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)
If 49ers win this week and Alex Smith plays wells, what do you think the 49ers chances are of winning the NFC West?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I do not think they will win at St. Louis down the road. Losing to the Rams would make it pretty tough for the 49ers, even if they did beat Seattle. I was looking at some scenarios today. The 49ers would win the NFC West if they won in Weeks 14, 16 and 17, and if the following teams also won: Atlanta and Kansas City in Week 15, and Tampa Bay in Week 16.
Nate M (St.Louis)
Not to sound too evil, but I am thankful for the appendectomy that Matt Cassel had to undergo. With that in mind, I can see the Rams winning their next 3 of 4 if they can contain Jamaal Charles, agree?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
I like the Rams' chances at home against most teams, even Kansas City. I did hear a doctor say this morning that Cassel should be able to play relatively quickly if he's comfortable. I think the Rams have a decent shot at winning two of their final four. Winning three of the final four seems a little unrealistic.
Has Ben Obamanu actually turned into a decent wide receiver, or is he just overachieving right now?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Obomanu is pretty good. Some of his recent numbers are inflated relative to what we should expect from him week to week. He's not going to catch 87-yard touchdown passes very often. He might never again catch a scoring pass that long.
Anicra (StPaul MN)
Bill Walsh said, "He'd be a Hall of Fame player (had he played longer). Maybe he still is. He was that good." Who is Walsh referring to? Second, do you believe the Seahawks' run defense problems are based on the losses of Red Bryant, Colin Cole and having inferior backups for the hybrid style, soft CB play/LB or something more sinister? Finally, based on my first question where is the HOF argument?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Bill Walsh was speaking of Kenny Easley. He was speaking to me, in fact, for a piece I put together years ago when Easley went into the Seahawks' Ring of Honor. Easley soon becomes eligible for consideration by the Seniors Committee. I think his best shot comes if a member of the Seniors Committee does the research to present a strong case. I could vote for Easley as a Seniors candidate. On the run defense, I think losing Red Bryant was the biggest factor. The Seahawks also faced some better running teams more recently. That is another factor. And then the inconsistencies on offense in terms of possessing the football have also exposed the defense at times.
Inconsolable (Cardinals Nation)
Do you think that starting John Skelton for the remainder of the year in order to evaluate what we have at QB before next years draft is the wisest move for the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Yes, starting John Skelton for the remainder of the season makes the most sense under the circumstances unless he is obviously not even close to ready. If he shows signs of being able to handle the job, leave him in there and see how he fares. But if he's another Max Hall, what is the point?
Tyler Haines (Kodiak, AK)
Sando, keep up the excellent work. We all know how bad Singletary, and every coach since Mooch for that matter is and has been, but it starts at the top, and the Yorks stink. It is a privilege to own an NFL franchise and we as fans through revenue and attention make this machine go. What would you suggest to a fan who is mired in ten years of no hope? I know it could open a can of worms with fans starting to boycott games for every little decision they don't agree with that is made, and fully realize the ebb and flow of the league, but when you're going on ten years of dreck... it would be nice to have some options, to let the owners of a fan's favorite club know: get out of town we hate you. Maybe an online petition, calling for drastic change? I love my favorite team, what do I do?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Voting with your pocket book is the easiest option. Organizing some sort of boycott would take a great deal more work. The 49ers have managed to keep their home games on TV all these years. Every fan has a breaking point, however. I think ownership knows this and will act accordingly this offseason. The biggest thing you should do is hope they hire the right coach and find a quarterback. Succeeding on those fronts fixes so many things.
Hi Mike. I have a hard time seeing Singletary being the head coach of the 49ers beyond this season, but is it possible to keep him on the team at another position? Maybe as an assistant head coach or linebackers coach? We sure don't want to get "outintensified" again...
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
That would be awkward for everyone. If they fire Mike Singletary, they need to part with him.
