Chat with Chris Mortensen
Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the NFL, joined ESPN in 1991 and appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter.
Send your questions now and join Mort on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
Good morning. Sorry I'm late but let's go.
Drew (Fort Scott, KS)
I know its only 3 games, but the Chiefs really took a big step against the 49ers! Do you think that is more a testimony to how much they have improved, or was it more how bad San Fransisco played? I just was really impressed with what the Chiefs offense did to a pretty good 49ers defense! I'm one excited Chiefs fan!
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
I don't know how this is going to play out the rest of the year but I'd be pretty excited if I were a Chiefs fan and not just for the short term.
A couple of weeks back, you said, if the steeles beat the titans, "look out". Now their 3-0, what did you mean by "look out"?
Chris Mortensen (11:21 AM)
Are you kidding? I felt if they were 2-2 going into the bye week with Roethlisberger coming back, then they would be in good shape to make a playoff run. But to go 2-0 vs. Falcons & Titans, now 3-0 with the win over the Bucs...well,barring a major injury or two, good luck to everyone else trying to beat them. Now, that doesn't mean I'm forecasting 16-0 but great achievement so far.
john (waycross, ga,)
Mort, Why is there no interest in a big receiver like Matt Jones?
Chris Mortensen (11:23 AM)
He is big and he can catch. Somewhere he went from being a 4.37 guy in the 40- to 4.6 to 4.7 speed. And he's not a special teams contributor so even though he has stayed clean and had some moments with the Bengals, all those issues don't have value especially if you can't run.
How ould you rank the NFC West QB's to this point? I got Bradford ranked no lower than 2nd. Agree?
Chris Mortensen (11:24 AM)
I agree. And i know this - of all the NFC West teams, the Rams don't have to worry about their quarterback position for the next 10-to-15 years. He is getting some great reviews from football people in the league who have either played him or watched him on tape.
michael roe (iowa)
whats the chance of the arizona coaches owners whoever pulls anderson and put the rookie qb in
Chris Mortensen (11:27 AM)
There's a chance eventually. But I do know they loved Anderson's toughness playing under the circumstances of a shaky offensive line, no Early Doucet (remember,, Boldin is one), Larry Fitzgerald basically didn't practice for 6 weeks so little chemistry, now Beanie Wells until last week and now no Steve Breaston. Max Hall could end up destroyed under those conditions. So, they just have to hope they can stay above water in a very weak division.
Mort - what is your opinion of the Dolphins Wildcat these days? Does it ruin the flow of the offense or is there a place for it besides inside the 5 yard line?
Chris Mortensen (11:29 AM)
I didn't like it the other night, especially with Henne having by far his best performance. It has some short-yardage advantages and maybe a gimmick or two left in it but when you're quarterback is hot, show restraint.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
Do you know what is going on with the Bears and Tommie Harris? Two days later and still no word on why he was benched (and inactive). Lovie Smith says the move wasn't disciplinary, but that's hard to believe. Are they gonna trade Harris?
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
I'd say monitor it. Harris came into the NFL as a guy who was considered to have outstanding character. That has been under question. And if you play for Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli, you have to earn your way onto the active roster every week.
Mort - Love the Twitter feeds, my man! 49ers fan here, and while I didn't agree with the hiring of Raye in the first place, is firing him now and promoting the QB coach the best thing? I think we should have held on to Martz, personally. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
I think you and I have the same thoughts.
Jason (San Jose)
Hey Mort! What do you make of the 49ers firing Raye? Is Singletary in hot water? Can we get a big name coach (Harbaugh?) If they can't turn it around?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
That's an interesting name, Jim Harbaugh. I can remember an NFL scout telling me when Jim was coaching at the University of San Diego to keep an eye on him because he was going to be a big-time coach in college or the NFL one day. I do thinki Singletary will be in hot water if they don't win this year.
Hey Mort, give us your take on the Dez Bryant dinner. I have to be completely honest, I find it totally amusing. I mean...come on, even I know that I would be subject to hazing. If there was one person who would haze Dez Bryant, it would be Roy Williams right? I say he should have known. However, making a guy spent over 50K on a dinner seems ridiculous. I would have simply made him donate the money to a charity. Thoughts?
Chris Mortensen (11:37 AM)
It really bothered me. I know, it's not my money. Maybe it was just a mistake of letting it out publicly (how much the check was). But, in this economy where so many good people are struggling to make ends meet (and, yes, I have family members who are impacted), it feels like an insult. The other thing is, the NFL Players Association has been telling players to start saving their money for a rainy day (year?). And even if there isn't a lockout in 2011, the bankruptcy statistics on former NFL players even from this era are alarming.
