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!
Ruben (Highland, Ca)
Hey Mike, If the Rams stay at no. 2 and no. 35, who do you see them taking? If they are able to move down a few spots and pick up an extra 2nd, will the targets be the same?
Mike Sando (12:01 PM)
It's always good to start with a Rams-related question. We need more of them. The Rams need to help their offensive line, but the draft might be deep enough in tackles for St. Louis to find a starter with that 35th pick. They could then use the second pick to find more of a play-maker. That would be one theory. As for names, I'd be guessing. We might have a better idea when the team names a coach and settles on schemes for the 2009 season.
NFC BEAST! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH The Cardinals don't stand a chance because the NFC BEAST IS THE MOST AMAZING DIVISION EVER. EAGLES WIN EASY 84-3
Mike Sando (12:02 PM)
I know the Rams are thankful for the NFC East after going 2-2 against the division and 0-6 against the NFC West.
Luke: Frederick County, Maryland
Hi Mike, Quick question. Why is it that nobody in the media have commented on how the Ravens have played 18 straight games without a break? I beleive we are the only team in NFL history to do this.
Mike Sando (12:03 PM)
The Ravens are incredibly tough. They also have a very high number of players on injured reserve, 16 the last time I counted. Arizona has four after adding Stephen Spach.
Nic Cameron Brooklyn, NY
Hey Mike, Stephen Spach was looking like the solid run blocking TE we've been looking for in AZ for a while. How much of an impact will his absence have on this team against the eagles?
Mike Sando (12:05 PM)
Spach has been pretty steady, but I'm not sure he was solving the position for Arizona beyond this season. He might have been a good second tight end for the longer term. Losing him shouldn't prevent Arizona from doing what it would normally do. But the team woudl be better with him.
Mike (San Jose)
If the Cardinals lose Sunday how will this season be remembered for them?
Mike Sando (12:06 PM)
As an unmitigated success. Winning two playoff games puts Ken Whisenhunt in position to build from a position of strength.
Tim (Cary NC)
Hmmm...didn't these vaulted Eagles get 44% of their reg season wins against the NFC West? (That's 4 of 9 for the mathmatically challenged). I say if the Arizona D shows up, it's a long day for Philly.
Mike Sando (12:07 PM)
This could be a long day for both offenses if these defenses play their best.
Tie-lur (Phoenix, AZ)
SANDO! In last weeks chat I said Cards NFC Championship in AZ! Thinking that the cards fans can dream about it. Well that nightmare turned into quite a good dream, and now what do you see standing in the way of the Cardinals as they push for the Super Bowl? Are the Eagles too good to be true or are the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
Getting the game at home gives the Cardinals a great opportunity. I'm interested in seeing what adjustments the Cardinals make in their efforts to handle the Philly pressure. We could be overlooking the Arizona defense in this equation. That defense could win the game with turnovers and pressure.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
Sando great blog. Do you have any idea why guys like Deion Sanders, Chis Collinsworth etc., have so much vitriol in their assessment of the Cardinals? Why can't this be a good story? Instead I feel that certain media members feel that they have to pound away on the Cardinals until they lose to prove that they were right from the start.
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
The Cardinals gave skeptics plenty of ammo by failing to compete well against the top teams late in the season. Those perceptions are dying hard.
With the D focusing on Fitzgerald, will my play be a huge factor in the Cardinals offense?
Mike Sando (12:11 PM)
Don't forget about Steve Breaston. He might need to step up as well.
David (Bellevue, WA)
Hey Sando. In your mind, what are the chances of the Seahawks sticking with the #4 pick and drafting Crabtree? I know this question is like beating a dead horse but with players choosing to stay at school, I'm starting to get worried. (Bradford staying at OU and even Mays at USC, someone might trade up now to grab Crabtree) AND do you see us picking up a big free agent like Haynesworth? Thanks! Go Hawks!
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
I don't necessarily see Seattle spending big on a free-agent defensive lineman. The Seahawks have so much money tied up in Patrick Kerney, and they have invested high draft choices in a Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp. The feeling I got at Jim Mora's news conference Tuesday was that Mora and GM Tim Ruskell expect their new defensive staff to push some of these younger players harder than they've been pushed. As for the draft, I do think the Seahawks might go for an offensive playmaker if available.
