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 (11:07 AM)
Good morning! Gonna spend some lengthy time today so hopefully I can get to more questions.
Scooter, minny [via mobile]
Do u think vikings should hire a general manager?
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
They basically have one in Rick Spielman. I think the Vikings have a job of transition right now in a tough division but they found a very good young QB in Christian Ponder. Now they have to rebuild offensive line, and add other parts. Spielman is capable.
Even though the Fins are playing better a coaching change must happen to get the fans back. Any word on who Ross is looking at?
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
What if you win the rest of your games? Bill Cowher is the obvious name that has been floated out there. He will sell tickets - for one off-season, at least. But the idea is to find stability and a hungry coach....oh, and a quarterback. I'm not sold that firing Tony Sparano and hiring Cowher is the answer. Cowher will have been missing from football for a long time and that's a big deal, I think, but that would certainly grab the healines.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
All hail Mort! Where is Orton going? Also, do you think that the Bears SHOULD get Orton if they can? If he goes to the Bears, what role will he play? Specifically, would be definitely start over Hanie?
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
Don't hail me!!! lol. I do think the Bears should get Orton if they can. No matter what, there is uncertainty involved with Cutler's injury. They are one of the few teams that can challenge the Packers because of their defense and special teams, plus Matt Forte and an offensive line that has settled down. Orton left on good terms and is popular in the locker room. I think he would start over Hanie in relative due time; I just have doubt whether Bears will be able to get him.
If the Bears get Orton who's to say he'll learn Martz's system in time to make an impact?
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
Josh, good question. I think when Orton played for former Bears OC Ron Turner, there were many concepts that stem from the Don Coryell days that have influenced Norv and Ron Turner AND Mike Martz.
Should the Lions put a claim on Orton to block the Bears from getting him?
Chris Mortensen (11:20 AM)
Josh, gonna get you again here. I don't think that's a good reason to pick up $2.58 million for six weeks and they are content with their backup QBs.
Mort is Eli Manning #2 in you MVP rankings. He is keeping his team in games despite very little help (bad o-line bad RB"s and average WR's)
Chris Mortensen (11:21 AM)
Joe, Eli was #2 in my MVP rankings but it's a 1-horse race right now. Obviously, he would have to take the Giants to an unbeaten stretch here, including a win over the Packers, for anybody to unseat Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady is obviously way up there, too.
Any possibility Peyton Hillis plays in the next three games? Also, has he worn out his welcome in cleveland? Does he have any chance to resign with them in the off season?
Chris Mortensen (11:24 AM)
Hillis is out again this week, as you know, Steve. Browns coach Pat Shurmur has told me more than once he wants Hillis to come back and play because winning is still the name of the game and Peyton Hillis affords them a better chance to win. On the long-term, Hillis had captured Browns' fans going into the season but that has faded. More importantly, the Browns plan to let Hillis test the free agent market and even then I'm not sure they offer him a contract.
Kirk (Salt Lake City, UT) [via mobile]
With six games remaining on the schedule, who would you pick as your offensive and defensive rookies of the year?
Chris Mortensen (11:28 AM)
Kirk, this has been quite a rookie class and its impact is far greater than we imagined. Cam Newton was my offensive rookie of the year candidate but I have to admit that Andy Dalton may have passed him on my ballot. That will take more deliberation and discussion with coaches and GMs I trust to have an unbiased opinion. On defense, wow, it's tough because of so many guys - Cardinals' Patrick Peterson was my mid-season choice but the Broncos' Von Miller has probably overtaken him.
Is there any chance my seahawks can win out and make a run to a playoff spot(or close to one)? I think that they have reached the soft part of their schedule and that thoughout the season they have gotten a lot better and consistent, particularly in the run game with Marshawn Lynch. Thanks in advance Mort.
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
The Seahawks really are a longshot, in my opinion, but clearly a dangerous and unpredictable team. Wins over the Giants and most recently the Ravens tell you they are capable. Making a run is possible but I see them falling short. Marshawn Lynch really has been good - he will be an interesting free agent that the Seahawks must decide on how much they should offer. Tough to overpay running backs in this league but he brings a toughness that all teams need.
