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 (1:03 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Any truth the rumor that the Cardinals team plane was intercepted on the way back to Phoenix this weekend?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
No truth to that. I heard the Seahawks returned it to Arizona for a touchdown.
Michael (Las Vegas)
Seattle has become very well rounded as a team. What do you see as the biggest draft need for the Seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Defensive line, outside linebacker, nickel cornerback, wide receiver, tight end. Those would be some areas to look, I think.
The Niners were conservative with the air attack against the dolphins. I know they are a run first team and will never air it out like the Pats, but do you see them trying to throw more and take more shots down field this week?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
The 49ers made a downfield perimeter throw on their first play, as I recall. They tried a flea-flicker and nearly hit a 47-yard touchdown. My sense is that there's a lot of overreaction and micro-analysis going on at the expense of seeing the big picture. Four games doesn't tell us everything we know about how the 49ers are going to look with Colin Kaepernick for the long term. It just does not. The team is pulling off a late-season transition. Opponents are adjusting. The 49ers are adjusting -- and winning, I might add. Now, the urgency goes up if San Francisco loses to New England and Seattle. But I'm willing to give it a little time.
The Buzzed One (The SFV)
Sando, I need your fantasy experteez(sp). Should i play LMJ in FF. Im desperate for a RB and all the good ones are gone.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Yeah, if you are desperate, sure.
Matt (FL) [via mobile]
What non-injury stat/performance/issue would it take to get Alex back in the line-up? Do I think Kaep is playing poorly? No, but I think you are hard pressed to say he is outperforming Alex individually or, particularly, collectively for the entire offense. I think this is affecting player morale and offensive synergism more than anyone will publicly let on during the season. If it stays its course I have a feeling the offseason will offer quite a few unpleasant sound bites.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Player morale and offensive synergism? I don't know about that. Players want to win and produce. I don't see the reason for panic right now. Let's watch the next couple games.
Al (Kansas City)
Should or would Steven Jackson or Larry Fitzgerald leave their teams to try and win a Championship?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Larry Fitzgerald isn't going anywhere. Nor should he try to force anything. Steven Jackson's situation is more fluid. He can opt out of his deal. I am not sure whether the Rams will want him back at a $7 million cost.
Sando - call it, buddy. Who wins the West? I am getting very uneasy.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Think I still lean toward the 49ers, but I hear you that it's getting interesting. Who will have the best QB when the 49ers visit the Seahawks? I think that is a fascinating one.
Mcshay has posted his first mock draft. He has the Rams taking OT in the first, with Fisher's History, do you se that happening?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I would probably play the field on that one because the odds are against any one team taking a specific position such as tackle. The Cardinals needed one last year and didn't see the value where they were picking in the first round. Fisher's teams in Tennessee did not draft offensive linemen that early. The Rams do have options, however, with the extra picks. I could see them taking a tackle.
Do you think the Rams Defense can contain AP?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Probably not. I see Peterson doing to the Rams what he does to just about everyone. But that isn't the key to the game necessarily. I see the Rams winning by getting after Christian Ponder.
Randy (Tampa, FL)
Hey Mike. Love the blog. I was wondering if knowing what we know now about RG3, do you think the Rams would be better off now and in the future if they would have kept the 2nd pick and drafted RG3, then tried to trade Sam Bradford for some future draft picks instead of the making the deal they did with the Redskins?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Thanks. I get what you are saying but think that would have been too problematic for a lot of reasons beyond what each player offers on the field. The team can win with Sam Bradford, I think, but the supporting cast will have to improve.
Matt (St. Louis)
With AP coming to St. Louis this weekend, the Rams will obviously need to limit him to have any chance at a victory. Do you think that subbing Robert Quinn out in non-passing situations would be useful? It seems like Sims is better against the run.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I think the whole key is messing with Christian Ponder. Check out these Vikings splits I put into an Excel file. That is part of the MVP discussion Kevin Seifert and I had this week. Peterson is great, but the key to beating the Vikings is making Ponder have a bad game.
Pete Carroll (Seattle, WA)
Do you feel that we were running up the score against the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I do not believe that was the intention. I do believe it's bad form to throw deep on fourth-and-23 when up by 51 points, but I don't think Carroll was trying to be a jerk about anything. Attempting onside kicks or running fake punts or going for two-point conversions would qualify as running it up.
