Chat with John Clayton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com NFL reporter John Clayton stops by to chat about the league at midseason.
Clayton is a senior writer at ESPN.com, joining the company in August 1995, after a long career covering the NFL as a newspaper reporter in Pittsburgh and Seattle. His presence across the network is ubiquitous, from ESPN.com and "SportsCenter" to ESPN Radio and ESPN The Magazine. He was inducted into the writers' wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. A 1976 graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, he was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2001.
Send your questions now and join Clayton Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
John Clayton (2:00 PM)
Welcome everyone. Let's start chatting
Joseph (Sacramento, CA)
There has been much speculation as to who the QB of the 2011 Redskins will be (McNabb, Vick, Cutler), who do you think will be at the helm for the Shanahans next year? Thanks, John.
John Clayton (2:02 PM)
Joseph, I predict the next Redskins qb will be Michael Vick. That could get complicated if the Eagles offer him a contract extension or franchise him. Still, if Vick is a free agent, I think the Redskins and Mike Shanahan will go for him.
Lou "The Toe" Groza (Dawg Pound)
Is it possible that my Brownies may finally have a foundation laid to be successful the next few years? Granted we still need playmakers on both sides(WR, Passrusher) but it seems the team is playing together and with passion. Thoughts?
John Clayton (2:04 PM)
The foundation is Mike Holmgren and that's a good start. He'll find the quarterback who will make the franchise better and this is a league of quarterbacks. He didn't go overboard in drafting Colt McCoy high, but you do see better quarterback play from him than anything in the past couple of years. The big thing is getting the right quarterback and more play-makers in the next couple of years. They are moving in the right direction.
What's up Professor? How big of a dropoff is Jonathan Scott from Max Starks?
John Clayton (2:06 PM)
The Steelers might be able to cover for the dropoff with some things they do in strategy. Down two tackles, they may not be able to do as many seven-step drops. They might have to be very simple with their running game. Flozell has struggled at times at right tackle, but he has enough left to get by. They just have to hope they can get by with Scott. It does put more pressure on Ben, but great quarterbacks can cover for struggling tackles.
Hi John, love your insight. Halfway through the season, who's your top 3 teams in the AFC? Ive got the Steelers, Jets and Ravens.
John Clayton (2:08 PM)
My order is a little different. I go Ravens first because did get the victory in Pittsburgh even though Ben Roethlisberger didn't start. I have the Steelers No. 2. The Jets are third followed by the Patriots. In the end, injuries are going to mean everything once these teams make the playoffs. The best team might not win. It might be the healthiest team that goes to the Super Bowl
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What will the NFL do about the players who flagarantly helmet to helmet hit?
John Clayton (2:10 PM)
Chris, I had some interesting conversations with people today about helmet hits. A lot of the receiver hits come in Cover Two or zone schemes. In zones, defenders have time to look and target receivers. With the collision being unavoidable, I think the league needs to look at padded helmet. That might soften the impact of the hits. A few players in the 1990s tried padded helmets and they didn't have concussions after using them.
What should we expect from Moss this week!
John Clayton (2:11 PM)
I think he will get about four catches for about 65 yards. He has to pick up the scheme quickly. This is his third offense in a little over a month.
Mark (Long Beach)
Yo John, better chance of making the playoffs, the Niners or Raiders?
John Clayton (2:12 PM)
Raiders. If they can get to nine, they might be able to get in. The Niners aren't out of it, but they have to have the Cardinals, Rams or Seahawks win only seven for them to have a chance.
Brandon Hemet,CA [via mobile]
Do you agree with the nfl network having jery rice as the #1 player of all time? If not who is in your opinion?
John Clayton (2:13 PM)
I had a vote in the debate. I went with Jim Brown. He was the best player I've seen. He dominated physically and he retired even though he could have still been a superstar for three or four more years after his retirement.
Buzzmaster (2:22 PM)
Hi folks! We had a time miscommunication so Clayton will be starting up again at 3 p.m. ET! Keep your questions coming and check back then!
John Clayton (3:02 PM)
It's good to be back. Let's get started. How about the Chad Pennington news?
Tim (New York)
How will Brandon Marshall be affected by the change at QB in Miami?
John Clayton (3:04 PM)
Tim,What's intereting is Chad just told reporters how well he clicked with Marshall in practice today. Pennington is a pro. He doesn't have an arm that throws deep but he's accurate. The disaster is giving up on Henne so fast. Remember, the Dolphins passed on Matt Ryan, who could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
Afternoon, John. My Colts need a rebound this week against the Bengals, which we definitely can get...However the New England game frightens me. I know it's next week but what are some areas the Indianapolis Peytons need to beef up before making that trip?