Carson (High Point,NC)
Are there any free agent or trade options for Green Bay at running back?
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
If GM Ted Thiompson feels like he doesn't have to overpay, then I would expect he's open to it. Marshawn Lynch was an obvious one but the Bills really want a starter and a draft pick in return and preferably an offensive linemen, although a starting linebacker (Hawk?) has been mentioned. Maybe Fred Jackson would come cheaper. Larry Johnson doesn't seem to have a lot of attraction and he's a free agent.
will anyone go undefeated?
Chris Mortensen (11:40 AM)
My standard answer is always no. Even when the Patriots went unbeaten during the regular season, it was a no. I also have said nobody would go winless and maintained that through the season the Lions went 0-16. So take my no for what it's worth. Tough to do, obviously.
Charles (San Diego)
Is the Pittsburgh O.L. talented enough to gain yards against the Baltimore defense?
Chris Mortensen (11:42 AM)
Well, they've done a nice job but this is a game that is very iffy for the Steelers. Then again, that Steelers defense will be no fun for the Ravens offense. But if the Ravens can somehow protect Joe Flacco, the Steelers can be exposed a little bit in the secondary.
Mort with McNeil signing if theres no lockout next season will he then be a FA or can AJ Smith put the franchise tag on him? In other words will this cycle repeat it's self?
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
It depends. McNeill did not have the franchise tag opn him this year - heck, Marcus would have grabbed that money right away. McNeill this year was a restricted free agent whose contract tender was cut from more than $3 million to a little oevr $600,000. If he is franchised, he'll be guaranteed a big chunk of money for 2011 but we also are awaiting the results of the labor talks.
Chris Mortensen (11:47 AM)
Note to J.B. from Dunmore, PA...thanks for the compliment. Appreciate your kind words.
Adam (New York)
Is Buffalo a trap game for the Jets?
Chris Mortensen (11:49 AM)
Divisional games should never be a trap. Traditonally, they are usually close games. Bills lost to Dolphins by just five points and pushed the Patriots on the road. So I don't consider it a trap game for the Jets.
How much would Kolb garner in a trade right now and should the Eagles pull the trigger?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
I don't know what he'd garner and no way the Eagles should pull the trigger. I mentioned this before, the NFC East is clearly up for grabs. What happens if Vick got hurt and in week 8...what then, Mike Kafka?
Mike (Boca Raton)
A lot of people are concerned about Carson Palmer. Do you share those concerns? What are you hearing around the league?
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Bengals are 2-1 and I know of the concerns. And, yes, there are those around the league who believe Palmer maybe should have had the Tommy John surgery two years ago. However, he's also working with three new receivers - Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Greshman and Marvin Lewis is big on being a run-oriented team. Let's give it more time.
everyone keeps talking about the reception McNabb will get in PA, but will he perform well enough to win or are the Eagles better?
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
I think it's going to be a heck of a game. Brian Dawkins told me in August to watch out for McNabb vs. Eagles because "he always plays his best with a chip on his shoulder." The key is whether Eagles defense can show some improvement. Also, something I'm anxious to see is that Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett - who has come under fire recently - is very familiair with Vick from his years as the Saints head coach. But this is a different Vick with different weapons.
do you believe the chiefs would benefit from replacing brodie croyle with someone that would give matt cassell more compitition
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
I don't believe that GM Scott Pioli is interested in putting Cassel in a position where he's competing for his job because Todd Haley and Charlie Weis put enough pressure on him. He played much better this past ASunday. Let's see if the improvement comes.
Chris (Holmdel, NJ)
Chris, if they Cowboys end up 6-10 or 7-9 and miss the playoffs, how would you handicap replacements for Philips and Garrett as I couldn't see they surviving given the Superbowl expectations this year?
Chris Mortensen (11:58 AM)
I don't believe in handicapping this situation until the end of the season. As for Super Bowl expectation, they weren't my Super Bowl team. But that was a pretty impressive win in Houston, so let's see if they build on that.
mort, plz gimme a date when VJ comes back this season. cuz i need to drop him asap in my fantasy league, insight help needed!!
Chris Mortensen (12:01 PM)
Me, too! (He's on two of my fantasy teams). And I don't know. I always assume players eventually play but I'm beginning to wonder about Jackson because he apparently doesn't want to risk injury for such relatively little money. But he would be ill-advised if he doesn't report by week 10 deadline to gain an accrued season because of labor uncertainty.
With the QB changes all around the league, anyone interested in bringing in J. Russell? He has all the physical tools in the world, and reports are that he's doing well in Houston with John Lucas. Will teams see that playing QB in Oakland doesn't mean much (look at what's going on with Campbell).
