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 (11:01 AM)
Good morning! Let's roll on a whole bunch of NFL stuff.
Mort, if the Bears from a few years ago can get to the Super Bowl with the human roller coaster Rex Grossman than why can't they with Jay Cutler? It seems some experts act like he is the worst play off QB that will ever appear in NFL history.
Chris Mortensen (11:04 AM)
Well, some of those "experts" are wrong and some of them concede he is quite a talent but still believe he has too much gunslinger in him. Me, I've always been a Cutler supporter though I must admit I was alarmed by some of his carelessness - I believe that comes with the God-given gift of a great arm (Elway and Favre had the same problem in stretches. I do know that coaches who have coached him tell me they'd take him any day.
Mort, are you hearing that Baalke is a lock for the GM spot? How will the move be viewed if that is the case? Status Quo?
Chris Mortensen (11:05 AM)
No, Trent Baalke has a prettty high level of respect as a football guy and personnel evaluator. Most people believe they have had some strong drafts in past three years or so and Baalke was big part of that. Picking the head coach will be the critical element, followed by finding the true QB of the future.
Any chance Sparano is retained and Garrett from the Cowboys gets brought in as an OC?
Chris Mortensen (11:07 AM)
I think there's a 50-50 chance of Tony Sparano staying on, although you have an ownership very concerned about the empy seats and making a splash. I like what Sean Payton said - Tony's record in his first three years is almost identical to Payton's. I'm not sure Garrett would be an OC candidate in Miami. Maybe. I think Josh McDaniels is going to be a hot OC guy.
Matt (Toronto, ON)
Happy holidays and keep up the great work!What do you think of the Pro Bowl selections? Any snubs, in your opinion?
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
I haven't had much time to analyze the Pro Bowl teams - I'll do that a little later but a couple "snubs" that jumped out where Buffalo DT/NT Kyle Williams and Bucs OT Donald Penn.
If Denver decides to trade Kyle Orton, who would have interest, and what type of draft pick would be reasonable?
Chris Mortensen (11:11 AM)
Interesting question. I know some very good coaches - a couple who might be available - who believe Orton is very good and if they were in Denver, he would probably be their quarterback in 2011. I think the new coach will determine that along with the new GM. It was nice to watch Tebow play well the other day vs. the Texans, even if it was the worst defense in football. He has shown just how much he has worked even if he has not mastered the position - what rookie has?
If you were Lovie Smith, would you play "to the death" of the Green Bay Packers this weekend? I know the rest of the NFC is hoping they bounce them...
Chris Mortensen (11:13 AM)
I believe you play to win because you have a bye week and if you rest everyone that two entire weeks off, that can lend itself to some rustiness. However, if you have an injured player who may have play in a truly big game, Lovie probably should rest him. I also know that Lovie has been quite transparent about the winning the oldest rivalry in pro football. I'm sure he's very tempted to possibly knock the Packers out of the playoffs. Then again, beating the Packers won't be easy even if the Bears played all-out to win.
Matt (San Francisco)
Are the 49ers better served with a Mallet, Newton or Locker or giving up draft picks to acquire a Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb? Maybe both? McNabb while bringing along a Locker at a slower pace?
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
If I were the 49ers and Andrew Luck enters the draft, I'd package almost anything I have to (including a Pro Bowl player, if necessary) to acquire the rights to Luck. Otherwise, I would make the play for Kevin Kolb - and that will cost at least a 1st round pick. I would say no on the other guys if I had a chance to land Kolb.
Dan (Buffalo, NY)
Is Mangini done? If so does Holmgren take over for a year before Gruden or hire someone else?
Chris Mortensen (11:17 AM)
I don't know if Mangini is done but you hear rumblings. I have a real problem with firing coaches after two years when I see a pretty well-coached team that is lack game-breaking talent.
Greg (South County)
Hey Mort - There is a lot of talk about "Coaching Trees," and to some degree the strength of a coach's tree is a reflection on the success of that coach. Is it fair to say that Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff should be considered part of Bill Belichick's tree? Are Pioli/Dimitroff contenders for NFL Executive of the Year?
Chris Mortensen (11:20 AM)
Right on the mark here. Both Dimitroff and Pioli are contenders for executive of the year and it's clear there is a philosophy and blueprint in place with the Patriots that translates into success. Yes, Belichick produced that tree, but Pioli and Dimitroff brought their own strengths. And Belichick grew from prior experiences under a variety of mentors, including Bill Parcells.
