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 (12:59 PM)
Greetings. We'll begin momentarily.
First off, Merry Christmas to you and your family. Sando, I know that Seattle still has a small shot at the playoffs. But if I assume they win out or lose out(and miss the playoffs), they will draft in the middle of the draft. Would it be wise to trade up and draft a higher talented QB or stay where they're at and draft a QB like Landry Jones? Thanks in advance.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Thanks, Blayze. Merry Christmas to you as well. We're visiting relatives in California this week, so I might be pulling away from the chat a little early in an effort to meet family for lunch. On the Seahawks front, I think the team should trade up if it values a quarterback enough to do so. If you hit on a quarterback, no one cares much about the price. In some ways, though, the Seahawks almost have to draft one. At the very least, there is added pressure to do so, even though Tarvaris Jackson has played well enough to project as the starter heading into next season.
Kendal (Novato, CA)
The Niners already have the best defense and special teams in the NFL. Are the Niners one dominant No. 1 wide receiver away from being an elite offense, or do we need a better QB than Alex Smith before that can happen?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Given the choice, I would take the better quarterback. The 49ers have proven this season they can succeed with Smith at quarterback, but they have not proven they can be good on offense. They don't have to panic at the position. They could do worse than going into next season with Smith as the starter and Colin Kaepernick in waiting. But Smith is not good enough for them to turn their back on upgrading the position.
jeremy (vallejo ca)
Back when the Niners were 6-1, I predicted they could go 14-2 or 13-3 based on schedule. Now, based on how the NFC has shaped out, am I being too much of a Niners fan to say they can beat New Orleans in San Francisco and beat Green Bay to reach the Super Bowl considering green bay has an injured Greg Jennings and missing 2 offensive linemen?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
You're not being too much of a fan to say the 49ers could do those things. Saying they "could" do those things differs from saying they absolutely will do those things, or should be favored to do those things. The 49ers would have more than a long-shot chance to beat those teams. We all saw what happened to the Saints in Seattle last year. I've seen the Saints lose at Chicago in the playoffs.
David-G (Pueblo, Co) [via mobile]
Is there any chance that Marshawn Lynch rushes for 100 yards orr a touchdown? I just don't see that happening. The league leader, LeSean McCoy, had virtually nothing on the Niners. Michael Vick had better numbers that game.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I'd bet against the 100 yards and give Lynch an outside shot at a rushing touchdown. The 49ers' defensive front seven should -- repeat, should -- handle the Seahawks' offensive line. I do think the environment at CenturyLink Field, coupled with the Seahawks' strength on defense, could make this a tough game for the 49ers. And I think we've all seen that Lynch can break tackles. Lynch is also one of the very best in the NFL at scoring from near the goal line. It's no embarrassment if the 49ers allow a single rushing touchdown one of these weeks.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that the City of San Francisco will Tear Down Candlestick Park?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I'm assuming they'll salvage the lights and nearby transformer for use at the new stadium.
Do you feel the Rams will clean house this offseason. Hopefully at least Devaney will go at least.
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Yeah, I do think big changes are coming, based on how poorly the Rams have done this season in relation to expectations. At a certain point, the record just becomes tough to dispute. I think the Rams are to that point.
Rodney (Atlanta, GA)
I'm a huge Rams fan. Being as realistic as possible, I see us finishing 2-14 and receiving the second overall pick. What do you think we should do with it? a) draft Justin Blackmon, b) draft an OL (guy from USC)or c) trade it and get extra picks.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
The trading-down scenario always appeals, and perhaps it's more feasible given the new salary structure atop the draft. This team has many needs, but quarterback is not currently one of them. That would give the Rams great flexibility to trade down. Short of that, I think they need people to make big plays: at the skill positions and on defense. They've taken offensive linemen early. The next coach and GM, should there be a change, needs to find those guys in the middle rounds.
Al (Wausau, WI (way up north where the air gets cold))
Happy Holidays, Mike! Given John Skelton's fine performance for the Cardinals, do you feel he may challenge Kevin Kolb for the #1 QB spot on their roster in 2012? Or, is he nothing more than a solid backup QB?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Thanks, Al. Skelton looks like a good backup now, with a chance to develop into more. We're not close to the point, in my view, where the organization commits to him as its starter longer term. But Skelton needs to be part of the mix. And if that means saying he has a chance to compete for the job, fine.
I viewed the reverse the Hawks ran on the Bears w/ 2:30 left in the 4th quarter (with a large lead) as twisting the knife to payback last year's playoff loss in Chicago. Did you view it the same as me?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I did not have that thought at the time. This was a third-and-10 play. They were trying to build on recent successes with Golden Tate. I might feel differently had they run such a play on first down.