NFL players are very prideful. Given that they were just beaten by a division foe 58-0, do you think the Cardinals, whoever is still on the team, will be extra motivated against the Seahawks next year? Or will they just quit on the field again?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I would think certain players might be additionally motivated. But if there's a new coach, new quarterback, new feel on the team, not so sure. I think that stuff is overrated most of the time.
Mike love the blog. In your opinion if Kolb had been able to stay healthy and the way the defense was playing do you think that the Cardinals could have been a playoff team?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Thanks. My thinking was that Arizona probably would have been the No. 3 team in the division had the season gone to plan, but that plan included more than the QB situation being better from a health standpoint. It also included having both running backs available and contributing. I don't think a healthy Kolb would have been able to overcome all the injuries. This team was probably going to miss the playoffs anyway.
Supes (Everett, WA)
Whats the latest on Richard Sherman? Word is that his appeal hearing is being delayed again?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Experience has told me to err on the side of caution on these testing-related subjects. It's tough to confirm information. In many cases, we wouldn't even know anything was up with Sherman at this point in the process.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
Thoughts on LaMichael James' performance last weekend and expectations for the rest of the season?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Encouraging. I'm interested in seeing how much he can handle. The team faces Arizona in Week 17. Could be a good chance to really let him run while preserving Frank Gore.
Mike given the nature of Shermans counter argument that he "accidently" drank adderal infused water, do you think he has any chance of escaping scott free? Its not like we can control accidents.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I saw that report. Players are responsible for what is in their systems, period. Everyone has a story.
Liliya (Seattle, WA)
What do you think the Seahawks greatest challenge will be when facing the Bills on Sunday?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Getting a pass-rush consistently, particularly if the team does not blitz much. That has been a concern on the road. Jay Cutler had all day.
Are the hawks in trouble this weekend if Rice and Thurmond can't go?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
"Trouble" might be too strong a word. I think getting a pass rush is top variable.
Ravieus (El Paso)
Sando, so on the whole playoff expansion you are the only one that would like the idea. Why do you think your fellow BLOGGERS choose NO?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I think "no" is the natural first response. I'm not campaigning to expand the playoff field but if the NFL did expand it, I think the results would be more fun, not less fun.
Obviously SF has a great D line, they also have a so so secondary. Can they stop Brady & Co? If not, can Kaepernick put up enough points to make it a game?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
My expectation is for the Patriots to function pretty well in the passing game. The 49ers need to hit, hit, hit. Punish. Get the ball out. Make the receivers pay. Get some shots on Brady. This needs to be one of those games where the more physical team wins through cumulative effects.
It's seems the old philosophy of not losing your job when injured is not the case anymore, with Alex Smith, Leroy Hill, maybe Browner.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
It often was not the case in the past unless the old guy was the better guy. Usually there is a reason the starter was the starter, and that reason still exists when the starter returns to health. The 49ers did not replace Alex Smith with Josh Johnson. They replaced him with a guy they drafted to be the future of the position.
Matt (St. Louis)
Do you think the Rams need to address the WR position this offseason? I think with Givens and Quick/ Gibson on the outside, and Amendola and Pettis on the inside, that we don't need to upgrade. Give us your thoughts
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
That position shouldn't be a huge priority if all goes to plan. Some depends upon what they feel about Brian Quick's ability to become relevant next season.
Jeffery Fisher (St. Louis)
Has Sam Bradford shown enough this season to make you believe he is turning the corner?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Turning, yes. Turned, not yet. The jury isn't all the way back. That is a little concerning. My take is that the team can build around Bradford and win with him, but that he's not making a huge difference on his own. He's not elevating the team. I felt like he was doing more of that early in the season. I wonder how much of his play is related to the coaching plan regarding game management.
Do u think the cardinals will fire ken wisenhunt in the offseason? keep in mind he has taken this organization to heights it never saw before?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
The 58-0 defeat in Seattle shifts the scales against Whisenhunt returning, in my view. But I don't think it is a slam dunk.
Chex Norris (San Diego)
Do you see the 49ers Aldon Smith breaking Strahan's (fake) sack record against the Cardinals? Sooner/later? not at all?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Think he gets the record, yes. Maybe one sack against the Patrits, one against the Seahawks and then 1.5 against the Cardinals. How is that?
