Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com NFL columnist Ashley Fox stops by to chat.
Fox joined ESPN.com in 2011 after 11 years as a writer and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covered the National Football League, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia 76ers. She also has worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal and Sports Illustrated. A North Carolina native, Fox lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and son.
Send your questions now and join Fox on Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (1:01 PM)
Happy Monday everybody. Hope you had a good weekend. Shoot me your questions and I will get to as many as I can. Let's get started.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team do you think will have the Best Year with the Free Agent Signings, tThe Draft & the Undrafted Free Agent Signings?
Ashley Fox (1:04 PM)
Thanks, Chris. Several teams have had standout off seasons. The Chiefs have made significant upgrades and if they can get consistent play from the QB should be in the mix in the AFC West. New England really focused on improving a defense that finished second-to-last in 2011 in pass defense and total D. The Patriots took defensive players with their first six picks, looking to get more from their pass rush. Tampa Bay has given Josh Freeman some help with true No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and running back Doug Martin. All three teams have helped themselves.
Da Biz (NorCali)
Is Kuechly more likely to start at MLB or OLB with Beason at MLB?
Ashley Fox (1:08 PM)
Well, he played mostly middle linebacker at Boston College, but after the Panthers drafted him, they said they thought that he could play all three spots. Beason has played middle and weak side, but I believe prefers middle. To my knowledge, Ron Rivera has not committed to a particular spot for Kuechly. He probably wants to get a better look at him during minicamps to see where he best fits in.
Kevin (Lockport, NY)
I would just like to applaud you for your article about not letting your son play football. I only played HS football and never had "my bell rung" but Dave Duerson, Mike Webster, Junior Seau really make me rethink this game. So I just wanted to thank you for the braveness of your article and sharing your personal feelings.
Ashley Fox (1:11 PM)
Thanks, Kevin. As parents, everybody has to do what they feel is right for their own kids. There are no easy answers. Kids get hurt playing all sports, and you can't live in a bubble. I understand that. But for me -- and this is just me -- I've seen up close what the game can do to people, and not just on the professional level. I'd like to minimize the potential damage. Again, just me. Not saying it's right or wrong. Just my take.
Ashley, what are your thoughts on the NFLPA seemingly forgetting about the targets of the bounties? From an outsiders point of view, it appears that they have completely alienated a portion of their members and are only looking to challenge the NFL, not actually work with them.
Ashley Fox (1:13 PM)
Yes, Matt, the PA is in somewhat of a tricky spot here. Their job is to represent all players here. I don't think they've forgotten about the targets of the bounties, but it is part of their job to represent Vilma, et al, as they try to appeal/fight their suspensions. But you are right that there is still acrimony between the PA and the league. That hasn't subsided in the aftermath of the CBA.
Ashley Fox (1:14 PM)
Following up for a minute, my colleague Jeff Chadiha has an interesting piece on the commissioner today. You can read it here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7881228/players-nfl-commissioner-roger-goodell-toughest-critics It is worth a read, if you have the time. Talks about the divide between players and Goodell. Lots of interesting quotes.
Dan (Washington, DC)
Shanahan: "Griffin is my No. 1."So much for a QB conspiracy, huh?
Ashley Fox (1:16 PM)
I never said there was going to be a QB conspiracy. I said I thought drafting Kirk Cousins in the fourth round created an unnecessary situation. And what was Shanahan supposed to say? He gave up three firsts and second for RG3. He better start him and stick with him and tailor the offense to him, don't you think?
Obviously, Shanahan is stating RGIII will be starter on day one. Do you think the pundents made too big of a deal with the drafting of Cousins?
Ashley Fox (1:18 PM)
I don't. It still doesn't make sense to me, unless Shanahan can develop Cousins and try to get one of those draft picks back with him in a few years. But if he is buried behind a guy taking the majority of the practice reps, it is going to be hard for Cousins to develop. The Redskins needed help at other positions. Why not try to give Griffin as much help as possible, on either side of the ball, particularly when you lack those first round picks in 2013 and 2014?
