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 talk football (maybe)
Adam (Ann Arbor)
John Gruden to the cowboys next year if the Garret falters? Tampa West?
Chris Mortensen (11:03 AM)
As of now, the Jon Gruden speculation has proved to be pointless and it would be a mistake to assume Monte Kiffin's presence as defensive coordinator with Rod Marinelli as D-line coach would be an attraction for that pairing.
Do you see a low scoring Super Bowl? Who do you like?
Chris Mortensen (11:06 AM)
I see a 24-20 or maybe a 27-20 score and I'd favor the 49ers. I think the NFC has been the superior conference all year but the Ravens do show signs of being that "hot" team on a roll with a lot of injured players coming back, an offensive line that suddenly has become almost impenetrable (did I spell that right? and a hot quarterback in Joe Flacco. I just think the 49ers' roster is stronger and it doesn't look like Colin Kaepernick is going to be intimidated by the big-game atmosphere.
After Tim Brown made his allegations against Callahan, I watched all of the Raiders' first quarter offensive plays in the Super Bowl against Tampa. They had initial success throwing the ball. However, it was obvious that Tampa's defense line was dominating Oakland's line. Oakland ran the ball four times and were completely dominated at the point of attack. Gannon's interception was a really stupid throw as he threw the ball across his body and across the field. This doesn't look like sabotage to me. It doesn't look like Tampa knew what plays Oakland was running. It looks like Tampa was a superior football team.
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
The allegations are ridiculous on this level - it's one thing for a game plan to change late in the week. That was already out there. But to allege that it was a sabotage and that Callahan despised Al Davis and the Raiders so much that he would hand a legacy opportunity over to a friend in Jon Gruden is as insulting to one's intelligence as I can imagine. The Raiders threw the ball something like 44 times - they threw it 41 in the AFC title game. Gannon had a poor game. Callahan had a poor game. I saw Tim Brown drop at least one pass - did he throw the game? No, the Bucs were the better team that day. Period.
Bradley (SE Philly)
Your thoughts on Chip Kelly and the Eagles future?
Chris Mortensen (11:11 AM)
Fascinating hire. I don't know what Chip Kelly is doing to do; doubtful he tries everything he implemented at Oregon but he's a cutting edge guy and very advanced in areas nobody generally speaks to - how they practice more team and forsake a lot of individual drills, how they meet, how they recover from games, practice, injuries, how they lift weights. I'm anxious to see what he has in store. I have no idea if he will succeed but I know he's a very sharp football guy.
What do you think of the job Jim Caldwell has done as the Ravens OC? I think the playcalling has been outstanding.
Chris Mortensen (11:13 AM)
Jim Caldwell has done an outstanding job, especially once he settled into the job. The best exposure I had to Caldwell came during the Super Bowl when the Colts beat the Bears. He was the Colts QB coach. Peyton Manning had always told me what a good position coach Jim was; then I sat down with him for about 30 minutes and was very impressed by his knowledge and understanding of the game. He was MUCH different than the guy you and I saw standing at the podium as head coach of the Colts. I wish he would allow people to see the man I enjoyed speaking with that one week.
What's the big deal with Belichik not talking on the field after the game. He did what he was contractually obligated to do, the post game press conference. It should be his right to do what he wants to do. CBS has sour grapes and looks pretty stupid.
Chris Mortensen (11:16 AM)
Way blown out of proportion. Belichick spoke after the game at the podium, as was his obligation. Many coaches do not grant that immediate 1-on-1 interview but simply do the group thing. Jim Harbaugh didn't do one as the winning coach in the NFC title game. I guess 45 seconds of boring post-game one-on-one would have been wonderful TV? And I have the utmost respect for Steve Tasker but that was not a unique incident.
I have a real problem with the Rooney rule. I think its excellent that minorities get opportunities in this great country. But if I was running a billion dollar company I would hire the best person for the job regardless if he is purple, green, or orange. Additionally, most coaches have a staff in place when they get hired so there really isn't a interview process for coordinators in a lot of cases. How would the NFL implement the Rooney rule on the coordinator level?