John (Boston, MA)
How can anyone actually believe Arizona has a shot in this game? They lost 48-20 to Philadelphia less than two months ago. People who pick them say that they can win because their defense will force turnovers and because that crowd will be deafening. Um, do they not realize that McNabb is not exactly Matt Ryan or Jake Delhomme when it comes to turning the ball over? And do they also forget that the Eagles went into the dome in Minnesota and won? Eagles 31-13.
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
The Thanksgiving game seems irrelevant. If the Eagles and Ravens advance, are people going to write off McNabb and Philly based on what happened when in the Eagles-Ravens game months earlier? I would think not.
Kevin / Maryland
Do you think it is fair to say that Ryan is a better rookie than Flacco? 2 things- 1) Flacco is the first rookie to ever win two playoff games and 2) Ryan's offense could be arguably more intact even though the Ravens have come a long way. I think that Flacco has been truly under-rated; just as most Maryland teams are.
Mike Sando (12:16 PM)
The comparison seems dubious given the strength of the Ravens' defense. Flacco can complete 9 of 23 passes and win in the playoffs. Ryan could not do that.
Randy (THE ILL-A-DELPH) [via mobile]
Do you think Dawkins will retire after this season?
Mike Sando (12:16 PM)
If they win it all, what better way to go out? Selfishly, I hope he keeps playing. Dawkins is a treat to watch. I really appreciate the way he plays.
Harold Columbia MO
Good article on the blog regarding DRC. A topic you and Mosley debated yesterday - DRC vs. Desean Jackson. Although an AZ bias - this is easy.
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
Thanks. Of course, a receiver only needs to make one big play to "win" a matchup, so DRC has a potentially tough job. However, if you look at Jackson's game-by-game stats, he hasn't had huge yardage games since early in the season.
Shawn Bend Oregon
Who do you see the Niners hiring as OC??
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
I do not know, but Rob Chudzinski or Scott Linehan would seem to fit the profile in that both are pretty established coaches and the job would not be too big for either.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Why is it so easy for people to discount the Thanksgiving game? Do you think a short week and a cross-country flight accounts for a 28-point loss?
Mike Sando (12:21 PM)
I would also note that McNabb's benching and the Eagles' then-precarious playoff footing contributed to a perfect storm that Arizona, coming off a tough home loss and having all but clinched the division, seemed ill-equipped to handle. If the rematch were in Philly, I might read a little more into that game. I would just expect the Cardinals to play more like they've played in the last two games -- with urgency and passion -- than like they played in failing to meet the challenge on Thanksgiving.
Caleb (Bellevue, Wa)
With the QB of future becoming a hot topic here in Seattle, Do you think we trade back into the late first round and take Sanchez or do we pick one up (like Simms, Anderson, Alex Smith, etc.) in free agency?
Mike Sando (12:22 PM)
I think Seneca Wallace returns as the No. 2 and the team can feel good about that based on what Wallace did during the 2008 season (when healthy). And then they probably consider drafting someone. That would seem to be the most logical route.
Tim (Cary NC)
Mike - What needs do you see the Cards addressing in the draft, and what are your thoughts on Boldin staying or leaving?
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
I think Boldin stays. He's too valuable and he's under contract for two more years. Arizona need not panic on that one. In the draft, I see the team considering a running back, addressing the offensive line and considering a linebacker (with Karlos Dansby's situation unresolved).
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
You forgot something - wouldn't it be urgency, passion AND SIX TURNOVERS?
Mike Sando (12:26 PM)
Those go hand in hand sometimes. I would also say the Cardinals are approaching games differently by leaning more on the run. And I think that is an important part of the matchup. The Eagles ran the ball well in that game and they stuffed the Cardinals' ground game better than other teams. Arizona averaged 0.8 yards per carry on first-down running plays in the first half. That was the Cardinals' lowest average for those situations all season. If the Eagles shut down the ground game that way, I like their chances very much.
NFC East intruder here. How many Eagles fans do you expect in Glendale on Sunday and how might that diminish the Cardinals' home field advantage?
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
Great question. I'm really interested in finding out the answer. Given how quickly the remaining tickets sold, and given the passionate nature of the Eagles' fan base, I am leaning more and more toward thinking we'll see quite a few Philly fans in attendance. It won't matter unless the Eagles take control of the game. If lots of Philly fans show up and the Eagles give them something to cheer about, I think the situation would be unpleasant for the Cardinals, but not decisive.
