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!
Vitaly (Heritage Path)
In your opinion, will Mark Sanchez ever be a full time starter again in the league?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
"Ever" is a long time, but I do not see a team going into a season planning for Mark Sanchez to be the starter all year. I could see him becoming a starter again through unforeseen circumstances, or by winning a competition by default against a rookie who was not ready.
Do you think either the NYG or Redskins are 0-4 after this weekend? Both?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Yeah, I think one of them probably will be 0-4, and I could see it being the Giants. They've lost their last six road games and are now going to play against a team that doesn't beat itself, or at least has not under Andy Reid and with Alex Smith at quarterback. Seems to me the Chiefs should like their matchups against the Giants' offensive line.
Steve C. (MA)
It's easy to overlook, but through 3 weeks Sam Bradford is quietly having a pretty solid start to his 4th season. He has actually been maybe the most consistent player on the team, as his play has been steady and it would seem he has even been victimized by his WRs dropping alot of passes. We can point to alot of the Rams struggles the first 3 weeks, but in my view Bradford should not be one of them.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I would not put Sam Bradford among the leading reasons for the Rams' 1-2 start, but at a certain point, it's not OK to be scoreless in every first quarter. It's not OK to have two INTs returned for touchdowns on short passes that could have been delivered more expertly. I think the Rams need to be a good home team this season. They are 1-0 at home and Sam Bradford was pretty good in that home game. Let's see if that continues tonight.
With the 49ers recievers having trouble seperating and getting open, do you see maybe a Kenny Britt being able to help this group?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I do think a player such as Kenny Britt could help the 49ers, but I question whether the team will make a short-term move when receivers such as Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham could be returning in the second half of the season. Vernon Davis' health is a key variable. A more significant injury to him could push the 49ers in such a direction.
Steve C. (MA)
I know the Seahawks are now the favorite to win the NFC, but I contend that their offensive line is an even bigger liability than it's ever been with the Okung injury. In week 1 they barely beat a Carolina team that has an at best average pass rush, crushed the 49ers who have no pass rush, then crushed the Jags who are a borderline CFL team. I know their pass defense is elite, but their rushing defense hasn't really been tested either and frankly the Panthers probably win week 1 if D. Williams doesn't fumble. You give me a team that has a strong rushing attack combined with a strong pass rush, and you have a team that will handle the Seahawks in or out of Seattle.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
The Panthers have a very good front seven and a formidable pass-rush, so I would not discount that in the evaluation. But I also agree that the offensive line is a concern for Seattle and it could be a huge concern at Houston. Seattle has downplayed concerns about its line and talked up its depth at that position. We might get to see how right they are about that depth. Going without Okung and now possibly without the other starting tackle, Breno Giacomini, would be rough in the short term. I do think they need Okung back, especially if they have to play on the road in the playoffs.
Scuba Steve (MA)
Is Tavon Austin the real deal? Whats his ceiling.... would you say a comp. player would be Randall Cobb?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
A penalty wiped out a long return for Austin last week. Still, I haven't been "wowed" by him at this point even though he had a couple touchdown receptions against the Falcons. The talent he showed in college was real. I think we just need to give it some time. Expecting a breakout game from him before the midpoint of the season. Seems like the talent is there for that. Making Cobb-type comparisons would be based on what we saw from Austin in college. We could make that projection on draft day. Cannot say I've gotten that feeling through the first three games, but it's early.
Is there a particular reason the 49ers have gone away from the run first mentality this season? Establishing the run and increasing time of possession might give our defense a chance to keep us in the game in the 2nd half.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
The Packers forced the 49ers away from the running game in Week 1, and SF responded with a huge day passing. The 49ers played a great defense in Week 2 and also fell behind as the game went along. It's tough to judge the game plan there. The Week 3 game was a little different and the first one where I think you really could question their commitment to the run. I know for sure that Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman value the run game. They'll lean on it as game situations allow.
