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 1:30 p.m. ET!
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Hello everyone. Excited to be here. Here we go.
Tim (San Francisco)
At what point do the Seahawks consider shutting down Harvin? Could they consider nulling the contract and getting some of the money back, since this looks to be an existing injury?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
What would change if they shut him down? I'm half-kidding there. I say, might as well have him keep working out as long as you have the roster spot for him AND there is a chance he makes a meaningful contribution. Let's say they shut him down now and then an injury knocks out Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate. Then you'd sure like to have Harvin as at least an option.
Justin (Johnson City, TN)
Mike, I can't understand how we are still waiting for Jay Cutler to come back from a high ankle sprain when Peyton Manning didn't miss a single play with the same injury. Could it have been more than a high ankle sprain that Jay suffered?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
There was a groin injury with Jay Cutler also. Every player/injury is different. It's hard to compare them. I'm impressed by Manning's ability to play through stuff, especially at this age. But comparing anyone to Manning on just about any front is going to favor Manning. The guy is incredible and has proven me wrong since the neck surgeries. He just keeps producing.
I know this will sound crazy, but would there be any chance the Niners would try to trade for Larry Fitzgerald? He could team up with Boldin again! I know, I'm dreaming but how awesome would that be??
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Yeah, what a dream. Total fantasy, though. They would not trade Fitz within the division and the 49ers aren't in position from a cap standpoint to add that type of contract and build the team they want to build. I think they just need better luck/skill in drafting for the position.
If the Eagles vs Bears game on Sunday night doesn't actually matter and the week 17 matchup vs the cowboys decides the division, should the eagles play their starters or sit them?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Interesting concept. I'd say the answer is a clear no for a team still in its first season with this playbook and needing reps for the quarterback. These aren't the Lombardi Packers. They're still finding their way.
Dave Stratus (Bismarck, ND)
We all get to hear about the greatness of Russell Wilson, Luck, RG 3 to a diminished extent now, but how about Nick Foles? His stats this year have been more impressive than any of the afore mentioned QBs last year. I like the Eagles as a dark horse team to make some noise in the playoffs this year.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Yeah, it's remarkable. It took a while last season for Russell Wilson to really get the acclaim he had earned. I think that was because expectations for him were lower initially. Foles fits into the same category. If he had been the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 and then went 19 TDs without an INT to start his career, there would have been a lot more hype. It's sort of the way it works.
Patrick (Washington DC)
Mike, last week you said you would investigate why Kap and Wilson?s QBRs could be so similar despite having significantly divergent levels of success this year. Were you able to find anything out?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Colin Kaepernick has lights-out numbers against losing teams. He and Foles are tied for the highest Total QBRs against teams that had losing records. Kaepernick has bad numbers against winning teams. Wilson has been similar against winning and losing teams. But Kaepernick was so strong against the poorer teams that it offset his weaker games and made his full-season QBR look better. We know QBR assumes an average supporting cast and average opponents. ESPN has not built into it the strength of opponent, figuring these things usually even out over time. They usually do. In this case, it's a shorter period of time.
Can Trestman take this Bears offense to elite status next year if Cutler and McCown are resigned?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yeah, with those wide receivers and that running back, I think he could do that. Not sure if that is the direction they go, though.
David K (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Hello Mr. Sando. is there anything special that we should know about the SD/Denver game tonight. More specifically, what Denver's offense will try to do without Welker?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Greetings. Well, we know Peyton Manning was 9-9 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns when using play-action against the Chargers last time. We saw the Bengals really mash the Chargers in the run game recently after Andrew Whitworth moved to guard. The Broncos do not have a mauling run game, but I'd look for them to run it some and use play-action to set up the strikes to their perimeter guys, and possibly to the tight ends.
Do you see the steelers making the playoffs at this point? Does Roethlisberger leaving Pittsburgh seem like a big possibility?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I think they'll miss the playoffs. The odds are really against them now. Only one of the 5-8 teams since 2002 has made the playoffs. Losing to the Ravens and Dolphins recently really hurt. On Roethlisberger, I think the earlier reports were based on something real, because I'd heard those things from people around the league, but it appears as though Roethlisberger has taken the report to heart and stepped up his play. He has looked really good lately. I'd think they'll keep him as their starting QB.
Roches Jon (Capromatic Dreams, OH)
How on earth is Chicago going to go back to Jay overrated Cutler off McCown. Have the Bears personnel not been watching the past few weeks?!
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I think the issue is keeping Cutler in play for the future. If he is healthy and the team commits to McCown now, it might be really tough to keep Cutler. Right now, they need to keep open their options. It also probably reflects the feeling that Josh McCown did not suddenly discover the cure for aging and suddenly become an elite QB.
Jim Kirk (Idaho)
We always get to hear about how the Seahawks are the deepest team in the NFL. As a northwest guy, play devil's advocate and discuss a weakness.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Yeah, I don't think the offensive line is all that great, especially when the injuries come into play. There isn't really a reliable timing element to the passing game, where they just hit a guy on schedule for a chain-mover on a slant, for example. Losing K.J. Wright hurts them at LB and could make them a little vulnerable there. Love the front-seven depth, though, and the overall depth.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Part of me doesn't think Geno Smith is the Jets answer at QB, but the other part doesn't think it's fair to judge him with the WR core he has to throw to? How should the Jets handle the QB position heading into the off-season?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
The money they owed Sanchez tied their hands a little bit coming into this season. They really needed the veteran type who could play when needed, help out in the meeting room and just provide a stabilizing presence. They didn't have that even when Sanchez was healthy. Then, they lost Sanchez. I'd say they need to get another QB in there this offseason while still hoping to groom Smith.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Is it possible Andy Dalton can put together a string of games like Flacco or Eli have done come playoff time and lead CIN to the SB?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Yeah, there is no question in my mind that Andy Dalton could do that. He has played really well for 2-3 games at a time in the past. I realize he'd be playing better opponents in the playoffs, but it's not like the AFC is just packed with defenses like the ones he would face if he had to navigate an NFC featuring the Seahawks, 49ers and Panthers. I think Cincy has a decent shot.
Hi Mike, what is your take on RG3 circus, is the protect RG3 from injury the cover for RG3 needs to sit and learn and Cousins gives them a better chance to win in a Shanahan offense (hard to say that RG3 has progressed any this year as a QB in reading Defenses or making it through passing progressions - so many wide open receivers he never sees) thoughts
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I think this decision is troubling on one front. They already made Griffin bigger by the team when they gave up so much to draft him. Then Griffin has made himself bigger that the team through all his press conferences and just the way he handles himself publicly. Now, Griffin is getting a three-game free pass while his teammates put their sore, broken-down bodies on the line? For who, for what? I do not like it even though I do think it's important for Griffin to be healthy this offseason. There is even more pressure now on Griffin to handle things right in terms of how he projects himself. I'm not sure if he can do that.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - the offensive game plan the Jets used against the Raiders seemed to be Geno Smith friendly - what took so long?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Matt Williamson and I touched on that indirectly in our latest conversation piece that will be posted today. He had some strong thoughts on it.
Derek (Marquette, MI)
Why don't we see more 3 WR sets from the Niners? Seahawks were playing their standard 6-2-3 just daring the Niners to throw. Now with a complement of healthy pass catchers and Vance McDonald acting like he's not ready for primetime...this seems obvious.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
It's a good question. They went with three wide receivers on 13 snaps and gained 19 yards on those snaps, with Kaepernick completing 2 of 7 passes for six yards. They also took two sacks. That could be a reason. The week before, the 49ers ran 18 snaps with three wide receivers. They gained 158 yards on those plays and completed 11-13 passes. Maybe they just didn't think it was working.
Cows or Cheese Sunday?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
I'm going with the Cowboys because ... they're so great in December. No, the reason is because Aaron Rodgers is [probably] not playing and if you look at the point margins from a Packers perspective since Rodgers was not in the starting lineup, they go like this: -7, -14, -14, 0, -30, 1. And they failed to beat some really bad teams, such as the Giants and Vikings. I just think the Cowboys will outscore them.
The NYG gave up a lot for Eli, navigated some rough waters, yet stayed the course for a pair of titles. You sound pessimistic on RG III's ability to do anything close.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I'm not pessimistic. The Giants ultimately won because they were very good on defense, ran the ball well and Eli Manning matured. The Redskins really need Griffin to carry them. I still think Griffin can become a winning QB and someone they could win a championship with. But I also have some questions about him regarding long-term health, how he would fare in a new offense and then leadership wise based on how he handles the role.
Danny Ainge (Boston, MA)
How do you feel about the Patriots chances moving forward from 2013? This year will probably end with another visit to the AFCCG in my view, but with players returning to health in 2014 combined with the experience the rookie WRs are gaining this year, is it safe to say they will be primed to make another run? Thompkins and Dobson have impressed at times this year.
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
The Patriots are 6-1 this season in games decided by three or fewer points. That is probably not sustainable, but it has allowed them to post the same sort of record they might have even with a stronger team. Good for them. I have no question the Patriots will have a better team next season. They subtracted Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and (at times) Rob Gronkowski, and it showed early. They can now use the next offseason to restock a little bit and have a better plan in the absence of highly unexpected events. Will the Patriots' record improve as much as their roster will improve? Maybe not, just because that 6-1 record in the really close games could be tough to replicate. But come playoff time, they could be more formidable one year from now than they will be in the upcoming playoffs.
Doc Rivers (LA)
What are the chances that the Trent Richardson trade ends up a total bust for Indy? Right now, it's looking pretty bleak considering the incumbant Donald Brown has supplanted Richardson as the starter.
