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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (3:02 PM)
Greetings everybody. Thanks for joining me. Let's get started.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley - Heard on the sports radio that the Bills leaked out that they're playing the Lions on Thanksgiving, to which the talk show hosts the schedule maybe out on Friday, any truth this ?
Ashley Fox (3:03 PM)
Hi Rich. There is still no word yet on when the league will announce the regular-season schedule, although they will be releasing the preseason schedule this afternoon. Exciting, I know. My guess on the regular-season schedule is that it will be a few more weeks still.
Ed (Queens Village)
Which team can pull a UCONN Men's Basketball go from out of playoffs to champions this season?
Ashley Fox (3:07 PM)
First of all, congrats to both UConn programs for their championships. What a run for both programs. But as you know, Ed, It is a lot harder to do that in the NFL. Probably the more realistic question is which team(s) can go from out of the playoffs to in the playoffs. Tampa, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta are all good candidates there. But we need to wait for the draft to have a better understanding of what teams will have to work with.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley - The Eagles won the NFC East with a 10-6 record last year, so far this off season do you see if either the Giants, Cowboys or Redskins have made enough changes to make a serious challenge of winning the division from the Eagles in 2014 ?
Ashley Fox (3:10 PM)
The Giants have added a ton of pieces. Their challenge is going to be getting so many new faces to play together as a team. I was talking earlier this morning with former Giants linebacker Carl Banks, who talked about how challenging it is, given the practice rules in place now, for teams to mesh quickly. I think Washington has improved. DeSean Jackson was a huge pickup for them. It is going to be interesting to see what Jay Gruden gets out of RGIII. Dallas I think is destined to be .500 until the end of time.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best & the Worst NFL Stadium that you have been to?
Ashley Fox (3:12 PM)
I was not a fan of Candlestick, so I was not among those sorry to see that building retired. Seattle is one of the coolest places to see a game. The design makes it so the noise just stays in the stadium, and the fans are so loud that the building almost vibrates at times. Dallas you just have to see for the whole experience, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite.
Addison Dittrich (Denver)
Horrible Regurgitation: Derek Carr climbing up the ladder? Way to run with a storyline I've seen at least five times in the last several weeks like you've stumbled upon some shocking new revelation.
Ashley Fox (3:13 PM)
Oh really? I hadn't seen a lot of that. Don't think it was regurgitation at all.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Hi, Ashley. Considering your article on Derek Carr, do you think he could be a good fit for the Vikings in the first or second round of the draft? Might he last into the late first or early second round?
Ashley Fox (3:16 PM)
Hi Al. Thanks for joining in. I'm not sure Carr will last late into the first round. I talked to someone last night who thinks he might be gone in the first 10 picks. It is hard to tell, given how all over the map people have been regarding the quarterbacks. Another name to watch is Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage. He's not a first-round guy, but he is a player that teams seem eager to work with. With regard to your Vikings, I would think Norv Turner would love to work with Carr. Could be a good fit, if he's still on the board when they pick.
Ashley Fox (3:19 PM)
So I just realized I'm down to chat at 4 p.m. Eastern. Will take a little break then start again at the top of the hour. Please send in your questions. Thanks.
Ashley Fox (4:01 PM)
I took a false start penalty but now am ready to go again. Thanks for joining in.
Hi Ashley, where do you see Chip Kelly in 5 years?
Ashley Fox (4:03 PM)
It is an interesting question, Sara. I think among NFL owners, Jeffrey Lurie has demonstrated patience when it comes to his head coaches, much like the Rooneys in Pittsburgh. So if Kelly wants to be the Eagles head coach in five years, barring something disastrous, I think he will be. But with college coaches, there will always be a question of whether they want to return to college. I think that will be the case with Kelly. As long as he is successful -- and he certainly was in his first year in the league -- there will always be interest from schools. Will he be interested? Only he can answer that.
Ashley Fox (4:04 PM)
I would encourage everyone to read my colleague Jeff Chadiha's piece on small school prospects. Good read.
Which teams do you think have improved themselves the most so far in free agency?
Ashley Fox (4:07 PM)
I am not a huge proponent of teams making big splashes in free agency. It is always risky to rely on another team's "trash," as it were. But I think the Giants have helped themselves. Tampa has. Oakland has spent money on a lot of aging guys, which isn't the way to go. Washington got DeSean Jackson, much to their surprise. He should help them. But overall, the safer, proven way to go is build through the draft. I will be more interested to see what teams do next month.
What QB do you see falling the farthest and which QB do you see sneaking into the late first?
Ashley Fox (4:09 PM)
It is so hard to project the quarterbacks this year because there isn't a can't miss prospect. Bridgewater hasn't helped himself, though. And Carr is ascending. I wrote about him last week. Teams really like him. Another name to watch is Savage from PItt. He's not a first-round guy, but he could sneak into the second or early third.
Matthew (Virginia )
Hi Ashley, thanks for chatting! If you were Chip and the Eagles do you package a trade to move up and grab Mike Evans or play the hand you're dealt at 22? Thanks!
Ashley Fox (4:10 PM)
Well, they have a gaping need at receiver now. But this is a deep draft at that position, and they have other needs, so I would stay put and pick the best available. They also need help in the secondary. The interesting thing will be to see whether they draft for need -- which Howie Roseman has said he won't do again -- or if they draft best available.
Do you think Marqise Lee could end up in Philly? I'm hoping he gets to the 49ers.
