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 Sando (1:01 PM)
I'm here. We'll start momentarily.
Can the niners pull the upset on MNF? They played well at home last season.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
It's a really tough matchup for them but also a terrific opportunity. Time to get Frank Gore going. I think the Saints will likely score too many points, though.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Mike, what was the deal with the Rams throwing so much last week. 50 passes is too many in any game and especially with Steven Jackson in the backfield. Did one of the coaches have a Mike Martz flashback moment? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Jackson still had more than 20 carries. The Rams had 19 pass plays in their 2-minute offense as they played catchup on their final two drives. It would have been unrealistic for them to hand off in those situations. I think that threw off the numbers. Also, there was a 2-minute touchdown drive right before halftime, with throws there, too.
Stu (Vienna, Austria)
Thanks for taking questions, Mike. According to many hand-wringers and media analysts, the sky has fallen in San Francisco. I think after one game its too early to tell. My question is, do you the the 49ers this year have the coordinators in place (not just the talent0 and organizational flexibility to recover from a potential three-game losing streak? Thanks in advance.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
One game is indeed too early, but the trust issues raised following this game could linger if left unaddressed. That is a bigger threat than losing a couple games.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O: What did you think of the Cards' defense? I like they are flying around the ball a lot and really hitting people in the mouth. That being said, they still gave up over 350 yards total offense to the Rams!
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
They gave up 325 yards, for the record, but I did not see great things from the Cardinals in terms of team defense. Sam Bradford hit a couple long throws. Mark Clayton was wide open for another one, but he dropped the ball. The Rams converted 10 of 23 times on third/fourth downs. The run defense against Steven Jackson was fine for the most part. The safeties made good plays on the ball. I thought the Rams' offensive line held up better in protection than I would have imagined, and Sam Bradford got rid of the ball quickly.
Trevor (Kelowna BC)
Good morning.......aside from the obvious home field advantage at "Mile High" where do you see the strengths and weakness' versus the Broncos?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I've seen only highlights from the Broncos' first game, but it looks like there could be some pass-rushing opportunities against the Denver tackles. Can Chris Clemons keep getting a strong rush without the benefit of a pro-Seahawks crowd to help him get a jump on the opposing tackle? I'm not clear on the answer there, but that is a key matchup. Seattle's run defense appears strong. I also think it's very good for Seattle to have Elvis Dumervil on injured reserve. That allows Seattle to play Tyler Polumbus at left tackle without helping him as much.
Do you think that Jimmy Raye will be stripped of his play calling duties if he does not show improvement on Monday night? And if that happens will they have the QB coach take over? Thank you
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
It's probably a little early for that unless the offense is really disorganized. I could see that transition happening later in the season.
Sando, you are constantly the most informative and detailed blogger on ESPN. Please keep up the great work! As a Rams fan I am very excited about the direction the team is headed, yet concerned about some of the roster decisions. I would like your thoughts: Cutting Barbie Carpenter now looks like a huge miscalculation in carrying too few linebackers. Not getting a backup running back and then not dressing Brandon Gibson or Jerome Murphy when both were needed. Should we be worried?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I've been consistently ranked among the top eight NFL divisional bloggers at ESPN.com, so I've got that going for me. Bobby Carpenter didn't do much during camp or preseason. I have questioned some of the team's moves at that position, though. Will Witherspoon looked good in camp before last season. Why couldn't that carry over? Pisa Tinoisamoa might not fit the system in St. Louis, but I thought the team was less talented without him. At cornerback, I had expected Murphy to be active this season and it was a little risky given James Butler's injury problems during preseason. I don't know if you should be worried over those moves, but it's helpful to track them.
Stephen Williams was all the talk during preseason for the Cardinals, but was virtually invisible in the win against the Rams. Zero catches, and I think he was only thrown to once by Derek Anderson. It kinda caught me by surprise he didn't get more opportunities. Even Max Komar got more despite the fumbles. What's your take?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Anderson missed Williams on one play when Williams was open. I wouldn't read a ton into Williams' chances in Week 1. Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston were going to be the primary targets. Anderson targeted Williams twice overall. Komar got three targets. Not a big difference.
The Broncos looked awful on Sunday, why still all pessism with Seattle on Sunday. I know it's just one game and I am not saying Seattle is a lock for the division or even 8 games, but Denver has no one but Champ. Please, enlighten me with your amazing knowledge!
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Who is down on Seattle going to Denver? I think the Seahawks have a good chance to win the game. Pass protection was the overriding concern heading into Week 1. Seattle handled that aspect better than anticipated. If that happens again, it gives Matt Hasselbeck a chance.
Brendan (Los Angeles)
Do you think Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have a real chance at winning the division? I know its hard to tell after week 1 but is it possible he is just the right guy for the job?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
It is possible if Matt Hasselbeck has protection. There is no elite team in the division. Seattle can have the best quarterback if the offensive line will protect Hasselbeck. I thought the protection would be a problem without Russell Okung and with Alex Gibbs quitting right before the season. It just felt to me like a repeat of last season. And it still could turn out that way. The first game should give Seattle fans hope, though.