Ramrod (Phoenix, AZ)
I wanted to make sure Ralph Brown gets some love. 2 big picks in 2 big playoff games. Same goes for DRC. Mikey, in your opinion, which team (AZ or Philly) has the better secondary?
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
I like the Eagles' secondary based on how long they've done it. They're an aggressive bunch. Remember their game against the Patriots last season? Their aggressiveness was fun to watch.
tom holbrook ny [via mobile]
DO you think the eagles cornerbacks can match up with the cardinals recievers one on one on the outside?
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
Depends on the pass rush. If Warner has time, no. If Warner feels pressure, yes.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Are the upcoming years looking to be better for our sad NFC West?
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
Better than 2008? Yes. The Rams can't get much worse. The Seahawks probably won't be 4-12 every year. The 49ers became more competitive. And of course Ken Whisenhunt has raised the standards in Arizona.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Considering age, would you rather have Fitz on your team over any other WR? I would but then again I have to watch him decimate my Hawks twice a year.
Mike Sando (12:33 PM)
After watching him all season, yes. He's the perfect combination of size, age, hands and play-making ability. He also has a passion to improve. He is a good teammate. Lots to like there.
Mike, Anqaun to the Giants?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
I'm having visions of that old HBO comedy, "Dream On."
Jake (VA Beach)
I thought Boldin was only through 2009? And wouldn't a 1st and 3rd rounder be worth it since he wants out/new contract?
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
His deal runs through 2010. As I recall, he'll be 30 then. I think he's too valuable to the Cardinals in terms of the toughness and leadership he brings.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
Mike, you track every play. The Cards now play Docket, Berry, Robinson, and Watson on every running down. This could have something to do with the improved run defense. Word from the local media is that the players came to the coaches to make this switch.
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
I have noticed that four-man line. I do not know if players asked for the change. It does seem to make some sense.
Caleb (Bellevue, WA)
I heard the "Mo" Morris is getting a lot of attention as a free agent (mainly from Philly and SF). With the backs we have and Leonard Weaver being a free agent, is Morris the odd man out or does Seattle resign him?
Mike Sando (12:37 PM)
I think he'll be the odd man out. Mike Holmgren drafted him. Gil Haskell was probably more excited than anyone when the Seahawks made that pick. Holmgren is gone. Haskell is gone. Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett are there. The writing is on the wall, pretty much.
Evan (Phoenix, AZ)
Regardless of this years playoff outcome, how do you think the Cardinals are viewed by the rest of the divisional teams? And, how do you think the Cardinals will respond to the new found success?
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
With increasing respect. I know the Seattle players respected Arizona already. Lofa Tatupu talked about it when I asked him during the season. Mike Holmgren had a great deal of respect for Clancy Pendergast and that defense. The Rams will have a new coach, so I'm not sure how they'll feel about Arizona. But when a division rival advances to the NFC title game, that gets teams' attention. As for how the Cardinals will respond, I think we'll have to be smart in how we analyze it. The team isn't going to reach the NFC title game every season. What you want to see is another 9-7 or better record and a playoff berth.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Who has the line of scrimmage advantage?
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
I think the Eagles do, but the home field could be an equalizer for the Cardinals. Philly has some big guys on that offensive line. The Cowboys' big guys had all sorts of problems with a jacked-up Arizona defensive line.
Jason (Calgary, AB)
Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on rust being a factor for a lineman versus a so-called skill position? I ask because Shawn Andrews is apparently close to being healthy enough to play. Say the Eagles win and make the SB, would you risk inserting a rusty (but previously Pro Bowl) Shawn Andrews or stick with a 3rd-string but recently dependable Nick Cole.
Mike Sando (12:44 PM)
I would give the veteran the benefit of the doubt in most cases. He would know the assignments and help restore the continuity, perhaps.
Luis (SB, CA)
Mike, first time chatter. Will we see a lot of Breaston/Urban this weekend? I think that Samuel matches up well with Fitz but Breaston/Urban can definetly burn SHeppard.
Mike Sando (12:45 PM)
I do think we'll see quite a bit of three-receiver stuff. They don't have Spach and I'm not sure how well Ben Patrick can hold up for a full game, so you might see less of the two-TE stuff. Warner will need the time, though.
