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 (1:01 PM)
Greetings. Thanks for dropping by. Here we go.
Hi mike, which division is more likely to put up video game numbers on the scoreboard NFC East, AFC West, NFC North or ???
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
NFC North, for sure. Three QBs who can put up numbers, and then Minnesota has good RB and skill players.
Hi Mike, read your article on quarterback tiers and was wondering which QB in your mind will move up a tier this year and which QB will go down?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
I think Jay Cutler is someone who could move forward out of that third tier, which was a little lower than I expected him to poll. He really could have a big year. Matthew Stafford is someone who could vault higher within the second tier and threaten the first tier. Ryan Tannehill is a sleeper guy to move up this year. Eli Manning and Joe Flacco are a couple guys who fell solidly into that second tier somewhat against my expectations, and I wonder about their upcoming seasons somewhat.
Josh M (Philly)
Hey Mike,Love the chats, keep doing your thing sir!Wanted to get your opinion on the current state of the NFC West... Specifically the true strength the division has in it's depth. For example, a friend and I were chatting and I was of the opinion that the Rams would win the NFC east, and probably put together 10+ wins in the process. I understand the team has some question marks at important positions (ie QB and WR) but I feel they are built to win with that stout defense and up and coming running game. My friend, an Eagles enthusiast, of course disagrees.... What are your thoughts?Also, just a quick hit... who takes the NFC west this year? Do you have Seattle repeating? my 9ers taking it back? Or potentially the Cardinals? My guess is the Rams are a step back (although closing it) still in that division...Thanks Mike!
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Hi Josh. I think the 2013 Rams would have challenged for the NFC East title last season, but I think that was an unusually low bar to clear. Let's see how healthy the Rams are going to be at QB and on their offensive line. Their defense should keep them competitive, and their re-emphasis on the run game should help Sam Bradford. ... This year, I would not bet against Seattle winning the division, but I think the 49ers have an improved chance and would say it's a tossup with the Seahawks.
DO you see the Broncos going to a more towards a run/pass split offense since they lost Decker and defenses now have film on how to stop Manning from the SB?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
They were emphasizing the run game a little more late in the season and I would expect them to continue that, but when Peyton Manning is your QB, you are going to throw, throw, throw. I do not expect a big shift there. Rather, I would see a small shift.
How exactly did Stafford earn the second tier with a very poor comp % of 58? Just because he's still young it doesn't mean he's great.
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Stafford was near the bottom of the second tier. He got 17 second-tier votes, eight third-tier votes and one fourth-tier vote, so there is a fair amount of shrugging going on when people are asked about him. He is not a consensus "two" by any means. He does have outstanding talent and there is some hope his mechanics will improve with greater structure from an offensive-minded, detail-oriented head coach known for being a positive influence on Peyton Manning years ago, according to people I know who were in Indy at the time (Bill Polian and Brock Huard).
To add to Paul's point, if Stafford wasn't throwing to Megatron would he even be in the 2nd tier?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
The large number of people who ranked Stafford lower than the second tier raised that and similar questions.
Derek (Evansville )
Do you think Andrew Luck can surpass Aaron Rodgers ceiling? His year in 2011 was the best year I've ever seen from a QB
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I do think he can surpass it based on his ability, but he still has to do it.
Chilly (Wasted Po)
Sando - You should poll some insiders about QB tiers, maybe get MW involved, then drop maybe 35-40 tweets about it...kidding...seems like the sack is losing analytical favor to "pressures" - can't pressures still lead to positive plays by the offense? Sacks always negative play, pressures can still result in TDs (as any 49ers fan can recall from scrambling exploits of Wilson/Flacco last two postseasons). Hits I guess is meaningful if there is a definite correlation to lesser performance that can be proven. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Good idea. Ha. People say sacks are overrated and then I say, "Yes, but all the greatest pass-rushers have a ton of them." I would answer the question by asking one of my own: What are you trying to measure? If you are trying to measure the impact a defensive player has on the game, we can agree that getting pressure is a good thing regardless of whether the QB makes a spectacular play. We can also agree that sacks are better than pressure most of the time. But if you are the guy whose pressure allowed a teammate to get a sack, there is another level of nuance in there.
Will the Bears revamped D-line and defensive overall be enough for them to make the playoffs? I'd imagine the offense will at the least stand pat barring a major injury or two.
