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!
Matt Moreira (Rhode Island)
What do you think the chances are of the 49ers winning the division?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
A lot better now that Arizona appears to be tanking on both sides of the ball. Cards have the easiest schedule, but have not been able to capitalize. Seattle has the best chance if nothing changes injury-wise. Seahawks are 2-3 on the road, 3-1 in the division, 5-4 overall and have home games against Kansas City, Carolina, Atlanta and St. Louis. They just need to win three of four at home to get to 8-8. That is do-able. But things do change. Will Matt Hasselbeck hold up physically? Right now I'd give the 49ers an outside shot (better than a long shot).
Steven (Oceanside, CA)
If the 49ers can beat Tampa Bay Sunday and go to Arizona the following week and win on Monday Night Football, can we say they're back in the race?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
They are back in the race right now as long as they beat Tampa Bay.
Hey Sando, Chuck again. I also liked what i saw from Aaron Curry. So with Chris Clemons in the Leo role, where does that put Curry in the pass-rush department? Just a situational rusher? It seems to be one of his better talents.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Curry will get more pass-rush chances as long as he continues improving in that area. They could groom Curry to take over for Clemons as the Leo at some point in the future. Curry has to show he's up to it from a pass-rushing standpoint. He would have to embrace these opportunities.
Just a week ago you predicted... Cards - 8-8, Rams 7-9, Hawks and 49ers 6-10. Still believe that?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Nope. Changes every week. Too many unreliable variables. Volatile. I knew at the time that it was futile trying to make projections. Seattle bought itself 8-8 most likely by sweeping Arizona, but of course that changes if/when Hasselbeck gets hurt worse or others succumb to injuries.
Do you think the Rams still have a chance to win the division? Do you see them beating the Falcons this weekend?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Sure, the Rams have a chance. I thought beating the 49ers last week could have made them the favorite. Beating the Falcons is certainly possible at the Edward Jones Dome. I just think the Falcons have too much firepower ultimately.
Mackay (PG, UT)
A few weeks ago you said you did not believe that the Cards would be picking high enough to get Andrew Luck. How about now? Worst offense, worst defense. I think it is do-able. They would be destroyed by Buffalo.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
They might look back on this season and wonder what might have been if they had won that Minnesota game. This team seems to have lost its steam.
Do you think that the Seahawks, Niners, and Cardinals will draft QB's in the first round?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
They should try to make that happen without reaching.
Steve (St. Louis)
Do you think Randy Moss would have altered the game at Candlestick last Sunday? Steven Jackson seemed to be facing blitz every time he ran, especially when we were struggling in the second half. Randy could have helped avoid that. Also, Brandon Gibson choked on picking up two first downs because he was getting cute. I believe an experienced pro would have stretched for the first and maintained possession. Agree?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Yes, I did think Randy Moss would have helped the Rams in theory. I say "in theory" because he would not have helped if his heart were not in joining the Rams. A fully engaged and motivated Randy Moss certainly would have helped the Rams. On the other hand, they had Danny Amendola open deep for what should have been a touchdown. Did not connect.
Is it Whiz's fault that the Cards ar so terrible this year? If not for Warner, Cards would have stayed in the bottom of the barrel the last few years. I probably coulda been coach and won with Warner !
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
That viewpoint is increasingly easy to justify. I do not think it would be fair, however. Ken Whisenhunt and staff managed Warner pretty well, I thought.
What are your thoughts on Mike Williams' production lately? And is Michael Vick considered a candidate for comeback player of the year?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I would not consider Michael Vick as a comeback player of the year. He played last season. Mike Williams is a very legitimate candidate for the award. What an amazing career revival.
slappy (san diego)
Enough of the frickin Niners winning anything. They have 3 wins and have yet to win on the road.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Fair point. Do you like their chances at Arizona in couple weeks?
Jason (Rochester, NY)
Mike,What do you think about Okung/Unger/Spencer/Andrews/Polumbus as the Seattle's O-line of the future? Is this something we can build on?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I'll be a bit surprised if they re-sign Chris Spencer. Tyler Polumbus would ideally be the sixth or seventh lineman. I thought Shawn Andrews might project as the right tackle next season.
Troy Smith has made a lot of dangerous passes, but they've worked to his advantage; he's hitting his receivers deep and still hasn't thrown a single pick. Do the Bucs have the pass defense to reverse this trend?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
The Bucs have not gotten much of a pass rush this season. They have picked off 14 passes, however. Aqib Talib could be dangerous. I see the interception-free streak ending Sunday.
Chris (Columbus, OH)
I am very excited to see Troy Smith get his shot in the NFL finally! The 49ers have a winner at the helm. Pending a good performance for the the remainder of the season, do you see him being the starter for the 49ers next year?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Depends on so many factors. Who will be the head coach? Will the front office change at all? Who will be offensive coordinator? Troy Smith could be in the mix. Too early to say more than that.
