Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider 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 (1:00 PM)
Greetings. About to get going here. Welcome.
4949centennial (san jose)
I am not worried about the 49ers or Kaepernick even after the Seattle game. Am I delusional?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
This marks two bad games for Colin Kaepernick in Seattle. From a 49ers perspective, I think they were hoping that Week 16 game last season was a fluke. Not that the Seahawks were undeserving winners, but the 49ers were coming off that cross-country trip to New England and a draining game against the Patriots. They were banged up, having just lost Justin Smith. And Kaepernick had never experienced CenturyLink Field. This performance was really disappointing for the 49ers in that context. I don't think it changes the long-term outlook for Kaepernick, but there are now question marks about how the 49ers match up against the one team they really need to beat in the division. I think the next game between the teams becomes really important for Kaepernick.
Bigger player need for team coming off of injury, Crabtree or Harvin?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
The 49ers need Michael Crabtree much more than the Seahawks need Percy Harvin. That said, I'd rather have a healthy Harvin than a healthy Crabtree, based on their skills. It's a little scary to think the Seahawks have won their first two games by a 41-10 combined score without their offense playing consistently well. Adding Harvin could really be a luxury. I think Crabtree is needed badly against teams with good secondaries. Seattle is an extreme example. The 49ers will not face another secondary such as that one.
Hey Mike, I get the Browns trade from the sense of going nowhere with a premium RB, but from a value perspective, I still can't wrap my head around the 2012 # 3 overall for a 20-30 draft slot in 2014?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yes, that is difficult to reconcile. It's even worse if you consider what the Browns gave up to get that third overall pick. I guess the important thing to consider is that the Browns' new leadership didn't pick Richardson third overall. He was not the third overall pick to them. Hew as a running back averaging 3.5 yards per carry last season for a team that has big needs elsewhere, including possibly at quarterback. This move would be unfathomable based upon what we thought of Trent Richardson on draft day. The Browns obviously aren't thinking about him that way.
Ed (Queens Village)
Would Colts have been better off signing RB Free Agent off street then trading for Richardson?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I think a real case can be made that the Colts aren't getting great value simply because other teams have found productive running backs without investing in them heavily. How good is Richardson? That is the question we need to have answered. He was a top-five pick and nobody said he was overvalued then, to my knowledge. If he is that type of player -- Pro Bowl caliber for years to come -- then I think you can justify giving up a first-rounder in 2014.
When you look at the read option QB's, most have relatively low salaries. Do you think if teams had more $$ invested in the QB they wouldn't run the read option.
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
That is an interesting consideration. I think it depends 100 percent on how much punishment the quarterbacks are taking. Russell Wilson has not taken much, at least until Ahmad Brooks blasted him after the handoff. If teams can deliver those types of hits consistently, I think we'll see fewer read-option plays. I also think the teams you're referencing -- 49ers, Redskins, Seahawks, Panthers, etc -- value their quarterbacks a great deal more than the salaries would indicate. Those are franchise players in the teams' eyes. Their value isn't dependent upon salary.
Can the blame focus on Tomlin or are the Rooneys more culpable? I don't think Tomlin wanted Haley and I doubt whether he has any impact on the draft.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
It's difficult to blame the head coach for personnel moves he influenced but did not ultimately control. Most coaches would like to see their teams add good players however they can get those players, including in free agency. The Steelers have a long history of winning without going that route very heavily. It's amazing the team has won so consistently for so long, but also probably inevitable that they would suffer some down times eventually. This is a transition period. They've added to their trophy case and now must try to get back to that level.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
Regarding players faking injuries, why doesn't the NFL looking at increasing the time "injured" players must remain off the field? Either set a time frame or keep them out the rest of the current series. I mean, if they are "injured," you should allow enough time to properly evaluate the "injury" and allow the players some rest to recover?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
There's a fine line here, though. Do you want legitimately injured players to have one more reason to hide their injuries, including head injuries? Thinking not.
Regarding the Legal hit that Brooks took on Wilson during the handoff on a read option play, will we start seeing Qbs throw their hands in the air after the handoff to avoid the big hit and signal that they are no longer involved in the play?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I think Robert Griffin III did that some last season. It could be a consideration for Russell Wilson as well. That was a big hit.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
Sando, I fully believe the suspension of Daryl Washington cost the Cardinals the first game in St Louis: with an 11-point lead, the Cardinals were unable to mount any sort of pass rush against Bradford and it allowed the Rams to come back and win the game. How much do you think his return in Week 5 will upgrade the pass rush? Without him, the Cardinals defense appears markedly worse than last year.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
That's a really good question. Washington has been a bit of a forgotten man. Let's see how the new staff plans to use him. He really was a good inside rusher in Ray Horton's scheme. Last season, the cardinals held opponents below 50 percent completions with 23 sacks when Arizona rushed five or more defenders. This season, opponents are completing around 70 percent with no sacks on these plays. Maybe Washington woould be the difference.
