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!
Jonny (Gomes, CA)
I understand it's a passing league. But with Quarterbacks throwing so many interceptions these days is there any chance we see more wishbone/running formations in the near future?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
The interception rate this season is 2.8 percent. It was 2.9 percent through Week 6 last season. We're not going to see the wishbone, of course, but I do think most QBs need support from running games. They at least need the threat of the run. We're seeing QBs such as Eli Manning having some issues in the absence of a running threat.
Michael (Powers, WA)
What would have happened with the Seahawks franchise if Pete Carroll didn't make the coaching decision of Seattles existence by going with Wilson over Flynn?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
The key was probably GM John Schneider pushing so hard to draft Russell Wilson in the first place. Once that decision was made, it was only a matter of time before Wilson became the QB. It's possibly nothing would have been all that different. It's possible Flynn would have been benched after 3-4 games, and Wilson would have taken over and done well. The cream was going to rise to the top once the team drafted Wilson. It was just a matter of when.
Daniel (Lava, FL)
What are the Vikings doing? Wasting 3 million on Josh Freeman. Shouldn't they use that money to beef up their defense for next season?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Paying for Josh Freeman this year does not affect their ability to pursue defensive help in the offseason. The Vikings are desperate for a QB option and they know Christian Ponder isn't the answer. Jobs could be in the line. If Freeman plays really well down the stretch, it's a big boost. If not, well, at least they tried.
Brendan Adams (Greensville, SC)
With so many games being decided by a couple points; are you surprised more teams do not put an emphasis on using a higher draft pick on a kicker?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
No, because the percentages of made field goals are pretty uniform.
Do you think the 49ers should trade or sign a WR even if Manningham and Crabtree are expected to return this year?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Signing one isn't a great option. Acquiring one earlier in the season could have made sense, but at this point, they might as well ride it out -- as long as they think Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree will factor soon. Any WR they acquired at this point would need time to learn the offense. By the time that WR hit stride, he might not be needed so much. And if you're talking about acquiring a WR who does not have a contract for next season, then you've got another set of issues to consider.
Paul (Albany, OR)
I understand that players and agents feel they always deserve raises from one contract to the next, specifically the younger players coming off their rookie deals. However, Sam Bradford will be an interesting case. He definitely has not earned 1-1 money, but that is what he was paid, and it was stupid money due to the prior CBA. What happens with this next contract? He may be better than much that is out there, but he IS NOT good enough to cripple the franchise financially in paying for a quarterback. What say you on this Sando? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Yeah, they have time, though. They do not have to do a deal this coming offseason. Ideally, Bradford plays well enough for the remainder of the season to affirm his status in the team's mind as a player they can win with. Bradford will have run through the guarantees in his deal, so he'll have incentive to get something done. He likes playing for Jeff Fisher, it appears. This shouldn't be too complicated. He'll get good starting money but not top money.
Scuba Steve (The Compound)
which team around .500 do you see making a nice run down the stretch?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I'm curious to see if the Chargers can become that team given how well Philip Rivers is playing. And then I'm not sure what to make of St. Louis -- young team with some talent, but also some question marks.
Mike, the first 3/4 questions were awful. More interceptions and a wisbone? Wrong. Guy asking Vikings question doesnt even realize Freeman is on a one year deal. Another guy asking questions about higher picks on a kicker. Jeez. How about a real question. What's up with Cam Newton? Not really getting any better. Lack of talent/coaching?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I focus more on the answers than the questions, so if there's something I can add, I'll do that. Cam Newton has what weapons again? Steve Smith and Steve Smith and Steve Smith. What do they expect? I have felt as though they haven't done enough to upgrade the receiving weapons for Newton. He has basically had three good games, a bad game and a horrible game. It all adds up to average or less than average. I haven't seen anything making me question what he can become, though. Just would like to see them build around him better. How about getting some young players he can grow with?
Re: Randall CobbIsn't this directly related to the initiative by the NFL to reduce big hits above the waist in an effort to reduce concussions? Defensive backs can't hit high, so they have to hit low. The NFL has decided to trade knee injuries for head injuries.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I didn't think the defender needed to hit Randall Cobb where he hit Cobb. It was unnecessarily low. Aaron Rodgers thought so too. Sure, there will be some plays where guys stray low because they're afraid of fines. But remember when these rules came out in the first place? Guys said the game was too fast for a defender to decide where he was going to deliver the hit. Now they're able to choose especially low hits? I think defenders can make hits and tackles without going right at the knees or heads.
Kelly (Clarksonville, SC)
Is it only a matter of time before the Chiefs crumble?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Crumble is a strong word. I'd say the Chiefs are a good team doing a great job against a pretty favorable schedule. They'll lose some games but still finish with double-digit wins.
