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 (11:04 AM)
Good morning...what's on your mind?
phil (san deigo)
Are the Chargers going to the make a deep postseason run?
Chris Mortensen (11:07 AM)
I wouldn't bet against them, although you have to worry about whether Antonio Gates can get reasonably healthy with that foot injury. I think it's vital to a deep run for the Chargers. And that's the problem with starting slow - it leaves little margin for error so Gates felt compelled to play with an injury when he should be healing up for that late run.
Hello Mort. What troubles my Miami Dolphins? They seem to be so up and down like many teams in the NFL. I feel what plauges them is the play calling and not entirely Hennes performance. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:08 AM)
I think it's a problem that plagues the majority of NFL teams; they've had injuries, they've been inconsistent. I think we forget Henne is a young quarterback but he really impressed me this past week because I know he's injured with that knee. I love his toughness - you can win with a guy like that. I think you're mostly wrong about play-calling.
Do you still think the Bills need to draft a QB? How about a great left tackle? Thoughts?
Chris Mortensen (11:11 AM)
They definitely need to upgrade the O-line. As far as a QB goes, I'd say maybe you draft one but only if it's someone you have a conviction about. I believe they can win with Ryan Fitzpatrick if they continue to upgrade the talent.
Mort I never hear Steve Spagnolo's name in the discussion for Coach of the Year. He has a good chance to take last year's 1-15 squad to the division title with a rookie QB and a bunch of no name WRs. Where's the respect?
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
Spags definitely deserves high, high plaudits for his work with the Rams. I think there's only been one or two games where they haven't been competitive. It is an extremely well-coached team so I agree he should be in the discussion for coach of the year if it continues.
With Atlanta playing so well, and their ability to be completely balanced awhile holding time of possession and spreading the ball around to whoever is available, do you think there is anyone who can stop them if they play at home throughout the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
The Falcons are the most intriguing dome team in the NFL because they are built to play anywhere, anytime. They are physical, they can run the ball and I think Matt Ryan would cope well with cold weather. And we all know their home record. But anyone is beatable at home. As you know the Falcons have won a few games this year at home the easily could have lost. But I like 'em a lot.
Hi Mort Unlike most in Raider Nation, I actually have faith in Jason Campbell's abilities. He seems like the type of QB who would do quite well if just given adequate protection. If Oakland could improve the pass blocking I think they'd be competitive. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
I have to go to Fargo again here.... On the Raiders, yes, I believe with protection Jason Campbell is capable of very good things. But quarterbacks have to learn how to cope with tight pockets, how to slide and create windows, how to help their O-line and certainly communicate well to get everyone in the right protection plays, as well as recognize the blitz and your checkdowns.
Mort, a penny for your thoughts on the latest Harrison fine. Are all roughing the passer flags going to be followed by fines? Just the ones called on Harrison?
Chris Mortensen (11:21 AM)
Most roughing the passer penalties are followed by fines. At the very least, I was disappointed by the amount of the fine on Harrison. These are the rules. I have a problem with this call on the Fitzpatrick hit. But owners and head coaches have made it clear they want their quarterbacks protected to a fault, to the point the rules even read that if the referee is in doubt, he should throw the flag. On this one, I didn't like the call, I didn't like the amount of the fine for Harrison.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
Have you noticed QB's getting hit almost every time they go into a slide and give themselves up, yet the refs aren't calling it?
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
I think the QBs cut it close with their slides and when they're out their running, they are fair game until they are actually into their slide. Yes, there are bang-bang plays but on the slide issues, I believe the officials have gotten it right most of the time.
Mike (San Diego)
Hey Mort, Do you see any truth in the report that Philip Anchutz will, or has, purchased a 35% share of the chargers?
Chris Mortensen (11:25 AM)
I believe where there's smoke, there's fire. It has been no secret that the Spanos familly - like many, many owners in the NFL - are seeking minority buyers in part for an infusion of cash. I have stated on TV and radio that I believe the Chargers are probably the most prime candidate to move to Los Angeles.
