Chat with Mike Sando
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 for Mike now and join him in The Show on Thursday at noon ET!
Drew (Buffalo, NY)
Can the Cardinals play with the same intensity on defense this week on the road as they did last week at home?
Mike Sando (12:01 PM)
They'll have a hard time sustaining the same intensity without the home crowd. That crowd in Arizona was outstanding. That type of energy fuels a defense. Arizona must focus on playing sound, assignment defense with sure tackling.
Alex (Richmond, VA)
There were a lot of rookies who had surprisingly good seasons in the NFL this year. Which rookies do you think could have an impact in the league next year?
Mike Sando (12:03 PM)
I'll speak from what I saw covering teams in the NFC West this season, and assume that you're talking about how 2008 rookies might fare in 2009. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, John Carlson and Chris Long are three current rookies I would single out as impact players for next season.
What do you think of Gil Haskell as the OC with the niners?
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
I think he would like that job. He has always wanted to call plays. But if the 49ers wanted to head in that direction, they could have hired him by now. I know Gil personally and know what he did well in Seattle. He had a great rapport with players and he did a good job leading team meetings and putting together the game plan. Holmgren called the plays, however, and that made it tougher for Haskell to get the type of promotion he might have otherwise received.
crixtopher from Richmond, VA
Mike I read on fanball that the Cardinals are interested in acquiring C Matt Birk for next year, can you validate or add to that info? what do you know Sando?
Mike Sando (12:06 PM)
I think they would like to add a lot of good players, and they could certainly stand to sign a top-flight center. As for specific plans or intentions, I can't confirm that as one of them. The team isn't in free-agency mode at this point.
Matt : Segog
Will Matt Leinart ever live up to expectations? Or is he a career back up.
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
I haven't seen any evidence suggesting he'll meet first-round expectations. I could see him developing into a good starter, though. He hasn't played enough for us to make a determination.
Miguel (Chicago, IL)
We often hear how bad the NFC West is, and the fact that the Cards went a perfect 6-0 versus NFC West division teams. In general, this has been a downer statistic for the division. However, when was the last time a team went undefeated against their division. And, isn't it tougher to beat teams twice over one season? Thanks Mike, great coverage this year.
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
The Steelers also went 6-0 in their division this season. Seattle has done it in the last few years. People can criticize the NFC West, and rightfully so, but I do not fault teams for the games they win. Being 6-0 in the division beats 5-1 or 4-2. It's not like 7-0 was possible.
Breakdown the Cards-Panthers game. What chances do the Redbirds have?
Mike Sando (12:12 PM)
I think they have an outside chance. The Panthers should be rested and ready after two weeks. The Cardinals should be competitive if they remain as disciplined on defense as they were against the Falcons. Can they do that against the Panthers on the road? You should feel better about their chances after watching them against Atlanta. I think they also need to remember Edgerrin James and the run game. That is a fascinating part of this matchup. Carolina loaded up against the run when the teams played in Week 8. Warner nearly beat them. If the Panthers follow that formula, I'm not sure the Arizona passing game is sharp enough to avoid mistakes.
Jim from Oregon
With the rumors involving Matt Hasselbeck and a possible trade, the coaching changes in Seattle, and Mora/Ruskell wanting to establish an identity without Holmgren; how do you see the Seattle Offseason playing out?
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
I know nothing substantive about any such plans for Hasselbeck. I think there's naturally speculation for the reasons you outlined, plus Hasselbeck's recent injury problems. But the Seahawks will probably bring back Hasselbeck, try to upgrade their pass rush and try to find a playmaker at running back, receiver or both.
How long will a Rams' rebuilding phase take? I'm not at all optimistic. The D is still a mess, the O-line stinks, Bulger looks like he might be on his way out, etc... Dimitroff and Parcells have given some Rams fans false hope, IMO.
Mike Sando (12:16 PM)
Who will they hire as head coach? Will ownership arm GM Billy Devaney with the resources he needs to remake the roster? Those are key variables. The Rams need to overhaul their offensive line and strengthen the middle of their defense. They also need to change the culture. Can those things be done in one offseason? Yes, the Dolphins showed they can be done. But you are right in saying the Rams can't just assume they'll make the same sort of turnaround. They could still get to the 8-8 range, though.
