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 morning, or afternoon. About to get going here.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What did you think of the Regular NFL Officials Making a Deal?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
This looked like a good compromise deal. My hope is that neither side emerges feeling too empowered. The officials are riding a wave of popular support right now, but that doesn't mean they have a mandate to control games or become bigger personalities. It's best for the game if they just go back to doing their jobs.
Mike, Any chance the Rams O-Line mans up this week or is Bradford going to need a lot of time in the whirl pool?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The Rams need their defense to win this game. They need their cornerbacks to dominate and shut down the Seattle receivers. That is a matchup the Rams can win. I think their offensive line will be in for a long day.
Gowazzu02 (Twilight zone)
How come nobody mentions the PI of Chancellor which negated a third down stop at the 47, on GB's ONLY TD DRIVE of the game? Without that gift GB punts and still hasn't scored a TD.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Lots of people are mentioning it. No one is holding it up as equal to the final play because it was not equal to the final play. The final play was more significant. We could go back to any number of penalties on par with the Chancellor one and ask how the game might have played out differently without the penalty. Take the roughing penalty against the Packers negating the Russell Wilson interception. Is the game different without that call? Of course. Same with the Sidney Rice situation. The last play is different. As I said yesterday, this is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
Mike since you are attending the ARZ game what do you think MIA must do if they are to overcome a very hot Cards team?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Make the Cardinals one-dimensional on offense and force Kevin Kolb into mistakes. The Dolphins are very strong against the run. The Cardinals have struggled to run it. If the Dolphins can take away the run without trying to take away the run, they'll be able to defend the pass better and give themselves a chance. And then on offense, the Dolphins need to play it safe. Just get to the fourth quarter and have it be close.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
I know, I know, it wasn't a catch in Seattle, EVERYBODY knows that, right?Just a simple question about it, then we can let it go. Possession on a catch in the endzone, like the one in question, does it not make a difference if two feet are down? I know Tate only had one hand while the DB had two(in the air), but Tate gets a second hand on the ball(with new video/pictures that show this) and is the first to have TWO feet down, with TWO hands.Just to put us at ease, can you explain the rules in regards to possession while in the air vs. with two feet down, and how this effects simultaneous possession?Can we at least agree to understand why an official standing right there could have made the TD call?Or is the narrative already set with no room for such conversations?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
There is room for this conversation. We're having it on the NFC West blog today. I think there is some question as to what one hand on the ball means before two feet are down when another player might have two hands on the ball. Do not think the rulebook covers exactly what appears to have happened in this game.
Max (Washington, DC)
What are your thoughts on Carpenter returning?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Good for the Seahawks' offensive line long term. James Carpenter at left guard is something the team should be eager to see.
Dbl Nickels (Rocklin, CA)
Do you think we are going to see a very disciplined 49ers team in NY? I think they will come out with something to prove? Sando, which team do you think we will see in NY?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Yeah, I think the Minnesota game should be a wakeup call and we'll see a 49ers team on the details a little more. That could just be convenient narrative, though. One question is whether the base defense is in great hands right now. Isaac Sopoaga banged up, Aldon Smith most comfortable as a rusher only (as opposed to a true outside linebacker), Parys Haralson out of the picture as insurance, etc. The Jets' opponents have played base defense around two-thirds of the time so far. The 49ers played mostly sub until the Minnesota game.
Tony (Ukiah, Ca)
Rex Ryan recently praised Anthony Davis RT of the 49ers as being a premiere right tackle in the NFL. Through the first 3 games that praise seems to be correct. Is Davis a better tackle this year than last? Could he be better than Joe Staley who's played very inconsistently this year?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Well, Joe Staley had some tougher matchups. Clay Matthews comes to mind. I do think Anthony Davis has been pretty good this year, and better than last year. Probably helps to have a better guard next to him.
Steve (Las Vegas)
Mike, I know that LaRod Stephens-Howling has been mentioned as next in line for an extension from the Cardinals, but with the play of Quentin Groves and Kerry Rhodes, do you think they should move to the top of this list?Also, do you feel Groves will supplant Schofield as the starter at some point this week, under the assumption that both stay relatively healthy, but play at their current rate?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
There's no reason to be in a hurry to pay Quentin Groves after three games. That could even be a position to address early in the draft. I don't trust O'Brien Schofield's knee to hold up long term, so you could be on the right track in thinking Groves could take over more of the snaps as the season progresses. Rhodes is an interesting one. I'd wait on him too.
Mike, How big of an impact will it be to the Cardinals already week running game losing Beanie Wells? I am excited to see Powell but he is not the bruising back that Beanie is.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
It seems like no big deal right now because the ground game hasn't gotten going. I think it's a bigger deal over the course of the season unless Ryan Williams really hits stride.
