Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (4:04 PM)
Greetings everybody. Thanks for joining me. Let's get started.
Mike P (Lenexa, KS)
Andy Reid is 13-1 after a bye as you well know covering him in Philly... Does he get win number 14 or loss number 2 in two weeks against the broncos?
Ashley Fox (4:06 PM)
Great question, Mike. Reid won his first 13 games off the bye in Philly before losing to Atlanta last year. It was an impressive run, whether you want to nit pick the opponents or not. Andy always gave his guys the week off for the bye before getting back at it. Do they beat the Broncos in Denver in two weeks? I think they can. Their defense has been opportunistic and created turnovers and the offense has not made a lot of turnovers. Can the Chiefs keep pace with Denver's offense? That's going to be the question. I'm looking forward to being there.
Ed (Queens Village)
Does Aaron Rodgers injury change NFC North and NFC Playoff picture? Of three team race who's your pick to win North?
Ashley Fox (4:09 PM)
I think it certainly can, if the 4-6 week projection on Rodgers turns out to be on the longer side. Detroit lost to Green Bay without Calvin Johnson and beat Chicago. The only time the Schwartz-led Lions have beat Green Bay is when Rodgers got knocked out of the game. The Lions defense is really, really tough and the offense has played well and gained extra confidence and momentum with that comeback win over Dallas. Green Bay is going to have to rely on its running game, which has actually been productive this year, but I think the Lions have moved ahead as the favorite to win the division.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How much in jeopardy is Mike Tomlin's job in Pittsburgh?
Ashley Fox (4:11 PM)
I don't think much. That's a stable organization with an owner who likes continuity and doesn't respond hastily. What the Steelers need to do is draft better. There just isn't the talent on the roster on either side of the ball that there was five years ago. On defense, the Steelers used to have starters and then a mini farm system of guys waiting for their turn. That just doesn't seem to be the case any more.
ALAN LAKERNICK (COLLEGEVILLE PA.)
You were pretty tough on Chip Kelly before the Raiders game. Have you revised your opinion?
Ashley Fox (4:13 PM)
I was, and deservedly so. They hadn't done anything on offense in two weeks. What the Eagles did in Oakland was impressive. Foles was terrific. And who would have thought he'd be NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice this season. Quite the feat. I'd like to see some consistency and that team handle success and build on it. We'll see. They've got a great opportunity to do that this week.
Can Incognito face prison for any of this, or will it just keep him out of the league?
Ashley Fox (4:15 PM)
I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know all of the legal ramifications. And I'm not even 100 percent sure this will keep him out of the league. It seems that way, but there is still way too much information about this story that we just don't know. What has come to light has been ugly, but the full story has yet to be told.
Eagles are 4-1 on the road. Seneca Wallace is starting for the Packers. Nick Foles just threw 7 TDs in one game. Green Bay defense couldn't stop a Josh McCown-led offense from running out the last nine minutes of the game. Despite all that, I still think the Packers can win this game. Am I crazy?
Ashley Fox (4:18 PM)
Crazy? No. They're going to have to run the football. A lot. And as I said, the Eagles need to prove they can handle success and build off of it. They are better on the road, which is odd. Haven't won at home in a year. Wallace is a good guy, good teammate, smart, well spoken, but he hasn't won a game since 2010. He will benefit from a week of practice as the starter, which he hasn't had since he arrived in Green Bay. But if I were picking the game, I'd probably go with the Eagles.
As a Philly fan, I'm convinced the Eagles squander an opportunity at Green Bay this weekend. Dom Capers will make Foles look mortal.
Ashley Fox (4:19 PM)
And, the other side.
are you surprised the Dolphins are allowing their players to speak to the media in support of Icognito?
Ashley Fox (4:20 PM)
They're grown men and can say what they want. The whole thing is disturbing. I guess what has surprised me more is the lack of support of Martin from his teammates.