Jeff (NY, NY)
What are your impressions of the young Jets D? Could they be in a similar position to where the Dolphins were at the end of last year or is that overly ambitious?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
That defense impresses me. The Jets lead the league in completion percentage allowed (51.5) since Week 4 last season, which basically is the start of the post-Revis era. They lead the league in completion percentage allowed this season (47.3) and are third in Total QBR allowed. Rex Ryan and staff are obviously good coaches. I'd say your optimism is warranted.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Does the Seahawks D shut down the Broncos offense? I tend to think so...better team right now?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Shut it down? That's a little ambitious. Factor in the Seahawks' OL issues right now and I think venue would be decisive. I don't think Seattle would go to Denver right now and win two out of three games, in other words. But they might win one. I don't think Denver would win once in three games at Seattle. Just my feel early.
How long before the national media recognize that Tannehill in on the same level as the other young QB's in this league. Everyone always talks about Luck, RG 3, Cam and Kaepernick and act like he isn't in their class.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
NFL people really like Ryan Tannehill and think he'll be in that class longer term. I think Tannehill will need better stats for the general public to recognize it. Also, Tannehill needs to show better feel in the pocket to avoid some of the sacks and fumbles he has suffered.
Bradford has had plenty of time to show is stuff, if the Bucs were willing to let go of Freeman, then Bradford should also be on a short leash. His cap hit does not justify his garbage time stats.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Bradford is 23rd and Freeman is 24th in Total QBR since the start of last season. It is 49.0 for Bradford and 48.3 for Freeman. Bradford has completed a higher percentage of his passes over that time (60.1 to 53.5) and I would also say that Bradford is trending in a better direction right now. Freeman was really in decline recently. Cannot say the same for Bradford. Also, the Bucs have a third-round QB they were waiting to play. The Rams are committed to Bradford this season and need to remain that way. They can reevaluate after the season if warranted.
G2 (Youngstown, Ohio)
Do you expect the Rams to go with the common formula (under routes on short drop) to combat Niners front 7 strength in pass rush? How can SF bounce back defensively and correct obvious secondary issues?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The Rams need to find something a little farther down the field. Teams are sitting on those short passes and crushing the Rams' receivers on those. Danny Amendola played one game against the 49ers last season and dominated. Chris Givens had success in the other game against the 49ers. If I'm the Rams, I'd like to see Jared Cook reemerge as a downfield threat in this game.
Robc (Long Island)
Mike, more expertly? He hit Richardson in the hands and he basically set the ball fir the Defense. The other pass was tipped at the line. Bradford has been fine and if his team can figure out how to stop 1st quarter penalties that kill drives. They might score.
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
The pick-six against the Cardinals was on a bootleg where the QB generally needs to avoid the free defender with his throw. Bradford did not do that. The ball was tipped and the worst-case scenario ensued for the Rams. On the other one, Bradford threw a rocket to a running back with a defender fast approaching. Again, a worst-case result ensued, and we cannot hold Bradford fully accountable for that. Again, I don't think Bradford is the Rams' problem. I also don't think he's been great, either.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
If you look at the numbers, Tannehill has been excellent against blitzes this year and last year. Do you think that gives them a chance to expose Rob Ryans blitzing style of defense?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
We have Tannehill as 14th in Total QBR (60.2) against five-plus pass-rushers this season. The problem is that he has taken seven sacks. He ranks 30th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks this season in sack rate (12.5 percent) against five or more rushers. That is up from 6.8 percent last season. Maybe that is one area to watch against the rush.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
How about Josh Gordon? The guy seems to have top 5 WR talent..would you be open to viewing him that way? Think he gets traded? 49ers or Lions would be ideal matches...
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Pro Bowl talent is how I would say it. Top five is great until you start ranking players. I think the Browns would take a good pick for him but I don't know that someone will be willing to give up a ton for a player who is a suspension risk. The 49ers in particularly are already without Aldon Smith. Do they need another guy with a history of some issues, after striking out at WR? Not sure how aggressive they would be there.
As a Browns fan, how confident should I be that Josh Gordon will NOT be traded? I heard the rumors prior to Sunday's game, but Chudzinski reiterated in his press conference that they weren't looking to make that type of move. Still, I feel like the coach almost has to answer the question like that. Do you think our front office will be wise enough to hang onto this guy, since he's clearly a game changer?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I think they are open to trading him but I'm not convinced they'll get a great offer. I spoke with a personnel guy the other day who thought maybe they could get a third upgradeable to a second but that was just an off-the-top-of-his-head comment, not something he put together after a full evaluation.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Lazy to say that defenses are figuring out Kaepernick, right? I mean, if Vance McDonald and Kyle Williams are your weapons, it's not going to end well...