What kind of numbers do you think Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman command in their next contracts? Do you think their respective teams can afford to pay it?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Teams can afford to pay the high end of the market. I think the Cardinals will do that with Patrick Peterson. I think the Seahawks might have tougher decisions to make because they'll want to pay Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson more than they'll want to pay Sherman, and I also think Sherman could be the type to really want to maximize his value -- perhaps even in a glitzier market. Most of the top corners are getting $10 million to $11 million per year in the first three years with $20 million or more in guarantees. Peterson will definitely get that money. Sherman could, too, but I'm less sure of it based on his own team's potential priorities.
Steve (Middletown, OH)
Mike, disagree with you about the Panthers. They have a pretty good tight end. A good running game and expect Jonathan Stewart back to enhance it. A good return game with Ted Ginn. A good defense front 7. I think they need to find a way to get Ted Ginn involved more on offense and get him the ball more in open space like the Lions with Reggie Bush. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I love their front seven but was talking about the WR situation after Steve Smith. I've covered Ted Ginn Jr. for years. If you're counting on him to produce as a wide receiver, it says something about where you stand at the position. That's no knock on Ginn. It's just my experience.
Since you covered the NFC West for the past few years, what are your thoughts on Trent Baalke and his drafts? 2011 was great, 2012 was awful, 2013 is looking great, and the way he stockpiles and manipulates draft picks is pretty astounding. 2 second round picks for Alex Smith, who was either going to be traded or cut?!?!
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I love the way the 49ers seem to create value and then get value via trades. Drafting-wise, the jury is out. There have been more misses than I would have anticipated based on early impressions.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
The line between good and bad is drawn behind center. That being said, the established franchise guy on contract 2 or 3 is costing his team valuable depth. Is the pressure to perform early at qb a direct result of this fact?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I think the willingness of teams to play young QBs on cheap contracts comes in part from the fact that these players often are roughly as good or better than the veteran journeyman who typically earned somewhere around $5-11 million a year. Why sign one of those costly vets when you can draft someone, save money, probably get similar results and possibly find your long-term guy? Carson Palmer comes to mind right now.
Steven (Chiariello, HI)
What are your thoughts on Wagners play so far this season for Seattle? Doesn't he remind you of a younger Patrick Willis? He is very fast, has good awareness and can sure tackle.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I think Patrick Willis is in another class in terms of being a violent player. Willis is fearsome. Bobby Wagner is very good and when healthy looks like a Pro Bowl-type player, but Willis, to me, could have Hall of Fame credentials.
If Sam keeps passing the way he has been so far, will this season be made or broken since this was supposedly his make or break year?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
This season is not make or break for Sam Bradford unless he's really bad, which he has not been. Bradford has never been really bad. He had the one injury-riddled year where he was hurt and the team was hurt. He has a 13-3 TD-INT ratio right now. They've needed to get the run game going to help him out. Overall, though, they're a very young team that should grow together with Bradford as the starting QB.
Hey look! Andy Reid is coaching a team with an awesome defense and winning games again. Jim Johnson was the backbone of the Eagles dominance from 2000-2004, not Andy Reid.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Reid seems to have smartly gotten Bob Sutton to run that defense. Reid comes from Green Bay, where he worked under Mike Holmgren when Holmgren relied on Fritz Shurmur to run the defense. When Holmgren came to Seattle, Shurmur died and Holmgren never did really find a replacement. As an offensive coach, Reid knows where he could be most vulnerable. He's done a good job getting another solid defensive coach. Oddly, Jim Johnson might have stayed in Seattle and served as the coordinator under Holmgren, but Holmgren thought he was set at the position because he had Shurmur. Then Shurmur unexpectedly died of cancer within months.
Lorax (The Valley)
There is no bigger Sam Bradford hater in the land than you.....looked pretty good last week, huh?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
I'm the guy who put Sam Bradford among top 10 QBs in our 2016 futures project. Betting most people would not have put him on there based on what they've seen from him so far. I like his future but still need some convincing -- probably a little moreso than the Rams do. They seem to love him.
Beetle Bertrand (Dorchester)
IYO have the Pats young WR's over or under performed thus far?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Underperformed in relation to the typical pro wide receivers, but they've probably met reasonable expectations when you think about what reasonable expectations would be for players of their pedigrees.
Kevin (Joyce, MI)
Last time the Cardinals played Seattle they got destroyed by 50+ points. With the Cardinals at 3-3 now do you see this as a huge statement game for the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I see the Cardinals being much more competitive. I like how their defense matches up against the Seahawks' current offensive line. I'll be interested in seeing whether Marshawn Lynch runs the ball effectively anyway. He has done that lately. The biggest concern for Arizona, in my view, is Carson Palmer and the passing game against that defense.