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I think it will be enough to make the Bears a playoff-caliber team. Whether they actually get into the playoffs depends on how well a combination of other teams do. Lovie Smith learned that when he went 10-6 and got fired.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Always a challenge predicting breakout players, but if I gave you a list - Corradelle Patterson, Ruben Randle, Golden Tate and Michael Floyd..can you put them in order by most likely to break out this season?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I do not see Golden Tate suddenly having way better stats. His stats were already pretty good. I don't see him suddenly making 85 catches while playing second fiddle to Megatron, particularly after they used a high draft choice for a receiving tight end. Michael Floyd is someone to watch for sure because this could be the year he becomes the best WR there. I know Carson Palmer likes him a lot. I think Randle will have a better year but not a great year, and Patterson is a little QB-dependent, but probably in great position to threaten for 1,000 yards, which would be a big gain for him.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Apologies for accidentally deleting a good question about the Colts. Meant to post it.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
To answer that accidentally deleted Colts question, I agree that Indy is in position to have another double-digit win season based on their QB being a lot better than the QBs they will face in that division, but when it comes to predicting a breakout player on defense, I am not having a flood of players come to mind.
Derek (Evansville )
I know you mentioned that GMs preferred Brady over Peyton because of what he had to work with. But in 2009 Peyton was in a similar situation with two 1st year players in Garcon and Collie and two go to guys in Wayne and Clark. Brady had Gronkowski(not all year) and Edleman as his go to guys along with the two first year players. But Peyton had more comebacks that year and got them to the Superbowl. I felt he outplayed Brady(2013) that year with less offensive line talent and an inferior defense. Did they forget this? Not knocking brady because he is incredible, but both players get a lot out of the team no matter the talent.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Just to clarify, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning tied in the voting for our QB Tiers project. One person I quoted did say he thought Brady had done more with less, and that Brady has done this more regularly. You make good points. I think it is fair to say that Brady has had less to work with as a general rule, even if there are examples of Peyton Manning doing more with less. And in the final evaluation, for some, Brady's consistently demonstrated ability to do this resonates.
Will the Lions stop beating themselves this season?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I think they'll become better in that area, but they also play some QBs in that division who can pull stuff out. There will always be disappointing defeats for every team.
In baseball there are quite a few new advances stats where a player's performance is isolated from things out of their control. For example xFIP looks a pitchers performance will removing the defense behind him. Is there such a thing for quarterback where they aren't penalized for a drop pass or given credit for a bad pass where a WR makes a great play to get the completion? I don't believe QBR does that.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
No one has that on a play-by-play basis in the NFL. QBR comes closer than other measures but is still best over a longer period of time. It banks on things evening out over time. For example, when a QB takes a sack, QBR assigns a certain percentage of the blame to the QB. On any given play, the sack could be 100 percent the QB's fault or zero percent his fault or somewhere in between. Coaches on the team's staff might not even agree on the percentage. QBR does not know this. But over 500 dropbacks in a season, things even out enough so that we can get a pretty good read on things. We will probably never know whether the QB made the right check before the snap, whether the coordinator was late getting the play into the huddle, whether the defense blew an assignment -- all things that affect performance on a granular basis.
The Jets seem to always have a QB controversy. Who do you see starting in game one, Smith or Vick, any chance that we will see Simms taking snaps at some point in the season?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I would think Geno Smith would be the starting QB for Week 1 unless he's horrible in preseason or gets injured. They will want to give him a chance.
FYI: p\Profootball Focus Accuracy Metric factors out throw away's, drops, spikes, bats, etc..
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
QBR accounts for drops, spikes, etc.
What's the real story with the Rams RBs? Lots of obfuscation and Stacy will end up being the main guy? Or Stacy really is on the outs?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I haven't seen Tre Mason yet. Am thinking Zac Stacy will be part of the rotation, not highly featured, but let's see how camp goes and how the preseason goes.
I know the NFL is a QB driven league and the rookie wage scale lessens the pain of missing on a top 5 pick that fails but even with that is Jax taking Bortles seem to be pick that has 5 more years of rebuilding wrote all over it?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
They would not wait five years, though. At least I do not think they would. The Rams are going into their fifth season with Sam Bradford, and the 49ers went longer than that with Alex Smith. But those guys were making many millions in guaranteed money. I think the Jaguars should be smart enough to continue investing in the position. Gus Bradley was in Seattle when the Seahawks went with Matt Flynn and still drafted Russell Wilson. You have to have some hope as a Jags fan (not sure if you are one) that they know how to invest in the position.
the jets added better pieces to the offense, but has the defense taken a step back, specifically the secondary with the lossof cromartie and unproven young corners?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I cannot remember where I read it, but I recall seeing it implied that the Jets' defense has been a real constant amid all the offensive fluctuations. However, that defense has gone from dominant in 2009 to very good in 2010-2011 to more average or slightly above average the past two seasons. I think it is going to be in that range again.
