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)
Greetings. Here we go.
Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)
Sando, Seattle's offensive line has appeared to drop off the last couple weeks, any ideas why?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Yeah, I think the opponents have been good blitz teams. There were some issues that required Seattle making adjustments. We saw those adjustments made against the Rams, successfully. Also, JR Sweezy's presence could have been a factor at times. Young player at guard.
Thanks as always, love your work! I have to say that early on in the Playoff game between the Seahawks and Redskins, I felt the awful conditions at Fed Ex Field was going to slow down our very fast and aggressive Def. Bad footing is a good equalizer, not to mention the safety factor, that Mr Goodell keeps ramming down our throats. I feel that for all the Millions/Billions spent on football, that we could avoid the situation that occurred last Sunday. If a Team cannot maintain the field(grass/green painted dirt) for whatever reason the NFL should require installation of field turf. What are your thoughts? Go Hawks
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
On one hand, it's cool that each stadium has its own personality. You know it's going to be a slicker field at Candlestick, a faster track someplace else indoors, etc. But I agree that minimum standards should be maintained in the absence of some weather event.
Mike, do you foresee the 49ers losing any of their coaches/executives to other teams? It appears the Hawks have more coaches getting interviews and consideration....
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
There's some thought Greg Roman could get a head coaching job now.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
It seems like all the attention in the Seahawks vs Falcons matchup is going towards the Falcons pass offense vs the Seattle secondary. What about the Seahawks offense vs the Atlanta defense? is there any reason the Hawks won't be able to drop 40 on the Falcons?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I think Russell Wilson must play better for that to happen, and the Seattle protection schemes must do better against the blitz, particularly on third down. If those things happen, I think the Seahawks can score 30-plus points in this game. They should be able to really run the ball.
Mike - Do you thing Bruce Irvin is up to the task to fill Clemons shoes?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Not against the run. I think it's nice being able to plug in the 15th pick in the draft. Not a nightmare scenario. But against a strong ground team -- think San Francisco more than Atlanta -- I wonder if the dropoff might become a big problem.
Mike, why do you think the Redskins were able to run the ball so well on the Seahawks in the 1st quarter but could not get anything going for the rest of the game? Are there any defensive adjustments you can point to? Or was it more of an effort issue?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I'd say the Seahawks stopped having to worry about Robert Griffin III as a runner. That would probably be the biggest change. And then I think a defense can settle in sometimes, too.
Are you surprised at the lack of interest in Mike Holmgren for ahead coaching position?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
No. The perception is that he's been out of coaching a while and doesn't really want to grind. He said he'd listen if someone were interested but teams probably figure he could take it or leave it. No one wants that type of coach.
In the first meeting against the Packers, the Niners had Willis on the sideline a lot and put and extra corner in his spot to match up with the Packers spread offense. Reason for this was the packers did not play with a RB in the backfield for the majority of the plays. Do you see the Packers doing the same? Will the Niners have an extra corner on the field a lot this game?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I tend to think Patrick Willis will play more in this game. However, the Packers will dictate that to some degree based on how they line up. My guess is they'll have a running back on the field a little bit more. The big question is whether the 49ers can get pressure with four-man rushes.
Chris (Atwater, CA)
The 49er's defense has proven to be a different animal without Justin Smith. A less vicious animal. It is almost certain that "The Cowboy" will play this weekend against GB. My question is, will the presence of Justin Smith alone be enough to turn that 49er defense back into that vicious animal or will Justin need to be close to 100% to make a positive difference?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I'm a little skeptical about Justin Smith's ability to play at a high level for a full game. Would think he might see fewer snaps and make less impact than usual.
Do you think the Hawks will continue to play Trufant as much, or swap in Lane in some of those situations on Sunday?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I thought Jeremy Lane struggled some against the Rams, from what I saw, and I'm thinking coaches will be more comfortable with Marcus Trufant, a veteran, taking more of the snaps.