As a Panther fan, I'm not giving us the win at all. Arizona played us tight the first game and lost a lot late in the year because they already clinched a playoff spot. Coming off a win against a great Atlanta team, I'm expecting a shoot out Saturday night.
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
The Panthers' offensive line will be better this time around. That is an intriguing matchup. What will the Cardinals have to do to slow the running game? And will the Panthers be able to capitalize through the air if Arizona commits enough defenders to the run? No question, the Cardinals can score points. I just wonder if they can play consistently enough to beat a good team on the road.
Am I a future hall of famer? And should I retire and leave on a high note? God bless
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
Stay tuned. We'll be addressing that very subject on the NFC West blog later today.
Cody El Paso Tx [via mobile]
Do you think the 49ers with Mike Singletary as head coach will win the division next year
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
Not necessarily. I'd like to know who is going to play quarterback, who is going to coordinate the offense, who is going to play right tackle, etc. The 49ers need to guard against the false assumption that teams pick up one season where they left off the previous season. Yes, San Francisco enjoyed a nice run to close the season. That little run will make them feel better about themselves heading into 2009. But it won't win any games for them. They'll start fresh next season just like everyone else.
Do you think Crabtree is a great fit for the Seahawks at the #4 pick? Or would they likely go with an OT or QB?
Mike Sando (12:21 PM)
I think they would have to strongly consider such a move. One problem under Holmgren was that Seattle seemed to need several seasons to get new receivers up to speed. Perhaps Knapp and the new offensive staff can help speed that process.
Robert (Latrobe, PA)
What is with the re-emergence of Edgerrin James? Did they finally come to their senses about Hightower, or did James' comments have an effect on the coaching staff?
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
The offense changed some from a personnel standpoint once Boldin's injuries became a factor. The team also started feeling a little better about its situation at tight end. James probably fits better now that the Cardinals are running fewer four-receiver packages. He also has fresh legs. And of course Hightower wasn't doing all that well. I think those circumstances played into the decision more than anything James said.
If Kurt did anything from 2003-2007, he might get Hall consideration....he's not a HOFamer....passing stats are like night and day from the 60's and 70's to todays standards....offenses are different, CB's can't touch the WR's like they could back then. NO Hall for Kurt.
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
Give Warner one more season like the one he enjoyed in 2008 and his numbers line up nicely with the numbers Steve Young put up. Yes, you say, but Young won a lot more games. Warner actually went to more Super Bowls as a starter. I'm not saying Warner is/was better than Young. I'm just saying Warner might be closer to warranting discussion than we might perceive him to be.
What will the Rams look to adress in the draft?
Mike Sando (12:25 PM)
Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line. And the middle of their defense. That is where I would try to target, and I know the Rams think they need help there as well.
Jim from Oregon (again)
Every year the debate begin regarding the draft and the top picks. Money value versus player (impact) value. I prefer the option of trading down and collecting additional picks. Have you heard anything regarding the Seahawks? I just think there are too many unknowns (Value, Impact, Uncapped salary, etc.) to "risk" a 4th-overall pick if you cna find a trade partner. What are you thoughts being closer to the organization than the fans are?
Mike Sando (12:27 PM)
Trading down requires finding someone willing to trade up. And if the analysts are right -- this draft is again heavy on offensive tackles, with perhaps less star power at the top -- finding suitable terms for trading back might not be so easy. I think Seattle needs a high-impact player more than a couple of decent ones. If that were the tradeoff, then keep the high pick and find that impact player.
Mike, Do you think that the Giants O-Line could have won the MVP?
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
I tend to think it's an individual award. The "P" in MVP stands for player, after all.
Singletary's Boxers, SF, CA
Did i motivate the team when i went around my coache's ankles?
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
The scoreboard would suggest otherwise. Singletary's skills as a motivator are considerable, but that one act didn't seem to gain much traction. In fact, Singletary later talked about realizing he needed to change his ways a little bit.
mike, Will you be able to give us an update on how russ grimm's interview went today? I feel like he is a very outside candidate for the jets but i'd hate to lose him as this organization starts to gain some momentum. Same with haley although for some reason he hasn't gotten any interviews this year.