Questions about Foles. First, what are your thoughts regarding the disparity in opinions. Second, why is Foles penalized for "system"? Vick clearly struggled in same system. Third, what is YOUR opinion on him?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
The system comes into play to the extent it's a factor in making life easier for him before the snap. The QBs who command respect throughout the league are great before the snap. If you are constantly pushing tempo, you're doing less before the snap and might not command as much respect. Still, I think Foles is getting great respect in this QB Tiers survey for a player who has not really started a full season yet. He came in right ahead of Cam Newton and Jay Cutler. That is a bit of a surprise. He had the same number of Tier 1-2 votes as he had Tier 3-4 votes, with most of his votes in Tier 2. My personal opinion is that it's hard to fake 27 TDs with 2 INTs. It is also impossible to sustain that, but so far, so good. I think the glass is more than half full there.
Does the Josh Gordon suspension affect whether johnny football plays this year?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
No. How well Brian Hoyer plays and whether the team wins will affect how quickly Manziel gets onto the field. If Gordon's suspension derails Hoyer, then yes, that could help Manziel get onto the field more quickly. But I do not think the team is going to make its QB decision based on which WRs are available.
Hi Mike!! Longtime NFL fan, who has become somewhat disenchanted by the 24/7/360+ coverage of the NFL. I realize it is obviously popular now BUT Do you foresee a situation where the NFL suffers from "over saturation" kinda what happened with the NBA in the late 90's early 2000's
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Well, was it over-saturation or was it Michael Jordan's retirement? I have not studied market dynamics but neither have I been convinced that over-saturation is an issue.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Lost all respect for Johnny Football's partying habits..not that he partys, but that he does it with Justin Beebs...yikes..
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Wait, so you are telling me you had a ton of respect for how Johnny Manziel conducted himself publicly, and now you've lost all respect for him based on the Justin Bieber connection? Haha. I'm guessing you were already not impressed.
KC (Houston, TX)
I read on PFF that JJ Watt's 2013 season was actually considered better than his 2012 year despite getting 10 less sacks and way less passes batted down.... Given that he's a DE in a 3-4 scheme - were these last 2 years the best performance of a D-Lineman that we've ever seen? If not, where does it rank?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
"Ever" is a long time and we cannot know where it ranks. I would feel pretty safe saying Reggie White and Bruce Smith and Deacon Jones and a few other HOF types have been on this level before.
The 49ers could possibly lose a key defender in Aldon Smith this season. Without his production do you think it is likely that San Fran's smash mouth D will take a step back?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Yes, especially with NaVorro Bowman also out for a while. I do think the offense has the potential to improve, especially in the passing game.
Love the Chats! Were you surprised to see Luck ranked so high? Seems like Indy has surrounded him with a ton of weapons, compares to the other younger star QB's. And aren't his INT to TD ratio a bit high for him to be ranked so high?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Thanks, Brian. I also enjoy the chats. I was a little surprised so many people put Luck into the first tier already. I suspect a few voters exercised some latitude in feeling that his ascension to Tier 1 was happening now and inevitable and imminent enough to put him there. What NFL people look at in terms of "weapons" is whether the QB can lean on a traditional running game the way Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and some other young QBs have done. People also look to see what role the defense has played in propping up the QB. In Luck's case, they see not much help from the running game or defense, but they see a team that wins 11 games anyway, and they see a QB with all the tools and a QB who plays a big role in those victories, and they give him credit for that.
Just have to point out Lucks numbers last season were with Wrs like Grif Whalen and D.Rodgers at the end of the season,the only true weapon he last year was Hilton and an inconsistent Fleener. The ton of weapons is more of a this year thing and it is yet to see how some of them work out,Wayne and Allen return from injury and the jury is still out if Nicks has much left.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I'm with you on that. People in the league think Luck is phenomenal with a capital F.
Was confused by Luck's inclusion in Tier 1. Do people really think that right now he's closer to Peyton Manning than Philip Rivers?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Yes, in terms of his ability to carry a team. No, in terms of presnap acumen and polish.
BD (Chino) [via mobile]
Why isn't anyone talking about the improvements to the Seahawks offense? Healthier, maybe deeper OL. Percy, Paul, (insert sleeper rookie) at WR. And Michael chipping in more at RB this season. Sounds like a modest upgrade to say the least.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
I do think they will be better on offense. Let's revisit this in Week 5 and see how their offensive tackles are looking. Have you penciled in Russell Okung for 16 games? Do you know what they are going to get at right tackle? Do you know Percy Harvin is going to be OK all year? There are some question marks also.
How about oakland this year? Lots of solid veterans added to the team. Could the raiders sneak ahead of KC and SD in the AFC W?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I think the Raiders will be an improved team, but I also think facing the NFC West in the scheduling rotation will make it harder for those improvements to show up in the standings.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. About to go on 710ESPN Seattle now with John Clayton and friends. You can listen live if you Google "710ESPN Seattle listen live" ... thanks!