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!
Buzzmaster (1:36 PM)
Hang on folks, we're checking in on Mike.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Sorry for the delay. We'll stay the full 60.
Pete ( )
Are you in need of medical assistance?Have you fallen and you can't chat up?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Very good, very good. Daryl Washington contract and other things sidetracked me. Easy to do!
ZornToLargent1976 (Albuquerque, NM)
I'm going to the game in Phoenix this weekend. What specific steps do you see the Cardinals taking to make up for their OT's lack of experience and/or talent?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
The Cardinals have quite a few viable tight ends. Beanie Wells has run effectively from 12 personnel. I could see the Cardinals using two tight ends.
Mike (Las Cruces)
Darryl Washington locked up long-term? Why the changes in philosophy with Arizona?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Arizona has done deals early in the recent past, no? Didn't Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett get extensions years ago? I suppose we could say this is another step forward for the organization. But this is not all that new. Ken Whisenhunt was the first Arizona-era head coach to get a second contract, right? That was a while ago. They obviously took care of Larry Fitzgerald.
What do the Niners need to do this week to contain Rodgers and have a chance to win at Lambeau?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Dominate the line of scrimmage with Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. They need to get to Aaron Rodgers. I also think their secondary needs to play aggressively. Make the replacement officials throw their flags. See what they can get away with. Err on the side of being too physical.
I heard Kellen Winslow failed his NE physical (on this blog) and now I hear that he didn't... So, did he or didn't he?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I passed along what CSNNE.com reported. They reported Kellen Winslow failed a physical examination with the Patriots. We'll follow up if there is a conflicting report.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Here is the link to what is on ESPN.com right now: http://tinyurl.com/winslow82
TB 80 (Fishing for Salmon in Yemen)
Where do you see/assume the biggest improvement for the Cardinals from 2011 - 2012?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
With Rob Housler at tight end, I would think. They loved him coming out of college but figured he would need a full offseason to grasp things. Housler has looked good in offseason practices. I'm thinking he should look good this year. One question, though, is whether the Cardinals will need their tight ends to help in protection a disproportionate amount of the time.
If the Niners put 3 wide receivers on the field at once, who will be the third receiver behind Moss and Crabtree? I would think Manningham but he has missed a lot of the pre season
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Mario Manningham would be my choice. That is one of the uncertainties heading into the season. San Francisco has two good tight ends. Vernon Davis will stay on the field almost all of the time. Delanie Walker will get snaps. I see the WR rotation as unsettled. It will settle itself during the regular season based on a range of factors: Randy Moss' abilities, injuries to Ted Ginn Jr. and others, game situations, etc.
Paul (Albany, OR)
So the start of the new year is littered with hope. Problem is the Rams open at Detroit and I fear a complete shellacking. What do the Rams need to do to avoid embarrassment and is there any logical reason to think a win is possible? Thank you.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The Rams need to trust Jeff Fisher on this one. Fisher will presumably have a great plan. You can imagine him circling this game on the schedule for multiple reasons: Rams debut, getting a chance to face former understudy Jim Schwartz, etc. The key, in my mind, is whether Chris Long and Robert Quinn can get consistent pressure on Matthew Stafford. They'll be able to do this if the run game isn't much of a threat. This is a tough matchup. I feel a blowout is certainly possible. But if it happens, I think it'll be related to talent, not planning.
Ryan Foster (So Cal)
Mike, Give me some hope that I wont be reading a "Silver Linings" post about the Rams Lions game on Monday.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I've already started that file. Haha.
A lot of people assume that Alex Smith reached his ceiling last year. Is there any evidence out there that Smith can take another step forward towards being a top QB?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
The New Orleans playoff game could stand as evidence. He made big plays at key times in that game. Smith has a coach's sense for risk management, though. That makes it hard for him to play aggressively in some situations. He might be his own ceiling in this way. I would expect improvement from Smith now that the team has better options at wide receiver and additional time in the offensive system.
Bobby (Port Orchard)
The Hawks chose to go with only 3 TEs. Do you think that they could be shifting in their philosophy away from 2 TE sets? It doesn't seem like a smart thing to only keep only three. If one can't play in a game because of injury and then one gets hurt during a game, there goes half the playbook... Feels all too familiar given the game against Chicago two years ago.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Keeping four tight ends makes sense if you have four tight ends worth keeping. They took a hit at that position when John Carlson got hurt and then left in free agency. I don't think they've really recovered. One thing to watch: whether Zach Miller returns to pre-Seattle production. His receiving numbers should go up, but by how much? Also, given that teams play three wides quite a bit, especially on third down, the second and third tight end aren't always in extreme demand.
AndyStandsUp (Beautiful Northern AZ)
With everyone focusing on the Cards OL, is it possible the lack of OLB pass rush will go unnoticed this season?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Let's see the team sack totals. The Cardinals were among the league leaders in sacks last season without having huge sack production from the OLB spots.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Mike, how many more productive years do you think Steven Jackson has?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thinking this one and next one would be most likely.
Going into the season with 2 QB's, and Portis who didn't look very impressive. How worried should Seahawk fans be if some disaster happens and lose Flynn and Wilson to injuries?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Every team would be in trouble if it lost its top two QBs. Don't worry more than usual.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
How do the Niners plan on incorporating LaMichael James into the offense with Gore and Hunter commanding most of the touches?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
That is a good problem to have. I think Kendall Hunter has stepped up to the point where he needs to get the ball. We could be talking about Hunter and James as the top two guys for 2013. That's where I see James coming into play -- as injury insurance now and a bigger contributor during the post-Gore era, whenever that era comes.
Randy (Northern California)
Will I post the best numbers out of my wide receiving corps, or will I just push Crabs or Mario to the next level?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
Thinking the latter. Not sure Randy Moss gets the consistent play-after-play playing time.
