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 (1:14 PM)
Here we go. Thanks for showing up on time, just like ...
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Are Jags fans numb to Justin Blackmon reports by now? I am prepared for similar behavior from Josh Gordon. Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee, on video, is worth two games? Something is wrong here. Domestic violence is a dark alley in the middle of the night. Goodell had an opportunity to shine light, but failed miserably.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
The commissioner has some latitude with suspensions for domestic-violence type offenses. The marijuana stuff is spelled out specifically in the collective bargaining agreement. Most of us would agree that the evidence against Rice should compel harsher punishment. The commissioner missed an opportunity to make a stronger statement on an important issue. On the other hand, his punishment is harsher than the punishment society levied against Rice. Quite a bit harsher.
Your thoughts on the Rice 2-game suspension compared to what's coming for Josh Gordon. Not condoning Gordon's behavior, but I'm pretty sure domestic violence is illegal in all 50 states.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
As noted, the punishment for Josh Gordon is spelled out in the CBA. In Rice's case, the offense will be removed from his record if he completes a diversionary program.
Full Time Steve (Acton)
Does Sam make the roster?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Bradford? Yes. Michael Sam? I would think he would make the roster, but could be practice squad as well. He's a seventh-round pick, so it's hit and miss.
Hi Mike. I was wondering why people keep on having faith in Andy Dalton even though he hasn't been able to win a playoff game. I know it not the the defense's fault because I watched all of the playoff games with Andy Dalton as quarterback. The defense has had an interception returned for a touchdown and Andy Dalton has thrown interceptions in the Bengals territory.
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I don't think people have great faith. They realize there aren't great alternatives. You cannot go out there and sign Tom Brady or even Tony Romo. The Bengals have not given Dalton a huge contract. They're going with him now because he's their best option at the time. They've won quite a few games with him. Other QBs have struggled in the small sample size of the postseason. Does winning one playoff game change things fundamentally? I would say no, but perceptions will change.
Ray Rice only getting two games is a joke. Guys get more games for smoking weed. Goodell blew this one bad.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I think that is a natural reaction but not one that takes into account the specifics of the situation regarding league punishment guidelines.
Just think about it: The Rams could have passed on the Redskins offer, held on to that #2 pick and drafted Justin Blackmon (at the time some said this was the way to go). How different would things be right now if that had happened?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
That would have been bad.
Keith H (Seattle)
Were you aware of Sidney Rice suffering from concussions? That one sure didn't get much publicity until yesterday.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yes, I knew about the concussions. He also had the shoulder and knee issues. The game took a toll on him. He has a basketball player's body.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
T or F...In 2015, marijuana will no longer be a punishable offense in the league...
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Guessing false, as I do not think the CBA would be renegotiated that easily. I could be wrong on that but that is my feel right now.
How much will the renewed emphasis on illegal contact hurt teams that press like the Seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
To the extent that those teams fail to adjust. Seattle has done a great job adjusting to the rules, and I would expect the team to do a good job adjusting in the future, even if there is a transition period.
I had a thought on the Richard sherman cornerback debate and wanted to know your opinion. The knock on sherman is that he only plays one side of the field and doesn't follow the opposing teams number 1 receiver therefore he can't be the best. Sherman plays the left side of the defense so he is defending the right side of the opposing teams offense. Since most QB's are right handed, doesn't the teams number 1 wr line up on shermans side of the field anyways? How many more actual snaps does say a patrick peterson play on a teams number 1 wr then sherman?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I think that is a literal interpretation when the basic idea is that Sherman plays more in the context of a largely three-deep scheme, without the constant pressure of shadowing a guy.
Scuba Steve (Vaping, MA)
If for some reason Aaron Hernandez is found not guilty on all charges.....how long of a suspension do you think Goodell would give him?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
At least three games. Haha.