John Clayton (3:04 PM)
The injuries are a big concern. They may have more than eight players out for the Bengals game. The tough part about the Patriots game is the fact it is on the road. The Colts need to get Austin Collie and Joseph Addai back by that game against the Pats.
Hey John. Had a question about the Jets offense. With S. Holmes coming back, it seems they have started to throw more and have gotten away from "ground and pound". Have you seen this change? Also, if they do want to air it out more, why not use D. Keller with some play action? He was having great games until Holmes came back.
John Clayton (3:06 PM)
They need to go back to more ground and pounds. I don't know what happened during the bye week but it looked as though they tried to rethink the offense. It's pretty simple. They can mix some passes in on first down to confuse some teams, but to win, they need about 30 rushing attempts a game. There is no reason to get cute.
Is Dom Capers a candidate? I remember Jerry wanting to bring him in to help with the defense. Green Bay's been impressive, considering how injured they are
John Clayton (3:08 PM)
I don't think so. I think the order in Dallas goes _ 1. Jon Gruden, 2. John Fox, 3. Marvin Lewis. Someone was trying to talk me into Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh but Jerry can't commit to a college coach in early January if there is no CBA extension. The hire has to be an NFL head coach.
Dave (Charlotte, nc)
If Roddy White is limited tomorrow night how is that going to affect Matt Ryans play? Do you expect them to try and stretch the field if Baltimore game plans to stop the Burner Turner?
John Clayton (3:09 PM)
White will play but he probably won't be as effective as normal. I liked what I saw last Sunday with Matt throwing a long pass to Michael Jenkins. He'll need to get Harry Douglas more involved. Ryan made a big step forward last week in beating a Cover Two team. That was huge for the Falcons
CJ (Duluth, MN)
Hi John, Love your work. My question is about the 18 game schedule. We know that the commissioner would like to expand the NFL to overseas and other International locations. Does the 18 game schedule play into this at all? Thank you
John Clayton (3:11 PM)
The 18-game schedule provides enough revenue to work out a new CBA deal and it will be 18 games when a deal is completed. I wouldn't worry about the overseas part of it. The league isn't in a position to expand and I'm not sold there is the market for too many more international games even though the league believes there is. The problem with adding too many international games is it takes revenue away from the home stadiums.
Michael (Orlando, FL)
What is the Bears' record going to be the final eight games and will it be enough to make the playoffs?
John Clayton (3:12 PM)
I think the Bears get to 9-7. Their playoff hopes come down to a wild-card race against the Eagles, Redskins and Bucs. I think the Saints will get the first wildcard with 11 wins. The second wild-card is up for grabs. The Bears haven't been playing like a playoff team but they can make it.
I love Matthew Stafford and what he brings to the Lions' offense, but I hate that he can't stay healthy. That being said, do you think the Lions will try to make a move to acquire a verteran starter quarterback this offseason. Shaun Hill played great earlier this season but I would like to Mayhew get somebody who can start and stay for many years. I see Hill as the second coming of John Kitna.
John Clayton (3:14 PM)
The Lions just have to hope the third-degree separation isn't too bad. The good news is that the surgeries are pretty good in fixing up shoulders. Drew Brees had a much worse shoulder problem than people said at the time. Look how well he came back from his surgery. I think they can get by with Shaun Hill. For what it's worth, the Lions are second in the NFC in scoring and they've done that mostly with Shaun Hill as the quarterback.
Chris (kennett square )
hey john do you think bill cowher will coach for the Dolphins in 2011?
John Clayton (3:15 PM)
Chris, That's an interesting one. He's not going to Dallas or Carolina. I don't think he goes to Chicago if it's open. Miami may not have the quarterback who appeals to him, but I can see him taking a job there if it opens. Good call by you.
Joe (Harrisburg, PA)
Who do you have winning the AFC West?
John Clayton (3:17 PM)
Kansas City has the edge, but they have to watch out. The Chargers have three division home games in the next four games and if they win all three, the Chiefs could stumble and lose the division to the Raiders or the Chargers. Still, the Chiefs have the best chance to win the division at the moment.
John, if the Seahawks win the lottery called the NFC West, how do you think they'd fare in a home playoff game against the Eagles, Saints, or Bears?
John Clayton (3:17 PM)
They've beaten the Bears, so they can win that game, but I'd go with the Eagles or Saints in a playoff game in Seattle.
