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, thanks for the blogs. What's the deal with Joey Porter? He's down as questionable for game 1?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I think you can relax a little on this one. Sounds like they gave him a day off, but when a player misses practice, it must be accounted for. Everything I've heard says he plays Sunday.
KeithDodd (Alum Creek)
You may think your all fancy pantsy working at ESPN, but I'd like to see you work a real job with your hands like a man.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite chat comments in a while. I'm picturing Will Ferrell saying it to me.
Carey (Los Angeles)
Sando, is everything really honky dory in Ninerland between Crabtree and V. Davis?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis got into it at practice. Sounds like a case of Davis flexing some leadership and getting a little carried away. I don't have any evidence suggesting there's a problem that will affect performance. The main thing for Crabtree is producing from Week 1 after missing four exhibition games. If he does that, everything is fine.
Mike, what's your true gut feeling about our starting QB Derek Anderson? Do you think coach Chris Miller is gonna put the "touch" in D.A.'s touchdowns?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
My gut feeling is that Anderson will have some issues with consistency, but he'll provide some leadership from the position and hit some throws downfield, allowing Larry Fitzgerald to improve his yards per catch from last season. Anderson was in a weird situation in Cleveland where the team needed to look at Brady Quinn. There were some personnel issues as well. Those factors mitigate, to a degree, the shaky numbers Anderson put up following his one strong season. I do not think he will suddenly become a highly accurate quarterback. Guys can practice fundamentals, but it's harder to stick with those fundamentals under pressure.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Who's going to be Seattle's starting LT on Sunday? Chester Pitts or "Troy" Polumbus?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I think Tyler Polumbus gets the call based on Pitts' long layoff and continuing recovery from knee surgery. Expect the Seahawks to max-protect for this game against the 49ers.
Juanqui (Puerto Rico)
Hi Sando, with so many draft picks and undrafted freeagents (53) making final rosters this year, is the NFL going cheap this season?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I cannot speak for the whole league, but it's true that NFC West payrolls have shrunk in some cases. The Cardinals have subtracted tens of millions in payroll this season if you look at what the following players earned last season, were scheduled to earn this season or wound up earning this season: Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin.
Justin (San Francisco)
Mike, I love your blog and have followed you for more than a decade as a diehard Seahawks fan. I have two questions for you. First, what do you think of the unconventional approach the Seahawks have used with picking up new players a week before the season starts. Second, what are the odds that Hasselbeck is actually able to walk away from this game with no left side of his offensive line going against a very tough, physical 49ers team? Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Thanks, Justin. Dumping T.J. Houshmandzadeh despite $7 million in guaranteed salary was unconventional. Most of the other moves involved players along the fringes of the roster. It reflects poorly on the state of the roster. It also shows that the new leadership has the freedom to shake up things. The Seahawks were a bad team the last couple seasons, so changes should be expected. The issues on the offensive line, compounded by Russell Okung's injury, make me think we could see some bad offense early in the season. Unless the line situation changes, Hasselbeck will probably have to deal with injuries again this season.
James (Tel Aviv, Israel )
Hey Sando, love the blog and follow it religiously. As a die-hard Niner fan who is excited for the upcoming season, I have a question about the Niners bringing in Troy Smith. I loved him as a college QB and I thought he could surprise as a pro. Are the Niners looking at him as a possible long-term solution for the QB position? I mean, if Alex struggles, do you see Coach Singletary testing Troy Smith to see what he's got?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Yeah, the 49ers do hope Troy Smith can give them a fallback option should Alex Smith struggle. I could certainly see them giving Troy a chance at that point. David Carr is the No. 2, so he would probably get first crack at it, but if Troy Smith shows Singletary something, I could see Singletary letting him play under the circumstances you described. Alex Smith is the undisputed starter right now, however.
