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 (11:02 AM)
Good morning again.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Chiefs fans at all?
Chris Mortensen (11:05 AM)
I believe there is.This team still has a good core base of talent. When a team underachieves, you second-guess a lot, including the coaches and the GM because it's clear that the Chiefs do not have a dynamic quarterback in Matt Cassel. I will say that Cassel is an outstanding young man, a great teammate, does have some skills but it not up to the standard. That being said, I believe the Chiefs have a foundation on which to build and be successful and sooner than later.
Wes (Williamsport, PA)
Obviously Ben Roethlisberger isn't going to play but do you expect him back for the 2nd meeting with the Ravens? How serious does it appear this injury could be? Also, when do you expect Brown, Stevenson, Mendenhall, & Polamalu will return? Any word on Ryan Clark and his status?
Chris Mortensen (11:08 AM)
Wes, lot of questions there! The injury to Roethlisberger is serious because it involves a rare rib injury that threatens internal organs, which we have seen happen occasionally in this league. So you don't throw him out on the football field for awhile and it's possible he could miss both Ravens games over the next three weeks but that's always a wait-and-see. Clark's second concussion in recent games does not bode well. Polamalu isn't expect to play. I haven't checked on others.
Everyone Said Coming out of School that Justin Blackmon was better than Dez Bryant. Do you or did you agree with that?
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
I only thought that Blackmon was more mature, not that he was more physically gifted. Dez is more gifted. I did have a very successful GM tell me after watching Blackmon work out at Oklahoma St that he saw nothing extraordinary about him in terms of the physical skill set. He wasn't fast. His route running needed much work. He wasn't big enough to overmatch most defenders. The Jaguars believe he just needs to be coached up and, remember, the sucess of AJ Green as a rookie and Julio Jones was a rarity. Receivers generally do not light up the NFL as rookies.
Wes (Williamsport, PA)
I know it's really early but in terms of injries this has been a very bad year for the Safety position in Pittsburgh. Do you think that when the draft gets here that it is likely we will draft a Safety? Are there any Safeties expected to come out right now that you think would fit well in Pittsburgh?
Chris Mortensen (11:14 AM)
With the Steelers, their GM Kevin Colbert is so good - as is the personnel department - you should feel confident that they have a plan and already safeties in development. You can get these guys in the draft in various rounds - Seahawks tandem of Earl Thomas (1st rd) and Kim Chancellor (5th rd) is a good example.
MA (New York, NY)
Mort, do you expect the Jets to trade Tebow this offseason? Considering how much Sanchez has struggled this year and the Jets' resistance to play him at QB, is it safe to say that Tebow does not have a future at QB in this league?
Chris Mortensen (11:17 AM)
My understanding is that when Tebow was traded to Jets, if this year did not work out well then the franchise would do everything it could to accomodate a deal to another franchise or possibly release him. But we also do know whether owner Woody Johnson will shake things up in the front office or coaching leadership areas. That always can change things. Finally, I haven't talked to anybody in the NFL who believes Tebow can be a sustainable successful QB in the league.
How big of an impact do you think Aqib Talib will have?
Chris Mortensen (11:20 AM)
Of the interesting moves the Patriots have made in past couple of years, the acquisition of Talib intrigues me most. If he can pick up the system, then he is the corner with ball skills the Patriots have not had since Ty Law and I guess you'd throw Asante Samuel in there. And can he stay out of trouble? I believe much more of an impact than Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson and, in this case, on the side of the defense that needs the most help.
Do you see Josh Gordon emerging as the best WR on the Browns roster?
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
Maybe. Very gifted guy with size and speed. My understanding is both he and Greg Little need a little kick in the rear end now and then. This Browns team has a good talent base, especially if Weeden can develop.
Jay Stoddard (D.C.)
Do you think the Ravens blowing out the Raiders was due to the Ravens team finally clicking or was it just a fluke? I hope they are clicking and will continue to improve on their defense.
Chris Mortensen (11:25 AM)
It was a Raiders team decimated by injuries and I do believe John Harbaugh has been trying to get the Ravens to regain a swagger since they got beat 43-13 by the Texans and lost Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb. So, I'm not sure how good they are but if the offense will become a consistently high-performing unit and Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata continue to improve with their health issues, then the Ravens should win the division. Obviously, the Steelers have suffered a significant injury with Roethisberger.
Hi Mort: Have you heard anything from around the Broncos about their attitude toward the return of DJ Williams? Are they viewing him as someone that can contribute to the stretch run and potentially playoffs? He has so much talent but is obviously troubled.
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
Yes, the Broncos view DJ Williams as an asset who will contribute, if not as a starter then as part of a rotation. They will want to be somewhat cautious to make sure he is in football shape but they're happy he's back.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Any thoughts on the commissioner's comments about concerns regarding stadium attendance and HDTV? As a season ticket holder it's disappointing how many fans stay home (and how the announced attendance doesn't reflect the true attendance).
Chris Mortensen (11:30 AM)
I believe the commissioner was telling the truth. That and ticket prices certainly have impacted attendance. I would think fans will embrace attendance if their teams become "hot" as a potential playoff contender or they have box-office talent. But one of the reasons former Cowboys president Tex Schramm (who has passed away) was a pioneer is he made sure the Texas Stadium turf was well painted, big numbers, etc., because he believed it would make it the most TV-friendly sport, which is true. Now with HDTV and The Red Zone channel, Sunday NFL Ticket, live cut-ins, etc., team have to be creative, exciting and winning to compete for fans in seats.
