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!
Sando, with the recent comment by Pat Kirwan on Sirius that Pete Carroll's first order of business should be for Seattle to draft a QB for Hasselbeck to mentor, do you feel this comment carries weight due to Kirwan's relationship with Carroll? Wouldn't Oline and DE be a more pressing need, or even an explosive RB?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Pat Kirwan is entitled to his opinions and it appears he is not headed to Seattle in a front-office capacity. It's clear the team needs to identify its next quarterback even if Matt Hasselbeck starts for another year.
Do you see any chance the Rams don't take Suh #1 overall?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Yes. I think there's a chance the Rams will consider a quarterback in that spot. A chance.
Hi Mike, what are your picks for the divisional playoffs games this weekend ?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I've liked the Cowboys for a while and will stick with them based on the way their defensive front seven has dominated lately. The Saints should win the other game, but I'll never write off Arizona in a big game. It's just tough for the Cardinals to play a road game on a short week with some guys banged up.
Sando, you are late! Lets get this started. What is the latest on the Seahawk's GM search? Anyone standing out in the crowd?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Are you accusing me of poor clock management? I used all my timeouts in the first half today. On the GM front, it's tough to see anyone being better qualified than Floyd Reese.
Mike, what is the liklihood that Kurt Warner can repeat his lights-out performance against the Packers when he plays the Saints? What offensive plays do you see the Cardinals using that will work against the Saints? More long passes? More runs? What must the Cardinals offense do to win the game?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
The running game has a chance to set up play-action passes for Kurt Warner. Some of the stuff that was wide open against Green Bay might not be as open against the Saints. I'm talking about the stuff right off the line of scrimmage. We shall see. I sense the Saints' linebackers will be better in coverage.
Dom (Bay Area)
Hey Sando,What would the cap hit be if we cut Michael Lewis? Also, if we cut him, who do you think the Niners should draft at SS and in what round? Thanks again, Sando.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
The 49ers are past the point of proration for Michael Lewis. That means they can cut him without consequences for any salary cap that might exist. His $4.105 million salary would disappear from the books. As for the draft, that is a question better answered by one of our draft guys. I'm still neck deep in playoff stuff and what remains of this season.
When will the Cards let Beanie Wells loose and give him 20 carries? He has showed that he is more then capable of putting up numbers. This could really throw teams that play the Cards off their game plan if they pound it with Beanie. What's your take?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
There is no reason to hand the ball 20 times to Beanie Wells when Kurt Warner is going 29 of 33 for 397 yards and five touchdowns. Wells' time will come. I have a feeling people will wonder where the passing game went once Warner retires. I do think the staff trusts Wells more and more, so that makes it more likely he'll get one of those 20-carry games when the team feels that is the best approach.
The Duke (Buffalo,ny)
With the new regime in seahawks country do you think that they are content with Matt Hasselbeck as their QB for now and the near future??
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
"Content" is probably the wrong word. Hasselbeck is their best option right now. I think he will probably be their best option in 2010. But the team will certainly look for someone to replace him eventually.
Hi Mike. Hope all is well. Do you think that the Cards' defense will show up this game? Why don't the Cards do what the Jets do with Revis and have DRC lock the top receivers down on the opposing team? Also do you see the Cards' offensive line protecting Warner as they have done lately?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Everything I've seen from the Cardinals over the last couple seasons suggests their defense will be much better this week. Antrel Rolle's ability to move in coverage (despite some injury concerns) could be critical. Also, the Cardinals think Calais Campbell will be able to do more this week. That will be important as well. At corner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not on Darrelle Revis' level. On the offensive line, Kurt Warner is the key there. He needs to get rid of the football quickly. He is the key to beating the rush.
Has Tod Leiweke lost credibility during this past season with the Seahawks
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Yes, to the extent that he has presided over a front office that has been dysfunctional more than once, whether it was when Bob Whitsitt was fired or Mike Reinfeldt was pushed out or Tim Ruskell resigned or the team failed to land Mike Holmgren or he had to apologize to Jim Mora, etc. I do think Tod Leiweke still has credibility and he has the best interests' of the Seahawks' at heart. But as he has said, it's been a brutal stretch here and he takes "full responsibility" (his words).
