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 (1:01 PM)
Good to be here. Let's get rolling.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Auto-update enabled. Here we go.
Sando with the lions only having Megatron as a weapon and no ability to run the ball against could we see a single game sack record for one of the Smith boys?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Loving this matchup from the 49ers' perspective. They'll give up some passing yards but they will also exact a high price from the Lions because they will not have to play them honestly. The venue is also favoring the 49ers' defense. Alex Smith and the 49ers' offense are also much further along than they were a year ago. I just see this as the type of game where San Francisco should grab the Lions around the throats and just squeeze a little tighter each quarter. Of course, unexpected things can happen. I just think the 49ers are strong enough to control this game.
Bo (Lexington, KY)
Do you think Russell Wilson will be able to do anything against the Cowboys' defense?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Really not sure what to expect from him. My hunch is that Seattle will figure out some things offensively and clarify its plan for Wilson, but the offense will still be a grind. Marshawn Lynch ran it well against the Cowboys last season. That needs to happen again. This is a very pivotal early game for the Seahawks, one they need to win.
B (Glendale, AZ)
Besides a miracle, what will it take for the Cardinals to upset New England at Foxboro this Sunday? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I remember the Cardinals running out to a big lead at Baltimore last season before their defense had some problems. Let's see, also, if Patrick Peterson can get something going in the return game. Mostly, I think the Cardinals' defense needs to do what it has done for the past 10 games or so: give Arizona a chance to win. Big test.
Were you surprised SEA lost?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
No. I said before the game that Arizona would be the choice to win in Arizona for most of the reasons, the exception being concerns on the offensive line. Those concerns were big enough for me to pick Seattle in our predictions, but they turned out to be less than pivotal -- barely. Arizona is 5-1 against Seattle in Arizona over the past six meetings.
Curt Sampson (Virginia Beach, VA)
Sando, what week do the 49ers lose their first game?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
No idea. I just think they'll win most of them through the first half of the season, maybe losing one along the way. Could be at Arizona. Could be to the Giants, on the road against the Jets or wherever. Hard to say. Harder to win 'em all. Things go wrong sometimes.
CWK (Scottsdale, AZ)
If Kolb plays above-average the next few weeks (not elite, just better than the average QB) what are the odds Whisenhut stays with him when Skelton gets healthy.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
The window won't be that wide. Skelton will be back sooner than several weeks from now. I think Kolb can remain the starter by playing well. I see the window as one or two games.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Not sure why auto-update does not seem to work for all. Here's a screen shot showing it's enabled from my end: http://tinyurl.com/autoupdateon
Do you think Alex smith is a top 10 QB now? He has done every thing the team has asked of him. Us fans have bashed him for 6 years and it would seem he has turned the corner. Very nice season last year and starting out strong this season. I would have to say he is.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
It's easy to say Top 10 QB without listing the other QBs. Sort of like saying Cris Carter should have gone into the HOF last year without saying which of the five actual enshrinees should not have gotten in. I think Alex Smith is perfect for the 49ers right now. He is a top five quarterback for them. Put him in Green Bay and the Packers wouldn't be as good. Put Rodgers in San Francisco and the 49ers would be better in the future but maybe not right now. Good fit in SF.
Do you think that the o-line is stil a issue for the Rams ?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Yeah, it's a huge issue while Scott Wells, Rodger Saffold and Rokevious Watkins miss time. Wayne Hunter is the starting left tackle this week. Barry Richardson is the starting right tackle. Robert Turner is the starting center. Quinn Ojinnaka, cut before the season, looks like the probable starting left guard. That is not how the Rams drew it up.
How committed are the Seahawks to Russell Wilson? If they lose and he doesn't improve much, is there a legit QB controversy?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Not if Matt Flynn's elbow remains an issue. If Flynn is healthy enough to be a viable option, sure, they would turn to him if they thought Wilson were really hitting a wall. I just don't think that's in their thinking right now. They liked Wilson too much going into the season to turn away from him lightly. All they really need is for him to look like the guy this season. Not necessarily right now, but this season.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
The Seahawk secondary got burned late in the game against the Cardinals. Tony Romo has been known the sling the ball around a bit with Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Was last week a fluke or a sign of what's to come?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Think Seattle is good in the secondary. Having Kevin Kolb come in and shift to a no-huddle worked for the Cardinals.
