Chris Mortensen (12:04 PM)
Hello everyone! Good afternoon. I'm in Washington D.C. for the Redskins-Jets game. A lot of excitement! Let's get started!
Has Billichiken lost it or what? MIlloy has lost a step? If this is true why did he allow Tebuckey Jones to be traded to New Orleans? why not just sign Milloy and keep him? Furthermore, why sign a guy who lost more than a step in Harrison? WHATEVER!
Chris Mortensen (12:06 PM)
Well, Bill is one of the smartest football guys you will ever meet. It's difficult for a guy like me to second guess him but I have to second guess him. Most of the personnel folks I have spoken to say this is the same football player who has gone to the Pro Bowl the past 4 out of 5 years. The reaction of Pats players - which has been very negative - tells you they are losinga very popular teammate. As of right now, I am clearly second guessing Belichick but knowing that this is a pretty smart football guy. Let's see how this thing falls.
Jeff (Franklin, TN)
Mort, Good to hear you're feeling better. Let's get this Jets-Redskins issue finished. Eventhough the Skins signed 4 Jets in the off season, do you think the Jets still have a better team than the Skins and will win tonight? Thanks Mort.
Chris Mortensen (12:08 PM)
I think it's close to being a toss up. I've always said that Daniel Snyder did Steve Spurrier a favor with these signings. The thing about Coles, Morton and Thomas is that they are all quality players who are still young in their prime. The Redskins are still in pretty good salary cap situation. The Jets were hurt by losing those players, no debate. The Redskins offense should be fine if Ramsay can stay protected. But how good is that defense? We'll find out tonight. Maybe.
Do you think there is a KC receiver that is going to be able to rise above the rest? Right now Morton, Kennison, Hall and Boerigter are all serviceable, but none seem to shine.
Chris Mortensen (12:10 PM)
Good question. All those guys are pretty good. I was surpised that Kennison came out and played so well when everyone had written him off. I think Boerigter might rise above them all. But I'm told by many that Morton might be the guy. They think he might be what they thought he would be one year ago. I think you will see Tony Gongalez bounce back in a big way at TE.
Mort, thank God real football is back. Seems like every year we debate shortening the preseason. Will the money factor always prevent this from happening? Can't the player's union do anything about it?
Chris Mortensen (12:13 PM)
The money is what drives this business. That has to be a factor. I think the issue is whether the NFL could pull off a 18 game season (under current salary cap). I'm not sure they could do that. The talent would be spread too thin. It would be an accident waiting to happen. Regular season is much more intense than preseason. You would see a lot of injuries that would frustrate you just as much if not more. The only way I could see it working is if the NFL expanded rosters but then you still have the issue of enough talent to go around. I believe that more rookies than ever made rosters this year. That tells me that preseason games are for them. Bottom line, coaches still control who goes on the field during preseason. The majority of them still feel the veteran players still need some time to get ready.
tony, columbus, ohio
What has been the word about Antwann Randall El progression throughout the offseaseon and preseason. It seemed to me that the Steelers did not feature him much during the preaseason.
Chris Mortensen (12:15 PM)
I think he will have his moments. The Steelers have a Pro Bowl guy in Hines Ward and Plaxico Buress who could become an elite receiver. He could step into the realm of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. How many balls do you have to spread around? Randall El could be like Hakim with the Rams. I know Mike Mularkey and he is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. They fill find a way to get him the ball. I'm not sure they wanted to expose him much in the preseason. Keeping him healthy was important to them as well.
jules n.o. La
i've got the saints pegged for 5-11.does that sound about right?
Chris Mortensen (12:16 PM)
No!! That doesn't sound right! The Saints go into the season as a complete mystery though to me and many others. I have to see them as a .500 team until they show that they are ready to take the next step. There are two keys, the maturity of Aaron Brooks at QB and whether the defense can come together with some of the changes they have made.
Jim (Champaign IL)
Mort, With the constant off-season yammering by Chris Hovan about how he is going to make Brett Favre pay, by 'breaking the link' (whatever that means). Does the NFL monitor games more closely for fineable offenses when 'heated' rivals are playing? Thanks,
Chris Mortensen (12:17 PM)
Well, listen. The officials are always aware of these things. But this particular issue has been very overblown. Hovan is a high strung, passionate guy. I don't think for one moment he would go after Favre to injure him. Do these guys want to go after ohter guys? Yes. Do they want to hurt a guy like Faver? No way.
