 29 1st downs a game. WOW.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
A rule to discourage offense? Cannot see the NFL going for that. The league wants what is happening right now.
Harold Barron (The 19th century)
Sando it seems to me the Falcons went backwards this off-season. On paper, signing Umeniyora and Steven Jackson seemed like good ideas, but it's now apparent that Jackson is on borrowed time nearing the end - and the same can be said for Umeniyora. I contend that instead of getting older they should have looked to the draft to find their pass rush/ground game, and are now paying for it with their awful start.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
The Falcons have chosen six players in the first three rounds of the last three drafts. That is the lowest number in the league. This was part of the philosophy that led the Falcons to go all-in with Julio Jones. It is hard to fault Atlanta too much for its thinking. The team has won a ton of games and was close to reaching the Super Bowl. But there is a price to pay on the back end, and the Falcons are paying that price right now.
Cybil Canlar (Boise, ID)
With all the touchbacks, at what point does the NFL just eliminate them and stick the ball at the 20?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
After a high-profile, gruesome injury, perhaps?
Jason (Greeley, CO)
What differences should we expect from the Eagles offense with Foles at the helm in place of Vick this week?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Much less rushing. Foles has one carry for three yards. Vick was averaging better than 9 yards per carry. He has more than 300 yards rushing. I'm interested in seeing if Foles is accurate.
Killaboots Thompson (Lurking)
Henne clearly gives the Jags a better chance to win with the weapons they do have (MJD, Shorts, BLACKMON), why in the world does/has Gabbert still get a chance down in Jax?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
There could be a feeling that Chad Henne might be better right now, but he is never going to be "The Guy" for the Jaguars. There could be a feeling that Gabbert at least has some shot at being the future quarterback, so might as well see if develops this season. It is still early. What do they have to gain from going to Henne? Are they suddenly going to win games? I suspect they'll wait a little bit longer before making that move.
Timothy Mosgov (True Blue Plantation)
Is having stellar linebackers becoming less necessary than in previous years? Since this is a passing league now; it seems as if teams are always in the nickel, dime and quarter and rarely in their base defense anymore.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Three-down linebackers should have greater value. The early-down types, not so much. Remember the days when linebackers had those huge neck rolls?
Jesse James (Beach, RI)
You're a smart guy. Why haven't the Jags picked up Tebow. They might still stink but at least they would almost fill the stadium and their games wouldn't get blacked out locally. Tebow is to Jacksonville what Tom Terrific is to New England.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I disagree with the first part of your statement, but with Tebow, there is no feeling in the league that he can be a good enough passer to factor over time. So, why waste time on him?
Kelly (Clarksonville, TX)
You know everything about Seattle. Is their stadium really that much louder than any in the league? I think it gets a little overblown since their home/road splits are so drastic.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I think New Orleans has to be just as loud when at its loudest. But Seattle is extremely loud -- not overrated from a noise standpoint.
Vitaly P. (Tacoma, WA)
Don't you think Seattle is one great WR or TE away from being favored to win it all? Golden Tate is playing well. But it's only a matter of time before he gets exposed.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
The Seahawks need to get their offensive line back together. They need Zach Miller. And then they could benefit from Percy Harvin's addition. I think those things happening together late in the season would make Seattle favored to reach the Super Bowl. Home-field advantage thru the playoffs would get the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, in my view. As far as winning it all, let's wait and see a little.
Morgan Trede (Pensacola, FL)
I don't get it. When the 49ers use Vernon Davis they will beat anyone. Why doesn't he get targeted 10 or even 20 times a game. He is a matchup nightmare.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Davis had two catches for 34 yards in one game against Arizona. He had one catch for five yards in the other game against Arizona. In the past, Michael Crabtree has given the Cardinals problems. Crabtree is out right now, of course. I've gotta think Patrick Peterson will take away Anquan Boldin. Davis would seem to be a go-to target this week despite his limited production against the Cardinals last season.
What do you expect in tonights Bears/Giants game?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I'm thinking the Bears have to like their chances of scoring on defense.
Paul Topham (Calgary, Alberta)
Can a team with a good pass rush expose the Broncos? They very quietly lost Ryan Clady, and my quietly I mean that Peyton has been able to account for/overcome his departure. I think if the Broncos face a team that can pressure the QB that Peyton is going to be eating alot of turf.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
That probably depends on whether the opponent can cover the Broncos' receivers in short areas. Agreed, pressure is key. Peyton Manning has actually performed at an unusually high level against pressure this season. His Total QBR against pressure is in the 60s. That would seem to be unsustainable, but remember, he was close to that level against pressure over the full 2009 season. Perhaps he can do it again.
Eli Manning has 2 Super Bowl rings, but did little more than Trent Dilfer to win them. A 17-14 win doesn't make you an elite quarterback, but constantly averaging between 15-25 picks per year keeps you from being elite.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Eli Manning has made a ton of plays with passes deeper down the field, however.
Mike Felger (Boston)
have to agree with you Mike...the NFL loves a lot of offense....Fantasy Football= viewers= $
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure as always. Enjoy Week 6.