Do you think Tom Brady locked up MVP after Vick's tough game against Minn?
Chris Mortensen (11:21 AM)
Yes. I felt Vick had to be pretty spectacular the final two games to overcome the strong case Brady has made as the NFL's MVP. In a way, I almost felt like Vick was trying to prove he was the MVP although it probably was more about trying to win a game.
Why are the colts now being mildly effective in the run game?
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes! How about that? I believe that's the case. Addai was out since week 6 and Rhodes' return brought a spark.
Is Andrew Luck the Answer for the 49ers Offense, if so why?
Chris Mortensen (11:24 AM)
He's the answer for any team in need of a franchise quarterback. If he virtually every quality teams look for in a franchise guy. We just don't know if he's leaving school after his redshirt sophomore season.
Austin (San Antonio)
How much stock should I put into Mike Sherman being the next Head Coach of the Texans? Thanks
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
He's a name on their list IF they fire Kubiak. That's all I know. I don't know that he would even be interested or if he is the guy the Texans would want if they make a move. We don't have any absolute yet on Kubiak being fired.
Should the Seahawks lose on purpose...winning and getting into the playoffs is just going to make everyone point and laugh. Losing will put the team in a position to snag a QB in the draft.
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
Simply put...no. Any team that loses on purpose will never be successful going forward.
any chance the niners hire a big name coach? Gruden?
Chris Mortensen (11:28 AM)
I don't think they're going to hire Gruden. Mike Singletary was a big name coach, right? It's about hiring the best coach to fit the philosophy that will be in place with the GM. That's usually the most successful formula in the NFL.
Do you think Monday will be a busy day with a lot of Head Coaches being let go or do you think with the uncertainty of the CBA that it will be quit for a couple of months?
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
I would say starting Monday there is about 7-to-10-day window to get a feel for the coaching landscape. if there are a lot of coach firings - and there already have been four - then it tells me owners have some optimism that there will be a new labor agreement in place at a reasonable time.
Mort, how would it be to see the chiefs against the patriots in an AFC title game.
Chris Mortensen (11:33 AM)
Very interesting. Generally, teams that have staffs who have been through New England play the Patriots very well. That would be the Chiefs.
Nick C (Ohio)
Will the Bengals fire Marvin Lewis?
Chris Mortensen (11:36 AM)
It's hard to fire someone who doesn't have a contract so it's a two-way street. Right now, I'm not anticipating that Lewis is back but maybe they work on an extension. If he's gone, I think DC Mike Zimmer would be a strong candidate to replace Lewis. I also have heard - that's hearsay - that Jim Fassel could be a sleeper candidate. Falcons OC Mike Mularkey also would be on the Bengals' short list.
I know talent is not the only criterion, but how are there three NFC QBs ahead of Aaron Rodgers in the Pro Bowl? He has had too good of a year with all the injuries they have had...Brees has 21 picks!
Chris Mortensen (11:38 AM)
Every year someone gets snubbed but it's difficult to argue against Vick, Ryan and Brees - yes, he has 21 picks but he was the primary catalyst to their strong finish the final 3/4 of the season. If Rodgers was chosen, it would be hard to argue but then we'd have the same question being asked about Ryan and Brees.
Patrick (Washington DC)
This may seem like a dumb question but what stops a college player from simply saying "I want to go pro but I don't want to go in the draft, I'll sign with whoever pays me the most money" Do teams all just agree that they will respect the draft process?
Chris Mortensen (11:42 AM)
The collective bargaining agreement is protected by labor law and when both sides agree on the process of a draft, etc., it is almost foolproof from legal challenges. The most recent example was the attempts by Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams legally challenging the 3-year rule and they were rejected because of labor law. And that is not a dumb question, Patrick. Good question.
Do you feel Leslie Frazier would be the smart choice for the Minnesota HC job or do you feel the Vikings need to look elsewhere?
Chris Mortensen (11:43 AM)
I believe strongly Frazier should be the guy. The Vikings have been through so much turmoil and some of that will continue with the uncertain stadium situation and some difficult decisions on older player contracts. Frazier is a steady, calm hand and that's exactly what the Vikings need at this time. Oh, he's also very qualified.
Gary (Charlotte )
Mort, I have seen your reports and others on Luck staying in school, but there have also been other reports about Harbaugh being interested in the 49ers job and the Michigan job, if he leaves Stanford, does that up the chances Luck leaves for the NFL?