Jordan (Harrisburg, PA)
With the Saints suspensions being for prior acts to this new agreement with the owners being so controversial, does this not give Goodell carte blance with any questionable acts prior to the agreement. In criminal court this would be called "double jeopardy" which actually is in the bill of rights
Ashley Fox (1:23 PM)
That's a great question, Jordan, although the league said its punishment of the Saints players and organization was for a pay-for-performance/bounty program from 2009-2011. Obviously, the 2011 part would be after the new CBA. But I'm honestly not sure how that shakes out. Will look into it.
I have become quite bothered by many of the articles you have been writing recently. Many of us fans feel that you have been continuously bashing the NFL with regards to violence. We understand that it is a violent sport. But as someone who has played it growing up, I have learned many life lessons from the game. You not allowing your son to play is your choice. But it would be nice if you could stop preaching against it. It is a beautiful game, and one that you make a living off of.
Ashley Fox (1:26 PM)
I hear you, Ian, and I appreciate the feedback. It is a beautiful game, and I do make my living covering it. I think it is important to talk about the concussion issue and making the game safer, for the protection of the players and the long-term viability of the sport. This off season has been largely about that, for one reason or another. I don't think I've been "bashing" the league, but I will keep your opinion in mind.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Will the Vikings stadium deal get one step closer to getting done? Don't think I could handle another purple and gold team in LA.
Ashley Fox (1:29 PM)
I hear that, Frank. Today, as you probably know all too well, is a very important day for the Vikings and the Twin Cities. Will probably be a long one, too, from the sound of it. If they can't close in on getting a stadium proposal passed, you very well could see your team shipped out, and after 51 years, that would be a shame. Minneapolis/St. Paul is an important market to the league, though, which is why you saw the Goodell contingent in town recently.
Da Biz (NorCali)
At this point its cliche but will anybody take a serious look at TO before the season or has that ship finally sailed?
Ashley Fox (1:32 PM)
All good things must end, right? Yes, it seems like we are finally at the end of the T.O. drama, although from what I understand he is going to be on Dr. Phil this week. So there is that. Seriously, he was a tremendous player, a physical freak, but there was always such drama. I live in Philly, and today is the 10-year anniversary of the Iverson "practice" rant. I was there that day. The day T.O. lifted weights in the driveway of his N.J. home was up there among the iconic off-field moments in this town. Same with the Rosenhaus "next question" presser.
Dan (Washington, DC)
Justification for Kurt Cousins: QBs have been overvalued as far back as Scott Mitchell. He won't have to show much to get a deal: Kevin Kolb, Matt Schaub, Charlie Whitehurst all went for multiple picks in trade without showing very much...
Ashley Fox (1:33 PM)
Agreed. Could be quality trade bait. We will see.
I feel as though my Packers have been underated with their offseason. They mostly get viewed as having a C or B grade when all they will return mostly intact for next year, coming off their 15-1 season and in which to me the biggest reason why they lost their playoff game was due to the loss of Joe Philbin's son. Thoughts?
Ashley Fox (1:35 PM)
I hear you, John, and I was in Green Bay for the playoff loss. That was an emotional week with schedules altered for the viewing and funeral. Brutal loss for the Philbins. The team came out flat and it is understandable why. And I agree with you: Even if you give the Packers a C for their off season -- and I'm not saying I do -- they are going to be one of the frontrunners to win the NFC. One of the teams to beat, for sure.
how many more years do you see vick as egales starting QB
Ashley Fox (1:38 PM)
This is a huge season for him, there is no doubt. For the coaching staff, too. He has to stay healthy and play well. I like the Eagles off season moves. They focused on the defense, for good reason, helped their pass rush, added some linebackers and traded Asante Samuel. But it all comes down to Vick. If he plays well and the team makes a deep playoff run, then he will be back. If Reid gets fired, all bets are off.
I see wake got a huge extension do you see Long's coming before the season for afterwards?