Jason (Los Angeles)
Thanks for your time today Mort. YOU NEVER ANSWER MY BRONCOS QUESTIONS! Do you think Plummer has what it takes to lead the Broncos? Where do you see them placing? Also, do you see my man McCaffery getting replaced by Lelie this year? Please say it ain't so!!!!! Thanks Mort, God speed!
Chris Mortensen (12:19 PM)
Broncos are one of the great mystery teams too. Because of the first question. Is Plummer ready to lead this team? Some people think he will be prone to mistakes. We will see how good a coach Shanahan is. Can he manage Plummer and allow him to still get the most out of the physical gifts Plummer has. I think Shanahan thinks he brings more to the table than Griese did. But it's fair to be skeptical until we see it. There is no question Lelie has to be on the field and will eventually be the guy you see making the big plays for the Bronocs offense.
Mort. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? I can't wait. Back to business. In your most humble opinion will Onterrio Smith be an impact player this year and will he eventually work himself into the starting lineup?
Chris Mortensen (12:21 PM)
I think the Vikings are hoping he does just that, within 4 or 5 weeks. The problem with a lot of these young backs is not whether they can run the ball, it's whether they will make mental mistakes that put your QB at risk in the passing game.
Cody, CDA Idaho
Hey MORT!!!!!!!! Got a good question for ya. Do you see there being a quarterback controversy with the Rams or has Warner really regained his skills from seasons past?
Chris Mortensen (12:22 PM)
Based on everything we have seen in preseason, you have to say Warner is back to being Warner. I try not to evaluate teams in preseason as much as individual players. Evaluating him, I think he is back to MVP form. Obviously he has to stay healthy, but that is true of everyone.
Do you think the aquisition of Lawyer Milloy makes Buffalo a serious contender for an AFC championship ring?
Chris Mortensen (12:23 PM)
Absolutely! In my mind they were already a playoff contender. He makes them a Super Bowl contender. I think it hurts the Pats, no matter how they try to spin it.
Mort, why is everyone trying to make Garcia's injury bigger then it really is. He played just like he normally does throughout the pre-season, and he even took big hits with no effect to him.
Chris Mortensen (12:25 PM)
Yeah, but he didn't play enough for the 49ers to have their OWN sense of security about how this will play out. Internally, they are hopeful, but if they are being totally honest, they are still concerned about his back. When the hits start coming faster and the style of game he plays, he will do anything he can to get that first down, which will expose him. He has had 5 epidirol injections and is playing in a high end sport. There is a reason why the 49ers are a little uncomfortable. Jeff is determined to play 16 games though.
Chet (Buffalo, NY)
Hey, Mort - As a reporter for ESPN, do you find that you get better quotes from ex-ESPN employees like Vinny Cerrato? Or do the quiet ones remain quiet when (if) they return to the world of pro football?
Chris Mortensen (12:27 PM)
To me the best example of that is Marty Schottenheimer. I always had a lot of respect for him as Chiefs coach but after being around him 2 years at ESPN I found there to be a far differnet man than I knew before. That led to a different level of relationship that makes a guy like him much more personable to me and makes it better than it was before.
Football is Back! Hey Mort, I just wanted to know what you think on the Ravens starting Kyle Boller in steel city on sunday. How do you think he will do? Thanks a lot Mort!
Chris Mortensen (12:28 PM)
This is one of the great questions of the season. The Ravens defense has a chance to be a dominant defense in the NFL. They are going to be a team that runs the ball with Jamal Lewis. They are my pick to win the AFC North. But conventional wisdom tells you that you don't get to the Super Bowl with a rookie QB. They think he is capable of big plays but rookies of also capable of big mistakes.
Bill, Vail Colorado
Larry Allen: a 360 pound enigma. What gives? and what do you expect of the Cowboys' running game this season? Average, above or below?
Chris Mortensen (12:30 PM)
Right now I am expecting a below average running game. This is a guy who up until last year was arguably the most dominant guard in NFL history. But he has been injured which has caused him to be out of shape. Getting him back in the lineup in good condition has been a top priority for Bill Parcells. They have made some progress there but then you still have the issue as to whether Troy Hambrick can carry a load at running back.
Jeremy (Baltimore, Md)
Hey Mort, Is this the year Lavar really excels? He finally has the same system for consecutive years. I see a real big season from him.
Chris Mortensen (12:31 PM)
Seems like I have been getting that question for 3 years. Certainly playing in the same system should help him. He has great athletic ability and I expect him to be a very good LB. Will he be an impact guy each week? That is probably up to him.
Jon Wagner (South Vienna, OH)
Hey I am a Bengals fan. Do I have any reason for hope at all? Not just this year but for the foreseeable future? Please say yes, if a man aint got hope then what does a man got? Thanks for the time.