Steve (St. Louis)
What do you think of the idea of using the no huddle in non-2 minute situations for the Rams? In games where the offense needs a spark, I could see the benefit of increasing the tempo. Sam Bradford was extremely effective at OU using a high tempo offense. Also, it would keep teams from substituting defenders which eliminates the lack of depth the Rams have. Imagine Steven Jackson running at a defense that hasn't been able to catch its breath after a first down or two.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yes, this makes sense to me. They could practice it during the week, have their plays in mind and unleash it for stretches when appropriate. They certainly haven't been afraid to lean on Sam Bradford. They opened the San Francisco game -- on the road -- in four-receiver packages. They were aggressive with Bradford early in the Oakland road game as well.
Mackay (PG, UT)
Do the Eagles get rid of Vick or Kolb this offseason? I ask because the Cards, 49ers, or Seahawks are all likely to be interested.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Michael Vick looks like the guy they'll need to sign for the long term. And then if they can get value for Kolb, I would think they would try.
At what point can the 49ers officially kiss their season goodbye? How many more losses are they allowed?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
They are OK losing at Green Bay and at San Diego. They need to win at home against Tampa Bay and Seattle. If they lose against the Bucs and Seahawks, I think it becomes really tough.
DO YOU see the 49ers sweeping the rest of the division games?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
No. I suspect they'll lose at St. Louis.
slappy (san diego)
There's been a lot of talk in Seattle papers about giving Matt Hasselbeck an extension. He had a good game, I get that. But just two weeks ago the fans were calling for Charlie Whitehurst to take over. I feel like we need to at least see how he goes the rest of the season. Doesn't seem like he is unhappy with the situation and it would be premature to stake an extension on one game. That said, I think regardless of how the year ends up, if Hasselbeck isn't extended, both Arizona and San Francisco would pay good to have him there.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Yes, I'd would agree with your thinking. Arizona is making quite a few quarterbacks look good this season. Let's see how things play out. Also, Hasselbeck has suffered a concussion and broken wrist in his last two games.
Jamaar (St. louis, MO)
With the rams injuries at the WR position, what do you think their draft plans will be this coming spring? Also do you see them upgrading their backup running back situation?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
They need to surround Sam Bradford with as many playmakers as possible. That has to be the thinking heading into the offseason. They need to follow the Colts' approach to helping out Peyton Manning. Start drafting receivers, running backs, tight ends -- anyone who can help turn a good quarterback into a great one. They've invested heavily in the offensive line already. They have a few pieces on defense and they need help on the defensive line for the long term, given that James Hall and Fred Robbins, though production, are older players.
What would you say is the most important thing for the Hawks to get in next years draft quarterback or pass rusher or something else?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Quarterback would probably top my list. I am not among those who has written off Charlie Whitehurst based on one-plus games. But if he doesn't show more, the team needs to plan at that position.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
By the way, on a side note, Carolina has named ex-Cardinals backup Brian St. Pierre as its starter in Week 11.
Lets just assume Matt Hasselbeck makes it through the rest of the season relatively unscathed and continues to play well. I have to believe Seattle would want to re-sign him, but with Pete you never know what he'll do when it comes to personnel. Mike, what's your sense on what the Hawks want to do with Hasselbeck assuming he's healthy and productive until the end?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
My sense is that they would be open to signing him at a moderate price. More than backup money, but not one of those huge long-term starter deals.
Chris (Columbia, SC)
The Rams officially is tied for number 1 in sacks. It took Chris Long 3 years to catch on and now is playing like an elite defensive end. After watching the last game C.J. Ah You and George Selvie had a pretty good showing. They showed they can get pressure and use athleticism to play in Spags' scheme. Do you see one of these players being more than just a situational pass rusher?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I wonder about Selvie possibly developing into a starter. James Hall is playing great, but he's older and they could use someone to take more snaps next season. The question on Selvie coming out was whether he had the size to hold up down after down. That is a legitimate question. I do not know the answer. Seems to me they need to address that position and then worry about having a good problem on their hands if Selvie becomes that guy.
tom page (bellevue,wa)
It seems like the Seahawks lose Hasselbeck if they wait until the end of the season to resign him. The Seahawks will look for a reasonable contract. QB?s are so over valued across the league, it seems likely if Matt hits the free agent market, some team will throw ridiculous money at him. Does this thinking seem likely?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'm thinking Hasselbeck would prefer to remain in Seattle for the remainder of his career, and that reasonable people could reach a reasonable agreement.
