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. About to get going here.
How does Seattle's performance in the preseason speak to their depth? People say preseason doesn't matter, but from what I've seen, our backups are out-playing others? What are your thoughts on what you've seen so far?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Tarvaris Jackson is a better backup quarterback than most other backup quarterbacks. That has helped the Seahawks on the scoreboard later in games. I do think depth throughout the roster is good, and it shows up. Jackson has also played very well and that has jumped out.
what are your expectations for Jared Cook this year?
Will AZ compete this year in west?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
The Cardinals will be more competitive this year because they are healthier and they are better at quarterback. I think they will win at least a couple of their division games and never suffer another defeat along the lines of 58-0.
Race (San Jose)
Would you say Baldwin a definite lock at #2 receiver for the niners?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Not at all. Let's see how he assimilates. I do think he'll stick on the 53-man roster.
Any word on chris clemons timeline?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Not officially. My feel is that they'll keep him on the 53-man roster so he can return sooner than later. Leaving him on PUP would force him to miss the first six games. I think the Seahawks expect Clemons back earlier than that.
Anthony (Kentucky) [via mobile]
The Niners may not have that one shutdown corner, but I think it is now a very deep position for them. I think there are 4 or 5 quality starting caliber corners that will allow the 49 ers to match up well against spread offenses and keep other WRs guessing on who will be matched up against them. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I don't see the same type of depth and wouldn't even bet on which players will earn roster spots. Chris Culliver's injury hurt that group. I'd rather have the corners elsewhere in the division, and think the 49ers' front seven is the key there.
Nick (Phoenix) [via mobile]
Will the loss of ray Horton/ change be counterproductive for the Cardinals on defense?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
The defensive linemen on the team seem to think the change will benefit them. They thought Ray Horton's system suppressed their individual talents. The results were mostly positive, however, and we will judge the Cardinals' new defensive staff based on the results -- while taking into account mitigating factors. I think Arizona expects the defense to be good because of the talent, not so much the system. Arizona would point to Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby and Patrick Peterson while saying any coordinator should have some success with that group. I tend to think the defense will be pretty good.
I see that Earl Thomas was rated by your colleague as the best player on the Seahawks roster. I think he's a bit over rated as he misses far too many tackles. Is there concern that the Seahawks won't be able to strike a long-term deal with him because he's going to want to be the highest paid safety in the NFL and the Hawks just won't be able to pay that?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Pro Football Focus has cited the missed tackles in downgrading Thomas. I saw Thomas miss one the other night. Seattle values Thomas for the ground that he covers. His ability to cover large areas of the field in a short amount of time enables them to play with those long, physical corners who might not have great speed. Look, tackling is important, but as I said once before, that is not what makes Thomas so important to the Seahawks. And I'm not even sure if he's as bad a tackler as PFF has indicated. I know the Seahawks love him and plan to pay him lots of money.
When the Rams decide to unveil this new offense, do you anticipate them being competitive from the start, or will it take a few weeks to get off the ground.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
We cannot know that because they have so many unproven players. I would think this offense will need to find its way. Players will need time to develop and grow. I do think some of the young players will emerge and help the offense improve. But it's tough to predict for Week 1. This is not the Atlanta Falcons' offense where we know what the WRs are going to do because we've watched them play together for years.
sorry, didn't get a response on the J Cook question! full disclosure i am a fantasy player lurking your chat :)
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Sorry about that. I think Jared Cook is going to be a focal point of the offense. We need to follow the money there. $19 million guaranteed. Cook is not a blocker. He is not really an in-line tight end. He caught 36 of his 42 receptions last season after lining up in the slot. I know the Rams have big plans for him and would expect his production to increase.
Am I crazy to believe that even though Harbaugh has done an excellent job coaching that his overall drafting hasn't compared to the previous regime.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Jim Harbaugh isn't the one drafting players, though. Trent Baalke is the one ultimately responsible for the drafts. The 2011 draft is looking better than the 2012 draft, for sure. That happens. You're not going to hit a home run every year. It's too early to know on the 2013 draft. I do think the A.J. Jenkins situation invites some additional scrutiny and changes just a bit the light in which Baalke's drafts are viewed.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Mike, how often do you think the Cardinals might use Patrick Peterson on offense?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
My guess would be a handful of snaps per game, usually fewer than 10. But that is just a guess. It's hard to know how much they will need him.