Jeff (Mpls Mn)
Of course Sando I must ask what do you believe holds in Seattle's future regarding draft and trades of first-round picks? More clearly, what do you think are the draft options -- QB,OL or is there a trade in the works for No. 1 receiver?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Let's find out who is the GM and who is on the coaching staff. Those things can help us get a feel for the types of players the Seahawks might pursue. Alex Gibbs is the new offensive line coach. His teams have very rarely drafted offensive linemen in the first round. The Seahawks have obvious needs at that position and Pete Carroll wants to run the ball, so we'll have to see how that shakes out philosophically. Trading for a No. 1 receiver could make some sense as long as Deion Branch's contract is not on the books.
Liam (Pleasanton, California)
What free agents could you see the 49ers going after?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
The 49ers have not been a big team in free agency recently. They are building through the draft and plugging smaller holes with free agency (Brandon Jones and Moran Norris last offseason, for example). So, unless something changes, I don't see the 49ers being huge players in free agency.
Mike Banks (Phoenix, AZ)
Mike, everyone is expecting another aerial show this weekend, but I think the key is the running games. If the Cardinals' run defense can play like they did early in the season, and the way they did against Minnesota, they can take the Saints out of their game plan. And Beanie Wells could very well have a big day against a suspect Saints run defense. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
The Saints have a terrific quarterback and a skilled offensive-minded head coach. They have haed an extra week to prepare. Those factors tell me Arizona will have its hands full defensively. I do think Beanie Wells has a good chance at finding running room on the ground if the Cardinals do not fall behind.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Antrel Rolle is scheduled to make $8MM in 2010 and S-Jax isn't on that list? Did I miss something?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Steven Jackson will be paid in the $6 million range. I do not think his salary changes his status the way Rolle's $8.1 million salary changes his status. Apples and oranges.
Julian (Frankfurt, Germany)
Hey Mike, didn't find the time to participate during the season so far. What do you think about the Cards chances on Saturday? My gut feeling tells me it won't be a shootout as expected and I can't figure out who will win the game. What is your opinion on rested vs. (very) tired but with a big win to push the momentum?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
The Saints should win the game, but I never count out the Cardinals in these situations. That is how I feel about it.
Ruben (Highland, Ca)
Mike,Thanks for taking my question. If the Rams cannot, trade down to 3-5 and take Suh at 1, do you see them trading up from the 2nd Rd for a QB? Could they trade down a few spots in the 2nd for more picks? How high of a priority to you see the Rams putting on a QB in this draft?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The Rams have so many needs that it's tough to say they will fill them all. Quarterback has to be a priority, though, and if the team does not draft one in the first few rounds, that is a bit of an upset.
James (New York)
How far can the Cowboys advance, or are they an one and done team ?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I think they can go to the Super Bowl.
Steve (San Francisco)
Hi Mike. What do you think about the Niners offering the latter of their 2 first rounders for McNabb and, say, a 4th rounder? I know it comes down to what the Eagles want to do but wouldn't the 17th or so pick give them reason to consider trying out the Kolb era before his contract runs out? Then the Niners can get 3-4 years of McNabb, make Smith a backup or cut him or whatever, and mold the QB of the future, Nate Davis or someone in the next couple drafts, to be the longer-term solution. Thoughts? Or am I the only one who actually has realized that Alex Smith is not and will never be the answer at QB for this team?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Guessing what a player might return by trade can be tough. The Patriots got Randy Moss for a relatively low pick. The Patriots sent Deion Branch to Seattle for a high pick. I do not know what Donovan McNabb would return in a trade or even if the Eagles would seriously consider trading him. But I do think the 49rs would be better off with McNabb if they could get him for the right price. But they would have to be mindful of the fact that McNabb is an older player who has been in the same system his entire career. That could create challenges for a team that has had a hard time developing continuity.
Kurt Warner (Canton, Ohio)
So let me get this straight...we just dropped 51 points on the best defense in the NFC. We're going on the road to play in a dome against the worst defensive team left in the playoffs; a team that's lost 3 games in a row and two in a row at home, and we're 7 point underdogs? What am I missing?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
You should be Ken Whisenhunt's speech writer.
Antrel Rolle (via mobile)
Man, I'd rather face Pat Yasinskas any day of the week instead of Kevin Seifert.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
My favorite comment of the day.
