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 (1:02 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Hi Mike, with the evidence growing more clear every day that a QB still has to be first and foremost an accurate passer to be successful in the NFL, do you see guys like RGIII and Manziel being less attractive to NFL GMs in the near future?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Robert Griffin III can be an accurate passer. I think potential issues with him are 1) durability, 2) to what extent he can flourish as a passer without being a primary run threat, 3) organizational structure/stability and 4) leadership style. Passing accuracy will always be a primary trait teams look for in QBs.
Ed (Queens Village)
Of teams from last year playoffs which team is in bad shape starting new season?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I'm interested in seeing how well Kansas City weathers some of the personnel changes on its line and a tougher-looking schedule. That is one team I think could drop off some. Carolina should be very good defensively once again, but if Cam Newton is banged up, that is concerning.
Just wanted to say love your recent columns! In regards to Seattle, don't you also think Wilson being year 3 in the same scheme and same coordinator will also contribute in a major way to their chances of repeating? Seems the 3rd year is normally when most QB's really take the leap.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Thanks. I thought about including a "Wilson growth" bullet point among the six other factors pointing toward another Super Bowl season for Seattle. Wilson has definitely looked great this offseason and in the preseason. I think he's in position to take a jump with improved health at WR and along the OL (so far). Those were limiting factors for him at times last season.
Jay (Halas Hall)
With this year being the first year in a long time where I'm running the same system, do you think I'm in the conversation for a big season?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
The questions I have about Jay Cutler relate to the fact he missed at least five games in two of the past three seasons, and the perception among coaches who have watched Chicago that some of the "new Jay" talk is overblown because his mechanics and decision making still are inconsistent in their eyes. I think Cutler can have a big year with those weapons and in that system, but I do not think a tiger changes its stripes entirely.
Who is the Rams QB by mid season,Hill Mallet or Keenum?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I do not see the Texans trading Ryan Mallett, and I do not see the Rams going to Case Keenum unless Shaun Hill is injured.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Ask Jay how his defense looks
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Bears have had either the oldest or second-oldest roster lately as well.
Also, can you turn autoupdate on.
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Please refresh. I turned that on from the first comment.
What would surprise you more, the Patriots missing the playoffs, or the Broncos?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Probably Denver missing would surprise me more because I think there is a better chance of Miami getting to 10-6 than any of the other AFC West teams getting to 10-6. Could be wrong there. Hard to know. I just think Denver is the one AFC West team that is most assured double-digit victories. We can revisit this one once we have a better feel on the Dolphins. I've been higher on Miami lately but need to see it, of course.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Do you think once Dee Milliner returns from injury (looking like week 2), he'll be enough to stabilize the Jets secondary issues? I think they can get past Oakland, but they better be ready to go @GB next week.
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Not optimistic on Milliner's ability to do that, particularly at this early stage.
Does R.Incognito sign next week once his yearly salary is not guaranteed ?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Would think he signs this month.
greg, california [via mobile]
Do you see all these injuries and arressts hurting the 49ers defense? I know their offense is way better but....
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I definitely think the defense will suffer compared to what it would have been at full strength. However, I think the 49ers will feel pretty good about things after facing that Dallas defense in Week 1. If the 49ers do not have a huge rushing day, I'll be surprised.
In regards to Kap, since this is year 4, are you under the school of thought you are what are? Or do you fall under the school of this is the floor and he still can improves by leaps and bounds?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Definitely think "you are what you are" holds largely true after as many games as Colin Kaepernick has played. And what he is is a good QB with strengths the 49ers can play to effectively.