What are you hearing about KC's new GM? Anything positive on Dorsey
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I've known John Dorsey since the late 90s. He was with Ron Wolf in Green Bay and then was with Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson in Seattle before going back to Green Bay. Great lineage there. Great relationship with Andy Reid. But tough to know how a guy will fare as a top decision maker in personnel. A lot of other guys from the Wolf tree in Green Bay got GM jobs first: Thompson, Holmgren, Reinfeldt, Schneider, McKenzie. That might not reflect poorly on Dorsey but it suggests those other guys were first in line.
OleSagginSeahawk (30 miles west of Seattle)
I more concerned with Longwell taking over Hauschka, then Bruce Irvin taking over for Clemens. Sound about right ?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Yeah, it's huge because Walter Thurmond is out and Seattle needs the big corners out there, for better or worse.
EDTGO (THE IRON THRONE)
Be honest.How Badly do you want to see a NFCW NFCCG? You would be the envy of all the other Bloggers and you would rub it in their faces.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I'd love to see a Seahawks-49ers battle with a Super Bowl berth at stake.
You could plug Tom Brady into Denver's QB position and they would be the #1 seed.....you could not plug any other RB into the Vikings RB position (including my boy Beast Mode) and they would make playoffs.....your MVP article and opinion are seriously flawed
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
You are wrong but that's OK. Still like you. The Vikings had zero chance against the Packers because the drop from Christian Ponder to Joe Webb was what mattered most.
Who do you consider had a better overall performance this season, RGIII or Luck?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I'd probably have to say Russell Wilson.
Dan (Sacramento) [via mobile]
Harbaugh sure is taking a lot of heat, and Niner fans seem to be pretty nervous. Their team looks pretty tough to me. I think the packers are gonna get beat up. What's your perception of SF?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
My perception is a little less defined because there are some new variables on offense (and defense, pending Justin Smith's status). I favor the 49ers against the Packers but am less sure about how San Francisco will fare.
Mike (Friday Harbor)
Remind me of the success of the Falcons this year on 3rd down vs. Seattle's record on 3rd down. I'm scared to see the answer!
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Matt Ryan 91.0 passer rating and 78.6 QBR score on third down with seven touchdown passes, five interceptions and nine sacks. Seattle's defense has allowed 66.5 passer rating and 54.1 QBR score on third down with five touchdown passes and eight picks. However, Seattle's third-down defense on the road looks like this: 95.9 passer rating allowed witih 84.0 QBR score and four touchdown passes with two picks.
Jules Winnefiled (Morehouse)
You sound as if the Falcons don't have much of a chance against Seattle. Can you detail as to how a home team, with an extra week to prepare will lose?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Well, the Falcons have detailed that already. They've done it before. I think Seattle matches up well from this standpoint: the gaps between strengths and weaknesses in key areas favor Seattle. This would be rush offense and probably pass offense against the Falcons' defense, minus whatever edge the Falcons' receivers have against the Seahawks' secondary. Make sense? I think Russell Wilson must have a very good game for the Seahawks to win, though.
Early games for West coast teams going East. Could/Should the league make a rule that they don't schedule them that way? I can only imagine how much an East coast team would hate an 8pm PST game start time.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Yeah, that would be fair, I think. TV and other things matter more to the league.
What would Wilson's stat line look like in a win? Does he need to put up big numbers through the air or just be efficient?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I think his red zone stat line needs to be good. Seattle needs to score touchdowns when it gets close to the end zone.
Lance (Seattle, WA)
Is the 10am PST start time going to be a factor for the Seahawks? What can they do to prepare for this? Perhaps get into Atlanta a day early to adjust to the time difference?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
It's a negative factor, for sure. But this is a young team and the coaching staff thinks you make it a bigger issue if you make it an issue. They're not making it an issue. I like the approach.