If London were to get their own NFL team, then how would kickoff times for their games be affected? Would they ever be able to play a Monday, Sunday, or Thursday night game given the time difference? What about games played at West Coast venues which normally start around 4pm eastern time?
Ashley Fox (4:24 PM)
All good, viable questions. The logistics of having a team in London are tricky given the time change, and I think that would severely impact a franchise there given that no free agents are going to want to play there for those very reasons. I don't know how it would work. And I really hope that before we get into a legitimate discussion about the league having a franchise in London that they put one in L.A. first.
I don't care how bad the Steelers are. Brady looked the best I've ever seen him. the AFC better watchout ater the bye. Brady's back...with vengence!
Ashley Fox (4:26 PM)
The best ever? I wouldn't say that. And this season never has been about Brady getting back to being Brady. It's been that he hasn't had reliable receivers catching his passes. Getting Gronkowski back was a big help.
I agree that it's been surprising to hear the lack of support of Martin from his teammates. When Riley Cooper uttered his racial slur, he needed to make a genuine apology and speak individually to a number of players. With the Dolphins it seems to be the exact opposite. The Dolphins players almost seem to want Martin to apologize for the trouble he's caused. Very odd. Guess no question there, but feel free to elaborate if you want.
Ashley Fox (4:30 PM)
It is an interesting comparison to Cooper, and while I didn't agree with the Eagles' decision to bring him back, I will say that Cooper handled himself very well in the days after the news broke. He was well coached in that department, but he didn't have to stand up and take questions on multiple occasions. As for Martin, I don't like the picture that is being painted of him. If the Dolphins coaches felt that he needed to be toughened up -- and that's still an "if" -- they should never have drafted him.
I know it is a while away, but are they going to move the Week 14 49ers Seahawks game to 8pm eastern Sunday, especially now with Rodgers out possibly a couple weeks?
Ashley Fox (4:31 PM)
I don't know off the top of my head all the rules governing what games can be flexed, but that seems like an awfully good one to flex. We'll know as it gets closer.
Chris Naylor (London ON)
Hi Ashley, I am currently fighting for a playoff spot in my fantasy football league with 2 weeks left in regular season. I just made a trade where I sent Gronk (No other legit TEs to start this week for my team), Mike Brown and Daniel Thomas, receiving Antonio Davis, Mike Wallace and Stevan Ridley. I then traded Ridley away for Jay Cutler. Was this a smart move to make or idiotic on my part?Thanks, Chris
Ashley Fox (4:32 PM)
Chris, I don't play fantasy, so I'm the wrong person to ask. But it looks like Cutler is going to give it a go this week, so you've got that going for you.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Very First NFL Head Coach to be Fired?
Ashley Fox (4:34 PM)
Great question, Chris. I would look to the state of Florida for the answer to that one. And it's interesting that Gus Bradley is probably the safest of the three despite not having won a game.
With all the MVP talk on ESPN, mostly for Peyton Manning - WHy is Brady not even mentioned? He's bringing name tag receivers and an injured offense to a 7-2 record. If they put up a great game against Denver and get a bye into the Playoffs, theres no way he can't be considered for MVP this year.
Ashley Fox (4:35 PM)
I don't know who has been saying what exactly about the MVP race. I need to check in with Dan Graziano's list. But you're right. Imagine what Brady could do if he had Manning's receivers. That doesn't diminish what Manning is doing, but come on. Brady would probably give his left pinky just to have one of the three that Manning has. And oh yeah, he used to.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Do you anticipate Kubiak returning this season?
Ashley Fox (4:38 PM)
I think it's impossible to say given the limited amount of information that is out there. I hope for his sake that he is healthy enough to return when he is ready. It is a really scary thing, for him and for John Fox. I do know this: NFL coaches work a ridiculous amount of hours and are under extreme pressure and stress. It's not healthy. As Andy Reid told me earlier this week, they all know the risks but love what they do. He said rest is crucial but admitted you have to take it where you can get it during the season.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, regarding Chris Fiegler's question, I feel that Schiano at Tampa Bay may be the first head coach fired. I sense Leslie Frazier of the Vikings could be the second head coach fired. Your thoughts?
