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 (1:04 PM)
OK, I'm here. Busy morning with Pat Shurmur getting named Browns head coach.
Dustin (Salem, OR)
With recent reports of Carroll's desire to bring Hasselbeck back to Seattle, it got me thinking about a potential win-win situation: sign Matt to a two-year, incentive-laden contract with a low base salary, allowing him to earn the bulk of his salary if he remains the starter and/or leads the team back to the play-offs. In this situation, they keep Whitehurst as back-up as he is still under contract through next season, and draft a QB in the early rounds for Hasselbeck to groom, whether or not he remains the starter both yours. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
The comments Pete Carroll made regarding Matt Hasselbeck were not binding comments. I expect the Seahawks to assess the situation after the season. They have not decided how to proceed. Sure, they would like Hasselbeck to return, but would it be as the starter? Would they assure him a starting job? Would he return as a potential backup? What happens in the draft? These and others questions will come into play. Carroll and Hasselbeck seem to like one another. That is a good starting point. But it's too early to make assumptions. As for your idea, it makes sense to me, although the specifics relating to incentives would likely differ.
Does it surprise you that Holmgren didn't take the head coaching job in Cleveland himself?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Mild surprise. I think Pat Shurmur gives him someone to mold and someone to do the grunt work of installing the offense, attending meetings and the like. Shurmur becomes an extension of Holmgren. Shurmur allows Holmgren to have significant impact over coaching without doing the dirty work. And who knows how things might go down the line? Perhaps there's a time when Holmgren feels as though stepping onto the sideline would help put the team over the top. I do know he likes being de facto team owner with Lerner not very involved.
Mike L. (Ft. Eustis, VA)
Hey Sando, love your blog. I rely on your blog to keep me updated on the Hawks (hard to do on the east coast). Just saying thanks and keep up the great work!
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Let's keep this chat focused on football except for these sorts of compliments. Thanks!
Chris R (Fairview, OR)
Mike, with Matt being up and down all season, which one do you believe is the REAL Mr. Hasselbeck? The QB that posted up monster numbers against New Orleans twice? or the QB that has made the fans root for Charlie Whitehurst? Which do you see coming up more often next season (assuming he plays?)
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
The real Matt Hasselbeck is reliant on a strong supporting cast. He is not going to carry a team most of the time. Saturday was an exception, obviously. Lots of things came together and the matchup was right, too. I do think Hasselbeck can be a good starting quarterback with the right system and a good supporting cast. He has changed systems in recent seasons and the supporting cast has deteriorated.
NorthwestFAN (Gig Harbor, Washington)
Sando,Is it just me or are their more NFL Head Coaches, DC's, OC's, QB coaches etc. changing positions and moving around within the NFL as well as heading to college teams than there has been in recent history? How does this appear to rank against past seasons?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
My impression is that more assistant coaches are heading for the college ranks amid labor uncertainty. Most of these coaches have lockout clauses that cut into their pay significantly if there is no football. Coaches often have bad mortgage situations because they move around a lot, buy one home before selling the previous one, etc. And so the chance to earn a more reliable wage at the college level can be appealing.
Hello Mike,Who are potential candidates to replaces Shurmur as OC? I've heard a lot of Josh McDaniels, even some about Brad Childress. Thanks,
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Josh McDaniels is my best guess right now.
If the Seahawks can find some consistency on the offensive line, is it unreasonable to think Hasselbeck couldn't have a late-career resurection like Kurt Warner had in Arizona?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Matt Hasselbeck, at his best, was never as good as Kurt Warner at his best. So, while he could enjoy a revival of sorts, I would not expect him to put up Hall of Fame-caliber numbers suddenly.
NorthwestFAN (Gig Harbor, Washington)
Sando, with all the disrespect in the media and especially from Chicago fans and Chicago media, I am reminded of the week building up to the Saints game. But I must ask, if/when the Seahawks beat the Bears on Sunday, will this be perceived as a bigger upset than the win against the Saints?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Beating the Bears would probably bring more derision upon the Bears for losing at home to a now 8-9 team than it would result in outright praise for Seattle. But is there a reason anyone should care? And I mean that respectfully.