Shouldn't we wait to see one regular season game before everyone assumes the 49ers are doomed? They still have one of the best coaches and most dynamic QBs in the league.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Do not think they will appear doomed after Week 1 at Dallas. Also, I do not think informed people expect the 49ers to be doomed. The standard has been so high there. The question to me is whether this becomes more of a team with 9-10 wins or whether it can keep the expectation for 11-13.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
How about Derek Carr finding success in NY this weekend? That would be a surprise for the masses
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
It would be great for the Raiders and good for the league (apologies to Jets fans there). Side note: The Jets faced two rookie QBs last season, EJ Manuel and Matt McGloin. Those guys combined for 5 TD passes with just one INT, but they were not high effectively. They took 12 sacks and went 1-2, including 0-2 at the Jets, with defeat margins of seven and 10 points.
Looking at Houston's 1st 4 games, sure seems they could reverse fortune in a hurry. WAS, at OAK, at NYG, BUF. Do you think they rebound?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, no question they rebound from 2-14. I think too many things have to go wrong to go 2-14 unless you are completely devoid of talent, which they are not. The Texans lost five home games last season by 3-7 points, including some against good teams (Seattle included).
Is a weak Chicago secondary the remedy EJ needs to right the ship?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
EJ Manuel intrigues me a ton. There are football people I respect who like him and think he has what it takes to process info quickly and become a good pocket QB. Also, I think it helps the Bills in this game that Jim Schwartz knows the Bears so well and went 2-0 against them last season. I probably do not trust the Bills' depth enough to bank on them over a 16-game season, but I did consider them as a potential surprise team.
If Marshawn missing significant time, do you see Turbin taking over the majority of carries or will it be Michael? Seems like Turbin is true backup at this point.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Really thinking he will be a stud WR unless he has some sort of injury issue. That is based on the many conversations I've had with people in the league who study players. Lots of love for Watkins.
Keith H (Seattle)
Mike, the Auto Update might be on at your end, but it's not on ours. If there's someone in Bristol you could alert, it would be appreciated.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Done deal. Sorry about that. That has been a regular complaint. I have done what I can do from my end, but will look into it for next time.
Your thoughts on how long of a leash Chad Henne will have? Is he playing to win or to not lose his starting job?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The Jaguars are a fascinating study in patience. I think Henne would have to play poorly for multiple weeks for that change to be made -- unless the Jaguars internally feel as though Blake Bortles is way ahead of where they thought he was going to be. They really seem determined to take things slowly with him. I think the test comes if/when the team starts slowly and Henne is not very good. I think we will see Bortles start maybe half the season one way or another.
Mike, EJ Manuel and Christian Ponder have the same ironic flaw - both were superior students, which served them well in college but gives them paralysis by analysis in the NFL. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
I get what you are saying, but Andrew Luck had a 3.5 GPA at Stanford, as I recall. There have been some really smart QBs who played at a high level for a long time. I know exactly what you are saying about Ponder's makeup but have not heard that criticism of Manuel (specifically, that he's an over-thinker).
Starting Carr against a Rex Ryan defense on the road in NY scars me. It could really shake his confidence if things go wrong. Would it make more sense to through McGloin out there?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
I assume you meant "scares" but it could "scar" you too, depending on the outcome. And that is exactly what you're fearing with Carr. I do think Derek Carr has a better idea what he is getting into, based on his pedigree. However, the big criticism of him is that he folds under pressure. Really expecting teams to come after him, and it could be too much for him early. It'll take some good offensive planning, but if/when the Raiders fall behind, I'm thinking it'll get tough for Carr as a rookie.
Dave (Wayne, NJ)
Have you had a chance to watch Geno Smith in preseason? To my untrained eye, he seems much more in control, reading his progressions and moving when he has to. Do you think he is poised to take the next step, say to a mid-level quarterback? Thank you so much!
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
The thing about Geno Smith that Jets fans know and most probably did not see as much was how he did play better late last season. When I did the "QB Tiers" project this offseason, people lumped Smith with Jake Locker as guys they thought could not process information quickly enough to become consistent pocket passers. There isn't nearly as much evidence with Smith as there is with Locker. Also, Smith did not have enough weaponry last season. I still do not love his weaponry now, and think it will be a grind over the course of the season. It is too early to write him off, however.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Sorry for the delay there. I got bumped out of the chat for some reason.