Jack (Nations Capital)
Mort, a number of callers into local talk radio here in D.C. are critical of Shanahan for going with Grossman & Beck this season. But, in my view, what options did they have? There were no quality QB's available in free agency once the CBA was finished and, although it has only been 10 games but Gabbert at pick 10 does not look like any great shakes. Don't you think Shanahan figured to go with an eratic Grossman this year and look to draft the QB of the franchise in this upcoming draft?
Chris Mortensen (11:32 AM)
Yes, Jack, I think Mike Shanahan wanted to get a good look at Beck and Grossman and was not in love with any of the quarterbacks. I would say that Christian Ponder looks like he would have been a good fit in that offense, as well as Andy Dalton. But there's no question the Redskins will have to secure a QB in the upcoming draft - or maybe just make a play for...Peyton Manning?
Mort after reading up on news coming out of Houston it seems a lot of people around the country are about to get surprised by how good Matt Leinart really is. Houston is making it seem like he is very much starter material. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
The Texans are not a QB-driven team, although Matt Schaub was a high-quality passer. The defense is tops in the NFL (means good field position and generally they are always in games). Their offensive line and run game is as dynamic as any in the league and Leinart is smart and capable of taking advantage of great weapons - especially with Andre Johnson coming back healthy.
AJ (The office)
Dont the bears need to sign a back up to prevent enderle from coming in if hanie gets injured?
Chris Mortensen (11:35 AM)
If they don't get Kyle Orton, AJ, then the expectation is they will sign a veteran with experience in Mike Martz's offense, like JT O'Sullivan or Josh McCown.
Mort! How ya doin? I'm a Broncos fan so of course you'll get a Tebow question from me. As an insider with sources around the league, what do the Broncos REALLY think of Tebow? Is this just a one season thing and then they'll draft a QB this next draft, or will they give him one more season if he wins 3 more games?
Chris Mortensen (11:38 AM)
Ryan, I think John Elway has been refreshingly candid with the public when it's generally unfashionable to do so. Not just the Broncos, but I haven't spoken to any football GM or coach who believes Tebow is a QB who can win a Super Bowl and compete against the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, etc., etc. But the Broncos' defense is playing at a high level and Tebow is one heck of a football player. They know that. I really do like the idea of the Broncos drafting someone like Baylor's Robert Griffin III (do some research on this guy - impressive) and bring Tebow back, even if it means some acrimony.
Philip Rivers (Group Therapy)
Why are the fans turning on me already? Sure, Eli and Ben Drew have all won Super Bowls. But I'm Philip Freaking Rivers!!!!!! I don't get it. Surely I'm better than Cutler. Right?
Chris Mortensen (11:41 AM)
You're making me laugh. Rivers is still one of the NFL's top QBs - however, you're talking to the wrong guy about Cutler, whom I have always believed is one of the top QBs in the NFL, especially when he's protected. Rivers will regain that status but the Chargers have fallen apart on the O-line; the running game is blah, Antonio Gates has seen his better days and the defense has no dynamic players. Has Rivers played poorly? Yes. But he will rebound.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do the Steelers keep flinging the ball around the yard with Ben, or does his injury and the weather make them start to rely on Mendy more?
Chris Mortensen (11:43 AM)
The Steelers know they need to get Mendenhall involved but you have to assume with Roethlisberger and some very talented receievrs - plus old reliable TE Heath Miller - that they will still throw it. Balance is what I expect but their best player is the QB.
What are your thoughts on how Ochocinco's role has played out in NE? I find it baffling how ineffective he has been so far, especially when you consider how Brady has the potential of making a mediocre WR look like elite WR...
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
What I have been told (very reliably) is that OchoCinco has absolutely struggled with a radically different offense. So the Patriots have simplified his role, hoping that with time he will have a better grasp every day he practices. This is a team with a fairly soft schedule that is destined for the playoffs again and maybe he can make a stronger contribution then.