Kim (Columbus, OH)
Hi Mort -- Besides Marvin Lewis surely being gone, what other wholesale changes do you see for the Bengals in the off season? Cut ties with Carson Palmer? Thanks!
Chris Mortensen (11:28 AM)
I guess I would answer your question with a question: So, who are you going to get to play quarterback? Carson probably needs a fresh start and I agree that he is not at the same level but I just don't know where you get a quarterback as talented as him. Maybe that dust will settle and we'll be able to see the picture with more clarity.
brad (ballston spa ny)
Can the Dolphins win out? I think they can if they are not too conservative. What are your thoughts?
Chris Mortensen (11:33 AM)
I think they can win only if they are conservative. Now that doesn't mean you don't take shots at big plays. But the reason they got two quarterbacks hurt in the same game is they decided to get into more of a spread look with multiple receivers. Henne is the type of guy you max protect.
Mort, I can't understand how the NFL cracks down so hard on hits to the head during play, but when players like Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan start throwing punches they only get fines. What are your thoughts?
Chris Mortensen (11:36 AM)
They should only get fines. I do think this fight deserved a higher amount of fines. They got ejected. If there was somebody stomping on someone's head or a serious injury, then I do believe NFL would raise the ante. There are only 16 games and we're now headed down a critical stretch and the league is appropriately reluctant to remove players from the field, especially since they remove themselves when they are ejected for fighting.
Mort, has the whole "the ground cannot cause a fumble" gone out the window? I'm specifically asking regarding the Giants/Eagles game went Eli dove head first and the ground caused a fumble towards the end of the game. Did the rule change?
Chris Mortensen (11:37 AM)
The ground can't cause a fumble if there has been physical contact with another player. There was no contact in Eli's case.
Crandall Head (Champaign)
Yo Chris, what do you think about that official flagging jay cutler for yelling at him after he missed an obvious pass interference on Forte, do you think its time for the NFL to crack down on bad calls by the officials, its time for only the good referees to be on the field send the rest back to high school games
Chris Mortensen (11:38 AM)
I understood Cutler's frustration and officials are fined and graded down, which can cost them coveted playoff assignments or even grade themselves out of the league.
Hey Mort, Who wins Monday Night's Battle for AFC Supremacy and why ?
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
I need help on the Partiots-Jets game. I was set to pick the Jets but then I had the appropriate hesitation because you have to hit Tom Brady to beat him. I don't see the Jets defense hitting a lot of quarterbacks.
Most of us don't have a problem with players getting fined for hits,the biggest concern is the seemingly inconsitencey of the fines.Is there any talk of setting up a system to put a chart of some sort for this type hit gets fined this much ect..?
Chris Mortensen (11:42 AM)
There is a fine chart and I'm sure it will be further defined in the next season. There's a progressive discipline standard in the CBA but flagrant acts clearly can draw a more immediate higher fine.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Mort, we could have a situation where the 2 wildcard teams in the AFC finish 13-3 and 12-4, and have to go on the road to 2 division winners with 8-8 records. If that happens, will the NFL look into changing how it seeds teams in the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
That discussion pops up every two or three years. Even commissioner Goodell has raised the prospect of seeding teams. However, each year the schedules are different and a team may win a much tougher division in the same year it drew a tough out-of-division schedule, have a lesser record, and so you penalize a team despite winning its division. Obviously, this is not the case this year with the NFC West. I do believe there will be discussions again on this matter.
Ron (Salisbury, Md.)
I believe moving the Umpire has led to many pass interference calls over the middle being missed. They need to move them back to the original position. What's your take.
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
Generally, the umpire is not the one throwing the flag on pass interference calls.
If the AFC is so much better than the NFC, why did the pack shut out the jets at home? Why will the bears beat NE and NY? Not just home field right?
Chris Mortensen (11:47 AM)
Agree. I don't think the AFC is much better, if any better, than the NFC. I think the best four or five teams from the NFC would stand up very well with the best from the AFC once we get to January.
How about a 11-5 wildcard playing at the division winning NFC West winner at 7-9. Something needs to change.
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
If you're better than the 7-9 team, then you beat 'em no matter where it's played when the stakes are that high.