Ed (NY, NY)
Mike, a lot of internet prognosticators have predicted the 49ers to be one of the teams to regress this year. However, the more that I look at their roster, and see how stacked their offense is, the more that I think that they will actually be better than last year. Couple that with a manageable schedule, and a new stadium- you think it's enough to get them over the hump (ie the Seahawks)?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I also think they are better equipped to handle what cost them last season: depth at WR and in the weaponry overall. I could see the 49ers being better on offense (specifically in the passing game) and not as good on defense. They should be right back in the same win range, and with some injury luck, in good position to win the division.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Where do you stand on Geno Smith? If I'm being honest, I don't think he's the answer to the Jets QB problems, but at the same time, he deserves more time and certainly more weapons than he had last year.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Yeah, I would say glass half empty, but give him a long look this season. He ranked second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 15 to the end of the season. That's a small sample and he wasn't throwing it over the yard, so I'm not equating Geno Smith to Peyton or any top QB in any way. But I would say those final games were a little more encouraging and offer some hope. The general feel among league people is that Smith will not be the answer. Some lumped Smith in with Jake Locker as guys they thought might not be able to "process" well enough.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
I am completely aware of the negotiated guidelines in which Goodell adheres to when it comes to substance abuse. The latitude you allude to in domestic situations is what I was questioning. Rice can never erase the security footage of him dragging his unconscious fiancee out of a elevator. The punch itself is also on video. Beyond disturbing.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Yep, and here was his total punishment: diversionary program and two-game unpaid suspension.
Michael, Dallas [via mobile]
Your take that he punished Rice more than society ignores fact he put down Roethlisberger for twice as long. What Ben was alleged to have done was worse but he might not have done anything. We know what Ray did, huge difference
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
That could be a good point. I do not have in front of me all the information about prior incidents, which can come into play. Roethlisberger did not seem to have much else, as I recall. Does Goodell take into account perception and the potential for "damage to the shield" as he might put it? The Roethlisberger question would be a good one to answer.
Keith H (Seattle)
What's your take on the Tony Dungy story of the day for yesterday? While some say "distraction" is a euphemism for "excuse to discriminate" the case could be made that the media firestorm justifies the distraction term.
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
My take since draft day has been that the "distraction" or "sideshow" element to the situation had pretty much passed at that time. I also think Dungy's outlook is one that is shared by others in the NFL, to this extent: once you get to the seventh round, the players available are pretty much the same in terms of how you have them rated, and if you have two equal talents, one with some notoriety and the other without any, teams will favor the latter. I think the "distraction" mindset contributed to how a lot of people viewed Johnny Manziel. Great talent, very intriguing, but man, do you want to deal with the constant headlines? In the Sam case, I just don't think there are going to be constant headlines. I do not think his personal life is much of a story at this point, and I do not think it is a distraction at all. As for Dungy, he should have taken more care with his words here, in retrospect.
The problem I have with Dungy's comments is he sounds very hypocritical. Why didn't he distance himself from Marvin Harrison when that situation happened, or why didn't he say the same thing about the dog killer Vick? Those are also huge distractions but he was behind those guys 100%. To me it's a simple matter of his religious beliefs clouding his judgement.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
The answer is that Marvin Harrison and Michael Vick were dynamic, game-changing talents. Every team in the league will put up with a so-called "distraction" if it wins games for them. The upside with a seventh-round defensive end is ... what? He becomes a core special-teams player and gets a few snaps on Sundays? You can call it hypocrisy but that is the nature of sports. Teams stop being OK with a lot of things once the player cannot play. Terrell Owens had a job every year until people thought the negative outweighed the positive.