Tim (San Francisco, CA)
Hey Mike, Any rumors on who the Rams will hire? Seems like Ryan is going to NY, Spags is waiting on KC (except they haven't fired Edwards yet) and the more I read about Frazier the better he sounds. Any of these guys would be good hires I think. What do you think or what have you heard from inside sources?
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
My gut told me Frazier might be the guy, but I do not know.
I totally get that historically bad franchises will always have a condescending bias against them until they consistently win. But that's just typically with fans. How much might that play in the minds of the Eagles's players, giving the Cardinals even more advantage (on top of home field, etc.)?
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
I don't think players get caught up in that at all. If they underestimate an opponent, it might have to do with how the opponent has played that season, not so much on long-range history. I doubt many players know the Cardinals' history.
Joe (Davis, CA)
Sando, do you foresee the 49ers being players in the offseason FA market? If so, do you think they'll go after FA OT Jordan Gross?
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
That route has worked so well in the past (Jonas Jennings). I see the Panthers re-signing Gross and the 49ers going the draft route.
John (Phoenix, az)
From what I saw in the Giants/Eagles game, Asante Samuel got caught numerous times looking at the QB, trying to pad his INT numbers, and he let his receivers go completely. If not for an off Eli and the wind, he would have been burned so many times. Why are people saying he can now cover Fitz and an accurate Warner?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
He has seven postseason interceptions. He's a good player. He probably trusts his pass rush (48 sacks during the regular season).
eric sf ca
Hey Mike, as a big 49er fan I can't decide whether the they should go complete offense with rd1 wr, rd2: ot, rd3:rb... or all defense rd1: OLB, rd2: fs, rd3: cb .. in the draft. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
Teams have had a hard time finding receivers in that 7-10 overall spot, so buyer beware on that one.
Don (Hamilton, Canada)
With the 49ers looking at QB Coaches - do you think they are viewing the OC/QB Coach spots as package deals ?
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
That appears to be the case.
Mike (Avondale, AZ)
Is the Cardinals offensive line for real? It seems like their playing well together in the playoffs, can they continue this trend?
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
If the Cardinals are two-dimensional, yes. If they are pass-happy, no.
Matt Hasselback (Seattle, WA)
Hey Mike. Just to let you know, the back is doing well and I am ahead of schedule. With Greg Knapp as my OC and a simplfied offense, do think we make a Super Bowl run and I have a Pro Bowl season next year?
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
I might start with more modest goals, such as beating the 49ers at Qwest Field.
Alex (Davis, CA)
Why is everyone assuming the Eagles are going to match up Samuel with Fitzgerald? Isn't it more likely that they will try and erase a less than 100% Boldin with Samuel and roll the rest of the coverage to Fitzgerald? If they do, do you think Boldin will be able to beat Samuel enough to make the Eagles pay for the tactic?
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
That makes sense. I would like Samuels' chances against a potentially rusty and less-explosive Boldin.
David (Bellevue, WA)
I liked your analysis of our D Line, but as you know Ruskell will do whatever it takes to improve an area of need. A couple years ago he brought in Deon Grant and Brian Russell as our starting safeties and also drafted Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson at corner in consecutive years with our first pick bc we needed help via pass defense. Then last year he picked up Julius Jones and TJ Duckett and also got Justin Forsett and Owen Schmitt last year because our biggest need was a running game. Our biggest need right now is to stop the run and put pressure on the QB. With that said, there's still a chance we could go after Hanyesworth, right? Or am I just dreaming.
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
That would require the Titans letting Haynesworth go and Haynesworth then choosing Seattle from about 20 other teams with interest, and Seattle then deciding to pay more than those other teams. I'll believe it when I see it.
Sando, you might want to look at what Q does upon returning from injuries in his career. Samuels doesn't want any part of that.
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
Great point! I've entered it into the public record.
Bonifacio (Phx, az)
Thanks for covering the NFC west this year... No one is really talking about the Cardinals sudden discipline. Throughout the year drive after drive was killed by stupid penalties (or they'd give their opponents so many more chances with stupid penalties on D)... now all of the sudden they're winning handily, partially attributed to their lack of penalties against. Will this somehow continue?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
I still see a fair number of offensive penalties, often on first down and to start a drive. They face too many first-and-15s sometimes. Beyond that, though, I would expect the Cardinals to continue playing with discipline. They've done it when it has mattered.
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)