Hey Mike. Im a Niner fan but I think the Rams could actually get second in the division fairly easily. They have an easy schedule and things are exciting in St. Louis with Sam Bradford giving the players around him a reason for hope. They have a better O-line than seattle, arguably the best RB in the division and compared to Arizona a much better QB situation (I'd take Bradford over Derek Anderson any day.) Bradford strikes me as a player who finds whoever is open and doesn't necessarily need a star wideout. If him and Steven Jackson can put up 21 points a game for at least 12 of 16 games, I think they win 6 or 7. Am I crazy?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Crazy? I would not go that far. The Rams do have an easier home schedule this season and I think they'll win a few games as a result. I would put third place within the Rams' reach if things fall right for them and Bradford outperforms rookie expectations.
Mike, just wanted to get an update on a contract extension with Vernon Davis? Any updates? I feel he is a key coponent for the offense now and in the future.Thanks
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
At least Davis probably isn't getting contract advice from Michael Crabtree. I don't see the huge rush. If they could get him signed now, great, but they have time and I could see them wanting to see Davis produce again this season.
The Rams offensive line looked really good last 2 preseason games. If this unit plays well i think we can surprise some people this year. What do you think Mike.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
They've had the same five guys out there for a couple games and that makes a big difference. I think the Rams will surprise people if they keep the same five together all season. Line issues were a huge problem last season.
Tim (Fairfax, CA)
Hi Mike,No one is talking up Josh Morgan, but I feel he's going to have a breakout year and be the #1 wide out in terms of production this year with Crabtree a close second. Your thoughts about this?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I see no evidence of that happening. It would surprise me if that happened. Vernon Davis should remain a primary target. He and Alex Smith seem to have a good rapport. Ted Ginn Jr. will catch some passes. Michael Crabtree is going to play from the slot more this season. I could see Morgan increasing his yards per reception, but not increasing his reception total much.
Cards defense was ranked 20th last year, with some some notable fourth-quarter meltdowns. Cards lost some key defensive players but they also have five new starters on D, maybe six when Dan Williams takes over. Improvement or just moving chairs on the Titanic?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
It's important to understand the main reasons behind some of the Cardinals' worst showings on defense last season. They faced Peyton Manning in one game, and their offense did not protect the ball. Later in the year, injuries really undercut the defense. The situation at inside linebacker needs to settle out. Overall, though, the Cardinals should improve this season. Chike Okeafor was about finished last season. Bertrand Berry was winding down. I have questions about linebacker, but it's not like the former group was going to improve (beyond Karlos Dansby).
Now that the dust has settled with Alex Gibbs retiring it looks to me like burn out was the most likely cause despite speculation of internal conflicts. Hamilton wasn't cut and I really don't see any other personel issues that would have caused it. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I also do not see major personnel issues that would have driven out Alex Gibbs. One of Gibbs' former players in Houston, Eric Winston, told the Sirius guys Wednesday that something must have ticked off Gibbs. Winston had no knowledge of anything specific, but he said he could not see Gibbs walking away for no reason. But which of the team's moves could have ticked him off? Ben Hamilton is not starting, and that could have been an issue. The offensive line situations isn't looking all that great. That could be an issue. Gibbs might have been working harder building from the ground up in Seattle than he had in the last couple seasons.
Hyder (Washington DC)
Hey Mike, as a Rams fan, I always come into each season telling myself that in a weak division we can always compete. The last three seasons have proven otherwise. This season, however, I feel very different - I feel like this years team is miles ahead of last years and with a weakened Arizona and Seattle could at least compete in the division. (As opposed to the last 5 seasons) Any thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
The Rams still have significant depth issues that will cost them over the course of a 16-game season. They don't have a first-rate pass-rusher. Their offensive tackles are young and have much to prove. But you should definitely feel better about things now that the Rams have a wealthier owner and a franchise quarterback to build around.