Ashley Fox (4:40 PM)
I know you love your Vikings, Al, but I agree that Leslie is sitting on a very hot seat. But I think what's happening in Miami could trump everybody. It is worth watching very, very closely.
lol - Yes, Graziano has not had him on the list all year.
Ashley Fox (4:40 PM)
There you go.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Who gets a bigger lift from the pending return of their top receivers, or potentially top receiver, SF or Seattle?
Ashley Fox (4:43 PM)
Well, both teams should get a significant lift at just the right time, but if I had to pick one, I'd say San Francisco with Crabtree coming back. I'm not convinced Harvin can stay healthy, and he really needs to healthy -- like 100 percent healthy -- to play. Crabtree should give the Niners something they've really lacked, which is a receiver who can create separation and make big plays down the field.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Are the Cowboys your default pick to win the NFC East? Or do you see another team making a run at the division crown?
Ashley Fox (4:45 PM)
What a mess that division is. It is disappointing. But yes, to your question, Dallas is the default pick, but only by default. And imagine the conversation we'd be having if they hadn't won last week. I could see it finishing like this: Dallas, Philly, Washington, New York, with none of the four being very good.
Mike P (Lenexa, Ks)
How much of the Miami situation do you think the coach and gm knew... If the report is true, the coach now has the smoking gun to get him fired
Ashley Fox (4:47 PM)
That is the question. What did they know and when did they know it? Hopefully the NFL investigation will bear that out and we will know. In my experience, coaches and GMs know everything. Everything. They have to. We will see what Philbin and Ireland knew.
Martin (New York, NY)
What's missing from the Giants this year? Do you get the sense that Tom Coughlin can return next year if he wants to?
Ashley Fox (4:49 PM)
I think he can. Winning two Super Bowls buys you the benefit of the doubt, and time. Not eternity, but time. So I think unless Coughlin chooses to step down, which I find unlikely, that he will be back. And I also think that Eli Manning didn't suddenly become a bad quarterback. He is taking a lot of the heat because that's what happens in these circumstances. But I think he's just been pressing and trying to make things happen, which has led to critical mistakes and errors.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Reid says Smith should be proud to have the title of game manager. However, in order to win the conference, he's going to have to make some plays. Alex was not able to do that in SF, so why should Chief fans feel confident he can get it done in KC?
Ashley Fox (4:54 PM)
You're right. Smith is going to have to make plays, and the Chiefs are going to have to trust him to make plays. It goes hand in hand. I've said this since March, I think Smith can thrive in Reid's version of the West Coast, and I think as the season continues to progress you will see them try more things. And I wouldn't get super wrapped up in the game manager thing. Winning in the postseason still is contingent on having a talented defense. Look at the two teams that were in the Super Bowl last year.
Megan (San Diego)
When you look at the Steelers is Big Ben just not the type of QB that can single handily create victories and hide deficiencies like Brady or Manning can? BTW if the Chiefs had Big Ben as their QB they would REALLY be an unstoppable force.
Ashley Fox (4:55 PM)
The Steelers problems aren't related to the quarterback. He's the least of their worries.
Michael (Orlando) [via mobile]
John Harbaugh was 5-0 after the bye until he ran into a motivated Browns squad. Can he refocus his team in time to beat Cincinnati? The Browns will follow next week with a physical test for the Bengals.
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
Sure, he can. I feel like Geno Atkins being done for the year got lost in the NFL news cycle. What a tremendous loss for a team that has looked impressive this season.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Will the Raiders take Bridgewater if he's available to them in the draft?
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
It all depends on where they draft and where he falls and how they view Pryor. I like Bridgewater though.
Ashley Fox (5:00 PM)
Alright everybody. Thanks for joining me. We'll do it again next week. Have a great rest of your week.