I was really hoping to get your opinion on this. What are your thoughts about a 17-game regular season with 8 home, 8 away and 1 neutral site game (London, Berlin, Los Angeles, or any other place) It allows for expansion without surrendering a home game as my 49ers did and expands regular season. I think it would be better than the 18-game format and would still allow three preseason games for proper talent evaluation.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I appreciate the fact that you've put some thought into this. I like the idea in theory. In practice, would it really be feasible for the league and its teams to stage and market so many neutral-site games? I am not so sure.
Robert (Glasgow, Scotland)
The Cardinals are 30th in overall defense, but secnd in red zone defense. Where do you see the real problem? In the play calling or the secondary? With all the talent they have on defense, they have never been able to ever get it right.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
It's almost as though these guys turn it up only out of necessity -- around the goal line. Some of the good red zone numbers stem from playing against Seattle, however. The Seahawks converted only once in seven tries against Arizona at home. That matchup was turnover-filled game featuring a struggling Seattle offense. It would make sense, then, that the Seahawks had lots of scoring chances without the ability to finish drives consistently. Marshawn Lynch has zero net yards on 11 goal-to-go rushes this season. Seattle cannot close the deal largely because of its offensive line. Atlanta was 5-8 in the red zone against Arizona. San Diego and Tampa Bay were each 2-3 in the red zone against Arizona. On the talent front, how talented are the Cardinals at linebacker this season? Not very talented.
If Seattle lose this week against New Orleans and next week against Kansas City and the 49ers win this week against Tampa and next week against Arizona, what do you think the 49ers chances are in winning the division?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
This is the sort of question from a 49ers fan that agitates some fans of other NFC West teams. Let's see if the 49ers can beat Tampa Bay. Seattle will probably lose at New Orleans, but the Seahawks have the inside track on the division title because they can get to 9-7 by winning at home. They now have a margin for error at home.
Is it just me or does it seem like the Eagles have two solid QBs and the entire NFC West has one (Bradford)? Which of the two Philly QBs do you see more likely out here next year? Vick as a FA/Trade, or Kolb in a trade?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Kolb. Just cannot see the Eagles parting with Michael Vick unless he falls off dramatically.
Doesn't the fact that Hasselbeck suffered a concussion and broken wrist tell you more about his line than he himself? He's 5-3 as the starter on a team with a make-shift offensive line, a new set of WR every week (Housh and Branch broke camp as the starters) and a running game that is better than expected when Lynch averages 3 yards per carry (because of the OL.) I understand Hasselbeck isn't putting up huge numbers, but I just think that given the hand he's been dealt, he's 5-3... and that has to count for something.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Absolutely. The line has a lot to do with his prognosis and performance. They cannot run the ball very well on running downs. That hurts the entire offense. My point was this: It's tough to come through with a big contract offer if injuries continue to mount, affecting his performance negatively.
slappy (san diego)
I think Hass likes to play comfortable. Likes to know the personnel and playbook like the back of his hand. I think that would play into his decision in staying. Though, stupid money being thrown at him by say AZ might say, I think I can find a way to make it work with Fitz....
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Matt Hasselbeck should be more valuable to Seattle than he is to other teams for that reason. He's best when he is comfortable. Learning a new system in a new city? That could be tough.
Whats your thought on Singletary?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Good intentions, questionable execution, probably miscast in the role of head coach (as that role is presently defined in the NFL).
As of Nov. 18, 2010, who is winning the division in your opinion?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Seattle is winning the division. We know that. First place alone.
I was at the Seahawks vs Cardinals game last week. Do the AZ fans always boo louder at their team after a mistake than on 3rd and 4th down plays while their team is on defense?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Ouch. I did hear quite a few pro-Seattle cheers during that game. I suspect Seattle fans travel well to warm Arizona.
Jay (Cincinnati, OH)
Do you think that Anthony Davis can develop into a quality right tackle? Or is he just not catching on very quickly?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
He can become a quality right tackle. He is suffering through some growing pains now.
Bradford's accuracy still seams a little off from what it can be. If so, is it the defenses or with the problems at WR, are the routes they run not always consistent? Or both?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Sam Bradford completed better than 70 percent of his passes against the 49ers. I think his accuracy is generally very good.
Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle)
If the first week or two is the critical time for my wrist injury, why am I not sitting out against the Saints so we can be sure that I will be ready for the remaining (and more important to win) games on our schedule?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Because teams do not think that way. They try to give themselves the best shot at winning every week. Arizona defeated New Orleans, after all. Anything can happen.
Troy Smith is he what he has proven to be or do you beleive he is getting lucky and is over-rated?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Smith has provided the spark we thought he could provide (as discussed with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. before the Denver game). He has gotten a little lucky here and there (the deep pass to Delanie Walker against the Broncos comes to mind). But he has also made his own breaks. He is resourceful. My thought is that he'll need to become more efficient because the big plays will not always be there.
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. My pleasure as always!