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Defenses are better prepared for Colin Kaepernick this season. The 49ers are much less equipped offensively without Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker and (recently) Vernon Davis. Sure, Kaepernick has some growing to do, but we must take into account the diminished weaponry. It would affect any quarterback.
it's weird, but i think the Jags have a shot vs Indy. @ home and maybe MJD can slice up that run D a bit. a lot of guys picking them in my survivor pool and i think i may go in a different direction, thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I just don't think the Jaguars can score enough points to beat a decent team.
Do the Lions take care of the Bears on Sunday? I think the Lions front four will put enough pressure on Cutler to throw them off sync. Lions 24 Bears 17
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I'll admit that I'm waiting for that first Jay Cutler turnover festival and it has not really happened. At this point, it might not be fair to say "here we go again" when that happens. Every QB has an off game from time to time. I think this will be a barometer game for the Lions. It's a tough one for me to pick but I probably lean toward Detroit at home, a well.
Pete (Right Here)
CK still doesn't seem to be going through his progressions. By his second read, his feet are moving. Can the Rams take advantage?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
It's as though he knows that second guy isn't going to be open. I watched Kurt Warner say he thought Kaepernick was starting to move his feet too quickly, before secondary receivers came open. Warner would have a good feel for that, obviously. My sense was that Kaepernick did not have people open. That was true, I think, but maybe he does need to wait a little longer. I don't think the 49ers are a great pass-protecting team, however, particularly on the interior. They will be playing against a very quick, active front in St. Louis on Thursday night -- a front that gave the 49ers' line some problems last season. I'm not sure Kaepernick is going to feel any more comfortable in this one.
Michael [via mobile]
Brandon Weeden is getting buried in Cleveland for his play. His weapons? Little, Bess, and Benjamin... Josh Gordon got more separation last Sunday than those guys combined for two games.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Also, Brian Hoyer was not great in the game against Minnesota. He was better than expected, but that style of play is not going to be sustainable for him. It almost was not sustainable in that game against the Vikings, either.
Pete (Right Here)
Enough of this Tannehill/Bradford mularkey...tell us how great Russell Wilson is!!!
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I don't think Wilson has played all that great this season, actually. He has not played his best. A home game against Jacksonville is not a great test. I do think Wilson played well in the fourth quarter against Carolina. It's good for the Seahawks that they are 3-0 without Wilson playing lights out. You've gotta figure he'll play better as the season progresses.
Martin (New York, NY)
Both lines are a mess. They haven't emphasized the LB position in years. Shouldn't the Giants start rebuilding? And if they do, do you think this is Coughlin's last year?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I get no sense that Tom Coughlin wants to do anything else. I do think the team has reubuilding to do along the OL in particular. The Giants have the oldest offensive line in the league by average age.
Hi Mike, as a West Coast guy, what is your take on the Raiders so far.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Terrelle Pryor makes them compelling when he's healthy. Without Pryor, I'm much less curious about that team and think the Raiders are a ways away from having good enough personnel to contend.
Hi, Peyton Manning & the Broncos seem unstoppable after a 3-0 start, will Denver go 16-0 (I don't see it happening)
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
No, the Broncos will not go 16-0. I'll be interested in seeing, again, how that offense performs in really cold weather during the playoffs. I've had some skepticism about Peyton Manning's ability to hold up for a full season at this age, but I'm probably wrong on that. There does not appear to be a heightened injury risk at this point.
Who do you like starting more this week; Tony Romo or Colin Kaepernick?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Jason (Greeley, CO)
With the exceptional play of TEs and focus on the passing game, do you see more teams getting rid of FBs and rostering extra TEs like the Cardinals did this year?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
The trend will be toward offenses that do not use fullbacks much, but there are still some coaches who want a two-back look, and as long as those coaches have jobs, we'll see fullbacks. Andy Reid, Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh ... those are some pretty successful coaches who value a traditional running game. I think it's interesting to see the 49ers and Seahawks held up as model teams before the season. Both like to run it in an old-school way personnel wise.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. Enjoy the Thursday night game.