Justin Bieb-Verlander (Detroit)
At what point do the Skins' call it a lost season and sit down RG3?....guy flat out does not look good.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I thought Griffin looked much, much better physically against the Cowboys.
Do the season ending injuries to Wilfork and Mayo all but end the Pats super bowl chances?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I was having a hard time thinking Super Bowl anyway just given the changes on offense.
Hi Mike, what is missing so far with S-hawks on offense this year. Last season over the last half of the season and playoffs the offense seemed far more cohesive and able to consistently move the chains. Not much change in personnel so is it other teams adjusting to S-hawks now that more film exists on Russ W? or is it coaches are trying to build to a crescendo
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
They did put in some additional stuff that was going to take a little time to process, but I think the OL injury situation is paramount. It's putting too much pressure on Russell Wilson to carry things with his legs in critical situations. It almost feels unsustainable -- like he'll get hurt if this keeps up. I would think we'll see the offense hit stride in the second half of the season, as it did in 2013. They'll probably add Percy Harvin to the mix and go through another transition. The goal should be to get healthy and up to speed by the playoffs. In the meantime, they are 5-1 and in good shape.
Sam (SLC Utah)
What is a realistic ceiling for the Chiefs this year?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Winning a wild-card home playoff game would seem like a reasonable expectation.
you buying or selling Josh Freeman in Minnesota?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I'd rather see Freeman than the other guys they have. I'm interested in seeing what it might mean for Cordarrelle Patterson on the theory that Freeman can hang in the pocket and buy some time for downfield shots. Problem is, Freeman just hasn't played well for a while. But at least he has played well before.
Dikembe (Worcester, MA)
has Romo solidified himself as a top 10 QB in the league with his play this year?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Yeah, I think so. I thought he was top 6-8 over the previous few years. We had him sixth in Total QBR from 2010 through 2012, but all the guys in the top 10 had winning records. Romo was 17-21. To me, that reflects the degree to which Romo has had to carry that team. I think he's a really good player.
Seattle also has Brandon Browner coming up for an extension, no way they keep Thomas, Browner and Sherman, one or maybe two will have to go?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I don't think Brandon Browner is going to get an extension, and if he does, it's not going to be for top dollar. I wonder how prominently he figures into their plans with Walter Thurmond healthy and good young depth elsewhere in the secondary.
I'd like to comment on the whole head vs knees tackling issue. First, I dont see any issue whatsoever with the NFL saying the proper way to tackle is above the knee and below the neck. That should be taught from youth leagues to the NFL. Second, it seems like there is a dynamic where the obvious minority is so loud and so extreme that it gives unwarrented clout. Football is a game of chess with an incredibly physical and often violent aspect to it, but it is not MMA. No real fan is going to stop watching the NFL if they made it illegal to hit the knee as well. Thats the fake-NFL tough guy fan getting too much attention. We watch the NFL to see Randall Cobb play, not to see him get hurt.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I agree, and I know that fake-NFL tough guy fan well. I've been that guy before. It's a tempting mindset to adopt, but players can adjust. Think how much the game has changed. Also, think about what those changes have produced. Would you rather watch a 1945 game or a 2013 game? I'd take the 2013 game.
Derek (San Francisco)
The 49ers contract situations seem to be clearing up with Crabtree being hurt so much and Aldon in trouble. I can't see those guys having leverage to command top dollar money. Does this open room for Iupati to be signed?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
That's a good question and I think there's some sense to that thinking. No way can they pay Aldon Smith big money. I don't think they were going to pay huge money for Michael Crabtree anyway. And I wondered if the differences of opinion that framed his rookie contract negotiation might crop up again, making common ground elusive. The key on Iupati is that he needs to play well. Otherwise there's no need to pay him a ton. They have Alex Boone to consider as well.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Barring a complete collapse and taking a page from the Bengals regarding continuity doesn't it make sense for Rex Ryan to continue being the Jets head coach next season and beyond?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I think it does as long as he gets along well with the new GM and is willing to stay in his lane in terms of his public commentary/persona. I think the key to changing coaches is making sure you upgrade. Ryan is pretty good, I think.
I'm glad that the Rams have finally found someone who falls forward when getting tackled as opposed to getting hit and falling backwards.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - the Jets have a tough 3 week stretch ahead of them with NE, Cin and NO. Are any of these games winnable or will they be 3-6 heading into their bye week?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Sure, they could beat the Patriots at home. I do think 3-6 is pretty likely, though. Then everyone will write them off, forgetting that the schedule looks a little easier later in the season.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. I've gotta run. Enjoy the Thursday night game.