Since AJ looks like he's not going to hold out after all, does that change your views on the Texans offense this season? I'm still firmly in the camp that we'll be good again in 2016 (after we draft Mariota or Hundley next year as we'll be picking in the top 3 again). I have no faith in Fitzpatrick or the wandering collegiate Savage.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
I told Greg Koch and the guys on Houston radio this morning that I think the Texans will be closer to 8-8 than 2-14. A lot of things have to go wrong to go 2-14. This team is better than that. The one thing I want to see is whether Ryan Fitzpatrick is better that people think. Evaluators in the league are really down on him, really dismissive of him, but I think he has been closer to decent. A decent QB with those weapons an that defense should be in the 8-8 range.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Laughable. Goodell has his next opportunity with Jim Irsay. When he finally gets around to it, what do you think Jim earns from the Commish?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
The Jim Irsay situation will be the most closely watched discipline situation in the NFL to date. I would be guessing on potential punishment but I think it has to feel really significant for Goodell to gain credibility. To me, this is an easy one, a great chance to make a statement. I'd say he's 0-1 on statements recently because the Rice suspension did not make a strong one. Goodell will be slammed mercilessly if Irsay escapes real punishment.
Tim (Seattle) [via mobile]
Does the Baalke Harbaugh relationship have any effect on wins at the end of the day. Many people talk like that issue is one that could cost them and I just don't see it having a huge effect on the players. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I don't think the "tension" that CEO Jed York has referenced is toxic or corrosive enough to have that sort of effect. I have not seen evidence of a negative effect on the field. The greatest potential for effect would be if there were an organizational divorce at some point. It's too early to say whether that is a real risk.
Wasn't Terrelle Pryor suspended five games by the NFL for selling his own NCAA merchandise? I understand the rules exist, but if these types of actions receive harsher punishment then what Rice did, the league needs to look at their system of punishment.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
One of the interesting issues for me is to what extent should league discipline reflect court-mandated discipline? Should the presence of that horrible video in the absence of a conviction or meaningful court-mandated penalty compel the commissioner to act in a way he would not act if the video were not public? My sense is that it would be in the NFL's interests and in the public interest for the commissioner to view that tape and then form a stronger punitive reaction.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Summer Training Camps will you be attending at in 2014?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
I have not yet booked travel but should have something in place over the next couple days. Looking at maybe seven teams in nine days. I'll be out at Seahawks camp first as I live in the area and it's an easy one to visit without travel.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Back a 90 seconds ...
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
You certainly want to travel cross country to see Manziel battle the playbook...
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Cleveland was one of the teams in my initial rotation, but my travel plans are not final and might not be for another day or so. I just love going around to camps, though. Charmed life.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
We are going to go OT on this chat, by the way. Lots of good conversation left to be had.
Paul (Albany, OR)
If Sam Bradford lives "up" to the ranking he has in the low to mid 20s as an NFL QB during 2014 all while staying healthy, are the Rams looking for another in 2015 draft? Thank you
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
The ranking for Sam in our "QB Tiers" package was really an incomplete ranking. He hasn't been on the field consistently enough, and the ranking reflects that. So, I would say if he stays healthy for the whole season, then the ranking won't apply as much. But if he plays the entire season and is as underwhelming as that ranking would indicate, sure, they'll be looking.
Bigger threat to GB this season: The Bears or injury (seems to be a constant problem for them)?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
Those are both threats. The threat of injury is less known. We know the Bears are pretty good and have reason to think they'll be better that they were last season.
Is RG3 more of his 2012 self, 2013 self, or somewhere in between?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
Gotta be in between. I have a hard time envisioning scenarios where he would be better than 2012 or worse than 2013.
Did anyone figure out if the # of players claimed from the Seahawks roster was some kind of record last season? Seems like almost every transaction window, there was some Seahawks player claimed.
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
I did an analysis on it a while back in a piece titled, "Closer look at Pete Carroll's roster claim" ... in which I showed there were a higher number of waiver claims, but there was some question as to what it really meant.
Tom Denver [via mobile]
How do you view the Rams drafting Robinson at number 2 and starting him at guard?
Mike Sando (2:11 PM)
It's fine if they have two good tackles, and it's fine if Robinson becomes a top tackle after getting some work at another position.