Mike, love your work and your candid opinions. As the Seahawks improve, and Tarvaris Jackson's play has gotten better, what are your thoughts on the QB position in Seattle? With our record getting better, it looks unlikely we get a top QB.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Thanks, John. Jackson's strong play late in the season takes some public pressure off the Seahawks to act decisively at quarterback this coming offseason. The team now knows Jackson can perform adequately under adverse conditions (three starting offensive linemen and two prominent receivers on injured reserve). I see the team keeping Jackson as its veteran starter, letting Charlie Whitehurst walk, keeping third-stringer Josh Portis and hoping for the best in the draft.
Dugan (spokane )
How many steps away is the Seahawks' defense from being "Elite"? Which position needs most improvement and do you see us getting there?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Close. The team needs additional pass-rush help. We see that in the diminished sack numbers for Raheem Brock. There is no No. 2 pass-rusher on this team. Chris Clemons needs help. They have a good foundation against the run, great size at corner and tremendous prospects at safety. If I were crafting a dream offseason scenario for the Seahawks, it might include: extending Red Bryant's contract, adding a veteran pass-rusher in free agency, hitting on another linebacker in the draft (as the case was with K.J. Wright) and getting Walter Thurmond healthy again. This assumes the first-round pick needs to be set aside for QB. If that is not the case, seek pass-rush help in the draft as well.
B (Glendale, AZ)
Cards question. First off, Happy Holidays to you and your family, Sando. Do you think Whiz will come to grips with the fact that Levi Brown hasn't performed like the left tackle they were hoping for him to be? Do the Cardinals draft a new LT or snatch up the best available FA LT? Thanks again for all your hard work with the blog.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
The Cardinals have not drafted offensive linemen early in recent seasons. In my opinion, they need to change their ways on that front. That does not mean they will change their ways, but I think they almost have no choice. I'd expect them to draft a tackle in the first three rounds. The line has been pretty good in the running game. Daryn Colledge was a strong addition at left guard. They have stood by Levi Brown because they've needed him and hoped he would develop further. I would expect them to explore the veteran market for a potential replacement.
Tell me what is the key to beating Seattle in Seattle as that's a tough place to play and the Niners have a shorter week than everyone else.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Strike for some big plays down the field in the passing game. It'll be tough to run against the Seahawks no matter the venue. The 49ers should be able to keep the Seattle offense in check. This figures to be a close game, relatively low scoring. The 49ers have shown they can win those games. Their offensive line needs to stay disciplined. Cannot let the crowd noise lead to false starts and unfavorable down/distances.
Is it just me or does it not seem the Ben Obomano has been underrated by the Hawks for years? Everytime he gets a chance to be in the line-up he makes plays.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Yeah, he might be the guy you're always trying to replace, but does not get replaced for a long time. I'm not sure he can consistently produce while playing a prominent role. He has more drops (three) than touchdowns (two) this season.
Where do the Cards go from here with Kolb? Betcha they're regretting that one.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
They needed to make a move at the position. Acquiring Kevin Kolb cost them money. They gave up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who arguably did not fit in their new scheme. They gave up a second-round pick that is dropping in value with every Cardinals victory. Kolb has been disappointing, but not a franchise-crippling disaster. I would probably bring him back and hope the things they liked about him come out following a regular offseason.
Dugan (spokane )
Lets say the Lions lose and the Seahawks win this coming weekend...Any chance the Packers play their starters against Detroit in week 17 because they'd rather see Seattle or Arizona in the playoffs then Detroit? Do head coaches ever take such things into account?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Interesting consideration. I doubt the Packers would worry about the Lions to that degree.
How close is the Arizona defense to being elite?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Put an Aldon Smith type on that team and they'd be a lot closer. Still think they need pass-rush help at outside linebacker.
John (St.Johnsville NY)
Where does Larry Grant play once Patrick Willis returns? He seems a great guy to cover a tight end like Finley and Jimmy Graham. I love his coverage skills and he showed some awesome athleticism against the Steelers.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Grant goes right back to the bench, I would think. The 49ers used Willis to cover Brandon Pettigrew earlier this season.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. I'm looking forward to meaningful games Saturday. Need to break away a little early this week. That's me taking a knee right now.
How much will the Chris Johnson saga affect the Seahawks extending Marshawn Lynch?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Couldn't resist this last one. I like the question. The Titans' GM, Mike Reinfeldt, is a Green Bay alum and very close to Ted Thompson. They played together for the Oilers years ago. John Scnheider, the Seahawks' GM, worked for Thompson and Reinfeldt in Green Bay. My sense is that Schneider is more willing to spend a little bit lavishly/aggressively. Also, we have to remember that Pete Carroll has ultimate authority in Seattle, and he wants Lynch back, no doubt. Reinfeldt is one of the most disciplined negotiators anywhere. Will not spend above "X" amount.