Mike, I've been enjoying your blogs since the 2005 Seahawks draft. ... Because of the familiarity between Jeremy Bates and Brandon Marshall in Denver, any chance the Hawks make a play for him?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Yes, my first blogging experience did begin with the 2005 draft. Thanks for sticking with it. I do not know Jeremy Bates or what he thinks of Brandon Marshall, but the Seahawks do need playmaking ability. And if Bates could help Marshall be happy and productive, why not make a play for him?
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
The Rams would not be re-miss if they drafted all defense this year. Remember, they are not going to the playoffs next year anyway. Stock that defense.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Stocky everywhere! This team still needs offensive playmakers too.
mike- WHEN the rams select SUH #1what do they do at top of 2nd round... QB/WR
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
If there are two Canton-bound players available at that spot, one at each position, go for the quarterback, of course, and do not look back.
Garrett (Richmond, VA)
Where do the Rams plan to start in this draft after drafting Suh? What positions are they looking to improve most?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
The Rams need to upgrade their situation at receiver. They need a future at quarterback. They need more help at linebacker. They need outside pass-rush help in a big way. They need a tight end. They need a backup running back. They could need an offensive tackle.
Mike, first off, have to say love your work, but even as a die hard 49ers fan, I cant keep up with all your posts. Have you by chance done any more of the draft analysis on the NFC West? I have seen the OL and QB ones but do we have any more?????
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks, Adam. The Cardinals' playoff run has altered that schedule a little bit. I'll have more draft-related breakdowns in the future. I also need to finish the series on the best NFC West players by position from 2000 to 2009.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
MS: What do you think Boldin's value is in terms of draft picks? Although I like Boldin very much, I just don't see the Cards paying him what he wants. If they can get a high 2nd rounder, do they pull the trigger since they have Breaston and Doucet up and coming?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
Anquan Boldin's trade value is declining as he ages and deals with more injuries. Any team acquiring him would probably have to work out a long-term deal with him. That team would have to part with one or more draft choices AND big bucks. That is not the best way to build.
Mike (Costa Mesa)
Mike: I don't know if this is the proper forum for this, but I'd be very interested in your assessment of Ken Whisenhunt's performance as the Cardinals' head Coach over the last three years.
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
Ken Whisenhunt has done a good job managing the team. His staff seems to have a plan for developing players. He seems very sharp when it comes to game management. We have seen him make some heads-up calls during games (setting up a free kick, for example). Overall, you cannot argue with the results. He has also done a good job taking back offensive play-calling duties this season. I'd say he called a pretty fair game Sunday.
Mike (Costa Mesa)
Mike: I'm not 100% certain of this, but I believe that the Cardinals have been the underdogs on all of the 5 postseason games they have played over the last two seasons. In those 5 games they were 4-1, 5-0 against the spread. What's it going to take to make a believer out of you?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
I'm a big believer in the Cardinals' ability to win big games. That is why I've never written them off.
Thanks for your feedback on my previous posts. What will the Cards do once this season is over if Warner retires? Leinart just has not shown that he could lead the team in his limited work. Would you go free agent and possibly land a Jason Campbell if he is released or go to the draft and experiment?
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
I would probably give Matt Leinart one year to see if he can develop and improve. The team has stuck with him this long. Leinart has lived in Kurt Warner's shadow to this point.
So, did the Cards really beat the Packers or did the refs? And no, I'm not a fan of either team...
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
When I was covering Super Bowl XL, I had no idea officiating was going to emerge as a big storyline. That is because I was watching the game in person, without listening to announcers' perceptions. At no time Sunday did I think officiating, though imperfect, was playing a decisive role in the outcome.
Crabtree BABAY (San FRan)
Opinions on me the Crabmack-daddy. I know I was late, but I worked hard and will keep working hard.
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
Michael Crabtree looks like he's going to be a very good, consistent, starting-caliber receiver. The way he played after missing minicamps, training camp and the start of the season was remarkable. He is the real deal. The one thing we didn't see from him right away was an ability to make huge plays. He never had a 100-yard receiving game. Let's see if that aspect of his game takes off in 2010.
WAKIKI (cuba B)
First year opinion on Singletary?