Do you think the Seahawks will be better on the road under Pete Carroll? Historically the Seahawks haven't been that good on the road.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
They will not be worse.
Chris (Sioux Falls, SD)
Great stuff Sando, I really enjoy reading your stuff. The thing that stuck out to me more vividly for San Francisco was their secondary. Hasselbeck had a hay day on the corners jumping on routs by having his receivers run a hitch and go. Can we expect the 49ers to be more conservative in the coverage as the season progresses?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Thanks. The 49ers appeared very undisciplined in their secondary or at least conditioned to jump the short stuff. Maybe they've become accustomed to Seattle throwing the short stuff automatically. Whatever the case, the defensive backs did look bad in coverage. They'll improve.
Sando, is it a sign of how bad the Rams receivers are when Mike Clayton after only Five days in the books was our best WR on Sunday? Is there any hope for this group or am I waiting for some stud in the draft next year?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
The Rams' offense is similar to the one Mike Holmgren ran successfully in Seattle even though Holmgren never had a dominant receiver. Guys like Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram were effective players in this offense. Clayton's quick emergence does reflect the lack of established receivers on the Rams' roster. It also reflects Sam Bradford's accuracy and the fact that Clayton, though not an elite receiver, is a quick learner and could fit well in this offense.
Bill (Vacaville, Calif)
Mike, early in the 49ers' loss, they used Delanie Walker with success when they were moving the ball. Why did they not utilize him in the second half? He is so versatile and opens up others in the offense. Also, what about Brian Westbrook?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
The 49ers' third-down and two-minute offense features three wide receivers. Frank Gore stays on the field, as does Vernon Davis. That makes Walker the odd man out. Walker's presence is maximized when the defense must respect the running game. But when the 49ers fell behind, the running game wasn't something the Seahawks had to worry about. They were going to play the pass. Perhaps having Walker still would have given the 49ers some advantage, but the circumstances would have been different. We cannot assume Walker would have had the same impact under different circumstances.
vienners (San Jose)
Whats up with all the Seattle talk about winning division? Are you kidding me? Niners beat Chicago 49-7 during the Dennis Erikson's first game as a coach. Seattle fans, slow down for your own good.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Seattle won its opener 28-0 last season. I think it's OK for Seattle fans to think big if there's reason to think Matt Hasselbeck is going to have adequate protection. The Seahawks could at least be in the mix.
If Alex Smith's struggles continue, how soon can we see Troy Smith or David Carr?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I don't see Carr as a particularly attractive alternative. Troy Smith is more of an unknown. I think Smith would have really struggle -- pick after pick after pick -- to lose the job in the next couple weeks. But if the 49ers start 0-3 or 0-4 and Smith isn't doing anything, the 49ers will have to consider that option.
The Cardinals are confident that Anderson will improve his accuracy rate to around 60 percent. What are your thoughts from seeing him play in the past and present? Have you seen improvement since he's been here?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I'm skeptical that he will throw for 60 percent over the course of the season. It's something I addressed in some detail on the blog Thursday.
carl (mattydale ny)
Is Mike Williams thigh bruise something that can potentially keep him out Sunday? Or is it a small thing?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
It's something I probably should have covered in the "NFC West: Injury situations that matter" entry Wednesday. My impression was that it was not a big deal. I did see him in the locker room. I do expect him to practice this week. But Williams hasn't played in a long time before this season, so I do not have a feel for him that way.
Sando, any insight into when Golden Tate will be on the 45? He mentioned this week that he had a lesson learned about preparation. Was he talking about not being ready for the NFL, in general, or was it an issue of him not having studied his playbook enough that week?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I was there when Tate made those comments. It's the same issue Matt Hasselbeck and Pete Carroll alluded to during training camp. Tate is a playmaker, but he's rough around the edges -- just not as precise as he needs to be in running routes. As a result, it's tougher for the quarterback and the team to trust him in pressure situations. I think Tate will get a chance sooner rather than later. Mike Williams' thigh bruise could make it wiser for the Seahawks to carry five receivers on the 45-man roster, so that could give him a chance right there.
Daniel (St. Louis)
30 min into the chat and already more Rams questions than all of last year. The buzz Bradford has created in this town has been great. What are Oakland's weakness that you think the Rams are capable of exposing?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
The Rams' pass-rush has a chance to affect Jason Campbell. Chris Long will probably get his first sack of the season. The Raiders have line issues, no question. I'm interested in seeing Nnamdi Asomugha play for the Raiders. Will he just play a side or will they use him to erase one receiver -- say, Mark Clayton -- from the game?
Mike what are the odds that the Seahawks go unbeaten going it to their bye week?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Very slim, but hey, I'm the guy who couldn't find a likely victory on the Seahawks' schedule over the first six games. It didn't take long for Seattle to disprove that thinking.