Jason (rochester, ny)
Mike,Great work all year. Thank you.Is my gut correct in saying that Seattle's rushing success (especially vs. STL and NO) has all been to the right side of their line? What are your thoughts on that? Why not run over Okung on the other side? Are Locklear, Gibson, Andrews and others doing better than we thought lately?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Thanks, Jason. I think the left side of the line is improved too. Tyler Polumbus' presence at left guard makes the Seahawks more athletic there. Chester Pitts was giving it everything he had, but he was playing on one leg at times, just gutting it out after coming back from a surgical procedure that would have ended a lot of players' careers. Pitts just could not anchor or run as well as he could before the injury, in my view.
Why haven't we heard much of Harbaugh's hiring? As a 49ers fan I'm real anxious to get this show on the road, next season can't come any faster!
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
The 49ers got a big bump when they made the hiring, but then the playoffs began and Seattle pulled that upset over the Saints, complete with one of the most memorable runs in league history. The 49ers have then quietly gone about the process of hiring a staff. I think the storyline takes a higher profile as we get past the playoffs.
Who are the favorites for the coordinator positions in San Francisco? Manusky has done an acceptable job on the defensive side, are the 49ers definitely going to replace him?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I would say there's a very strong chance Greg Manusky takes a job elsewhere. The expectation has been for Vic Fangio to come with Harbaugh from Stanford. The 49ers gave Manusky a chance to interview elsewhere and I'm thinking Manusky will find something, but I cannot say definitively that he will leave until he is gone and the 49ers hire a replacement.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Do you see the rivalry heating up between the 9ers and the Hawks now that it will be Harbaugh vs Carroll like it was at USC and Stanford? Or does that not matter anymore now they are both in the NFL?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The personalities matter a great deal and I think their history in the Pac-10 adds a welcome dynamic. It personalizes the rivalry. Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are highly competitive. They had a history in the Pac-10, punctuated by Harbaugh going for two while blowing out USC. Those things all come along, I think. Should be fun.
Mike (San Diego)
Should be exciting for Cleveland to have a coach who can call 5 yard hitches over and over on 3rd and 7. I LOVED watching that as a Rams fan this year.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Short-sighted analysis by you, I think. Did you want more deep balls to Danny Amendola? How about the deep one right through Danario Alexander's arms with the season in the balance at Seattle. Shurmur helped Sam Bradford make it through his rookie season without missing an offensive snap, while challenging rookie records set by some great players, including Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. I'm not saying Shurmur was perfect by any means. There were times when I thought he was too conservative. But it's just not useful to focus primarily on Shurmur's play calling when the other issues were so much more important.
Sando...good riddance to Pat Shurmur, hopefully the Rams can find someone who will utilize their superstar Steven Jackson in key games. Shurmur is a joke!!!
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
I also questioned the offensive approach against Seattle in Week 17. Overall, though, I did not think Shurmur was the Rams' primary problem on offense -- this season or even in that game. Sam Bradford needed some guys to make plays down the field. Daniel Fells, Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson missed chances in Week 17 alone.
Ben (Brooklyn, NY)
With Pat Shurmur going to the Browns, who will be in the running for the Rams OC? I have read rumors about both Brad Childress and Jim Zorn. Do you think the Rams will also replace QB coach Dick Curl with someone who can be groomed to eventually take over as OC?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I think it's logical to envision the next coordinator having ties to agent Bob LaMonte, who also represents Steve Spagnuolo and Pat Shurmur. Josh McDaniels and Brad Childress also retain LaMonte. Both could be looking to rehab their imagines. Calling plays for Sam Bradford could help make that happen. So, those are two obvious potential candidates.
The Cards are seemingly rebuilding now. What could they get for Larry Fitzgerald? Why keep him around if there are no quarterbacks here to throw to him. How likely is it that he gets traded?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
The Cardinals are a quarterback away from not rebuilding, agreed? They have work to do throughout their roster, but this does not have to be a horrible team. As for Larry Fitzgerald, why compound one problem (no quarterback) with another (no elite receiver)? Makes no sense to me. Now, if Fitzgerald were 34 years old and declining, then we might have another discussion.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
Do you think the Cardinals will take a QB with their first round pick? It's possible that all of them will still be on the board when they choose.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
That would make sense if one were available. I think it would generate some excitement, too, as the Cardinals try to keep alive their sellout streak following a bad season.