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
No. All parties will say the interview went well and Grimm was yet another impressive candidate. It's pretty rare that we hear about an interview going horribly, right?
Phoenix [via mobile]
Can the cardinals win against the panthers?
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I would give them an outside shot.
Would Linehan be a good fit as OC for the Niners?
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
I tend to think so given that his philosophy would seem to line up with Singletary's philosophy.
Lewis (Jackson, Ms ) [via mobile]
The cardinals collapse toward the end of the regular season was because the o-line went from a good pass protecting team to a Mediocre pass protection line. Now they are a upstart run blocking line. Do you think they can sustain this new look o-line or do you think they will be exposed against the panthers. And what do you think can be done to improve there pass protection. Do you think they can make a run for a championship
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
I think the Cardinals also lost their edge (no pun intended) after clinching the division. We can say that with some conviction now that we've seen Arizona step up and play a much tighter game against the Falcons. I think just trying to run the ball on occasion will help the Cardinals. They must convince the Panthers that the run is a threat. As for improving pass protection, I noticed a couple times when Edgerrin James got sloppy in protection. He hasn't been on the field as much this season, so he could be a little rusty there. Lyle Sendlein, the center, can be vulnerable. Mike Gandy scraps and generally does a pretty good job, but he had some problems against Atlanta, at one point even doing the splits after losing his footing.
steve (seattle, wa)
Mike, Were you impressed with the Hawks make shift offensive line at the end of the year? Kyle Williams never started and he didn't look out of place did he?
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
Yes and no. They sure had problems with penalties over the last two regular-season games. I have seen from watching practice that Mike Solari and Mike DeBord do a very good job coaching that line. They made it through the final game with what amounted to their fifth-string left tackle. It wasn't pretty, but it could have been worse.
If you're the Cards - would you re-sign Warner or let Leinert play?
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
I would re-sign Warner and keep Leinart ready just in case.
If Linehan is the OC - will Issac Bruce retire rather than play for him again?
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
I have not asked him, but you're right in suggesting that could be an issue. However, the 49ers can not make a long-term decision (hiring a coordinator) based on the whims of a 36-year-old receiver. We should also be careful not to assume how Bruce might react.
ray gordon reid el PASO TX 79698
QUESTION TO MIKE SANDO AT 12.40 PM HI MIKE WILL EDGE JAMES BE BACK NEXT YEAR
Mike Sando (12:39 PM)
He has a better chance now than three weeks ago, but I still say it's unlikely. His salary will be $5 million. I doubt he would accept a pay cut, particularly without knowing how the Cardinals might approach the draft. If I'm Arizona, I keep him around past the draft and then decide where he fits. They also might want to know whether Warner will be the QB. If Warner is back, perhaps that affects their offensive style.
Jesse (federal way, wa)
When do we start worrying about Hasselbeck being injury prone. Sure he is better than Seneca, but he does us no good if he is injured for more than half the season.
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
Stary worrying now. They think he'll overcome this back injury during the offseason and play a few more years. I still wonder about the back injury and whether it might recur.
Hyman (rochester, ny)
Hey Mike, I didn't know a lot about Gregg Knapp, but nearly every article features his running game numbers. Any chance we could get a breakdown of the players he performed so well with? Is it Knapp's system or is it the backs/O-lines that he has had? If it is truly the system, should Hawk fans be excited for Knapp working with Solari to make Seattle into more a smash mouth NFC East team?
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
I think teams' rushing totals under Knapp reflect the QB position more than they reflect Knapp or anyone else. He had Michael Vick at quarterback in Atlanta. Vick was a runner. Vick was not a polished passer. Vick's rushing totals skewed the overall rushing totals. The Falcons' rushing totals would have been more in line with the rest of the league if they had, say, Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. In Oakland, Knapp again did not have a polished quarterback. He was trying to groom a rookie. Yes, Seattle wants to become more of a power running team, but I think Knapp will want to pass the ball as well if he has the right quarterback.
Anquan Boldin (Arizona)
Hey Sando! Will I still be with the Cardinals next year or will I be traded?
Mike Sando (12:44 PM)
I would expect the Cardinals to keep Anquan Boldin. The bigger question is whether Boldin and his agent will try to make that untenable.
Rick (Charleston, WV)
Mike, you are by far the best NFL writer on ESPN.com. It's amazing how actual research and logical analysis can help one's credibility! Anyway, would you say the emergence of DRC for Arizona gives them a better chance of at least CONTAINING Steve Smith, who has always murdered the Cards in the past?
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
Are you sure you have the right guy? This is Mike Sando, just in case. As for your question, I do think DRC gives the Cardinals a better chance. He was not starting when the teams played previously. Still, it only takes one or two lapses, or one or two great plays from Smith, to negate even good coverage. And given how Smith has stepped up in some playoff games, the Panthers have to like their chances in that matchup. It's going to be a fun one to watch.
should the seahawks get another WR (crabtree)or a great olb like Curry (wake)
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
Let's say both would develop into Hall of Fame players. I would probably go with the pass rusher unless I thought Patrick Kerney would come back strong from that shoulder injury.
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
Yes, I do think he will be a top corner. He appears to have all the tools.
Fancy Pants Seattle, WA
If Sean Locklear has incentives within his contract if he plays a certain number of snaps at left tackle, and Willis has shown he's a capable right tackle, then isn't spending a top 5 pick a waste to some degree? I dont recall a top 5 lineman riding the pine after being drafted.
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
Walter Jones is in the picture, too. I do think teams drafting that early need to find impact players. An offensive tackle can sometimes be that type of player. Locklear hasn't proven himself to be the long-term answer at left tackle, or possibly even right tackle.
jesse ( tacoma, wa)
who is going to be the starting qb for the rams? it seems to me that bulger played his way out of the job. do they draft a qb, maybe someone like bradford if he comes out?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
They invested a lot of money in Bulger, then did nothing to protect him. I think they need to fortify that offensive line and give Bulger a better chance before throwing away all that money.
Doug (Chicago, IL)
Mike, how do you see the Cards handling the Boldin contract situation? I realize he's locked up for another couple of years. And I haven't heard much about since the beginning of the year. But do you think it may turn into a situation where AZ looks at what they can get for a player of his caliber? The team obviously has greater needs at other positions. Thanks.
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
The Cardinals probably have other priorities in the short term. I do not see them making him the first priority this offseason.
Christian (Charleston, SC)
If you're Warner, which Carolina DB would you most want to attack?
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
Whichever one is defending Larry Fitzgerald.
What is this a biased talk against the niners??Only 1 question has been about the Niners...Who do you see being the QB next year for the 49ers??
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
Who will their offensive coordinator be? I'd like to know that before naming a QB, and so would the 49ers. That is why Singletary would not commit to Shaun Hill just yet, even though Singletary is generally very decisive.
Zach from Remer, Minnesota
Hey Mike, do you think the Seahawks will keep Frye after his play caliber this year? Or do you think they'll stick with him?
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
I don't know what Knapp will think of Frye, but I could see Seattle adding a quarterback in the draft, and that would affect Frye's standing.
Tie - ler (Phoenix, AZ)
SANDO, chances of a cardinals home nfc championship? hey cards fans can dream cant we?
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
Yes, you can definitely dream. The Eagles have a chance. The Cardinals have a chance. Your dream has a chance, even if it's an outside chance.
Is Arizona dumb enough to let Boldin slip the Seagulls? That would squash the Crabtree talk. I'd take my chances with Anquan, Deion Branch, Burleson and the young guys.
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
I feel pretty confident in saying the Cardinals would not trade Anquan Boldin within the division.
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
Is Al Davis retiring?
Of the available coaches, who do you think would be the best fit for OC in SF? Any names not being mentioned that you think would be a good fit?
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
I think Scott Linehan would make sense for reasons we discussed on the blog. Likes to run the ball. Has been a coordinator. Has been a head coach. Would not need help from the head coach, who in this case would not be in position to help with offense.
Robert (Latrobe, PA)
Will the 49ers' O-coordinator be able to stick around for more than a year? I imagine Alex Smith would be a lot better if he had any sort of continuity with that coaching staff.
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
Yes, I expect the next coordinator to last more than one season. But this is the 49ers, so don't bet on it.
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
Thanks for joining us today. Hope to see you at the NFC West blog. http://myespn.go.com/blogs/nfcwest