B (Glendale, AZ)
Sando, the Cardinals' Offensive line was ripped as being one of the worst in the league after preseason had wrapped up. They have only allowed 5 sacks in 3 games. Is this attributed to coaching? The quality of their opponents' pass rush? The QBs improving their footwork and mobility? Or is the talent along the line genuinely underrated? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I'd say there's a combination of coaching, improvement by the players, scheming to throw shorter stuff and ask less of the linemen, better decision making from Kevin Kolb in terms of how to move.
You mentioned the Rams corners can win against Seattle receivers, but what about the other way around? Seattle has good corners and Rams receivers haven't been consistent so far this year. Who do you think has the edge offensively?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I see the Seahawks' corners with a huge advantage against the Rams' receivers, particularly given the advantages Seattle's defensive line is going to have. Sam Bradford probably will not be standing back there patting the ball while he waits for guys to come open. Just looks like a rough game for the Rams' offense. I'd say the Seahawks are not offering much offensively right now, by choice, but they are better than the Rams at running back and on the offensive line, while the Rams are ahead at quarterback.
Russell Wilson's productivity has been very limited so far but he has faced 3 relatively strong pass defenses. Do you think the Seahawks will open things up a little more against the Rams (or rely on a dependable Lynch against a relatively weak run defense)?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
The Rams have a strong, opportunistic pass defense as well. I don't think Seattle will take chances against that secondary. The Rams can make an opponent pay for that.
Am I being impatience with the Rams first two second round picks (Quick, Pead) I don't see a lot of them yet?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Well, you would be impatient if you were making long-term judgments about them. You would be reasonable in expecting more from them to this point. That is how I would see it.
Joe C. (Fort Worth)
Hey Mike,Sometimes we see the train coming a mile away, yet we ignore it, and act surprised when it hits us.I am describing the success of the Cardinals' defense. All of the signs were there - a solid run late last season, talent in key positions, and no major losses in the off-season. I get why people didn't expect the Cardinals to be 3-0 (as much of a homer as I am, I didn't see it coming), but shouldn't people have expected this defense to be solid, and the team to be competitive as a result? I know you said people were probably underestimating the team, but nationally people said this had the makings of a 1-15 team. Even with their highly suspect offense, people should have seen that this defense would keep them in games.So why did people ignore the train?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
They also saw the train wreck during the 1-6 start. For me, there was also some question as to the caliber of the offensive opponents during most of the 7-2 finish. Dallas would be an exception. But the Rams were in there twice, the Seahawks were in there. I thought the defense would be good but still wondered about the outside linebackers on an every down basis, week after week (still a concern with Schofield, in my view). I wondered whether it was a bad sign for Quentin Groves to stick around as a rotation player after doing nothing elsewhere. The defense has been flat-out dominant, even against Tom Brady on the road. I expected good to very good, not flat-out dominant.
What exactly is turf toe? Maybe an idea for the blog.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Kent Somers broke it down recently.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando,I thought the Cards vs Hawks game was extremely competetive, do you think the game in Seattle will be similar with the edge given to Seattle with the homefield advantage?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Yeah, just like last season. Arizona won a close one at home. Seattle won a close one at home. The only reason I picked Seattle to win the opener this season was because I really thought the offensive tackle situation in Arizona was going to be a bigger problem. Had that game been in Week 2 or were it played right now, I'd take Arizona at home for sure.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, is it your sense that Pete Carroll is willing to open up the offense a little more after a dismall performance on MNF? I think the playcalling was very conservative and Pete admitted as much later, he said he was concerned with how well the Packers get takeaways and said this kept him from opening it up. What are your feelings on that?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
No, that is not my sense. If he's going to play it that safe against Aaron Rodgers, he'll definitely play it safe against the lower-scoring Rams. He might try to win it 2-0 with a safety!
Dario (Rochester, MN)
Hey Sando. Great job on the blog. I had a question about the niners D. I haven't had time to read through all the questions so far, so if someone asked, just disregard this one. It seems like the only TD's scored so far have been from opposing TE and the Ponder run. Are the niners giving up the middle in hope of trying to cover that easier than outside the numbers, or is there some lack in coverage from the linebackers and safeties?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Real good question. I just ran some numbers from ESPN Stats
AL DAVIS DISCIPLE (OAKLAND)
Is there a QB controversy in AZ?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Not as long as the team wins and Kevin Kolb is reasonably efficient. He has to start under those conditions, in my view.