It seems like everytime the Patriots are going into a "showdown" type of game with lots of hype, they wind up blowing out the opponent by halftime. Can this game with the 49'ers get out of hand quick the the game vs. the Texans?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
That would surprise me. The 49ers have won in the playoffs, beaten big-name teams on the road, etc. Do not think the lights will be too bright for them.
Chris Rae (Fairfield,CA)
How is Strahan's record "fake"?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Just because Brett Favre facilitated it by taking a dive for him, allegedly.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Historically the Seahawks have picked up receivers as free agents or via trade. Even in the Pete Carroll era they went out and got Sidney Rice. They did pick up Golden Tate via the draft. With the potential trades and free agents out there and the current draft class coming where do the Seahawks get their next receiver from?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Looks to me like improved quarterback play is getting more from Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. I'd keep open my eyes for a receiver in the draft. Seems like they cannot bank on Doug Baldwin being healthy. They need to upgrade the position so that it's tougher for Ben Obomanu to keep hanging around. But I don't see the need to make it offseason priority No. 1.
For the niners with all their depth and all the draft picks they have in the upcoming draft would it make sense to package those picks to trade up and get 1 really good player to contribute rather then keep the picks and draft guys who may not even make the roster b/c of their depth
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I think the 49ers need better depth on defense. They are getting a disproportionate number of snaps from a smaller number of players.
Are you surprised that Moss is still with SF, and seemingly coexisting with the team despite the much lesser role?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
A little bit. Winning has helped, but he also seems quite mature. A year away probably helped him gain perspective.
Is Breno Giacomini out as the Hawks' right tackle after this year?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Not necessarily. Suppose it depends on what they see in the draft. I don't see that position as a huge priority for them.
How impressed have you been recently with Chris Culliver? I feel like he isn't getting the attention he deserves and think he has developed into a top 10 corner.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Impressed enough to list him in the "rising" section of NFC West Stock Watch this week.
Mike - Is there any team in the NFL that you would favor to win playing in Seattle right now?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
San Francisco, until the Seahawks beat the 49ers there. Seattle still has to prove it can win that one, and it's a big one.
Tigre (South Of The Border)
If you were pickin' teams on the sandlot, which NFC West player would you take with the #1 pick.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I would automatically go with a QB given the importance of the position and the way you phrased the question: picking teams on a sandlot. It just might be Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks pass rush is good -- not great. Do you envision them moving up in the draft to take a Barkevious Mingo or or Bjoern Werner in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I think it has to be a continuing priority. Jason Jones could be a convenient re-signing but I can't say that move has overhwelmed me.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
If James Carpenter is healthy are he and Okung the best left side of an OL in the NFL?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Not at all. Not even sure James Carpenter can be a starter. The 49ers' left side looks better to me.
Blazn (Monterey, CA workin)
u seriously want to expand the post season? why? and don't give me that more football, more late-season drama.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Do you see anyway the Rams offense can reach any level of consistency for the remainder of the year and start putting some teams away, or does the D keep having to keep them in games until late? I have to say I am very impressed with Bradford. It seems he gets a lot of hate, but the kid throws probably the best, most catchable, deep balls I have ever seen, can make any throw anywhere on the field, and finally seems to be getting a little better pocket awareness/ability to slide to keep plays alive way more so then in the past.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Having Danny Amendola healthy could really facilitate more consistency for the offense. That has not been something Bradford could rely upon regularly. Playing in Seattle to close the season isn't a great way to foster offensive consistency, either. But it's a great opportunity for the Rams and I think they'll be right in it.
Have you ever been able to recall a team with as many rookies contributing in one season as the Rams this year? It blows me away that these young kids fresh out of College, that aren't supposed to be up to speed with the NFL even physically really in the first year not only are starting, but have been significant winning factors and the majority of the Rams victories. Kind of squashes the proverbial 'Rookie Wall' excuse, doesn't it?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
The Rams held five picks in the first three rounds. Injuries were a big factor in their demise last season. They are healthier now. They have a talented quarterback, established running back and some building blocks on the defensive line. I think the situation was set up for rookies to get playing time and impress.
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the latest NFC West chat. See you in the expanded playoffs. Wait, that's next year. Right?