Is Cam Newton ready for a breakout game vs Indy and give me your prognosis for the Lions vs Packers game - shoot-out, air assault, slobber knocker
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
Cam Newton has had many breakout games - what he needs is more wins but the defense has had too many injuries at linebacker and the secondary. Lions and Packers - both teams may try to win the ball to some extent but let's be honest, this has to be a shootout even though both QBs are facing pretty formidable pass rushers.
Matt Forte (Chicago)
Do I get the Adrian Peterson treatment from here on out? Am I still successful?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
Matt, I've been wondering that, too. Jay Cutler's skill set demands that he is respected. Hanie will have to make some plays and Mike Martz is still a very creative play-caller so I have to believe you (Forte) will still have plenty of yards as a runner and maybe even moreso as a receiver.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Mort. Great work over the years! Very informative info! You mentioned that SD's run game was blah. Does Mathews right the ship in the next 6 games or just tread water like he's done recently? He had a huge game vs. Denver last year. Will that happen again come Sunday? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Stuart, thanks for the kind words. Ryan Matthews just hasn't been what we expected and the problem, as you know, is that O-line is missing two Pro Bowl players in G kris Dielman and T Marcus McNeill. He He will need a big game because I don't think the Chargers can beat the Broncos just throwing the ball because the Broncos have a strong secondary and a dynamic pass rush with Miller and Dumervil off the edges.
So will you hold Carolina's W-L record against Cam when it comes tim eto vote for ROY?
Chris Mortensen (11:55 AM)
I don't think so. It's not called Offensive MVP but simply rookie of the year. But Andy Dalton is a worthy adversary for that award, too.
Chris (Palo Alto)
How can Eli Manning be in the running for MVP? He just lost two in a row and both were winnable. I think we need to look beyond QB's for the MVP. When Harbaugh said Justin Smith should be considered I laughed at first. But his play secured two wins. And he is a monster of a player. Do you believe there is a chance of a non QB being considered and who would you pick?
Chris Mortensen (11:58 AM)
Hey, Chris, Harbaugh is absolutely right about Justin Smith, who is on my list for NFL defensive player of the year. I think a non-QB for MVP has to have ridiculous stats on a winning team, even though we may recognize all that Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman does for that team.
Hi Mort! What the heck is going on with Darren McFadden out in Oakland? I know that Mike Bush has been putting on a show, but D McFad helped Oakland build a nice early conference lead the first half? When do you think he'll get back on the grid-iron?
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
I hear you! Ryan, McFadden's mid-foot injury is obviously not to be taken lightly. It feels like he's at least another week away though I admit I haven't had a chance to check today. Michael Bush has been outstanding - McFadden may have been on a 2,000-yard season pace if he was able to stay healthy. But durability is part of the measure for great running backs and McFadden has struggled in that area even though I'm a big fan.
Mort, Cassel has now had three seasons in Kansas City. He looks like a mid-tier qb who can win with some players around him. Do you think the Chiefs should pick a qb high in the draft assuming they can take a guy like Landry Jones or Matt Barkley if they are available or stick with Cassel?
Chris Mortensen (12:02 PM)
Shawn, as much as I like Matt Cassel the person, I don't think he's a Super Bowl winning talent so I would evaluate him no differently than Tim Tebow even if they have different styles. The Chiefs have Ricky Stanzi on the roster but they have to look at QBs, in my opinion. I'm not sure where they'll be picking, though. And I'm not sure Matt Barkley is coming out for the draft.
Darryl Hill (Cleveland, Ohio)
Mort, the Cleveland Browns are really not as bad a the the record may indicate. With the experience that Colt McCoy is gaining at QB, Greg Little emerging as a prety good WR, a couple of good picks in high places in the draft plus the pick we get from ATL, along with a pretty solid defense and hopefully a healthy Peyton Hillis, the brownies should not be that far from competing in the toughest division in football. AFC North. Do u agree?
Chris Mortensen (12:05 PM)
Darryl, I'm pretty sure Colt McCoy is not secure as the QB of the future based on what you hear out of Cleveland. I do believe they will be a factor in the tough AFC North where the other 3 teams have their QBs.
Chris Mortensen (12:05 PM)
By the way, the Texans have placed Matt Schaub on injured reserve, as expected.