4949Centennial (San Jose)
With your new role at ESPN, will you continue with NFC West Chats or will they be expanded to all NFL?Love your chats and I hope you continue them.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Thanks. I don't know what my chat schedule will look like, but it would not be just on the NFC West. My role will be changing. Several people have asked role- and site-related questions here. I want to acknowledge having read those questions. I'm not ignoring them, but in some cases, I'm not really in position to comment on concerns or questions about the overall direction or plans of the site. Just know that I appreciate the interaction and look forward to continuing that in new ways.
Brian, Santa Fe [via mobile]
are you buying the hype on Housler?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Rob Housler did finish the 2012 season with more receptions than any tight end in the NFC West. He wasn't the best one, but he did set a career high for receptions. I would expect Housler to find the end zone a few times this season. Arizona was the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. That will change.
Joe (Edmonds) [via mobile]
I hear a lot about Kearse performing well with the Seahawks. Is this just preseason talk or will he have a real impact on the receiving core this year.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I think Jermaine Kearse will earn a spot on the 53-man roster along with five other receivers, including Stephen Williams, with Percy Harvin going on reserve/PUP and not counting against the 53-man limit. Just seems to me Kearse and Williams have played too well not to stick, and it might be premature to release Chris Harper, a rookie fourth-rounder, even though he seemingly hasn't factored to the same degree. That is just my feel. From there, I am not expecting Kearse to do as much. The fifth and sixth receivers on a team usually don't factor a great deal in the absence of injuries.
Anthony (Kentucky) [via mobile]
I've read that Kilgore has been looking really good this offseason, any chance of the niners, any chance of him starting, I'm sure other teams would be interested in Goodwin via trade (broncos)
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
My feel is that they brought back Jonathan Goodwin because they didn't want to mess with a good thing on the line. Goodwin took a pay cut. The 49ers guaranteed some of his money in return. I'd say the clock is ticking on Goodwin and 2013 will likely be his final season as the 49ers' starting center. Just not convinced they'll make the switch quite yet.
Dan (Az) [via mobile]
Is Palmer a long term plan at QB or will the Cardinals look elsewhere?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
How Carson Palmer plays is going to answer that question. Palmer is the lock to start this season. I'd say he's very likely to start in 2014, and that the team would be looking for another quarterback no later than for the 2015 season -- unless Palmer is revitalized.
looking at rams schedule i expect they will have a WORSE record than last year . who can they realistically beat on that schedule?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
The 7-8-1 bar from last season was set pretty high. It'll be disappointing for the Rams if they do not clear it. I think they could be a 7-9 team pretty easily without affecting their longer-term trajectory. But if the young talent produces quickly and Sam Bradford is good enough to be considered in that top 10 or top 12 range for starting quarterbacks -- the Rams see him as that type of talent -- then the team could improve its record. I do like some of the things going on defensively too.
How much do you think a defensive scheme (and game planning) can help a defense? Can a good coach (and the west has plenty of those) make up for young or slightly inferior talent with a great game plan? Or do you think talent is the end all be all. Thanks
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I'd say talent at certain positions reigns supreme. Quarterback is one of those positions. Pass-rusher is another one. It's tough to fake your way through an NFL season without good players in those capacities. I do think a good system with good coaching can maximize talent. The 49ers have done a very good job of this on offense, I think.
Predictions on each teams record at regular seasons end?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
We'll have those before the season.
Aaron (Des Moines, IA)
Hi Mike! I was curious what your personal thoughts are on the Jenkins/Baldwin trade. I know you had written about it on the blog, but do you personally wish the Niners would have given Jenkins more time or are you more excited that Baldwin is now on the team? Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I'm more interested in seeing what Jon Baldwin can do than watching another preseason game with A.J. Jenkins. However, I did think Jenkins would get more time from the 49ers than they gave him in the end. It's just strange to give up on a guy so quickly. Kentwan Balmer got two full seasons with the 49ers, appearing in 27 games. Jenkins got one season and three regular-season games.
With the injury to Crabtree, and the uncertainty of Manningham returning, Do you think that Williams is going to be the incumbent #2 WR?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Yeah, I'd say it's Kyle Williams' job to lose right now, but if Mario Manningham returns, that changes things.