How enraged are the NFL owners over the UFL transfer fee for players?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
I think general managers and coaches may be a little frustrated over it. But I do believe the UFL has a strategy here to encourage the NFL to become a minority investor/partner. I don't think there's a consensus from NFL owners for that type of deal in this uncertain climate.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Have the last 2 weeks exposed an effective plan to beat Michael Vick to the rest of the league?
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Exposed is not the right word. He has played well. It just comes off that lights-out performance vs. the Redskins. You have to have the defensive personnel in the front four/seven to aggressively attack Vick. You helps to have a Julius Peppers, too. The Bears and Giants just happen to have that type of personnel but the Eagles beat the Giants and Vick played well - just not off the charts - vs. the Bears.
James Robert (KY)
Is there a reason we are seeing a league wide epidemic of bad offensive line play?Is it just a cycle where defensive players are just better than thhe offensive lineman or is it deeper than that?
Chris Mortensen (11:55 AM)
Very good question and don't know if I have the time or space to satisfy the question. For one, personnel people lose a lot of sleep identifying college linemen who are gifted enough to block the great athletes that play on the defensive side. Next, you have to utilize tight ends to help in protection and run blocking. I also believe that good line coaches build cohesive units but I know some football people who believe the position coaching is lacking with the retirement of some very good O-line coaches. Depth is an issue because of injuries. Firing head coaches and shuffling staffs create problems, too.
Is the eagles loss to the bears to be blamed on the absence of Asante Samuel or are there other reasons?
Chris Mortensen (11:57 AM)
Samuel is a very good ball-skills guy so that hurt but the Bears are a good team and, as I just stated, their defensive front seven is as good as there is in the NFL. The Bears have some offensive skill talent, too, and their line is playing better.
Bill (Larchmont, NY)
Mort- when Singeltary goes I was hoping for Gruden. Now it sounds like UM for him (I'm a bit skeptcia), but if not him would Holmgren go coach there? Also, you think those 2 first round draft picks last year could have been parlayed into Bradford. Yes, I'm playing MMQB.
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
I don't know what's going to happen in SF. I don't believe Gruden will actually take the Miami job. Holmgren is an interesting name, too. And, no, you could not have parlayed those two first-round picks for Bradford. The Rams weren't seriously considering any offers for that top pick. It's also revisionist history because there were a lot of doubts out there about Bradford that the Rams didn't share.
Mort, McCoy, Delhomme and Wallace are all healthy. You are the head coach. Who starts and why?
Chris Mortensen (12:02 PM)
Based on what I've seen, I'd say Colt McCoy should be the starter when he's healthy, whcih he's not. If not McCoy then Seneca Wallace. And I say that knowing I am very fond of Jake Delhomme as one of the great stand-up guys in the NFL. However, it does appear Delhomme will keep the job until McCoy is healthy.
James (Temple, GA)
Hey Mort, with the looming lockout, what happens to the NFL draft and the players that have declared early?
Chris Mortensen (12:06 PM)
There is a draft, period. It's already written into the CBA for 2011. However, a college player that has to declare by Jan. 14 certainly will have to ask a lot of questions about the process once he is drafted. The biggest dilemma for teams that I've heard relates to those rookies who aren't drafted. Normally, teams scramble to sign a bunch of those undrafted players but without a CBA it's believed that no player without a contract can sign one. Of course, drafted guys generally don't sign until close to training camp. But it creates a different dynamic for this draft.
Brian (Fishers, IN)
So have the Chiefs pretty much been written off as serious division contenders? Last I checked they were in 1st place, but most experts seem more enamored with SD, and even OAK.
Chris Mortensen (12:08 PM)
Sounds like you have a complex. I hear a lot more people talking about the Chiefs more than the Raiders. But the Chargers' history of strong finishes under Norv Turner and the fact they have some outstanding talent with a great quarterback makes them very topical. However, I think the Chiefs clearly are going to make this interesting.
Chris Mortensen (12:10 PM)
Sorry, but I have to run on to other responsibilities. I'll catch you on Twitter @mortreport. Hope you watch on Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 am ET. God Bless!