Is Pead the answer for the Rams as backup to Jackson?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
Yeah, probably so. He did not have the greatest preseason. Daryl Richardson was arguably better. I'll be looking to see if Pead gains momentum. Remember, he couldn't join the Rams til late thanks to those pesky college graduation rules.
Brandon J (Utah)
How nervous should I be about the tackle depth for the Niners?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
A little nervous. I'd be much more nervous about the backup tackle situation if the team lost right guard Alex Boone because Boone is the swing tackle. But if Joe Looney emerges as the eventual long-term starter at right guard, Boone could go back to that swing tackle role. There's risk in what the 49ers are doing now, but there's also an advantage to having the five best linemen (in their judgment) on the field. That's the tradeoff.
For the 49ers to win this game, they really need to be physical (liked your previous-chat comment on making the refs throw the flag) and beat the hell out of GB, make them uncomfortable. Any particular weak spots/players on the Packers the 49ers really need to exploit?
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
You should Google a recent column by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel predicting a drop for the Packers this season. He ran through some of the weak spots.
Chris (Peoria, AZ)
Good to see that the Cards learned from the Dansby scenario and locked D Wash up early. They have shown progress (aside from dansby and rolle) in locking up young talent, long term the past few years
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
Yes, they've made progress. In fact, I didn't feel the need to hold up the Daryl Washington deal as evidence of progress. They re-signed coach Ken Whisenhunt, re-signed Larry Fitzgerald, re-signed Adrian Wilson (a few years ago), etc. I don't think every move is a referendum on organizational progress. This move made sense from both sides' perspective.
Who gets more carries on Sunday, Beanie Wells or Ryan Williams? I'm assuming it's Wells, but I think Williams has the higher upside and big play ability. Do you agree with that?
Mike Sando (2:13 PM)
Yeah, I agree with that. Makes sense. I think Williams takes over at some point -- not necessarily Sunday, but perhaps later in the season -- if he is healthy.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Do you think Carpentar would upgrade the line if he came back at G? Seems the fellas there have been doing pretty well and there is something to be said about consistency, especially up front.
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
Pete Carroll is taking a long-range outlook. That's obvious with the decision not to keep Kellen Winslow. I think they would be OK with a few growing pains if those were necessary in getting to a point where James Carpenter and Russell Okung could potentially anchor down that left side for years.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Do you expect the Rams to take some shots downfield with the Lions secondary banged up? Or will they focus on getting the ball out of Bradfords hands as fast as possbile, giving the pounding he took last season?
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
Could see shots off play-action, for sure. But they'll try to establish the ground game. Bank on that.
Kelvin (central jersey)
I think the key to Rams Lions game is the defensive line play of both teams, with the injuries at DT for the Rams, Do you think they will have enough to stop both the running and the passing game consistently? (even when the lions have a beat up backfield)
Mike Sando (2:16 PM)
This is a really tough matchup for the Rams' offensive line based on talent and venue. The whole scene -- Detroit at home in Week 1 -- could be overwhelming for the line. The Rams have to run the ball.
Chris Rae (Fairfield)
More likely Aaron Rodgers throws 3 picks or Alex Smith throws 3 TD's?
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
Alex Smith three TDs. No question. I'm thinking Vernon Davis will have a big season. Could see him having a 2TD game every so often.
Do most teams travel on Thursday or Friday?
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
Most teams travel on Saturday unless they are crossing multiple time zones. Then they often leave Friday. For example, Seattle would leave on Friday for a trip to Miami and Saturday for a trip to San Francisco.
Russell W. (Seattle)
Why are you so short? Does it prevent you from getting good interviews?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
Funny you should mention that. I asked Wilson a question unrelated to height during one of his first minicamp news conferences. He thought I was referring to height and sort of jumped the question. He's aware of the subject, obviously. As for me, hey, I'd be short in an NBA locker room but not so short outside one.
Of all the NFC West teams which teams defense will have the most turnovers this weekend?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
My guess would be Seattle's defense collecting the most. Arizona's defense would be my second choice. The Cardinals have been concerned about their quarterbacks' struggles in protecting the football. Throw in line concerns and Arizona could cough it up a few times.
Mike, as an avid Madden gamer I got to ask, are your kids hooked yet?
Mike Sando (2:23 PM)
Yeah, they love it, but they also like the WWE-type games (which brings back great memories of being a kid who tried to tell his own dad that it was impossible to fake a body slam!).
P. Willis (Northern Cali.)
If I played on the East coast would they say I am the greatest ever?
Mike Sando (2:24 PM)
Put Patrick Willis on the 1985 Bears and yeah, they might be saying that. But they might say it eventually anyway. Willis is that good. Sustained team success would really help him. Ronnie Lott had no trouble getting notoriety while playing for those great 49ers teams.
Kristyn (St Louis)
We heard that a new contract for JL would be done before the season starts, any news?
Mike Sando (2:28 PM)
Have heard nothing lately. The Rams were at one point expected to have Chris Long and James Laurinaitis re-signed at the same time. I was expecting a joint announcement at camp. Not sure where things stand. The next few days provides one last window before the season. I know the coaching staff has said it thinks Laurinaitis is perfect for that defense. Seems like a matter of when, not if.
Chris Rae (Fairfield)
If you could have any 2 MLB in history who would you take? I have Patrick Willis but I'm torn between Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
Ray Lewis. Absolutely fearsome in his prime. He was just scary. Freakishly scary. Put the hurt on people.
Mike Sando (2:30 PM)
Hey, all, you gotta check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USHZZ5bwASU
Mike Sando (2:31 PM)
That's how I'm going to end the chat. Epic.