Chris Mortensen (11:21 AM)
The Rooney Rule does not require teams to hire minority coaches. The advocates believe that teams benefit from a thorough process; they may find a match they never contemplated. The Steelers, ironically, were one of those that benefited when they interviewed Mike Tomlin - a 1-year defensive coordinator. They didn't go into that interview expecting to offer Tomlin the HC position. It also benefits the minority candidates to becoming familiar with the process; good for exposure and eventually maybe another interview opportunity. The coordinator part makes sense to me because the offensive coordinators have an advantage going into the process. The unique part of the proposal is that it would not require NEW coaches to interview a minority for coordinator vacancy; just sitting or returning coaches. Since there's no mandate that a team must hire a minority coach, I see no issues with the Rooney Rule or expansion of it.
In the great P. Manning vs. Brady debate, it's never reported in the media that Manning has a higher career postseason QB rating than Brady. Given that Manning never had Brady's offensive line, defense, or coach... And often played with practice squad receivers and O-Lineman... shouldn't this be enough to put him ahead? Manning on Pats wins at least 3 Super Bowls in my opinion.
Chris Mortensen (11:23 AM)
Shane, it's always been a silly argument to me. Yes, I believe Manning would have won at least 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots but it does nothing to diminish that Tom Brady is one of the all-time greats, either. That's like trying to diminish Dan Marino for not winning any and only taking his team to one Super Bowl. The quarterback is vital but it is still the ultimate team game.
Rob (San Antonio)
Would you take a chance with JaMarcus Russel?
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
Probably not. The two absolute knocks I heard on Russell coming out of LSU proved true - he would have a weight problem and he would never be the hardest worker on the team. I don't think either of those change. Could he fit within your quarterback depth chart? Maybe. Could he have thrown a Hail Mary 65 yards that an injured Matt Ryan couldn't the other day? Sure. Does that justify taking a chance? Not really. Will somebody take a chance? Maybe but I haven't heard that it will happen yet.
What was your view regarding the Callahan allegations before and after Jerry Rice spoke? Did it change at all?
Chris Mortensen (11:27 AM)
It changed nothing for me when Jerry Rice spoke. I'll leave it at that.
Gregory Kirby (Birmingham)
Do you think Tony Gonzalez will retire?
Chris Mortensen (11:30 AM)
If he's 95 percent or "probably" then there's a chance. I think Tony could take this into next August (he's a free agent) and then decide he wants to give it another shot but he's done about all you can do as a player and there are no guarantees he will get his Super Bowl. I will say what he has done in Atlanta has been remarkable; at a stage where diminishing physical skills should be evident, he has been extraordinary and he is a tremendous influence on the entire team so I know the Falcons would love to have him back.
Chris, say you're the Panther's GM in 2011, but you have insight into the future. Do you still take Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, or someone else?
Chris Mortensen (11:32 AM)
I think you would still take Newton. What if Cam was with the 49ers right now? The guy has been a stud and even when he struggled the first half of the season in some spots, he played at a high level. With Jim Harbaugh and that 49ers' personnel, Newton would be terrific and playing in this Super Bowl, too. Maybe even last year's. And I love what Kaepernick is doing.
Derek (San Francisco)
Is the Ravens vs 49er game the passing of the torch from Lewis to Willis? And do you think Willis ends up better than Lewis by the end of his career?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
There are a good handful of linebackers who are better than today's Ray Lewis and Willis is among them. But do I think Willis will have a better career than Lewis has enjoyed? No.
Adam (Ann Arbor)
Can you comment on steroids in today's NFL? I would hate to hear some of the modern era greats were using performance enhancers like Lance
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
I think "steroids" is a strict term and it's clear that many or some of today's athletes always look for an edge. I don't know what that means. Other than HGH, the NFL has always had a true year-round random testing program for PEDs because I've spoken to players who have been called on vacation and required to be available wherever they're at for a urine sample. Is HGH testing truly reliable? Even when it is, there will be the next big something. Players in the 70's used steroids when they were not illegal. Baseball players used amphetamines back then. You hope the risk of getting caught is a deterrent but we know that's not reality.