Is the Redskins success this year more dependent on Jason Hatcher, Ryan Clark, or DeSean Jackson if picking between the 3?
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
Probably Jackson to the extent his success reflects good things for the quarterback.
What exactly was the Panthers offseason strategy? If it was "release our best players and not replace them or the ones that retire" then it's been a smashing success! Bizarre considering how solid they were last season.
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
Sometimes the longer-term plan gets in the way of shorter-term goals and I would say that is happening in Carolina. It's not great, but it might be necessary to some extent. I mean, paying to keep Steve Smith and Ted Ginn wasn't going to earn the Panthers plaudits, either. They have some roster retooling to do there and that was the case when Dave Gettleman took over as GM. They managed to go 12-4 last season, but that record doesn't mean the team has arrived and suddenly isn't in a building or retooling mode. The biggest bummers from a Carolina standpoint were having Jordan Gross retire and having Greg Hardy get into trouble. The team had little or no control over either.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
The Bucs have definitely made a lot of great moves this offseason, but how do you explain them not taking care of the guard position? They are thin even with a healthy Nicks, but there has been no indication that he will be healthy come the start of the season.
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
It seems unfathomable that a Lovie Smith-coached team would have question marks along the line. I'm kidding there. No offense to Bears fans. I agree that the offseason maneuvering made sense. I supposed we could say you cannot address everything, and if you're going to not address a position, guard is one to consider not addressing. I also do not know particulars about the young guys they might like internally.
Also, if we assume Payton wins the SB this year, won't one have to bring up the rules needing to change in order to win? He couldn't get past the Pats, so they "interpreted" the rules to help him eventually win a SB. Now he can't get past the Seahawks, so once again they are changing how the rules are interpreted. In essence, when talking about the greatest QB's of all time, you'll almost have to use a "yeah, but" when talking about him.
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
I get what you are saying but would not make the same conclusion. He is easily among the all-time greats at the position regardless of the rules.
What would you consider more impressive/respectable... The AZ Cardinals going 10-6 overall or 4-2 in their division this season?
Mike Sando (2:22 PM)
10-6 would be more respectable because no one pays that much attention to division records, which are secondary. Going 4-2 in the division just means winning at home and getting one in St. Louis.
It seems like the value of the running back position is dropping exponentially. There is so little impactful difference between running backs not named forte, charles, mccoy or peterson that it's almost easier to draft a new running back whenever your current running backs rookie contract is up than to give him a new contract. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:24 PM)
Great running backs will always carry great value. I do not think that has changed. We might be seeing fewer great runners, and different types of backs. That would reflect more what is happening in college and high school than what is happening in the NFL. I think every team in the league would love to have a great, dynamic running back.
Can you clarify something for me on your recent QB rankings? It seemed from a lot of the quotes from the people you interviewed that they thought Brady > Manning. Were those quotes related to all time greatness (then I'd agree) or currently (I don't see how anyone can think that given last season) Thanks!
Mike Sando (2:25 PM)
I think a fair number of them would still take Tom Brady right now. That was my sense. It wasn't that cut and dried, but my feel was that no one gets more respect than Brady gets.
Hey Mike, thanks for all of the hard work. Just want to point out really quickly that you guys have (among others) the Titans, Jaguars and Bucs rated as better at the draft than the Patriots and then you published that ranking on the world's most popular sports website. Quick heads up. Thanks again!
Mike Sando (2:28 PM)
I know exactly what you're talking about and wrote about it in our summation during the 2014-2016 Future Power Rankings. The Patriots' grade for drafting seemed too low to me. It could have reflected the perception that the Patriots are a lot better in other areas. They could have been competing against their excellence in those other areas. On the other hand, I've heard more than one personnel guy in the league say, "Shoot, if the highly paid tight end I drafted went to prison on a murder rap, I'd be fired." To which I say, that might be true, but you didn't win three Super Bowls while building one of the most consistently successful operations in sports.
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure as always.