John Carbeau (Newtonville)
Sando in a recent article you said that you could not identify a game where you felt that Sam Bradford really had a strong day. Not sure how you can say that about his games against Washington and in San Franciso. Against Washington he brought his team back from behind to win the game and played lights out against SF in their first meeting. What's youe logic behind pretty much saying those games were unimpressive?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
That is not what I said. I said this: "I've felt as though a player drafted as early as Bradford was drafted -- first overall in 2010 -- should occasionally dominate a game. There should be times when the opponent leaves the stadium thinking something along the lines of, 'Hey, when Sam Bradford gets hot like that, there's not much anyone can do about it.' " There has never been that type of day that I can recall. Russell Wilson has already had more really good games in one season than Bradford has had in three. He has a better team around him, but he has made huge plays too. He has taken over games.
Which game will you be attending? Did you get to pick?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
49ers-Packers. I wanted to do both but could not get a suitable redeye because the NFL scheduled the 49ers for a night game and the Seahawks for an early game the next day. Having an early 49ers game and a late Seahawks game would have let me do both. As things stand, I'll be home in time to watch the Seahawks' game with my boys, something I have never done because I'm always at games.
What are the needs for the Seahawks in the draft this coming year? Everyone says WR when I think we have 3 average or above average WRs. What is your thought?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, cornerback, tight end, receiver, guard/tackle. Those would be some positions I would consider.
Do your boys root for the hawks
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
My oldest one does, but he also loves Jerry Rice and has a Rice jersey. Youngest one is a Packers fan because his preschool teacher was from Green Bay and she got him going on the Pack. But he is a contrary type, so when the Seahawks and 49ers played recently, he wore a 49ers shirt to school just to mess with people. He does like the Seahawks but they're probably no better than his second-favorite team. Neither son gets any influencing from me on that front. They are on their own and free to choose who they want to support.
Sando counterpart [via mobile]
Wilson's offence is designed to not over expose him. His passes are all play action based and his big plays come from the option. Losing lynch would devastate his rep!
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Yeah, that would change a lot of things for him. They would run the offense differently. Here is the deal, though: If you remove option plays, play-action, pitches and screens, this is the stat line for Wilson: 18 TD passes, four INTs, 103.2 passer rating and a 72.6 QBR score that ranks sixth in the NFL. He has seven TDs and five picks on play-action. Those are regular-season stats.
When is ESPN going to revist the 2012 NFL draft and declare Seattle the winner?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Perhaps after ripping the team for the reaches it makes in 2013? Haha.
Joe C. (Fort Worth)
Hey Mike,Would you rank the rumored/confirmed Cards coaching candidates based on a) Who you think is most likely to land the job; and b) who you think is the best fit for the job?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'm thinking Mike McCoy could be the favorite, and from what I hear about his ability to work with people, maybe that is the best choice. I really don't know a ton about him, but have heard good things from people who were familiar with him a lot over the years. I think they need to favor an offensive-minded head coach, and if they can keep Horton around for another year, maybe that would be good.
How much longer do you think Frank Gore can continue playing at a high level?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
One or two additional seasons would be my guess. I think next season could be his last with the 49ers. Just my feel.
Great column in SI about how Kaepernick was the right choice, and detailed how he followed up his mistakes with great throws and/or great drives, Did you read it and your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Kevin Seifert emailed to me the link for that piece after we recorded our podcast. It dovetails with what I think and have said: We cannot just assume Alex Smith would have led the 49ers to a championship. Falling short of the Super Bowl doesn't mean the 49ers made the wrong move.
who do you think is the most annoying person on the blog???
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Willow (Oklahoma City)
How often do you pay attention to the comment section?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Depends on how busy I am at the time, but I'd say I'll dive in maybe 50-75 percent of the time.
Hey Mike, I know you're a huge Russell Wilson fan. I, am on the other hand, not. I'm personally an Alex Smith and 49ers fan, but that's another matter. I was wondering if you think Seattle will be able to take down the mighty Falcons? What factors (other than Clemons') injuries would cause an uphill battle for the Seahawks, despite how hot they are right now?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
"Fan" is the wrong word but I think he is a good player. Seattle cannot trust its fourth-quarter pass defense on the road. That has been a big, big problem for this team. Some third-down issues are problematic too. I'd say the Falcons would like their chances late in a close game if Matt Ryan had the ball. I don't trust Seattle's ability to get a pass rush or defend the middle of the field in those situations. It's a big advantage for the Falcons in this game, I think.