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
Mostly positive. Mike Singletary's genuineness resonated with players and made him a respected leader. I would expect continued improvement from him in the areas where he wasn't experienced, namely game management. His background as a position coach could make him a little vulnerable if, say, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky departed. But overall, I think Singletary recovered nicely from what seemed like a shaky start in the interim role. He got better.
vernon davis (san fran)
What happened to me this year? Not even I saw that coming and how can I improve on it?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
The way Mike Singletary challenged Vernon Davis seemed to have a transforming effect. Singletary basically anointed Davis as a leader, putting the burden on Davis to live up to the accompanying expectations. Singletary was gambling on Davis' intentions. He won that gamble. There is a hard worker with good intentions underneath the formerly enigmatic and immature Davis. To get better, Davis needs to focus on the details. He should continue to refine his route running. He needs to catch the ball more consistently. He needs to reduce penalties. Those are all areas where he could improve on what was already a fantastic season.
Sorry man, but I just don't see the Card's beating the Saints. Yes they have lost 3 in a row, but they are still playing at home. The Saint's defense has been better than the Cards throughout the year. Didn't the Pack just drop 45 on the Card's? Yeah I thought so. Imagine what Brees could do to them...
Mike Sando (2:24 PM)
Let's separate the Cardinals' performance into two segments. In one of those segments, Arizona jumped out to a 31-10 lead. The Cardinals were leading 17-0 when Larry Fitzgerald lost a fumble. Without that fumble, do the Cardinals put away the Packers? I think the wild-card round was one of those wild track-meet games whose lessons might not automatically transfer to another environment. I do not think the Cardinals will score 51 points any more than I think their defense will allow 45.
Ken (Redondo Bch)
Mike, who is do the Rams plan on starting at Left Guard now that Incognito is gone.
Mike Sando (2:25 PM)
Richie Incognito was the right guard. Jacob Bell will remain the left guard. The Rams have some options there at right guard, from Mark Setterstrom to Adam Goldberg and others. I'm not immediately sure how that position will shake out long term.
Mike (Costa Mesa)
Mike: Actually, what Josh (KY) said isn't accurate. In fact, the Cardinals' defense rated higher than New Orleans during the 2009 regular season in overall yardage allowed, rushing yardage allowed, and passing yardage allowed. You can look it up.
Mike Sando (2:26 PM)
I'm sure we can find different ways to rank each defense higher than the other defense. The Saints also played quite a few bad quarterbacks. Not too many Kurt Warners on their schedule. Marc Bulger threw for 298 yards against them.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
I don't think it can be emphasized enough the contributions the Cardinals get from their draft picks. Late picks such Hightower and Patrick are scoring TD's in the postseason, Stephens-Howlings, Branch, Campbell, Breaston. Even Will Davis had 2 sacks before his season ending injury.
Mike Sando (2:27 PM)
And yet we haven't seen one of their top personnel guys, Steve Keim, get serious consideration for GM jobs elsewhere. Might be only a matter of time.
I do not see how Coach Whiz's work as coach of the Cardinals cannot be considered GREAT. Look at what this franchise has done in the past and the way things are going right now. These guys just can't get any respect.
Mike Sando (2:28 PM)
Who says no one respects the Cardinals? I guarantee the Saints respect them.
With all of the skilled positions that need addressing for St. Louis, would you move S. Jax to get mutiple draft spots? He is the only player worth anything on that team.
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
Who would give up lots of picks for Steven Jackson? And what message would be sent if the team traded away its heart and soul?
Mike (Costa Mesa)
Mike: You wrote: "And yet we haven't seen one of their top personnel guys, Steve Keim, get serious consideration for GM jobs elsewhere. Might be only a matter of time." This is one time when I, as a Cardinals fan, am hoping that they stay under the radar as far as getting national attention.
Mike Sando (2:30 PM)
It's always tough to know how much any one personnel guy had to do with the best and worst picks a team has made. But the overall record in Arizona looks pretty good. It's also true that Kurt Warner makes a lot of people around him look better.
Did Mora get hosed by the Seahawks?
Mike Sando (2:32 PM)
Getting the job for one year was not necessarily fair to him, but in the end, the organization decided change was more important than being fair to any one person. Mora found himself in a tough spot. The Seahawks' horrible finish did him in, and Mora was part of that.
Mike Sando (2:33 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat today. I'm off to New Orleans tomorrow for the big divisional-round game.