A lot of the Seahawks roster is made up of aging players in 1-year contracts. Will their spots be filled with long-term starters next year (through the draft and FA) or is this the beginning of a multi-year rebuilding process?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
It's unrealistic to expect a team to find 10 or 15 young long-time starters in one offseason. This is the first year of a rebuilding project that will probably take a few years. But the team has shown this season it can still be competitive within the division (insert wise crack here).
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
In regards to Lofa Tatupu's apparent injuries, are the Seahawks taking a risk by playing him? You mentioned something to the fact that you would be surprised to see him finish out the season. If this is the case, wouldn't they benefit by benching him for a game or two to get some recovery time (like maybe against Atlanta or Tampa?)
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
They need him now, too. The bigger question is whether Tatupu is running out of gas for his career. The rigors of the NFL have caught up with him over the last couple seasons. Bad luck? Part of a trend? It's clear the Seahawks need to have a solid run-stopping line in front of him. They have not had that the last few weeks and I think we're seeing the wear and tear on Tatupu.
Ben (Seattle, WA)
Hey Sando, what do you feel is the Seahawks biggest problem with picking up third-and-shorts and sustaining drives? Bad push from offensive line? Poor running? Or possibly bad playcalling like trick plays and fades to backup TEs?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I didn't like the sideline throw to Golden Tate on that recent short-yardage play. I think the offensive line is the issue, though. With a stronger run-blocking line, Seattle wouldn't call some of those weak passes in those situations. This team needs better blocking from its interior offensive linemen.
Do the Cards have any chance to beat Denver this weekend with Skelton starting?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Sure. They beat New Orleans with Max Hall at quarterback. The Broncos have their own issues. Arizona needed return touchdowns to beat the Saints, however. I don't think their offense can score enough points to beat the Broncos. But they could find other means.
Mo the Stripper (Chico)
What do you see the Cardinals doing with the QB position in the near term? Draft? Free Agent? They might as well prop up a dead corpse under center, or at least someone who has their head on a swivel, because that o-line doesn't offer much protection! I'm enjoying a large turkey leg and a gigantic bowl of corn while participating in your Live Chat! Keep up the great work, Sando! Good Luck!
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Thanks. Ken Whisenhunt actually stood up for his line this season, offering a fairly compelling case that the real problems lie elsewhere. They need to draft a quarterback and also sign a veteran. What they should do and what they ultimately do might not be the same thing, necessarily. The way the Cardinals handled the quarterback situation following Warner's retirement raises questions about the organization's ability to make decisions on that subject. In retrospect, they lucked into Kurt Warner, at least to a degree. He was already there. Every other quarterback they've coached has gotten worse, it seems.
hfinestead (ARIZONA =()
In your opinion is this re-building going to last longer than 1-2 seasons or are the Cardinal fans in for another long drought much like the 9er fans are enduring. Sorry had to take a jab at them =)
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
It lasts until they fix the quarterback situation. Same for the 49ers, really.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Should the Rams be willing to give up a lot to try and land A. J. Green in the draft, or are there too many holes to fill?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
They need to find weapons for Sam Bradford without mortgaging their future. I wouldn't go overboard in giving up draft capital. They have quite a few needs.
Jake (Saint Louis)
Have you heard anything regarding the Rams resigning Mark Clayton? He was the Rams' top receiver early on, and they could have a solid wide receiver corps with him, Alexander, Amendola, and Avery. What do think?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
They should try to keep him. It should not be too hard. He's coming off a serious knee injury. The Rams were the one team that showed faith in him by acquiring him. The fit is good. I see no reason to rush into a deal. Let him recover, let him know you're interested, get it done later.
Carlos (Los Angeles)
Do you think the Rams could beat KC next week in St Louis. At least I think it will be more competitive than people think.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Yeah, the Rams could win that game. It's a tough matchup because Dwayne Bowe is a tough cover and the Chiefs can run the ball. I see the Chiefs as a poor man's Atlanta Falcons. But I like the Rams' chances at home.
Are the Cards and 49ers really only a QB away? Or are their "windows" of talent starting to close where they will have to re-tool beyond just that position? (I would argue that the Cards have serious defensive issues as well.)
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
A quarterback away from being more competitive and consistent, not a quarterback away from going to Super Bowls. That is the distinction.