Mike Williams (Seattle)
Hypothetically speaking, do you tend to answer longer stated questions than shorter ones, meaning that if I make this a very long memorandum to you to ask a trite question it would be more likely answered than if I gave you a shorter question requiring a shorter answer, which in turn would allow you to answer more questions in the same amount of time, if you were, that is, unfairly biased toward shorter questions? A short question would be one like this: what do you think of 70 receptions, 800 yards, 8 TDs for me - over or under?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Chris (Norman, OK)
What's with all of the Rams fans thinking they could win the division? The team is not that good and personally (as someone who has seen Bradford a lot in person) don't see their QB ever being elite at the NFL level, let alone in his rookie year.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Win the division? No. Have not heard anyone say that. But could the Rams be more competitive in the division? How could they be less competitive?
Who's your favorite player in the NFC West? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's Patrick Willis. And yes, I am a 9ers fan. Also, is Beanie Wells going to start or even play in week 1? I have him as a 3rd back in one of my leagues.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I have favorite players to watch. Adrian Wilson and Patrick Willis are two of them. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson are up there. With Beanie Wells, he will not start even if he plays. Tim Hightower is the starter. Wells has boom-or-bust potential in Week 1. If he plays, he could get some good stats (even though the Rams' run defense should be improved with Fred Robbins up front).
Justin (scottsdale, az)
Ron Wolfley said the biggest knock on Sam Bradford was his leadership coming out of college. Is that true?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I do not know if Ron Wolfley said that, but durability was generally the biggest question mark.
Frank (Washington DC)
How likely is it that the cuts Seattle make lead to the collapse of the team, the Arizona Cardinals QB experiment bites them back hard, and Alex Smith reverts to old form leaving the Rams to win the division? Obviously this is an extreme hypthetical, but this is football....
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
The Seahawks, if they struggle, were likely going to struggle anyway. The Cardinals could drop off some. Smith reverting to form? Not sure what his form was previously, other than to get hurt. If Smith plays poorly and loses the job, though, the 49ers could definitely fall. They have a tremendous defense, though. The 49ers' defense should be the one thing in the NFC West to show midseason form right out of the gates.
Ryan (Chandler, AZ)
Sando, in your opinion, if Derek Anderson struggles like he did in Cleveland, what week does Max Hall take over as the starting QB, and if that happens is Hall the long-term answer?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Let's go with the home game against Tampa Bay in Week 8 or the home game against Seattle in Week 10. If Anderson were horrible early in the season, we could even see a change for the home game against Oakland in Week 3. But that seems like an extreme scenario. I don't know if Hall is the long-term answer. I do know the coaching staff in Arizona thinks very highly of him, so that makes me think he has a chance.
Sando, Niners defense is awesome except for their secondary. It killed them last year and there is no evidence that it is going to be greatly improved this season. Do you see anything they have done that makes this unit substantially more competitive?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
They have a healthy and motivated Nate Clements at cornerback. That is the biggest thing. I thought Clements looked pretty good at camp. We will see if it translates.
Hey Mike, DO you multi-task while doing your chats? (eat, watch t.v., tweet, etc.)
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Not usually, but today you caught me. I'm plowing through a bowl of salted edamame.
Mike (Pasco, WA)
Do you think the Seahawks will cut Locklear before the first game to avoid paying his salary? If so, who starts at RT Sunday?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Sean Locklear's status is in question and I do think they could make that move. Stacy Andrews would start at right tackle. He is scheduled to earn more than $5 million, as is Locklear. It just seems unlikely they would guarantee more than $10 million for their right tackles.
MegaMe (All American City: TEMPE AZ)
Change is inevitable sometimes we have no control over it. It can be a good thing if done right. For all the changes that were made with the Cardinals do you think it was a step in the right direction? When was the last time you spoke with Kurt Warner and what were his thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Stepping away from Kurt Warner wasn't something the Cardinals wanted to do. That change was not a step in the right direction. Losing Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby were not steps in the right direction. The Cardinals recovered pretty well in some cases, but not so much at quarterback. As for Warner, the last time I spoke with him was probably in the Super Bowl media room.
Lex (Cape Cod)
How do you feel the 49ers rookie offensive linemen will do with the noise in Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Mike Iupati should be OK because he's a guard and closer to Alex Smith. Anthony Davis could have a harder time at right tackle.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. Back to the blog.