What sort of Value could the Cardinals get in return for Beanie Wells? as high as 4th or 5th round pick? or do they just cut him?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I don't think anyone would trade for him, personally.
Is A.J. Jenkins a bust? Why haven't we seen more of him?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Just really dislike and resist the bust label for players who have not played. I'd say its disappointing from a 49ers perspective that Jenkins hasn't factored for the team, especially after Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams suffered season-ending injuries. But we need to see him play more to make judgments. It's way too early to use the B word here. Also, Jenkins was a later pick in the first round. Not like he was 10th overall.
The Bristol QBR is so meaningless. In the past, it has had Tebow as a better QB than Rodgers. You're just trying to support a narrative.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Tim Tebow had a couple incredible Total QBR games. They were not sustainable, in my view. But he did have an incredible game against the Steelers in the playoffs, right?
Given the Rams' offensive line coach's ability to make his players play better, does it make sense to take two, or even one, offensive lineman in the first round? I've seen some mocks going that direction. Could they wait until the second or third round?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
There is no need to emphasize the line in the first round unless you're getting a top-shelf tackle, in my view. I think the Rams would benefit greatly from one of those, so if they can get one in the first round and the value is right, yeah, I'd encourage that. But you are correct about the coaching of the line. I think it's good and allows the team to function without having to have highly talented players across the board. That was the Boudreau approach in Atlanta, too. They made some lesser prospects into starters and won.
i notice you think seattle is going to just run rampant over ATL, what's the headline going to be if seattle gets blown out, like other favorites have vs ATL this year?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I don't think that at all. I predicted a one-score game and could see it going either way.
Right now I would say Amendola, Pettis, Givens and Quick are the only Rams receivers that I would assume are returning next season. Brandon Gibson had an improved season this year, but how much consideration will they give to resigning him? Have they seen enough to know if he would be better than Givens or Quick down the road?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
How much do you pay Danny Amendola following another injury-affected season? I saw good things from Gibson but wonder if he is just good enough to get you beat. Seems like that's one to upgrade. Chris Givens has to play a lot. He's good. Brian Quick must develop this offseason.
Not much Rams love here Sando. Give me some hope, tell me we could get Norv and not totally ruin Bradford's career. That's all I'm asking for
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Yeah, I see Brian Schottenheimer could get an interview with the Jaguars. That would hurt the Rams. I don't know how well they would be set up to bring in another coordinator running the same system.
Stats are for losers.-Justin Smith
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Teams pay for stats. Aldon Smith will be a very rich man thanks to his sack stats. The TD stats quarterbacks put up are hugely important. Justin Smith defies stats. He's one of the few.
Sando, I have a question about the Hawks long range salary management. Thinking about their secondary, if they get market value in a few years, it seems like there is no way a team can invest that much in their secondary. Who do you think the priorities are?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are easily the priorities. I think they can re-sign others too.
You can't leave without answering a question about Chukwurah. Does thig guy look like he will even get into the game? I love it when guys come off the couch and make big plays. With Matt Ryan being the slowest QB left in the NFC, what's the over under he gets a sack?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I'd be surprised if he factored in a meaningful way. Looks like roster insurance.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Considering the Rams OL didn't give up any sacks in their final two games, do you still consider it their biggest weakness?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I consider it an area that needs upgrading. Biggest weakness? I'd just say the top priority or a top priority.
Rob (Windsor, Canada)
If the NFC Championship is an all NFC West matchup, who wins 49ers or Seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I'd probably go with the 49ers at that point. Would have to see how these next games go. I would wonder if Seattle could hold up well against the run minus Chris Clemons but I wouldn't want to overthink it.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. My pleasure as always. See you on the blog.