What are your thoughts of the Trestman hire?
Chris Mortensen (11:41 AM)
I really liked the Trestman hire. I think he has paid his dues, his work as a head coach in the CFL should not be diminished. He has 17 years of NFL experience. He has put together a nice staff. And I really like the GM, Phil Emery.
No dominant positional players in this year's draft! Do you see a lineman going first (offense or defense)? If so, do you think KC maybe trades out of the first slot?
Chris Mortensen (11:43 AM)
There are no "marquee" names especially at the quarterback position but this has been described to me as a very deep draft. KC would trade but you need a partner. There's going to be a really good player - a Pro Bowl player - available at that spot and I am a huge fan of GM John Dorsey as an evaluator. I'd trust whatever they do to be the right thing.
Billy Cundiff (Purgatory)
Was moving the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl the worst thing they could have done for it? It eliminates players from 2 good teams, gets overshadowed by the Super Bowl, and the thing I liked about the Pro Bowl after the Super Bowl was it was kind of a wind down after the season, rather than it just abruptly ending after the Super Bowl. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
I think it was a terrible idea but the NFL is often about the business model and it has enjoyed higher TV ratings in that pre-Super Bowl weekend. It's not a great game but if the players want to play it, why not? Better after the Super Bowl so the Super Bowl players can go enjoy the experience if they want. Nobody makes anybody watch a game they don't want to see so what's the big deal?
Antoine Gray (Texas)
Chris, being that this years Superbowl doesn't include an "elite" QB, will this finally put an end to the notion that you can't make it to the Superbowl without a Brady, Manning or Rodgers?
Chris Mortensen (11:47 AM)
We may be getting an early glimpse of a young great QB in Colin Kaepernick and a QB with unique skills hitting his prime in Joe Flacco. One thing that is evident - it takes a "team" to reach the Super Bowl and the QB generally has unique physical talent. These guys, Flacco and Kaepernick, are very gifted.
How do you feel Pep Hamilton's experience with Andrew Luck will help as the new offensive coordinator next season?
Chris Mortensen (11:49 AM)
The familiarity is there between Hamilton and Luck from Stanford and Hamilton has NFL experience. Bruce Arians' track record with the passing game - particularly explosive plays - is well established so he will be missed. I will say that Luck may be better protected and take less of a beating in Hamilton's offense. We shall see.
Was there anything Kaepernick showed you in the NFC Championship game that you either didn't expect or hadn't seen out of him before?
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Kaepernick was much more poised than he had been in some previous road games down the stretch. His accuracy has been terrific and that's not a total surprise. His arm strength was well documented coming into the league He still does not throw with great trajectory on some passes but Harbaugh has tailored the offense and passing game to fit Kap's own unique talent - that's coaching
Do you think the way Jim Harbaugh handled Alex Smith and Brandon Jacobs will have any effect on future free agent decisions? Granted as long as your winning people tend to ignore such things, but the guy seems to be the type of coach very few would enjoy playing for, even his former college players have voiced themselves such as Richard Sherman.
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
No. Money dictates about 98% of free agent decisions. Let's also not forget that it was Harbaugh who didn't give up on Alex Smith when he took over the 49ers. Alex's value going forward may be greater because Harbaugh did show that Smith can win. I think Alex's performance against the Saints in the playoffs last year was a great showcase. He played very well this year. Kaepernick just brought a different dimension to the 49ers and he delivered.
Chris Mortensen (11:58 AM)
Gotta roll and get ready for NFL32 at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. We do have Sunday NFL Countdown at 10 a.m. this week before heading off to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. You can follow me on Twitter @mortreport and it should be a great game next week, followed by the excitement of the off-season in free agency and the draft. God Bless!