I hear a lot about Chip Kelly on NFL teams short list for 2013 vacancies. Are there any other names from the college ranks your hearing being thrown around? Nick Saban, Bill O'Brien, Les Miles?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
I think all of those names will be mentioned, perhaps prominently, when the coaching carousel begins. But I also talked to one of the league's top executives who believe that some of the coaches who may be on the hot seat such as Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur, maybe Jason Garrett, will be coveted by some teams. There's a sense that Shurmur is going to be a stud coach and this executive felt that Jason Garrett in a different organization will prove his worth. Reid is obvious. I don't think Saban goes NFL again but don't know. Kelly is interesting because he has a lot of organization detail that extends well beyond a fast, up-tempo offense. O'Brien will be approached. I've heard Miles a little.
The Arizona Cardinals are on a 5 game losing streak...how come no one is talking about Ken Whisenhunt being on the "hot seat"?
Chris Mortensen (11:37 AM)
I believe Whisenhunt is a good coach who clearly fell victim to the inability to discover the successor to Kurt Warner as quarterback. That and a poor offensive line - it's tough to fire a good friend and Hall of Famer in Russ Grimm. The injuries to the running backs have hurt. I do think Whisenhunt could be in jeopardy for the quarterback issues more than anything because he has the dominant voice in that regard. But I'd be reluctant to let him go.
I don't like you.
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
Matt, that's okay. Many people don't like me, even though we have not met. But I will tell you this - I appreciate that you expressed yourself in a very direct and decent manner, unlike some people. I hope your life is blessed.
How do the Jaguars start winning again?
Chris Mortensen (11:41 AM)
It's apparent a change in the front office is necessary and I say that reluctantly because GM Gene Smith is such as diligent, hard-working, respected football man with great integrity. But clearly, there is need for new direction in the football operations department. I do think Mike Mularkey will be successful if given the chance.
Any truth to the rumors of the panthers moving to LA eventually?
Chris Mortensen (11:44 AM)
Adam Schefter reported that there have been discussions between the two sides but noted that the Panthers are unlikely to move. Owner Jerry Richardson was somewhat vague in his response to that story. Let's face it: Richardson needs stadium upgrades. Leverage? Or truth? Or will he eventually sell? The team belongs in Charlotte.
Hey Mort, do you think Dennis Allen get's a chance to turn the Raiders around. A lot of Raider fan's seem to be losing patience with the teams defense. Not that you can blame them after the last two weeks.
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
Let us remember that the Raiders have a new GM in Reggie McKenzie, who inherited a shaky roster, a terrible salary cap that forced serious cuts to good players and few draft picks. I believe the Raiders will rise again over the next couple of years and, yes, under Allen as coach.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Doug Martin or Trent Richardson the best rookie RB to you?
Chris Mortensen (11:47 AM)
If I were drafting - and if the Bucs were drafting - with both guys available, Trent Richardson would be the pick. But what's not to like about Doug Martin?
You mentioned the "eye" test for Blackmon vs Dez Bryant above. What are you seeing with Nick Foles? Purely as an NFL prospect.
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
Heard mix on him when he was coming out. The evaluators who like him say he had very little help around him in college and with size and arm that he would eventually shine in the NFL. Let's do remember the Eagles are missing four of their five starting O-linemen.
I didn't think I would ever say this, but how much do the Bears miss Olsen? Davis was horrendous on Sunday night.
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
I thought about that the other day. Greg Olsen was traded because of the Mike Martz offense and, perhaps, the price tag eventually would be too high. I would have done everything I could to keep him. I believe former GM Jerry Angelp preferred that but he also was operating under budget restraints.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Not only do these Thursday night games directly conflict the NFL's "player safety campaign" but the games stink. It's awful, unwatchable football.
Chris Mortensen (11:51 AM)
Not many people are high on Thursday games on a regular basis.
What are you hearing about Eli Manning? Do you believe a tired arm explains his recent struggles?
Chris Mortensen (11:53 AM)
A tired arm is not uncommon but I got a text from a football guy the other day about the Giants: "Eli's got to play better, receivers aren't getting open, what happened to pass rush, can't run the ball, O-line is struggling and coaches have to adjust better." Is this just the normal November swoon? Maybe. I also won't make excuses for them but I always thought Hurricane Sandy created a stress and distraction on them because they were affected in many ways. They have families, too.
Chris (Bozeman, MT)
Mort, I know that we have a tough remaining schedule but do the Vikes sneak in the playoffs and what are the chances that AD gets MVP?
Chris Mortensen (11:55 AM)
You can't rule out the Vikings if Christian Ponder plays consistent and, yes, Adrian Peterson has to be an MVP candidate. What a story. I say this often: Enjoy watching Peterson. Savor it. Rare when you get to see a true Hall of Famer in real time. And I believe one of the great RBs of all-time, like a Jim Brown and Walter Payton.
Bailey (Duncan, Ok)
Mort! Will the Bills keep Spiller and Jackson as a 1 2 punch next year or do you think one will be traded? If so who do you think? And if thats the case the packers need to pick one of them up.
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
No question they keep 'em both. Packers need to find their own.
Yeah, but one of the 3rd round picks in the Olsen trade was used to bring in Marshall. One offsets the other
Chris Mortensen (11:57 AM)
We have a winner! Good response. However, you'd like to think the Bears could've been creative in acquiring Marshall anyway.
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
I have to go. I had extra time today to spend an hour so really want to thank you all. Great passion. If you want, I'm on Twitter (@mortreport). NFL32 is now weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and we are hitting all 32 teams! Sunday NFL Countdown at 10 a.m. ESPN Radio Blitz with Mike Tirico and Keyshawn Johnson on Friday nights and re-airs on weekend. Check out Tirico's podcasts, too. Terrific stuff. A belated Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all of our troops in service today. God Bless!