Ashley Fox (1:40 PM)
Well, Jake in Miami, I would think Long would be next. They got Cameron Wake's deal done. Long is a priority, and I would think before the season.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, may I ask how old your son is? I'm just curious to see if he's approaching football age soon, if he's not there already. If that's the case, I can certainly understand why you feel the way you do. Your love for your son as his mother means standing up for what's best for him in your eyes, no matter what anyone else says. Glad to hear you have your priorities right!
Ashley Fox (1:41 PM)
He is 2. Got a long way to go to football age. But he swings a bat lefty, and pretty well. So there is that.
AF, with the cowboys fixing the secondary how well do u think their defense will be if the pass rush takes it toll and do their job (spencer) and the 1 on 1 coverage that rob will pressure the offense to get rid of the ball.....
Ashley Fox (1:43 PM)
That certainly seems to be the Cowboys hope, because they haven't done anything in free agency or the draft to address their pass rush. Certainly if you have corners who can lock down the receivers, that helps the pass rush. Brandon Carr was a great signing in free agency, and I loved the move up to get Morris Claiborne. They should be significantly better in the secondary, which RR no doubt loves.
If the football players got smaller, slower, and a little weaker, the game would be safer. Maybe that's the direction the league should take.
Ashley Fox (1:44 PM)
Instead they continue to get bigger, stronger, faster. Not sure how you change that trend.
Robert (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the 49ers Defense will be as good as last years? And do you think they did a good job by beefing up the offense?
Ashley Fox (1:48 PM)
My colleague Mike Sando had an interesting blog post on this topic in the One Big Question series all the divisional bloggers did last week. He notes that the Niners +28 turnover differential last season was obviously a big key for them. They are built to force turnovers, and that hasn't changed. They've focused this off season on giving the offense a few more weapons. It will be interesting to see if Randy Moss has enough left in the tank to give them a vertical threat. Also going to be interesting to see if Harbaugh gives Alex Smith a little more freedom.
Frank (New Orleans)
Do you think Mike Shanahan should make RG3 work his way into the starting role, rather than just handing it to him?
Ashley Fox (1:50 PM)
I don't. You gave up so much to get him. What's he going to do, sit back and watch Rex Grossman? Give the man the football, like Carolina did with Cam Newton last year and Indianapolis will with Luck this year, and let him get some experience. The Redskins have pieces around RG3, which should help him tremendously.
Robert (Richmond, CA)
Do you see 49ers and Green Bay in NFC Championship game? Like old times?
Ashley Fox (1:51 PM)
You're way ahead of me, Robert. I haven't gotten that far, nor will I for quite a while. But those two teams will be in the mix, for sure.
Rob Mullis (Charlotte NC)
What do you think of the Panther's draft and chances for the playoffs!
Ashley Fox (1:54 PM)
Lots of optimism down there in my home state, from what I gather. But chance for the playoffs this season? I still think that's going to be tough. The NFC is loaded and I think the Panthers are still a year or two away from challenging for the division. Still, like the direction they are headed with Newton there.
I enjoyed your article regarding your son not playing football. Just curious, would you let him play hockey? They're having some issues as well
Ashley Fox (1:55 PM)
Yeah, right. That's another one. Like I said, none of these decisions are easy and there is no parental handbook for what you should and shouldn't do.
Brett (St. Louis)
You're hearing me say it now so you can mark it. The Packers defense will be at least 10 spots higher in the rankings than last year. Tramon will be healthy, Sam will have a full offseason, and they drafted a few rookies who should be able to contribute early. Your thoughts?
Ashley Fox (1:58 PM)
They can't go any lower than 32, right? No, I'm with you. If they move only to 22 in the league in total D, that would be enough, given the offensive firepower they have. Same with New England. Both teams really addressed pressing defensive needs in the draft. And both will be serious contenders in 2012.
Ashley Fox (1:58 PM)
Quick question for those of you still on here. How many of you are on Twitter? Is it worth my time to answer the questions I couldn't get to today on there? Just curious.
Ashley Fox (1:59 PM)
Shoot me your answers over the next few minutes, if you would. I know there were a bunch I didn't get to today. I'll be back next week to try again. Have a good week. -- AF