Do you see either Cardinals or 49ers giving up their 1st to get Kolb? Maybe Kolb and 3rd for their 1st since its high?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I cannot see the Cardinals or Rams parting with a top-seven pick for Kevin Kolb. Also, the Eagles would be destabilizing the most important position while picking up a huge, bloated contract for an unproven draft choice. Just my feel at this time.
Ben Roan (Fairfax)
With new coaches people always talk about the assistants and coaches that get let go, but not always about the players. We saw with Carroll that a lot of his players were new. What about the 49ers? Who should we expect to be let go? Alex Smith?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
We could see the 49ers' defense get younger through some attrition. But the 49ers have more talent right now than Carroll inherited in Seattle, so I would not expect changes to the same degree.
Sando, what are your keys to this Sunday's game? For me it would be giving Lynch 20 carries and the defense making Cutler air it out. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Lynch getting 20 carries would probably be more a result of things going well than it would be a case of the staff making sure he gets 20 no matter what. I think Jay Cutler and Mike Martz are big keys to this game. They're both a bit volatile. Will they revert to past form in a pressure situation? And then, of course, how will Matt Hasselbeck play?
Is the NFC West really that bad or were they just beating up on themselves? The Seahawks just beat the defending Superbowl Champions. The 49ers almost beat them at home earlier this year. The NFC West is just misunderstood right?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
It was really that bad, a lot of the time. Carolina was 2-2 against the NFC West, 0-12 against everyone else. Chiefs and Bucs were both 4-0 against the NFC West. Josh Freeman had nine TD passes and no picks against the NFC West. The division went 7-9 against the AFC West, which was the second-worst division by some measures.
Steve D. (Palisades Park, NJ)
Hey Mike love the blog. With Shaw being named new head coach at Stanford will we see the Niners staff becoming filled out quickly, much like a domino effect, also with it being reported that Leavitt will be the new defensive line coach, where does that leave Tomsula.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Yes, Steve, we should see some acceleration in hiring and a clearer picture overall. But Jim Harbaugh will probably continue piecing together the staff over the coming weeks. On Tomsula, I have no way of knowing what will happen with him. Too many moving parts.
Sal (San Jose)
Any chance Jim Harbaugh thinks he can resurrect Alex Smith's career? He is a Qb guru after all and Alex wasn't that bad at moments.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I'm expecting the organization to make a clean break at the QB position.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Tatupu and Trufant are getting olllld. Back spasms? Concussions? At least we have David "Heater" Hawthorne to replace Tatupu. Maybe we should grab a CB in the first round. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Lofa Tatupu has worn down. There can still be a place for him, but Hawthorne and Will Herring are picking up some of the slack. I would have no problem with Seattle drafting a linebacker after the early rounds. At corner, Marcus Trufant can be fine on a defense that doesn't require him to make too many tackles in the run game. When he gets hurt, it is often while tackling big guys such as Chris Ivory.
The Hawks are into the second week of the playoffs, but what are your thoughts for next season? Are the 49ers the early favorites to win the division? Followed by the Rams? Is it possible the Hawks will be the presumptive 3rd team in the division for next season once the playoffs are done?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Interesting thought. How much should we read into one or two games vs. the entire season. I think we'll have our answer based on moves the team makes this offseason, and I think those moves will tell us the Seahawks know they were a 7-9 team. Whether or not they'll be picked third will also hinge on what other teams do at quarterback.
Dont be a chump....why should the browns be exicted for Shurmur as the head coach? I'd love to hear your positives and negatives.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
I do not have a long list of reasons Browns fans should be excited. Shurmur becomes an extension of Mike Holmgren. Holmgren will know exactly what Shurmur wants offensively. Shurmur and Holmgren will be on the same page. If the offense takes off, Holmgren looks good. If it struggles, maybe he takes over as head coach in a couple years. As far as evaluating Shurmur purely as a head coach, not much to go on.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat!