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. Lots to discuss here. Excited to get going.
Mike: What moves do can we expect the Cards to make via the draft or trade/free agency? do the draft a QB?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
I think we'll see them continue to address their offensive line. I do not think pursuing QB help is a high priority at this time.
Robert Ranley (Boulder, CO)
I keep hearing from Seahawks fans I interact with that their ground game is going to "wreck" our soft defense. Frankly, our run defense was ranked 10th in the league. I have a hard time swallowing that a top 10 run defense is "soft". People are quick to forget that John Fox is a defensive coach at heart. We stopped a physical Patriots ground game last week, against an offensive line that is superior to what Seattle fields on a player by player basis.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
No one would call the 49ers' run defense soft. Marshawn Lynch has four 100+ rushing games against the 49ers over the past three seasons. The rest of the running backs in the NFL have two of them. Lynch breaks tackles. He might not run wild on the Broncos, but it should not surprise anyone if he does. He's a dominant back, and when he gets going, he can run on any defense.
Hi Sandom question on the Broncos Run D. I know they have good stats but is that because they are actuallu good or because teams pass a lot to play catch up? Also, how many points do the Hawks need to score to win?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Good question on how many points it'll take to win. I would say 24 on the low side and 27 more realistically.
Ted (Mt Airy GA)
Why doesn't anyone talk about the man who INTERCEOTED the pass that Richard Sherman defended? Had it not been intercepted and Kaepernick then threw for a TD -- would anyone remember what Sherman did (or said!)
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Malcolm Smith picked it off. Good play.
Air Neto (Owsik, Utah)
Sando, the Seahawks offense has pretty much shown when they have trouble running the ball, Wilson just lobs up jump passes for Golden Tate and X Y and Z at WR. In the superbowl, does the presence of two CBs who are as athletic as any in the league with Bailey and DRC, is this the game where if Denver stuffs the Seahawks ground game, that instead of miracle completions those are INTs?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Not if Percy Harvin is playing.
Hi Mike, any chance S-hawks come with a surprise offensive gameplan or is it what you see is what you get - I really think they need to get Wilson outside and running ala Kapernick - Denver will be prepared and gameplan for Skittles
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Russell Wilson's athleticism wasn't a factor against the 49ers' very athletic defense. I would think his athleticism would be more of a factor against less athletic defenses. We'll see. I don't think he's looking to run, but I think Seattle might need him to be more of a playmaker in this game. And that means running when it's there.
Allan (Carbeau, Nebraska)
Jow does Denver's historically great offense match up with the Seattle defense? Weather providing I think the Denver offense just has too many options to match up with. Even with a top ranked defense this year, we need to remember that Denver's offense isn't just good this year, it is historically one of the best ever. To me. they just have too many options in the passing game for any team to successfully match up with.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I've done some of the math. Let's look at this since realignment in 2002. There have been 32 teams in the league. Those teams have played 12 seasons apiece. So there have been 384 offenses and 384 defenses over that span. The Broncos rank first in points per game out of those 384 offenses. The Seahawks rank seventh in points allowed per game out of the 384 defenses. I'd say that is pretty evenly matched, just going off points. Here is where things get interesting: This Seattle team was 60th out of the 384 teams in points per game. This Denver team was 312th out of 384 teams in points allowed. Now, the Seahawks haven't been scoring as many points lately. They've played some tough defenses. Russell Wilson hasn't been as accurate, in my view. Pete Carroll has leaned on his defense and played not to lose, in my view. So, does this game then come down to whether Seattle can play a more aggressive brand of offense against a defense that ranked 312th in points allowed since 2002? I think it probably does.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Mike, I asked ashley fox this yesterday so i want to hear your response. Would you rather be the Brown Head Coach or the Jaguars starting QB? Both have upside and both have been a revolving door as of late. (ashley said the Jags QB)
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
The Jaguars' QB would get to work for Gus Bradley, a very positive coach. That sounds pretty good. I feel as though Jacksonville will be on the upswing. I'm not sure it would be as much fun working for the Browns' current leadership. That is just my impression. It is tough to know.
Fred (Johnson City, TN)
SD and NE tried to no avail to put pressure on Manning. Do you see any individual advantages the Seahawks have on their Dline againt the Denver Oline that makes you think they will be more successful in generating pressure?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I think one big key is whether and how often the Seattle defensive backs and linebackers can disrupt the Broncos' receivers and then close quickly on the ball when Manning does deliver it. Manning is very good at getting the ball out, but if he has to hesitate, he'll get hit and there could be opportunities for turnovers. It's not just the pass rush. It's how the pass rush works with the coverage.
Edward (Omaha, NE)
Hello Mike, I was wondering during this whole Richard Sherman "controversy", have any of Sherman's teammates or someone from the Seahawk organization publicly come to his defense? I know I've been busy but I thought I would have heard about at least one of his teammates or someone from the Seahawk organization publicly stand up for him. I get that they want this whole mess to go away and focus on the Super Bowl but I would have expected someone from the Seahawks to say something in his defense. I know when controversies pop up for other players for other teams you'll may see a whole line of people they're to publicly defend or give their support to a player. It just seemed odd that their were none of Sherman's teammates or anyone from the Seahawk organization giving their public support to Sherman
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Yeah, I haven't noticed guys rallying to Sherman's defense, but I have seen them be supportive. Russell Wilson put it this way: "Richard Sherman has tremendous character, he really does. He got fired up and I guess you can call it a mistake or whatever, I don't know. It's just one of those things that he is just so passionate about the game of football. I know that's not how he is on a regular basis, day in and day out. He's literally one of the most intelligent people that you'll ever meet and he can make all of the plays. He backs it up with his play. He's done it every day in practice and in games, and he's an All-Pro player and he has tons of respect across the league. So I definitely respect Richard Sherman. He's one of my good friends. I love him to death."
Stefano (Secret hideout)
What is the over/under on Peyton's first half INTs in the SB? 3?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I was thinking 1.5 interceptions would be the over-under for the game. If he's under that, maybe the Broncos win. If he's over it, maybe I like Seattle. It's tough to say any one number is a tipping point because so many other things can happen to influence an outcome. But in looking at these teams, I would say Denver hasn't faced a defense nearly as good as this one, and Seattle hasn't faced an offense nearly as good as this one. The Seahawks did handle the Saints pretty well, not once but twice, but I'd say the Broncos have better weapons. Seattle fared pretty well against top QBs last season (Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers), but also had some struggles against Matthew Stafford (this was when Seattle was not nearly as good in terms of rushing the passer and covering from the slot).
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Did the Seahawks get exactly what they asked for when signing Percy Harvin to a big contact? The guy is ultra talented, but has never proven he can stay healthy, and 2013 was no different. Should Seattle PD bring him up on larceny charges for all the money he's stolen, or is all forgiven if Percy produces in the Super Bowl.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Yeah, they did lose the gamble on him to this point. I've had the same thought. Is it all good if he's a leading reason the team wins the Super Bowl? I would say, yes, all would be good. But what if he plays extensively and suffers a critical fumble that winds up being decisive in the outcome? This will be an interesting one to watch. It is human nature for other guys in the locker room to resent a guy getting tons of attention when that guy hasn't done anything on the field. Also, if you are Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas, guys who have been there all the way and produced year after year, how is your contract-related thinking influenced when the team goes out and dumps a ton of cash at the feet of a guy who A) had problems elsewhere, B) had never produced for this team and C) still has not produced? Does it make you less apt to accept a compromise contract along the lines of the ones San Francisco has struck with players such as Joe Staley, NaVorro Bowman, etc? Fair questions.
I don't get the Browns getting so much heat. The lost to Gus Bradley's Jags, at home, with a superior roster. Same story in New York with the Jets. They want to find a coach that can motivate the guys. Can't you understand why they went in another direction?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
The question is really, "What is the direction?"
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Mike - do you think it is somewhat ironic that the most prolific passing offense in the league may have a potential huge disadvantage because of the weather and winds in a "neutral" site?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, I do think really bad weather conditions would help the Seahawks play the type of game they are comfortable playing. It would feel a lot different if this game were going to be played in the Superdome.
If the game were being played in a dome or a nice weather city would anybody even be having the Broncos losing? I ask this because the Seahawks are a team that can match up with anybody in any kind of conditions. Even if it were being played in a dome why wouldn't the Seahawks have just as good as a chance?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I do think they would have a good chance in any venue. But it's also true that their chances could improve if weather affected the one area where the Broncos have been so strong: passing.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Pete Carroll will try and reign his players in a little bit so off the field comments or issues don't become a distractions? First we have Sherman Gate, and now Thurmond speaks out against Welker.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I'm sure they'll talk to the players about such things. In Thurmond's case, I don't think it's inflammatory to express an opinion about a specific play. Also, I don't think the Seahawks are worried about firing up the Broncos. Their defensive guys feed off these sorts of things.
As a life long Browns fan, can you please give us some insight into Pettine, could he be a good head coach? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I've had a very favorable impression of him and just thought it might be another year before he became a head coach. He seems to have a good teaching style. The results in Buffalo were probably better than people would realize without taking a closer look. Buffalo had one of the NFL's largest reductions in points allowed from 2012 to 2013. So, how does that translate to being a head coach? I don't know. But having worked for Rex Ryan had to help him, in my view. Ryan is a good coach. Pettine will have his own style.
The same direction that robbed the Colts of that 1st round draft pick. How many coaches in the NFL have final say over personnel? All that matters, will they win games next fall. When they do, will the masses that have buried them remain silent? You bet
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
No question. I can't stand premature burials. Look at the Eagles last season. I think there was a rush to evaluate Chip Kelly on a week-to-week basis. The outlook appeared pretty bright by season's end. On the Browns, I think some of the criticism is fair: at best, they totally whiffed on the head coach they hired one year ago. That is not good. Doesn't mean they are doomed or incompetent. They could be, though!
Sando - Chancellor already signed a contract extension last offseason. That's something that should get a little more play, because it was an excellent move by the front office.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Right. I was referring to Earl Thomas, who will be in line for a new deal.
ml mckinley (enumclaw)
I am surprised that no one brings up the 3rd preseason game when these two faced each others first string. It was quite evident then and I believe the same result will occur this time. Do you disagree?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Preseason is pretty irrelevant. I thought the first half was very competitive -- more competitive than a typical first half of a preseason game. Seattle had Antoine Winfield playing corner in that game. I think it probably helped both teams just to get an initial feel for one another, but to extrapolate results? That is tougher to do.
Denver plays in an open air stadium that gets cold. Why are they the poor victims of weather again?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Wind affects passing games negatively. The Broncos have a great passing game. They are more reliant on their passing game than Seattle is reliant on its passing game. So if there is wind -- in Denver, New York or anywhere -- a team reliant on its passing game could be affected disproportionately.
New Orleans, San Francisco, Giants (blow out), Arizona, St Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco.The Hawks finally get to play a "normal" defense. I think people have no idea what they are about to see from their offense.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I think that could be true, and that Seattle should hope it is true. There is no question this team has played conservatively on offense down the stretch and really quite a bit of the time. The gas pedal was pressed down a lot more as the 2012 season was finishing up. I think Seattle needs to take more of that approach in this game.
what are your thoughts on the staff Jim Caldwell is assembling?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I thought it was interesting that he kept some guys from the previous staff. That shows Caldwell does not feel threatened by them. I covered Teryl Austin when he was a secondary coach in Seattle and Arizona. I had a positive impression of him. Every team he's been with in the NFL (Seattle, Arizona and Baltimore) went to the Super Bowl. We are seeing coaches with backgrounds in the secondary ascending to positions of greater authority. Austin has been a coordinator at the college level, but he is unproven in that regard at the NFL level. So we need to see how he handles that. I think that is the most pivotal hire because Caldwell is an offensive-minded head coach.
If you were a betting man, who would will be the MVP of each team if they won. Manning seems pretty obvious for Denver (maybe you think different) but what about Seattle? (again I realize this is very hypotheical and depends on how the game plays out)
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I'd say probably Marshawn Lynch would be the leading candidate for Seattle. He is the most important player on the team in a lot of ways.
Brian (San Francisco)
Since he hawks don't really disguise their coverages very much, won't that factor into favoring manning? And on the same idea, won't that require the Seattle O to score some points to keep up with Manning?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I was thinking about this earlier and will pursue the storyline. On one hand, if Manning is great at deciphering defenses, does that strength really help him when Seattle plays a simple game exceedingly well? It might not. Put it this way: Let's say Peyton is an all-time great chess player, but the game is checkers? That is oversimplifying things, but you get the idea.
I understand the skeptics. That doesn't mean it's open season on the Browns. Story after story. Brutal. How many will bury Pettine before he blows a whistle? I know all the media guys blasting them now also blasted them for dealing Trent Richardson. I knew that was a A+ deal then, I know it now. YOU know they have 6 guys in Hawaii, a treasure chest of draft assets, and could be a team on the upswing, as you say.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yep, and that is why you won't see me burying them or hopefully anyone when it's premature.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Would it surprise you if it eventually came out that Brady has been playing at less than 100% for most of the season? Receiving talent aside he missed on so many passes this year that were automatic in the past.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Brady also had quite a few different receivers rotating through. That definitely was a factor earlier in the season. Was he injured more recently and we did not know the extent? Could have been. Hard to say.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Are we at a point where it is almost impossible for a team with an average QB to reach the SB - the last one who came close were the Jets with Sanchez?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Joe Flacco was an average QB, in my view, but he played lights-out during the playoffs last season. I don't think Eli Manning is/was a great quarterback. He has played well when backed by a good defense and running game. He is above average. No question, though, it's tough to overcome average play at that position.
Fill in the blank: If Denver only scores ____ points, Seattle wins.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Quick rant on Sherman. Why is everyone so offended by what he did? He told an arch rival that he was mediocre after a long history of friction between them, and the 49ers. Oh the horror! Close your eyes and hide the children from this monster! We often cheer when a player gets knocked out and call it a man's game. We want to impeach Goodell for trying to make the game more safe. When a team runs up the score we say "you dont like it then stop them from scoring". Usually its a contest about who can be the manliest man. But these same "men" all the sudden think Sherman crossed a line? Isnt that a bit insane? Ironically, it was about the weakest trash talk in history. Think about it, of all the harsh things that could be said, Sherman said Crabtree was "sorry" and "mediocre". GASP!
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Sherman showed poor sportsmanship in a manner that took away attention from his team. I would not call that a national crisis. Those of us who know him a little bit see the fuller context. He seems like a pretty good guy, or at least smart and engaging.
It's early but who's your "Chiefs" ala biggest turnaround of next year and who's your "Texans" ala biggest flop of next year?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Well, the Texans could be the next KC-type team. Tampa Bay could be as well. On that one, we're just looking at teams that vastly underachieved based on their talent. Washington could be another one if RG III bounces back. As for teams that could really fall off, what if it wound up being Kansas City while playing a much tougher schedule featuring NFC West opponents?
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Your thought on Belichick's comments about "the receiver"? Seems like a weird thing to complain about when Edelman hit DRC the series before on a very similar play...
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I saw the play and did not have the same reaction Belichick had. It did not look like a blatantly dirty play to me.
I read today that Seattle's DEF is statistically the best since the '85 Bears. That cant be right, can it?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I read something along those lines in terms of this Seattle defense and that Chicago defense being the only ones to lead the league in three specific categories.
any chance the 49ers cut gore if lattimore really impresses in otas and in training camp
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I think the 49ers will treat Frank Gore with the utmost respect. He has earned that.
Besides having a already set in stone (high) contract, what exactly has Bradford done, or not done, that warrants him to be released or no longer the number 1 in STL for the long run?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
There would be no reason to release him unless the team had an obviously better option, which it does not have at this time.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
So Richards Sherman has gotten punched andhis helmet pushed back in his fce for telling two guys "good game"...any insight inot what else he said to elicit such a reaction?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Let's say you and I are bitter rivals. Do you really want me running up to you in that moment and slapping your butt while saying "Good game"? Or would you think, hey, wait a minute, this might not be 100 percent genuine? Guessing the latter.
was curious where Miller and Clady would have ranked on your list of best players in the SB if they were healthy? 3-4?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Hi Joe. Would think top 10, with Miller possibly being top five if playing his best.
If the NFL abolished extra points and instituted a go for two system, do you think that might add more wear and tear on an offense over a season?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Depends on the offense! Seriously, though, I understand and agree with the thinking that the extra point is boring. However, I do not feel this compelling need to remove it from the game and replace it with something more "exciting" -- especially if that more exciting play fundamentally changes the game. Let's think through the unintended consequences.
with you saying that the 49ers will treat gore with the utmost respect, could you see lattimore taking over the starting role at some point during the season , if hes healthy and impressive? thanks mike
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Yeah, they'll play the guy they think is most productive. They showed that when they changed QBs. Look, I'm shocked and very pleasantly surprised that Gore has remained this productive for so long. When he got hurt in Arizona a few years ago, I wondered if that might be the beginning of the end. Now, I think he's in position to make a pretty strong HOF case if he can do this a couple more years. I cannot think of anyone in the league I admire more in terms of what they represent as a player. But if Lattimore or anyone is a better option, the 49ers will go with the better option.
I realize ranking 70 odd players is gonna be exceedingly difficult, but it's also pretty obvious you guys don't pay too much attention to the Broncos. Woodyard has been benched for 2+ months and Trevaithon has been their best LB (sans Miller). There's no way Woodyard should be 16 spots higher.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
It was tough ranking guys after a certain point and there is no question in my mind some of the lower-ranked guys could have gone in a different order. That was a very challenging project and an imperfect (but hopefully fun) one. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll mention it to Matt Williamson.
Does Lovie keep Mike Glennon at QB or does he try to bring in someone else?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Would think both.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. The time flew by.