Chris Mortensen (12:03 PM)
I believe Russell eventually will get another chance. One of the problems hanging over his head is this criminal case in Mobile.
Mort - what do you make of the Pats D right now? Will they improve as the season moves along?
Chris Mortensen (12:04 PM)
The Patriots defense is faster but still not as fast as the elite NFL defenses. I usually expect a Belichick defense to improve when there are young guys, if they can stay healthy.
Jeff (Atlanta, GA)
Long suffering Buffalo Bills fan. Any light at the end of the tunnel Chris? We might be the...GASP...worst team in the NFL right now...even worse than the Raiders. What do they need to address?
Chris Mortensen (12:07 PM)
The owner and the people who whisper in his ear need to just back off and let his football people do their job. Ralph Wilson Jr is in the Hall of fame because of what he did in the 60s and I do believe his loyalty to Buffalo is admirable. But he fired Bill Polian and John Butler couldn't wait to get out of there. And there were a lot of good things Tom Donahoe was doing, and could have continued doing, if he had been left alone. I know those aren't popular words but the best hope now is give GM Buddy Nix and HC Chan Gailey the resources and leave them alone!
Rob (San Antonio )
I am curious if anybody has heard from Ben during this Steelers winning streak and what he is up too? After all the off season drama (which I know will heat up AGAIN once he comes back) it has been awfully quiet.
Chris Mortensen (12:10 PM)
Merril Hoge has spent a lot of time with Ben and by many accounts he has really matured. He knows he messed up. He's not holding any pity parties. He knows he has to earn the respect of the organization, coaches, players and fans. And I will say he is working with an outstanding man and quarterback tutor in George Whitfield.
When all is said and done, who do you think will have the better career.. Sanchez or Henne?
Chris Mortensen (12:13 PM)
I think I have answered this recently - I lean toward Sanchez because he came into the league with only 16 college starts whereas Henne basically started his entire four years at Michigan, so I see more upside in Sanchez. I also think he's a more instinctive player and will be so as he gets more comfortable. But have good arms. Sanchez is a better athlete. Both are smart. Henne's performance was promising vs. the Jets - I know the Dolphins have been concerned with his accuracy and consistency during the off-season, training camp, preseason, practies, etc. But he has an outstanding QB coach in david lee and he sure looked improved Sunday night.
Evan (New York)
How hot is Mangini's seat in CLE?
Chris Mortensen (12:14 PM)
I'm sitting here in Bristol and it feels pretty hot from here.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Just throwing it out there...Mankins for Lynch? I know that's not even in terms of talent, but getting Lynch is better than nothing.
Chris Mortensen (12:16 PM)
It's an idea but Belichick doesn't seem interested in fully utilizing his running backs. Also, the Bills need an offensive tackle more than a guard, albeit a very good one.
Are Raider fans completely snake bit? Even in a game where it's what seems like a mortal lock, they lose. Do you think they will bounce back from that with some intensity on Sunday or lay down?
Chris Mortensen (12:17 PM)
It must be frustrating. I think Gradkowski brings them an intensity and competitive edge,and I say that even though I was expecting a better start by Jason Campbell.
Rich (Bayonne, NJ)
As a Niner fan who grew up watching the teams of the 80's and 90's, I really miss the West Coast Offense. They perfected it and watching what they do now on offense since Mariucci left, is pretty much embarrassing. If Singeltary were to be fired at the end of the year, should't the Niners first call be to Gruden? Then maybe their ideology and identity will resemble something like it did for 20 years.
Chris Mortensen (12:19 PM)
I ahve spoken with a couple of former 49er greats who believe the franchise needs to re-embrace the identity that Bill Walsh brought them. Gruden is a natural, but that doesn't mean I'm endorsing firing Singetary. There are 13 games left. Also, can the 49ers find the next Joe Montana or Steve Young? The thing about it, they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
Is Pittsburgh truly America's team? Did you see the number of fans in Tampa Bay??
Chris Mortensen (12:21 PM)
The Steelers have the best national following in the NFL. The Cowboys, Packers and Raiders(to an extent) are probably next. "America's Team" is a catchy little moniker but no fan base quite equals the Steelers' fan base, in my opinion.
Chris Mortensen (12:24 PM)
I have to end this now. Catch up with me on Twitter via @mortreport....facebook/Mortreport and if you have any interest in high school or college football, I consult for a great new site www.playnextlevel.com. Tony Romo interview is up, talking about his recruiting story and his never-ending strive for excellence. Great opportunity for players, coaches, fans on that site. Not just for the elite - some 895 colleges out there playing colege football. Take care and God Bless!