Who would be the best coach for the 49ers next year? And don't say Gruden just because you work with him.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I work with Gruden the way a mailman works with the president. They are both government workers! I do think Gruden would be a great choice (or at least a logical one). What about Mike Holmgren? That one is in the back of my mind based on his desire to coach and the possibility that Eric Mangini could do enough to keep his job with the Browns.
If the Hawks beat the 49ers this weekend do they gain any momentum going into games against Atlanta and Tampa? Or does it not really matter because they would just be beating yet another bad team?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
It would matter, but I think the Falcons are a brutally tough matchup for Seattle based on what is likely to happen along the lines of scrimmage. Beating the Bucs would probably be easier, particularly if Tampa Bay continues losing key players to injury. The Seahawks' chances against Atlanta could improve with the Falcons playing their third road game in a row heading into a Monday nighter against New Orleans. But if the Falcons apply themselves at Seattle, I like their chances.
Do you agree that the 49ers HAVE to get an offensive minded HC who can call plays, that way loosing an offensive coordinator every year wouldnt be so bad.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I do think they should hire an offensive-minded head coach with that in mind. Not all offensive-minded coaches can call plays and manage games, however. But there would be an added measure of security knowing the head coach could take over or at least influence the offense.
Kendra Stephens (Yuba City)
Do you see any fall-off in production from Patrick Willis? It doesn't seem like we hear his name as often lately. I've been focusing on him during games - he seems to have a very wide stance when setting up and he does a lot of palms-up hand swiping in the pre-snap routine. Are they asking him to do too much and maybe taking his textbook hammer strength away from his instinctual game?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Patrick Willis looks good to me. I think he has gotten better as the season has progressed. He is still a Pro Bowl-caliber player, in my estimation.
Can you think of any scenario where the winner of the NFCW wins a playoff game? The way I see it, the winner will likely play CHI, GB, NO or ATL in the first round. CHI can be beaten, right?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Seattle already won at Chicago. The Bears are flawed enough to lose a first-round playoff game on the road, sure.
Shwivel (Columbus Ohio)
Can you explain to me Mike Singletary's reason for pulling Troy Smith when he went 3-2 with limited time with the team for Alex Smith, who had one win over seven games and has stunk it up since he's been there?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Troy Smith was 1-2 in his last three starts and getting worse. I think that was the main reason for the decision. We can talk about Alex Smith better fitting the offensive style in a post-Frank Gore offense, but if Troy Smith had continued winning and making big plays, he would still be the QB.
Jeremy (Los Angeles)
Does Bradford win Rookie of the Year?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yeah, I think he should win it. And if the Rams get to 8-8, it's even tougher to argue. As long as he doesn't fade badly, I think he is the choice.
Jeremy (Los Angeles)
With the Rams return to respectability, will they get some prime time slots next year finally?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Could get one on the basis of Sam Bradford. Not expecting multiple ones, though.
I'm a long-suffering Hawks fan. The 33-year-old debris field that is this teams' history limits my optimism with regard to the teams' potential for future success. That being said, I believe NFL championships are primarily generated by ownerships that eat, sleep, breath and dream football, e.g. the Rooney's in Pittburgh. No Seattle team, to my knowledge, has ever had this key factor. Paul Allen has deep pockets, and he did keep the team here, but he's a computer geek. He's got too many other things going on(Vulcan and, oh, dying of cancer), to provide the unwavering generalship required to win it all. Am I shortsighted for thinking this? What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Al Davis lives and breathes football. Jerry Jones lives and breathes football. I would rather have an owner who hires the right people and lets them do their jobs. The Rooneys do that. Davis has not done that consisently over the last 20-plus years, at least. Allen brought in Mike Holmgren and got to a Super Bowl eventually. I don't think Allen is holding back the team.
Hfinestead (ARIZONA )
What has been your impression of coach Whiz calling the plays in AZ? Should the Cardinals go after a OC and a new DC in the off-season?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I do not think offensive play-calling ranks on the list of issues holding back the Cardinals.