Mike, Frank seemed to run pretty well after contact on Sunday any chance there is still enough air in the tires to be the top NFC West runner for this season?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Sounds like a potential blog post coming your way later today. Frank Gore gained 38 yards after contact in the season opener, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He looked good and went under the radar as a 100-yard rusher. He gashed Detroit a couple times last season as well. I would expect him to get nicked up along the way, affecting his production. But he'll still be a favorite for most rushing yards by an NFC West back.
With how well the no huddle worked for NFL offenses last week, particularly AZ ans BAL, do you think we see other teams shift to a no huddle offense? If I remember correctly Peyton Manning is a master of the no huddle.
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Yeah, I think we'll see more of it in the future. Trent Dilfer had some interesting comments on the subject during a media conference call Monday.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
For some reason I'm unable to paste those comments.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Dilfer said: "You get two things: You get defined looks. The defense can -- they have to let you read their mail to a certain degree. They just can't do a whole lot of manipulation from a disguise standpoint, but they're stuck and they don't know when the ball is going to be snapped. And the other thing it does is just reduces the pass rush."
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Dilfer said the main inhibitor for the no-huddle is the offensive coordinators who resist turning over control of the offense to a QB.
No offense to Smith (who seems to be getting better), but how terrifying would these 49ers be had they signed Manning?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Yeah, and you know that 49ers coaching staff would have found a way to make that work on short notice, probably. I just like the feel of the team right now. It's just fitting that Smith is the one enjoying the success.
Drew (San Francisco)
I am seeing rookie Bruce Irvin get close to the quarterback and apply pressure, but not get sacks. What are you seeing both positive and negative Bruce so far.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Young pass-rushers sometimes need to develop that second move, that fallback move for when the offensive tackle wins the initial battle. Irvin has the speed. He's going to get sacks, particularly at home. But he's in the early stages of developing his repertoire.
FlipperEllard89 (My Office)
Was the Rams loss this weekend encouraging or discouraging? Encouraged that they almost won or discouraged that they once again found a way to lose and were unable to get the big play in the final drive?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
The price of near victory was discouraging. Too many injuries along the offensive line. I liked the way the defense came out aggressively and made plays. Liked the way Sam Bradford got something going in the fourth quarter. Just thought there were negative long-term implications.
FlipperEllard89 (My Office)
Do you recall any other team that has been hit by injuries as badly as the Rams have the last year? For week one they lost 3 DTs and now in week two they lose 3 OL.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Nope. Last season was nearly without precedent over the past two decades. Football Outsiders did a study showing one other team, Buffalo (not sure which year), suffering injuries on the scale of the ones St. Louis suffered in 2011. They said it was the equivalent of losing seven starters during training camp. Now, they lose Michael Brockers and Scott Wells for multiple games. Those were two of their three most significant offseason additions, with Cortland Finnegan as the other. Pretty tough to improve when those things happen.
Ryan (So Cal)
The Rams were effective in shutting down the field outside the numbers but were atrocious when Matt Stafford threw in the middle of the field attacking the safeties. Craig Dahl has always been "some guy" out there playing and it looks like Mikell is way overpaid......any chance Jeff, his glorious mustache, and the rest of the defensive over-mind get this fixed before RG3 makes us regret the trade?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Good observation. Matthew Stafford completed 20 of 25 passes for 286 yards, no touchdowns and no picks when throwing between the yard-line numbers. He completed 12 of 22 passes for 69 yards with one touchdown and three picks when throwing outside the numbers. Looks like we've got ourselves another blog entry to work on. That does indicate issues with the safeties but it could show a preoccupation with Calvin Johnson too.