Sando, I get your point about Seattle, but how will the Rams ever not have the whole defense residing in the box against Steven Jackson if we don't get a real playmaking WR?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
The Rams will try to get one. That offense can still have some success without a dominant receiver, though.
Hey Mike, with the incident involving the reporter and the New York Jets, how do you feel about the locker room being closed for like 30 minutes after the game to reporters or having a separate room to be interviewed? I figured you'd have interesting insight since you used to be the beat reporter for the News Tribune.I personally wouldn't want any women (or men) trying to interview me as I'm changing my clothes in at the gym.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I'm in postgame locker rooms every week and there's nothing difficult or uncomfortable about it, except when a team has suffered a particularly difficult defeat (it's tougher to approach players under those circumstances because they are down and the locker room tends to be very quiet). Some players ask that reporters give them time to get fully dressed before granting interviews. This is standard for TV interviews, for obvious reasons. But waiting 30 minutes wouldn't serve anyone. The players want to get dressed and head to the airport as soon as possible. Delaying the interview process for 30 minutes would just delay everyone, without anything to gain.
Rick (Pasadena, CA)
Bradford's YPA was painfully low. Is it more due to the system or players?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
That had to do with Sam Bradford getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid pressure. It also had to do with some of the situations. His 1-yard touchdown pass dragged down the yards per attempt even though it required a terrific play by Bradford. They completed a 5-yarder on second-and-4. They completed a 5-yarder on third-and-3. Those are terrific plays, but they do not help yards per attempt. Mark Clayton dropped three passes, including one that could have resulted in a 50-yard touchdown.
Chris (Chehalis WA)
The Broncos passed for almost 300 yards even though they did not have a very good game. How do you think Seattle's secondary measures up to the passing attack of Denver?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
That will depend on whether Chris Clemons and that pass-rush can be effective without the home crowd on their side. Marcus Trufant looks really good. Earl Thomas looks good. I think Seattle's secondary has a good chance if the pressure is adequate.
After watching Adrian Wilson play in Week 1, seems like he's primed for a great season. Do you think he would get the media coverage to win the defensive POY?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
If his interception totals remain high, yes.
Brian (AzWicker) (Scottsdale, AZ)
How much of Mark Claytons 16 targets is chemistry between the 2 and how much was it the Rams coaching staff picking on Greg Toler and having their rookie QB avoid a pro bowl corner in DRC? Should we expect that to contiue?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I noticed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage on a couple of those. Clayton will not continue to catch that many balls. His totals could fall quite a bit against the Raiders' secondary, depending on Nnamdi Asomugha's role. It was one game. Let's see how things play out.
tom page (bellevue,wa)
I have been saying since early in training camp that Mike Williams is a strong candidate for comeback player of the year, but most people thought I was crazy. What do you think about that prediction now?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I would have agreed with it beginning in about June.
Sando, you do indeed do an excellent job with the blog/twitter btw. There's rumblings around town about Steve Breaston going back to punt return duty because of Max Komar's Week 1 struggles. I'm not a big fan of it considering the Cardinal's WR injury issues already, what do you think would be the best course of action?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Thanks. Breaston himself tweeted something indicating he could get return duty. I think it's a little early. Maybe they give Andre Roberts a try. Breaston should be the emergency option.
Hey Mike, not an NFCW fan but still follow your work. How is the boy's pass catching skills coming along?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for asking. My 9-year-old son, Derek, had his first career reception in his flag football league last weekend. It went for about 50 yards (slightly suspect defense at that level, but hey, we'll take it). He has told me with a straight face that he plans to play college ball so he can get drafted.
What's the word on Laurent Robinson? Any lingering effects from that 4th quarter hit that took him out of the game?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Robinson cannot stay healthy. That is his history. I'll be skeptical until he proves otherwise.
Hi Mike. One thing that hasn't been mentioned with the Niners is the run game- neither Westbrook nor Anthony Dixon got a carry. I really thought Dixon showed enough promise in the preseason to get some carries in the regular season, and I don't see any reports that Westbrook is hurt. What is the situation there?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
It's just very difficult taking Frank Gore off the field. Is there ever a situation where the team would be better off with one of those other guys in the game? I could see some plays for Westbrook sprinkled in, but Gore will be the man.
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Mike, what good is arm strength if you overthrow 2 mostly open receivers in the endzone? Tell me Shaun Hill would have missed those throws...
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Maybe the 49ers could have Alex Smith throw the play-call from the pressbox to the sideline.
hey Sando this is my third time asking this question. Can you tell me haw Henry and Wyche are on the seahawks practice sqaud when both are past the two year eligibility. Also do you think the d-line is for real or was it more of a poor Alex Smith showing?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Practice squad rules allow players to remain eligible if they have never been on a 45-man roster for nine games in their lone accrued season. Also, players can be on a practice squad for three seasons in some cases.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. See you on the blog.