Tom (S Fran)
Who is your pick for the division? I can't conceivably see anyone but the niners to win it but would love to hear your thoughts.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yeah, the 49ers were and remain my pick for the division. I favored Seattle over Arizona for the second spot heading into the season because I had concerns over the Cardinals' situation at tackle, and I also thought Seattle would be better at quarterback. But I'd say that gap has closed based on what we've seen this season. Should be a great race to the finish. The 49ers need to play well to win the division because Seattle and Arizona have shown they can compete. The Rams are better too.
straight cash hommie (Mossville, USA)
Do you ever see Crabtree becoming a true go to #1 WR? It seems his production this year is related to the addition of Moss and Manningham as threats.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
What is a true go-to No. 1 wide receiver? If it's Calvin Johnson, no, Crabtree will not be that. We should expect Crabtree to improve some and be productive, but not be dominant.
Why has Ricardo Lockette's signing by the 49ers gone completely under the Radar?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
It was a close second to the Monday night finish.
C-dub (U dub)
How short of a leash does Okung have? He has been awful so far this year. Not sure Seattle has a better option but when do you pull the plug?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
I'd say he has this season, for sure, and would have to be really bad not to factor beyond that.
Dave (Las Cruces)
Hey Mike, doing a great job this season as usual. Looking at some of your post regarding playing time i've noticed the reliancy of the 49ers on twelve or thirteen defensive players, although I like their depth on defense do you see a problem coming up later in the season if a few more key defensive players get injured?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Yes, I need to do a playing-time post. The MNF schedule and fallout has just killed the routine of the week. No team really has enough depth defensively to suffer key injuries without consequence. San Francisco would be vulnerable if one of its top defensive players were injured.
Mike will the officials coming back result in any more leeway from coaches going forward? In the times leading up to the strike fans and coaches were critical of even the regular refs but maybe now we appreciate them more?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Temporarily, I would think so. But coaches and fans will act in their own interests ultimately.
Fred (9er Empire!)
Mike, if your pre-season pictures are wrong, will you change your blog handle for the post-season? We have a lot of bets like that around here, for fun... I wonder what you would change your handle to.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Fun stuff. I've noticed that on the blog. I should make a bet along those lines. Could be fun.
Larry (St. Louis)
Hi Sando. I am cautiously optimistic about my Rams matchup with Seattle this weekend. My biggest concerns are with our running game and pass protection against a very good defence. What do you think the weaknesses are on the Seahawks D?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Yeah, a week ago I was thinking the Rams would probably beat the Seahawks in St. Louis. I'm trying not to overreact to what we saw in Week 3 (Seattle defense getting eight first-half sacks, Rams offense struggling at Chicago). The Seattle pass rush probably won't be as good on the road. I'd say cautiously optimistic is a good way to be for this one as a Rams fan. Do think the Seattle defense will make it tough, though. The big key to me is whether Seattle can run at will. If so, then it's tough for the Rams to win.
Sando,I have Romo as my fantasy QB...has SUCKED.. point wise...What are your thoughts about putting Wilson in since Romo is playing the Bear defense.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
No way. Stick with the proven quality player. Russell Wilson could do everything the Seahawks ask him to do and finish with 157 yards and no touchdowns.
Bill Barnwell has been unimpressed by the Cards 10/12 record citing arbitrary endpoints. Maybe it isnt arbitrary, as it marks the adoption of a new defensive scheme? If you look at opponent scoring after week 9, the cards havent allowed over 21 points. Could that be a metric to support the "improved D takes time" narrative?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I read Barnwell's piece and think he's right about close games over time. Those should even out. But think of it this way: If the close-games thing had already evened out, the Cardinals would be 2-1 this season, splitting the first two games. No one is saying they will go 16-0. We're just saying this team isn't necessarily doomed to 6-10 either. I'd expect 8-8 or better at this point. And I do buy the idea that the defense got better after getting more familiar with the scheme.
Is Pete Carroll's ego getting in the way on offense. Sweazy at Rg and Wilson at Qb. I get finding the next great thing but this is pro football. If you are out matched it will show. Neither wows
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Not sure if it is ego, but I think there is a defensive coach's mentality at work, sure. They got wise on Sweezy in a hurry. Too early to say on Wilson. I thought they would give him more to this point, based on their excitement for him heading into the season. That could say more about Carroll as a defensive coach than it says about Wilson's capabilities as a rookie. Remember, Carroll and Matt Hasselbeck needed much of the 2010 season before reaching an understanding that freed up Hasselbeck to play more aggressively. The results were good games against New Orleans and Arizona in successive weeks.
After seeing how good the seahawks and Cardinals' defenses have been, and since the 49ers are also really good, do the Rams have a chance to win a division game this year?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Yeah, I think they've got a good chance to win one, but we could get our answer in the next seven days. Seattle and Arizona are visiting.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. Back to the blog. Looking forward to what is hopefully a productive afternoon.
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