So by the way you're talking, the Rams should head into the playoffs 9-7 if they beat KC?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Not necessarily. I think they lose to the Saints and probably lose to either the Chiefs or Seahawks, or possibly both. I think they have a decent shot at 8-8.
Even at 1-2 in his last two games (3-2 overall) Troy smith has tripled Alex's wins this season (1-6.) What kind of message do players get out of this?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
The 49ers' players are probably beyond worrying about whatever message these moves might be sending. They've been through a tumultuous year.
Thanks for doing what you do. Love the graphs and analysis. Do you think you could run an analysis on how many offsides, neutral zone infractions, etc. that have been caused by the different QBs across the league. I swear I've seen Bradford create more of those than Bulger ever did, and I am curious how he ranks within the division, conference, league, etc.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Thanks, MG. Good idea. I could set it up by which offenses have been on the field when the defenses committed these penalties. I'll ask about narrowing it down to quarterbacks. Good idea.
What are the Ram's realistic goals for stopping the Saints with a banged up secondary, that already has trouble against the pass. Will it come down to our front 4 getting pressure?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Yes, it'll come down to pressuring Drew Brees. I just think Brees is too good for the Rams' defense when they are playing at the Superdome. I was there to see what he did against Seattle a few weeks ago. Perhaps those memories are too prominent in my mind. With the Rams banged up in the secondary, though, this one seems like a tough matchup. I am interested in seeing whether there is any carryover from last season, when the Rams played the Saints very tough in the Edward Jones Dome.
Think we see another outburst from Danario Alexander this year? Guys got some sick talent.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I could see him having some success against the Saints, even. He does look good.
What's the word on Mike Williams?? Can we look forward to seeing him this week or will we wait another couple?? And when he does come back will we see another game like the last one?? Out early with another injury??
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
My feel has been that Mike Williams would play against the 49ers. It is only a feel. I thought he had a chance to practice as early as Thursday, but that reportedly will not happen. He played two days after suffering a compound fracture in a finger, though. So, if the ankle isn't injured too seriously, I'm thinking he'll play. They called it a first-degree sprain.
It's looking pretty good for us Rams fans right about now. All they have to do is win one of their next three and beat the Hawks the last week of the season. Maybe even Brown can kick a game winner against them like they used to do to us all the time!! Do you think that would get the Rams the division title? Thanks!!
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Wow, I hadn't thought about Josh Brown hitting the division-winning kick for the Rams at Qwest Field. That would be pretty cool for him and really uncool for Seattle fans. I'm interested in generating rivalries within this division. That would really get the Rams-Seahawks rivalry going again.
So I'm assuming by the way you do your power rankings when the Bears beat the Pats, Sunday you'll have them dropping to abotu 14, right?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
You got me. Not bad. I've admitted my arguably illogical Bears skepticism. At a certain point, the record has to speak for a team. I'll admit I'd be surprised if the Bears won that game.
Assuming Skelton plays adequately enough where the AZ coaching staff feels comfortable going forward with developing him as the starter for next year; what position do you feel should be addressed in the first round of next year's draft?If the Bears beat the Pats I will shovel Roger's driveway.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I don't see how they could conclude after four games that John Skelton is their guy. Seems to me they still need to draft at that position. He would have to be lights-out to finish this season.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
If the Eagles stonewall and want 2 1st rounders for Kolb & the Cardinals are interested, shouldn't they just trade up for Luck?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Good in theory, tough in reality. The team picking first will probably need a franchise quarterback. Tough for other teams to trade into that spot.
What active QB do you think could get into the Hall of Fame? (Besides Peyton Manning)
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Tom Brady and Drew Brees, for starters.
Reading the S.F. press, as a Seahawks fan, it looks like the 49ers' players, fans and even assistant coaches have all lost faith in the team this year. Are they as demoralized as they seem?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Demoralized might not be the best word. I get what you are saying, though, and agree that this team looks like a mess in a lot of ways. So many things have popped up under Singletary. I would not want to be the guy responsible for making a case to retain Singletary beyond this season.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. Back to the blog now.