Chris Mortensen (12:33 PM)
Yes. Does that make you feel better? I wouldn't tell you to have too much hope for this year but Marvin Lewis has proven one thing .. he is running the show. We are not talking about Mike Brown. That is a good thing. The players now identify with Lewis instead of Brown. Clearly with a young talented QB in Carson Palmer, the Bengals have a chance to be exciting in the future and make a playoff run.
Nick (Nashville, TN)
Hey Mort.. what was up with Cox and Golic both adamantly poo-pooing the Seahawks playoff chances the other night?? It's pretty clear to me neither one of them has looked at the Hawks depth chart. Wanna help them out and set the record straight???
Chris Mortensen (12:35 PM)
Yeah, I think they are a legitimate playoff team. They are like a lot of teams, they seem ready to burst out of the mediocrity that they have been mired in. But they also have question marks. I happen to think the offense will be among the top 5 and the defense will be improved. It might just get them a wildcard spot. That doesn't mean I don't love Cox and Golic ..
What give Mort, no questions from the femail fans?? Any chance that Cleveland returns to the postseason this year??
Chris Mortensen (12:37 PM)
I will contradict myself a little hear .. I said I don't use the preseason to evalutate teams .. the Browns did play with my head a little bit watching their defense struggle in the preseason. I'm hearing a lot of negative things from other coaches about their defensive line, which was supposed to be a strength. That being stated, I think their offense and special teams will be really good. Good enough to offset a spotty defense? That will determine whether they return to the playoffs.
Chris Mortensen (12:37 PM)
On that basis, the Colts are a pretty good test for them in the opener.
Guy Enfield NH
What would have happened if they, Patriots, would have kept Milloy with the contract he had, I am a little confused with the salary cap I guess??? Thanks
Chris Mortensen (12:38 PM)
They have been trying to get Milloy and Law to restructure. There was a spirit of uncooperation that clearly strained relationships. Even though Belichick said that signing Harrison (another strong safety) would not change their scheme, clearly having Harrison must have given Belichick the confidence to try and leverage Milloy and this is how it worked out.
J- Buffalo NY
What rookie that we havent really heard much about do you think will have a good year?
Chris Mortensen (12:40 PM)
I don't know if that qualifies Teyo Johnson, a tight end/H back for the Raidres. He is one that comes to mind.
Chris Mortensen (12:40 PM)
You probably already thought of him, huh?
Mort, Is Bill Cowher on the hot seat?
Chris Mortensen (12:41 PM)
The hot seat is defined differently than what you may think. Will he get fired if they don't go to the playoffs? Probably not. But he is on the hot seat as far as expectations go.
What is the running back situation in Tampa Bay? Is it going to be Pittman or Jones?
Chris Mortensen (12:43 PM)
Well, right now it is RB by committee. But everyone is keeping an eye on Pittman. Two witnesses that were supposed to testify against him did not show up in court this week. One included his wife, the subject of the alleged domestic dispute. Pittman figures to be there No. 1 guy but they have Allstot, Stecker and Jones.
Ani (Chicago, IL)
Hey Mort! I wanted to know what you think of the San Fran running back situation? Do you see Garrison Hearst still having a big year? or will Kevin and him split the carries?
Chris Mortensen (12:44 PM)
I don't think there is any question that Barlow will take away some of Garrison's carries. The sense I get out of San Fran is that at some point (may be now) Garrison is not going to be as effective as he used to be. The thing about Hearst that maybe the average fan cannot apprecitate, he is absolutely brilliant at protecting his QB (picking up the blitz, etc.) which in light of Garcia's back situation, is pretty important.
Mort: Arent the Packers less deep this year? Isnt it possible therefore that the NFC North is not a gimme for them?
Chris Mortensen (12:46 PM)
You are right. They are not as deep and that makes them more vulnerable. It could be a tight race as opposed to a runaway. I do expect the Vikings to close the gap but not enough from keeping the Packers from winning the division.
Who's got the better revamped defense, KC or Seattle? Who will be stronger early in the season?
Chris Mortensen (12:48 PM)
I would probably lean toward the Seahawks. Not to mention that they have a new def. coordinator in Ray Rhodes who has pretty well proven himself at every stop he has made. The key for the Seahawks will be how their draft picks - Trufant and Hamlin - perform in the secondary. If the Chiefs can get their defense to be in the top 12 or 15, then they might win the AFC West. They have a chance at that. Thanks for spending some time with me today .. I hope you are as excited about the season as I am. I'm looking forward to tonight and this weekend. God Bless!