The previous two seasons, the 49ers were hampered in the playoffs by a lack of depth at receiver. I know WR has been a point of personnel emphasis this offseason and the last, but was it still underemphasized?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
They could not know Michael Crabtree would get hurt after the draft. That was a big blow at a position where the team was already patching with veterans.
Sando did you see Jaws comments on Kaepernick becoming possibly one of the gratest QB's ever?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yes, and I referenced them on the blog this morning. Jaworski loves a big arm. Kaepernick has one of those. Kaepernick also has a lot of other qualities to like, and he's playing for a good coaching staff, too. Now we have to see whether the young weapons develop around Kaepernick. A.J. Jenkins is gone. What is LaMichael James going to give the team? Vance McDonald? Maybe Marcus Lattimore in a year?
Rob (Augusta, GA)
thoughts on why Seattle seems to be stockpiling DL? There is no way they can keep them all.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
They've been a little short-handed at the position and need to get through the remainder of the preseason.
Matt (Simi Valley CA)
Who do you see winning the number 2 RB position for the Seahawks? Turbin or Michael? both have seemed good and both have been a little banged up.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Robert Turbin would be my choice because I think his experience in the system could prevail. Check back later, though. Christine Michael is just getting started.
Anthony (Kentucky) [via mobile]
What's the weakest position group of each team in the division?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Good question. "Weakest" is a relative term here. Some of these teams are strong. I have a hard time finding a really weak one on the Seahawks. There is concern about depth at tight end amid questions about Zach Miller's overall health. I think the offensive line is in better shape, to the point that John Moffitt was going to be the 10th guy. Receiver is a potential weakness for the 49ers. I'm not sure about the Rams' safeties. Outside linebacker is one area where Arizona doesn't appear all that strong, but I'm not sure what impact that is going to have now that John Abraham is there to help the pass rush.
How has Antoine Winfield been doing. Some talk that he might not make the roster.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I think they like what Antoine Winfield offers, but there is a logjam at the position and Winfield is probably just a one-year guy. Let's see if a trade comes into play (involving one of the younger guys, most likely).
Which key starters do you see leaving the NFC West via free agency in the coming years?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Richard Sherman comes to mind right away. I don't think they will pay what it will take to keep him. Rather, they'll pay Earl Thomas. Just my guess.
How do you think the Seahawks are going to play it with so many guys coming up foir a big pay day in a few years (Earl, Sherm, and Russell specifically). Is it realistic to expect them to keep all of them?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
They will pay Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas. They will have to make a decision with Sidney Rice. They will have a harder time paying Richard Sherman.
pesci bay area [via mobile]
Why do Seattle fans love to be labled paper champs before the start of the season?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Guessing mostly because it aggravates fans of other teams.
Has Seattle's and San Francisco's injuries changed your outlook? Atlanta, Green Bay, and New Orlean's stock seems to be rising while the NFC West seems to be declining.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I seem to habitually anoint the Packers as my Super Bowl pick each year because of Aaron Rodgers. However, I think the 49ers and Seahawks have had better rosters overall, and both have gained ground at quarterback, allowing them to compete at a championship level. There are too many variables to predict game outcomes and, in turn, the Super Bowl winner. I do think the 49ers and Seahawks are well-positioned to challenge, however. I'd rather have their rosters than the Saints' roster.
Which team in the west do you think has the biggest range in possible win totals? I'm a rams fan and the pessimist in me could see them going 6 and 10 while the optimist could see them going 10-6. Any thoughts on the rams or other west teams?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I do think the Rams are a volatile team because of the unknowns. I could also see them having a wide range. They look like the most volatile team in the division, the hardest to peg. There's a lot of newness in Arizona as well.
Derek (Marquette, MI)
You can't possibly think the Seahawks have a "strong" receiving corp...can you?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I think the quarterback, Russell Wilson, makes those guys better. Really like Golden Tate. Sidney Rice is good when healthy, and he did play all the games last season. Doug Baldwin is healthy, which makes a big difference. I just think this group is pretty good, and there are enough young guys with some upside for Seattle to feel good there.
What needs to happen for my rams to make a run to the playoffs? Who needs to outplay expectations?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
It would really help if injuries or other factors knocked down the Seahawks and 49ers a notch. I think that is really the key.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure, as always. See you around.