Hi Mort! What impact do you see from the return of Manning and Johnson to the starting lineup for Houston>
Chris Mortensen (12:07 PM)
Daniel Manning and Andre Johnson (especially Andre) are significant returns. Before Schaub was hurt, I readjusted my mid-season Super Bowl picks and took the Texans to get there. I have to see Leinart play now and I'm not expecting bad things.
Ndomakung Suh (Erie PA)
Since the refs watch my every move,how many flags will I get against the Packers.
Chris Mortensen (12:09 PM)
Just play your game. Don't worry about it but you better get out of Erie in a hurry to make the game. Plus, learn how to spell your own name!
Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)
Any chance the NFL ever goes to a lottery draft for the top 10 picks? I don't think it's fair that Indy can tank their season to get Luck. Ain't right. Seeing fans in Luck Colts jerseys is kind of insulting.
Chris Mortensen (12:12 PM)
Colts aren't tanking their season on purpose. I know too many of the vets in that locker room. This is hard on them. I mean, really hard. I do think that if the NFL ever suspected teams were tanking for a first pick, they'd consider a lottery. But consider that Andrew Luck could always pull a John Elway or Eli Manning and decline to play (unlikely, I know) in Indy. Too many variables.
Chuck Norris fears Mort!!! Mort, why is Drew Brees name not brought up for MVP. I still say he was robbed in 05. In 07 when he broke 5,000 they said he needed to win. Then 09 he wins and it's given to Peyton. What's the disconnect? Thanks!!
Chris Mortensen (12:15 PM)
David, Chuck Norris does not fear me but we have a connection - he went to the same high school (North High, Torrance, CA) and I was a classmate/teammate with his younger brother Aaron....on to the Brees question, he has a chance to make an MVP run. Remember, the MVP is voted on the regular season. Peyton is 2009 was the MVP. When you pass for 5,000 yards, it makes you a candidate for offensive player of the year.
Mort, why exactly did the Browns fire Eric Mangini? This team seems to be worse off.
Chris Mortensen (12:17 PM)
This was about philosophical misalignment between the team president, Mike Holmgren, and Mangini. Mangini is a good coach. Then again, I don't think the pre-Mangini regime should have been run out of town. Instability is a franchise-killer.
As a Fish fan, who are some underrated coahcing candidates on their way up? Zimmer in Cinci? I would prefer a younger coach over a retread. Who else is out there? Thanks for the chat.
Chris Mortensen (12:24 PM)
Yes, I really like Bengals DC Mike Zimmer as a head coach candidate, as well as Panthers OC Ron Chudzinski, Giants DC Perry Fewell, Jaguars DC Mel Tucker, Packers OC Joe Philbin (though Mike McCarthy calls plays), Falcons OC Mike Mularkey, Jets DC Mike Pettine, Lions OC Scott Linehan, Steelers OC Bruce Arians and if you were looking for experience (aside from the obvious in Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Mangini), then I'm wondering whether Packers DC Dom Capers would be worthy of, yes, a 3rd chance inasmuch his two previous experiences were both with upstart expansion franchises. Another interesting guy just might be Steve Spagnuolo if he gets bounced out of St. Louis. I know I'm forgetting people but this is off the top of my head.
Kyle (JETS TOWN)
Regarding to the Jets, After this sluggish season, do you think Rex Ryan puts too much faith in Mark Sanchez? or do you agree with him and feel that in time, Mark is the guy to lead this team?
Chris Mortensen (12:27 PM)
I think Rex is a good coach. I haven't always agreed with Rex's handling of Sanchez but I do wonder whether Sanchez is wired for the intense scrutiny of New York. I mentioned Peyton Manning earlier - if Peyton is healthy and doesn't return to the Colts, doesn't that make sense for the Jets?
Chris Mortensen (12:30 PM)
I have run overtime but throughly enjoyed it. catch me on Twitter (@mortreport), tune into our NFL32 show on ESPN2 at 6 ET weekdays (but off this week), and Sunday NFL Countdown at 10 a.m ET. Finally, let me wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and especially to all our troops around the world, their families and our true public servants in our cities. Prayers and blessings for all of you. God Bless!
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