After 2 weeks, the O line for Seattle still looks disjointed and inconsistent. Do you see this as a normal problem for teams that run zone blocking (less reps in practice with new CBA and they don't practice cut blocks on their own D line), or is there a lack of talent on that line?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I don't think the talent is all that great outside Russell Okung and Max Unger. The zone scheme should help overcome that. It could take some time during the season to get going. Also, the Seahawks have played two very good front sevens (Carolina and San Francisco). That is a factor as well. Seattle still ran the ball effectively when it needed to, particularly against the 49ers.
If "washed up" FA RB's can come off the street and get carries before existing 2nd / 3rd stringers; I'm assuming they're better players. Why then weren't they on rosters instead of the backups they're supplanting? Do the Brandon Jacobs and McGahees not want to be in a backup situation or are teams unwilling to spend the extra $ for them for a backup?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Teams stay away from older backs because they consider them to be higher injury risks. Veterans on rosters in Week 1 get their salaries guaranteed for the full season, in general. That is another consideration.
Do you think the Niners should make a move for a WR? It's obvious our WRs can't get open vs. Seattle and if Manningham & Crabtree don't come back 100% we're in serious trouble. I think Kenny Britt can be had for a mid round pick.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I would think the 49ers would try to get by til those receivers return. Seattle is an extremely good coverage defense. Let's see what happens against the Colts this week.
Mike, if Trent Richardson is a 28 year old with a big contract who is on the decline I would trade him. But he's still very young and you paid most of his salary anyway. Aren't rebuilding teams supposed to get as much young talent as possible? Looking at Marshawn's impact as a Seahawks fan I feel teams are trying to outsmart themselves with positional value.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
It really depends upon whether Richardson is an outstanding talent. He's been compared to Adrian Peterson, but Peterson put up huge numbers as a rookie. Richardson averaged 3.5 per carry. The situations were not the same, but the Browns must have felt as though Richardson was not really an elite talent. Also, the Browns might know they need a quarterback, and they might think having an additional first-rounder in 2014 could help them have the flexibility to pursue one. I can see multiple sides on this one and have gone into greater depth for a piece that just published here: http://tinyurl.com/RichardsonTrade
The biggest takeaway for me in the SEA-SF game was that Seattle didnt have Browner, Clemons, Jordan Hill, or Irvin on DEF, with Avril just now getting back on the field. On offense they played without Harvin. Yikes!
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I had the same thought specifically regarding the Seahawks' defensive front playing well without Bruce Irvin or Chris Clemons. The home crowd had something to do with that, but still, through two games, the Seahawks are dealing with those absences very well. It speaks to the strength of their back seven as well.
Massimo (St Louis)
I am shocked by the Rams' terrible schemes thus far. Playing soft coverage which does not allow enough time for our D Line to get to QB, and a lousy dink-and-dunk offense that has already resulted in two defensive TDs for the opponent. What is it Fisher sees here that nobody else does??? frustrated rams fan.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
I watched the Rams-Falcons game again last night and was struck by a couple things. The short passes are the reason why Bradford has not been sacked. There are costs associated with sack avoidance here. It's not a case of the protection holding up all day, play after play. Two, Bradford throws the ball too hard on some of these shorter passes. I think that contributed to the pick-six on the pass Daryl Richardson could not handle. Another time, Bradford threw one off Lance Kendricks' facemask from close range. Those are QB-enabled drops. Three, there is no power running threat on this team. The backs get thrown backward as if bouncing off a trampoline. And then they've had a couple key drops, too. Tavon Austin dropped one. We are seeing a young offense finding its way. Think it's going to take some time. On the positive side, they are 1-1 and have put up some decent passing numbers.
The return of Rob Housler will push AZ's offense into the top 5 in the NFL and create a dynamic not seen before in the desert. Agree or disagree?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Not seen since the Leonard Pope era, you mean? I like Rob Housler's talent but need to see it in games before anointing.
RE: Acually Jim Brown didn't think he was a top 5 pick, said he was nothing special and everyone thought he was being a biter old man....was he possibly right?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Sure, he could have been right.
Massimo (St Louis)
I know I'm being quick to judge, but Tavon Austin does not look elusive, or have good hands thus far. Starting to look like we should have sat tight, held onto our picks and grabbed Hopkins or Patterson at 16?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I've had the same premature thoughts. Austin has not stood out to me as stunningly fast or dynamic. However, it's only two games. Let's give him some time.
Paul (Albany, OR)
So how is this for an off the wall thought. What if the Redskins year ends up super awful? They have struggled thus far and looked poor. What if the Rams end up holding a top 5 pick that is above the Browns pick? Could the Rams pull off another mega deal for a draft pick with the Browns like they did the 'Skins but this time with one of the picks involved in the first trade? How would history look at that trade then?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Love the thought, but do not think the Redskins will finish worse than the Browns finish. You raise a great point anyway, though. The Rams could have a top-10 pick if the Redskins do not snap out of their early problems.