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
My feel: They'll improve the situation around Richardson and he'll fare better in a 1-2 punch arrangement, but he won't be worth the first-round pick they gave up unless he improves how he runs with less than ideal blocking.
What are the chances Shanahan finds a way to bolt to Houston and take Kirk Cousins with him? I could personally see a Raiders/Bucs type trade where the Texans maybe trade their first rounder to the Redskins in exchange for those 2.
Mike Sando (2:13 PM)
A report from the Houston Chronicle said Mike Shanahan wasn't in the picture there even if he were to be fired. Time will tell. I think the fit would be a nice one. I'd like that deal for the Redskins since it looks like Mike Shanahan might be leaving anyway. It would depend upon what the Texans thought of Cousins. A real long shot but I appreciate the thinking on it. A fun sort of thing to consider.
Simba (The Pride-lands)
How big of a factor does Mike Iupati play in the 49ers running game?
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
Pro Football Focus has him as tied with Andy Levitre as the 12th-best run-blocking guard in the league and one of 24 with a positive grade in run blocking. I don't think he has been great, but it was nice having the same five guys working in the same spots for an extended period. Continuity is lost, and Adam Snyder hasn't proven to be a good starter over time.
Billy Joel (We didn't start the fire)
Does Peyton Manning really deserve the MVP? Look at that receiving core. It's one of the best receiveing corps in recent memory. Give me a break!
Mike Sando (2:17 PM)
On the other hand, Demaryius Thomas had never caught more than 32 passes in a season before Peyton Manning arrived. Eric Decker had never caught more than 44 in a season. Julius Thomas had never caught more than one pass in a season. They must have really good assistant coaches working with the receivers and tight ends. Or maybe Peyton Manning plays a pretty big role.
OITHIGTB (Seattle, WA)
Is Pete Carroll the favorite for coach of the year?
Mike Sando (2:18 PM)
Maybe after Andy Reid. And let's see how the Eagles finish, too.
Are the playoffs really as far off for the packers as the media is putting out to be? With Rodgers to soon return, do you see a mini comeback for Green Bay in the near future?
Mike Sando (2:20 PM)
But will Aaron Rodgers really return soon. I am skeptical. That injury was serious and I perceive the risks of re-injury to be high in the short term. They gotta protect the franchise QB. This isn't a sprained ankle.
Nick Schifone (Disappeared, FL)
Does the Mathieu injury end the Cardinals season? Many people don't realize he was going to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year up until this past Sunday.
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
The Cardinals still have really good players on defense in Calais Campbell, Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson. I think they'll still be good on D.
Harold Barron (Sarasota, Florida)
Sando how do you feel about the Dolphins chances to make the playoffs this year? It would seem that they have to an extent put the Jonathan Martin issue behind them and managed to beat a fiesty Pittsburgh team on the road, and in the snow no less!
Mike Sando (2:23 PM)
Yeah, I don't think the Martin issue was a huge factor, really. They won right shortly after that. I like their chances and think they have a shot against the Patriots this week. A GM I spoke with several weeks ago said he thought the Steelers, Ravens and Dolphins were the three AFC teams best positioned to make the playoffs as the sixth seed. The Dolphins sort of canceled out the Steelers.
Jim Pierce (Grocery Department)
Does the Aaron Rodgers injury showcase how the QB position is 20 times more important than any other position in football? They aren't going to make the playoffs. However, with a heatlhy Rodgers all 16 games they would have won the division.
Mike Sando (2:24 PM)
I think it's disproportionately true for teams with great starters, lousy backups and some holes elsewhere in their roster. The Packers also lost Randall Cobb and others.
Thomas Ingraham (Western NY)
How do you feel about the progress of the Bills this year? It seems like they finally have a HC that can improve the team, as they have surpassed my personal expectations this year.
Mike Sando (2:26 PM)
It's been a little disappointing lately but I like Marrone's no-nonsense, do-not-sugar-coat-it approach to discussing things. Too bad EJ Manuel got hurt earlier in the year.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Mike - are the Eagles the team most of the NFC contenders would like to avoid come playoff time?
Mike Sando (2:28 PM)
I don't think the Saints or Seahawks would fear playing the Eagles at home, and I really think the 49ers are a heavyweight. So, I cannot agree with the premise but I reject it only because the NFC field has some real heavyweights. I say it with no disrespect to the Eagles. I like what they've got going and was not among the people ripping Chip Kelly earlier in the year.
Mike, do you feel that Roman's playcalling for the 9ers is 'holding' back Kaep as many suggest? The run plays are creative but the impression many have is that without a lot of screens, bootlegs, etc where you are giving Kaep the option to run, is a detriment to the passing game?
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
I would say having depth issues at receiver and losing Delanie Walker has hurt things. And then without Alex Smith, maybe they feel like they gotta keep the QB healthier.
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure as always.