Kate (Paris, France)
How'd the Cards OL do last week?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Not very well. The pass protection was better than anticipated early in the game. Seattle's run defense dominated. The Seahawks' pass rush got more effective later in the game. I'd say Bobby Massie met or exceeded expectations at right tackle. Seems like most of the others struggled.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Was it just my imagination or did Seattle's play calling against the Cardinals lack...imagination? Not only did they fail to utilize Russel Wilson's unique set of talents, but it was predictable, running on 1st and 2nd down, passing on 3rd. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
The run-pass mix varied on first down. Seattle ran on nine of its first 12 second-down plays. I thought they could have tried more quick-hitting throws on slants and also worked the middle of the field more. Wilson had problems completing passes on the perimeter. The pressure Arizona got up the middle was a factor, though. It affected Wilson and surely affected the play calling. As for passing on third down, that is what teams do. Seattle did run the ball on a called QB keeper on a third-and-6 play. Why not trust Wilson's passing in that situation?
Do you see Kendall Hunter seeing more touches as the season progresses?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Yeah, I would think so, particularly if Frank Gore gets nicked up again, which tends to happen. The picture might get a little cloudy if Brandon Jacobs enters the picture, though. Just not sure I would bank on the carries for Hunter.
Robmee13 (Santa Rosa, Ca)
Michael Crabtree's performance on Sunday vs the Packers gives hope that this is the year he truly breaks out as a legitimate NFL receiver. Is this a snap judgement because of a "weak" packers secondary, the addition of other threatening WRs in Moss & Manningham, or is this the real deal with Crabtree able to fully perform in the preseason with Alex Smith for the first time in his career?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Michael Crabtree started to break out last season. I don't think Jim Harbaugh would be citing Crabtree's great hands so publicly if he didn't think the corner had been turned. Alex Smith and Crabtree connected deep in the clutch at Seattle late last season. I just think the 49ers don't rely too heavily on their wide receivers, but of their current wideouts, Crabtree is going to get the most playing time and the most chances.
John (New York)
The Seahawks passing game never seemed to find a rhythm against Arizona, and obviously seemed to lack a true red zone target, like maybe a pass catching tight end. What's the news on Evan Moore and when he'll become a bigger part of the offense?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Moore cannot get less involved. There's only one way to go. I would think they'll work him in there some just to see what he adds.
BMajor (Miami, Az)
Can Daryl Washington make it to the Pro Bowl this year.?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
He can play at a Pro Bowl level and still not go. He would have to beat out Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Brian Urlacher, etc.
Penner (Everett, WA)
With the Seahawks wide receiver woes, any chance they bring back T.O.? I can't help but think he would have helped in the red zone aginst AZ
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
They are welcoming back Golden Tate this week and I'm thinking they'll see how it goes a while longer before considering such a move.
Robmee13 (Santa Rosa, Ca)
Patrick Willis was off the field for a majority of the snaps in Green Bay, last year against Detroit he was the main man in shutting down TE Brandon Pettigrew. Does Bowman take this role this week as he is potentially seen as better in coverage (as evident in last week's game) to free up Willis for action in the middle?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Willis was on the field most of the time. 22 snaps on first down, 13 on second down, 12 on third down. Looks like he was off the field about one-third of the time on first down and more than that on second down. Played most of the third-down snaps. That was unusual for him. I'd think he'll be back on the field for his usual snaps against Detroit. It's a different week and a different plan.
BMajor (Miami, Az)
Are you surprised the Cardinals D has picked up from where it left off last year...? How much more improvement do you think they can make during season..?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Let's check back after the New England game.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Piggybacking on John's question it seemed to me that Russell's passes were a bit off target most of the game, close enough for the receiver's to get their fingertips on but not good enough. Do you think his accuracy will get better as he gets used to playing regular season NFL games?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Yeah, he was more accurate during preseason. I think being comfortable back there, not being under so much pressure, will be the determining factor. He's facing real game plans for the first time in the NFL. Seems to me Seattle needs to have the play-action and bootleg threats off the Marshawn Lynch threat.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. See you on the blog.