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
In my mind, it does increase the likelihood that Luck would come out if Harbaugh leaves. That said, I know from speaking with Luck during the summer and with Harbaugh 2 or 3 weeks ago that Luck is a humble young man who believes in following his plan. That plan was to remain in school 4 years and get his degree. Nothing is set in stone, however. We know things change.
Rob (San Antonio, Texas)
Hey Mort, is it me or does it seem like more and more teams are packing it in and trying out their young Qb's? I'm thinking of Washington and Minnesota off the top of my head?
Chris Mortensen (11:49 AM)
Rex Grossman does not qualify as a young QB, at all. That was more about the Shanahans not believing that McNabb is their guy going forward and taking a look at Grossman to see if he's a worthy starter for 2011 or worthy enough to hold the fort until their future "young" QB is ready to play. Minnesota was simply a result of the injuries suffered by Brett Favre and Tavaris Jackson.
Hey Mort is it me or does it seem like the Giants are giving up on TC?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
It must be you. Did the Eagles give up on Andy Reid vs. the Vikings? Wasn't that loss as shocking - or more shocking - than the Giants' late collapse against the Eagles? Wasn't that the same Packers team that went into New England the week before and almost beat the Patriots with Matt Flynn? To quote Giants veteran center Shaun O'Hara on Coughlin's publicized "shaky" status: "Garbage." I'm sure if the Giants are embarrassed by the Redskins, there will be a discussion.
where is bill cower and what is he going to be doing next year?
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
Bill Cowher is at CBS Sports doing their pre-game show. IF teams like the Dolphins make a change, his name will be prominent. I'm still not ruling out the Carolina Panthers - it's his home state, they have the #1 pick and even though conventional wisdom is that owner Jerry Richardson doesn't want a big-money coach, he also knows he has a waning fan base and a team that has lost its identity.
CC (Atlanta )
Can you explain the unexplainable? Snyder gives McNabb that new deal to increase their ability to deal him in the offseason since it's clear they had no intention of exercising the extension. Yet they bench (and pubicly embarass) him for Rex which kills any trade value he might've had. What am I missing here?
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
What you are missing is labeling "Snyder" as doing this. He wouldn't have done this - well he certainly signed off on a McNabb extension because he wanted Donovan to be the guy going forward. However, Mike Shanahan is in charge of all things football with Bruce Allen executing the contracts and offering some strategy on this type of move.
Adam (Miami, FL)
How would you handicap the odds on the Dolphins firing Sparano? I love his enthusiasm, but I just don't see a guy who's build to be a head coach.
Chris Mortensen (11:59 AM)
I say it's 50-50 on Sparano. "Built" to be a head coach? Since I've covered this league for a quarter-century, I've heard that about a lot of guys, like Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Tony Dungy...oh, and Bill Belichick. That's just to name a few.
Eric (Auburn, AL)
Would it be smart for the Eagles to rest Vick this week against DAL since they are locked into the 3 seed?
Chris Mortensen (12:01 PM)
Yes, I think it's necessary. He's beat up. Needs the rest.
Don't you think Brent Grimes got robbed of being in the Pro Bowl just because he isn't a big name player. He has had a heck of a season and makes tremendous plays.
Chris Mortensen (12:01 PM)
I'd put Grimes on that list of guys who deserved to be elected to the Pro Bowl.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Regarding Sporano, I think in general owners need to give coaches at least 4 years to get the team turned around. I don't really see how the NFL is a whole lot different from colleges...it takes a few years to acquire the players that fit what you are trying to do (FA, draft). I think firing Sporano would be a bad move for the Dolphins.
Chris Mortensen (12:05 PM)
Shane, I agree with you. Unless it's just so ridiculously bad, four years is the minimum and I'd be willing to go 5 years. Sparano inherited a fairly bankrupt team and organization in terms of structure. I'm not saying he isn't culpable for that 1-7 home record but the Fins won some impressive games on the road, too. Nobody should forget the lesson of Tom Landry and Chuck Noll. Go look up their season-by-season records. Oh, and for those screaming for their coaches to be fired...let me use Tom Coughlin as an example. A year ago, that's all I heard about Lovie Smith. These guys are good coaches. Roll up your sleeves as an organization and make the fixes from within.
Chris Mortensen (12:08 PM)
I have to head back to the phones now. Catch us on Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 am. Adam Schefter and I - along with John Clayton - will be monitoring the coaching carousel Sunday night, all day Monday and throughout the next few weeks. Happy New Year and God Bless!