I submitted the Lynch question, but you gave an answer on Watkins I believe. --If Marshawn misses significant time, do you see Turbin taking over the majority of carries or will it be Michael? Seems like Turbin is true backup at this point. - Thank you!
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Sorry about that. The chat engine has sputtered a little bit today. I think Turbin would get first crack but over time, Michael would get touches and his ability could give him the edge longer term.
Going to the game tonight? Who's raising the flag?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I will be at Packers-Seahawks tonight. Not sure who is raising the flag.
Teddy Bridgewater looked great this preseason. Do you see him supplanting Cassel sometime this season?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Yeah, I think they turn to Teddy Bridgewater at some point. They will want to see him before the year is out. The odds of Matt Cassel both staying healthy and playing consistently well all season while keeping the team in the playoff race? Not high enough for me to bet on, that is for sure. I would think Bridgewater would make at least 4-5 starts.
What's your take on the new rule emphasis? Is it a over-reaction to the seahawks style of play? Based off total scoring per game, it made sense back in 04. But I don't see any stats based reason for why they are doing it this year.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I think it's an unnecessary emphasis and it seems to be another reaction to Peyton Manning having a rough time against a physical secondary. I also think Seattle can adjust and overcome it.
Wouldn't it have made sense for the Vikings to trade AP this past offseason. By the time the Vikes are ready to contend AP will be past his prime. Why not get something for him now?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Because Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner might have quit on the spot if they'd done that.
KC (Needles CA)
Suspension aside, Welker had trouble staying on the field last year due to injury and is on the wrong side of 30. Julian Edelman turned in a stellar season last year and should do well again. Did Bellicheck make the right chice letting Welker go?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Right move in big-picture theory, wrong move for last season. If they had Welker early in the season, I wonder if they would have hosted the AFC title game. They just plain ran out of weapons for a while there.
I haven't heard a lot about the Saints. Seems like they are improved on offense with Cooks and a healthy Graham. Their D should be better with year 2 under Ryan, plus adding Byrd. Could they be considered a close 2nd to Seattle for their chances of winning the SB this year?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Yeah, like them. For me, it comes down to whether they can get home-field advantage in the NFC. Do not like their chances in Seattle. Like their chances against anyone in the Superdome. Going 13-3 could really be the difference for them. Can they do it with a potentially tough NFC South schedule?
Sando, is it your position that Colin K. is at about his ceiling as a QB (i.e. only a good QB) and is not going to go much higher? If so, I think you have to step back and consider that his growth curve is different based upon his college experience in a gimmicky offense. He was widely expected to need 2-3 years behind Alex Smith before being a legit NFL QB. The fact he started so quickly was a testament to his transcendent abilities and hard work ethic. It seems to me his growth curve has only really begun as he develops his pocket passing game. Am I missing something?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
The more I talk to people in the league about QBs, the more I think that ceiling depends upon how much information the QB can process very quickly to succeed as a progression pocket passer. If you can be a dynamic runner, great, there will be days when that carries the day and you're unstoppable. But to consistently be the difference for your team at that position, the pocket passing element has to be really solid. We know Kaepernick has very good passing numbers from inside the pocket. The feeling from people in the league is that this is more a reflection of the way they scheme to his strengths than it is about the QB sitting back there and really sprinting through his progressions. It could be an unfair criticism, but that is what people in the league think, and it is why they are not sure whether he takes that next step as a passer. I have spoken with defensive backs who are very familiar with Kaepernick and think he can take that step, so we shall see.
How would you rank these teams for a survivor pool? Chicago ( vs Bills), Eagles (vs Jags), or Steelers (vs Browns)?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I would probably go Eagles, Steelers, then Bears, in that order.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure as always. Enjoy Week 1!