What have you heard regarding Glenn Dorsey, do you see him making a big impact now that he will be getting more PT. What are the coaches saying about him?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I would like to know why Glenn Dorsey wasn't a bigger part of the defensive plan from the start of the season. He looked pretty good once he got in there. I'd be cautiously optimistic if I were you.
Leonard Pope couldn't forge a career when he had Kurt Warner throwing to him. Housler has never had a decent QB, yet he did lead NFC West TE's in receptions last season. Although his numbers at 1st glance were not impressive, they should be graded on a curve basis the terrible foursome of QB's last year.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I was kidding about Leonard Pope.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team do you think has the Best Defense?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
That team is the Seahawks right now. Ten points allowed in two games. Career-low passing yardage numbers for Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Jacksonville visiting this week. Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons and Brandon Browner set to return at various points. Cliff Avril in the mix now. That is a pretty phenomenal defense.
Matthew L (DC)
Where do you see the 49ers at the ends of the season? In terms of ranking within the NFL, NFC West position, record, and playoff situation?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I'm not changing my season outlook at this point. I had them as a wild-card team that would win at least one playoff game. I nearly picked them to win the division based on their easier road schedule, but I just felt like they were not 100 percent right going into the season, and I wasn't really sure why. Mostly it was because they had a little more roster turnover in key spots. The team composition had changed without Alex Smith, Delanie Walker, Dashon Goldson and those guys, and then with Michael Crabtree hurt.
Michael [via mobile]
In what league are 28 yr old running backs worth a first round pick?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Not this one. Trent Richardson is 23, though, not 28.
If the road to the Superbowl goes through Seattle, will we see the first forfeited games in NFL history :)
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
You sure get the feeling no team would come in there and beat this current Seattle team. Home-field advantage is great, but you have to be good enough to make it relevant. In a close game against evenly matched teams, that noise factor can really play a role. Especially for a team with such a strong defense.
Looking at the past 2 seasons espically with the way Kaepernick ran all over that defense in last year's postseason. Are the Niners going to keep having success against the Pack each time? To me that's really not a team the Niners want to see again in the playoffs, espically if the game is in Lambeau because if it's there Green Bay WILL win.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
It seems like the 49ers' offensive coaches have the Packers' number a little bit. Aaron Rodgers did have success throwing the ball, however. I would generally not pick against the Packers at Lambeau but do think the 49ers have the type of team that could win there, or anywhere.
Michael [via mobile]
I have seen every single play he has been on the field for. I am ecstatic they got a first round pick for him
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I have not seen every play but am interested in seeing what he looks like with the Colts. You have to figure the Browns knew Richardson pretty well. They have to know what they are giving up.
At the risk of sounding like sour grapes (because really, the Niners had their butts handed to them), do the Seattle DBs get away with more given the level of their physicality? In other words, do they just call the egregious stuff.Also, as a professionally impartial observer, how funny do you find the sometimes ridiculous level of vitriol and emotion between fan bases?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I don't find the vitriol funny. I was a die-hard fan in another life and know how it goes. My roommate at one time was a Broncos fan. I was a Raiders fan. We would taunt each other so badly based on game outcomes. There was a while there in the late 80s and into the early 90s (maybe more early 90s, I cannot recall) when the Raiders had the Broncos' number. It was so much fun to mock my friend's team. So I get it. I've been divested in that aspect of the NFL experience since 1998 and really do just enjoy the game without the investment. As for the Seattle DBs, yeah, they push it sometimes. You can't call a penalty every play. I also think those guys are really good.
In an extreme hypothetical, lets say the NFL just had one big division of all 32 teams, with 12 making the playoffs after 17 weeks. How many of those 12 do you think would be from the "NFC"? I think 10 of 12, with only NE and DEN making it from the "AFC".
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I also think it would be NFC dominated. Are you sure about the Patriots? They are 2-0 and have a plus-five margin in scoring differential against rookie quarterbacks. We'll see how many games they win overall. I haven't been impressed to this point, but with Tampa Bay coming to town, the record probably goes to 3-0.
Michael [via mobile]
What are your expectations for the Bengals this year? What is their biggest question mark?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
High expectations. The question mark is really just playing to their potential, beginning at the QB position. Andy Dalton has been better this year, including better against the blitz. I really, really wanted to pick them to win the AFC North because I thought they had the best roster. Now, if I could do over again, I would pick them. But I just penciled in Baltimore by default because I didn't fully trust the Bengals. I trust them a little more now but we need to see more.
Is the real winner in the Browns/Indy trade Richardson? Who would you rather line up next to, Weeden or Luck?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Good point. Defensive coaches prepare for opposing QBs first, not opposing RBs. As great as Adrian Peterson is, Christian Ponder has more to do with game outcomes for the Vikings.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
Are the Steelers done? I contend that Maurkice Pouncey was the second most critical piece to their offense, and although they found what I think is a serviceable replacement, losing your best player on your worst position group (offensive line) could spell doom for the Steelers this year. Big Ben could be in the infirmary by the middle of the season. I see them at best around .500 and out of the playoffs. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I'm with you completely and think the Larry Foote injury was somewhat significant too.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. My pleasure as always.