I saw that you have Champ Bailey on your all-pro team. Can you really say that he has played better than Brandon Flowers, Aqib Talib, Tramon Williams or Alphonso Smith? All of those guys have forced more turnovers and played well in run support. Champ looks a step slow this year, having been burned on deep passes several times. Ignore the names and there is no way that Champ is a midseason All-Pro.
John Clayton (3:20 PM)
I can. Flowers was my next choice, but a good second half swings everything back to Revis. As well as Smith has played in Detroit, remember he wasn't even among the top three corners in Denver with Champ. I'd have Charles Woodson ahead of Williams. Talk to the players who have gone against Bailey this year. It's his best season in about three years. He still has it.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
I am psyched that the Dolphins finally came to their senses and named Chad Pennington (the most accurate QB in NFL history) as their starter this week. Do you see him creating the spark the team needs to make the postseason?
John Clayton (3:21 PM)
He'll create a spark for a couple weeks but I don't know if he can sustain it for eight weeks. To me, this move spells of panic. Henne is good, but I think they try to protect him too much by not letting him throw deep. By protecting him, they've now sent him to the bench. The reason I say panic is that they also cut Jason Allen this week. A few weeks ago he was playing pretty well
What are the chances that Choice becomes the primary RB for Dallas? Thanks
John Clayton (3:22 PM)
None. They need to go with Felix Jones.
What happens to Vick and Kobb next year? Will they both be starting somewhere?
John Clayton (3:23 PM)
Agreed. I think the Eagles with stay with Kolb and let Vick go, but Vick would be willing to take a discounted deal to stay if they want him.
CJ (Duluth, MN)
With Adrian Peterson's fumble problem virtually gone so far this season. Does this elevate him to the top back in the league?
John Clayton (3:25 PM)
If you looked at my All-Pro team, I think it did. Arian Foster had more yards. I think Peterson has had the better season. Peterson and Chris Johnson are the best backs in football.
Hey John, why is it that most of the professionals who actually cover the NFL seem to down play the titans year in and year out. As a Titans fan who is objective in seeing the flaws of the team it is as though the Titans must go out an prove overwhelmingly how good they are, whereas a team like the jets is presumed to be among the elite having proved much less (this season). i wonder if you guys (writers) actually get the chance to watch smaller market teams outside of a prime time event. where a team like dallas has to completely embarrass themselves before you guys actually stop picking them to win games. what is it not only the Titans but other small market teams like Kansas City need to do to earn a more respectable following amongst the media
John Clayton (3:27 PM)
I've been to more Titans games than Jets or Giants game over the past few years. I haven't even been in Dallas' new stadium. In fact, I've probably been one of the biggest proponents of the Titans in the past three years. The reason they don't get more respect is because they are in an AFC loaded with top quarterbacks and they are a running team in a passing league. It's just hard for running teams to rank higher than the quarterback driven teams in this conference.
Are the Raiders a better team (playoff team??) with Campbell or Gradkowski behind center??
John Clayton (3:28 PM)
Campbell. He's a 65-percent thrower and he can throw the deep ball. I made the Raiders one of my surprise teams this year because of the Campbell trade. That's why I was stunned he was benched after six quarters.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Do you think Ben Roethlisberger has made the appropriate steps (i.e., have developed) as he should in is development as an "elite" player? Seems like he is still running around too much like a chicken with his head cut off.
John Clayton (3:30 PM)
He's one of the best. I liked how he used the balance offense in the Cincinnati game. Those AFC North games are hard for a quarterback because the defenses in the division are so good and they know the quarterbacks so well. One of the reasons I'm leaning to the Steelers for the Super Bowl at the moment is the easier closing schedule and Ben.
Chris (Columbia, MO)
John, What is the latest news on Sidney Rice? I heard his status depended on how he did in practice, is this still true? Is he out there participating?
John Clayton (3:31 PM)
Rice is getting closer and has a chance to be active. I'd say he'd be on the field for about 10 or 20 plays against the Bears unless he has a setback
Sam Laden (Cincy)
michael crabtree or dez bryant as a better reciever?
John Clayton (3:32 PM)
This might be an upset but I think Bryant is better. The injuries affected him early in the season, but he's faster than Crabtree and he's slightly better catching the ball. Regardless, I'd have either one as a No. 1 receiver.
Ben O. (NYC)
Professor, I love the mid season report cards, but I think you were way too generous with the 49ers. I think Singletary has mismanaged this team. The offense has been too sloppy with turning the ball over for most of the season and haven't generated enough turnovers on the defensive side. What say you?
John Clayton (3:34 PM)
You're probably right and I think I said that in my mid-season stream. They have nine-win talent and they are probably going to end up 6-10. That could cost Singletary his job.
Will McDaniels start giving Tebow reps as a passer in Denver? Orton has been good, near great, but McDaniels needs Tebow to be the Broncos' future, so is it worth getting him some experience this year?
John Clayton (3:35 PM)
That would be a mistake. He's not ready. To win back some fans, McDaniels needs to win some games, and the only quarterback on that team to have a chance to do that is Orton.
The Chief (Vienna , VA)
Offensive linemen get no respect. why not some love for M.Pouncey a Offensive Rooke
John Clayton (3:36 PM)
Chief,I almost made Pouncey my mid-season All-Pro center, but Mangold has been great as usual. A center isn't ever going to beat out a quarterback as talented as Sam Bradford in any voting.
Chad (Southern Cali)
I am just so discouraged on seeing how far the Broncos have fallen in the last year and a half or so. In my 29 years i have never heard the Broncos the su bject of being one of the most hapless teams in the league. How far does Pat Bowlen let this go on until there is a change made?
John Clayton (3:38 PM)
Chad,You're talking to the wrong guy. Remember, I'm the idiot who said they would be 3-13 in 2009 and they went off to a 6-0 start. They've been 4-12 since, but I'm not saying I told you so. I feel bad because Denver has some of the best fans in the league. Josh is a bright coach, but I haven't like the personnel decision. That said, Josh need another season after this year to prove how good he is.
The NFL could very well have an 8-8 team to win the division this year and host a play off game. Do you think that there will be enough outrage for the NFL to change the playoff system. Winning th division should gurantee a playoff game, not a home playoff game. Also it could make all games important instead of teams resting players at the end of season. What do you think.
John Clayton (3:40 PM)
They'll be outrage. I think 7-9 could win the NFC West. I don't see the league changing the format and allowing a wild-card team to get a home game against a division winner in the future, though.
hey john, what do you think not only the dolphins but defenses in general will do to handle the titans offense. if you look back at their games they have had receivers running wide open all season. with the addition of randy moss do you think teams will back out of the box and play the titans honestly or will randy moss be left single covered ?
John Clayton (3:42 PM)
Anthony,I think the Dolphins will worry about Johnson first and then Moss second, which could lead to some single coverage on Moss at times.
Just read your mid-season report, and was shocked to see that Vick wasn't even considered for the comeback player... why?
John Clayton (3:44 PM)
He was considered. I'm still worried about the injuries with Michael. He takes 18 to 20 hits a game and he's sacrificing his body for the team. Mike Williams of the Seahawks came out of nowhere. If Vick gets about 10 or 11 starts, he might win it.
Is Jerod Mayo a Pro Bowler this year, John? He pretty much is the New England defense and is leading the league in tackles. Can't overlook that, right?
John Clayton (3:44 PM)
He's among the tackle leaders so I would say absolutely.
Nate (Bloomsburg, PA)
Is it real to believe that the St. Louis Rams could quite possibly be an NFC sleeper pick for 2011?
John Clayton (3:45 PM)
I'm getting called away here in a couple of questions, but Nate, it's safe to say the Rams could quite possibly win the NFC West. That would make them a sleeper
Even though analysts and half the fans in America see it....will Childress allow Favre to use the hurry-up as he sees fit?
John Clayton (3:46 PM)
One of the reasons quarterbacks have some trouble with Childress is he doesn't let them audible and he hates it when they improvise. In answer to your question, no, but Brett could do that regardless
Who do you like this Thursday in the Atlanta-Baltimore matchup?
John Clayton (3:47 PM)
Atlanta because they are hard to beat at home.
Jack (New York)
What is your opinion of Mark Sanchez? Potential to be 'great' or will stay inconsistent his entire career?
John Clayton (3:48 PM)
I think Sanchez is just like Chad Pennington. He's good enough to take a team to the playoffs. He's not elite and I don't think he ever will be but he's good enough.
Luke (Marquette, MI)
First instinct: Packers final record?
John Clayton (3:48 PM)
i'd say 10-6
John how was Perry Fewell not your assistant of the year?
John Clayton (3:49 PM)
Perry is doing with with Giants talent. Scott Linehan is doing it in Detroit.
John Clayton (3:50 PM)
Thanks everyone. This has been great. We'll do it again. I'm signing off and getting ready for 4:30 Sports Center