Ashley Fox (4:13 PM)
He's another possibility for the Eagles, who as I mentioned have a need at WR. He's apparently coming to Philly for his third meeting with the Eagles. It is hard to know how to read the proverbial tea leaves where they are concerned, but Chip Kelly wants guys he can fit into his offense. Their spending habits have shown that.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Which team will regress more this year the Chiefs because of the harder schedule or the Eagles because Chip is slowly ridding them with Andy's players and installing his own..
Ashley Fox (4:15 PM)
I don't hate any of the moves the Eagles have made. They'll miss the leadership of Avant and, to an extent, Vick. They'll need to replace Jackson's production. The Chiefs, not surprisingly, have been conservative in free agency. It is too soon to predict who will regress, if either team will, because the draft is so important to both teams but particularly for the Chiefs.
Do you see any team trading into the top 5? Maybe the Jags trading back?
Ashley Fox (4:17 PM)
I think anything is possible at this point. St. Louis is an interesting team to watch, but while I wouldn't rule out them trading down, I also don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. But if Houston passes on Clowney, I think the Rams would be hard pressed not to pick him. They'd have a formidable pass rush.
The Eagles essentially swapped Jackson for Maclin based on last season. How is that a gaping need replace a guy who can only run the fly route with a guy that can and has run every route.
Ashley Fox (4:18 PM)
I hear you, and I love Maclin. He's more versatile than Jackson and from what I heard Kelly really was excited to line him up all over the field. Nevertheless, he's coming off a significant knee injury and has a history of injuries. They need more productive depth there.
Eric (Long Island, NY)
Do you think Eli Manning will bounce back? I find it curious that John Mara said the offense was broken and most of the activity has been on defense/special teams so far. Besides Cruz, I worry a lot about the Giants offense.
Ashley Fox (4:21 PM)
That's a great question, Eric. The number of interceptions he's thrown in recent seasons is a cause for concern. And while they have improved on paper through free agency, there is no guarantee the players will come together or it will have been enough. Their roster really has rotted. Like KC, this will be an important draft for them, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. It is not all Eli's fault, of course. He could use some help.
I know everyone is talking about who the Texans are taking with #1 but I think looking at their top two picks is what will determine what they will choose to do. What's your best guess for the Texans top 2 picks?
Ashley Fox (4:23 PM)
It's impossible to predict at this point. I think they'll take Clowney, but no one knows for sure. And if they do, do they then take a quarterback? I think passing on Clowney will be tough, given his skills and potential and given the fact that there isn't a clear-cut no-brainer quarterback to take like there was when Indy had the No. 1 pick. I'm not trying to be evasive. I just think it is impossible to say with any real conviction right now what they're going to do.
Ashley, if the Raiders draft Watkins or Evans, do you think they can have a decent offense for the first time in years? Or is that giving Schaub too much credit?
Ashley Fox (4:25 PM)
It has been such a revolving door there. I like Schaub, and I think he will benefit greatly by a change in scenery. Their offensive line should be okay. He needs time to operate in the pocket and show that he has his confidence back. But Oakland has been basically irrelevant for the better part of a decade. So it is hard to be overly optimistic.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
At this point next year who will be in the better QB position Jets with Michael Vick or Eagles with Mark Sanchez?
Ashley Fox (4:27 PM)
The Jets have opened up a QB competition and the Eagles, from how I understand it, view Sanchez as a backup. So if Sanchez is playing, that either means Foles got hurt or was terrible. And if that's the case, that won't be good for Philly. Vick can win the Jets job, but at his age and given his playing history, does that make them anything better than .500? Probably not.
Hey Ashley, I'm a HUGE patriots fan and they're having a good offseason so far, but they seem to not be adressing their linebacker issues. Do you see them doing anything to improve their depth?Thanks.
Ashley Fox (4:29 PM)
They like the guys they have. And in particular, they like how the middle of their defense looks. Remember, the draft is a HUGE part of what every team does, so you can't judge a team's offseason acquisitions until after the draft. And really then, there needs to be patience. You can't accurately grade a team's draft until three years after the fact.
Ashley, when asked about teams going from not making the playoffs to making them, as well as teams that improved this summer, you did not mention the Bears...what gives?
Ashley Fox (4:31 PM)
Just an oversight. Nothing more. They should be in the mix, too. They ware a half-game away last year.
Right now, if you had to project, who are the top 3 players the Texans could take? I still like Bridgewater.
Ashley Fox (4:33 PM)
When it comes to picking quarterbacks, unless the choice is obvious, it really comes down to personal preference. What traits do the coaches value? What can they get out of the player? What's important. And remember, not every coaching staff is equipped to molding a young guy who needs work. All of that is to say, you like Bridgewater, they might not. It depends specifically on what O'Brien values. Does he value what Manziel brings to the table more than what Bridgewater does? Or does he not covet either? Does he like Carr or Bortles? It is a personal choice at that position more so than any other.
Follow up question: Do you know of anyone in the draft that would fit them well at the linebacker position?Thanks.
Ashley Fox (4:37 PM)
I really don't see them using the 29th pick on a LB. They have other needs. I'd rather see them use that pick on a receiver. Give the QB some more help. And I feel with Belichick, he could pick some linebacker you've probably never heard of later in the draft and mold him into a viable backup.
erik (mil- wisconsin)
You think CJ Mosley will fall to the packers at 21??
Ashley Fox (4:41 PM)
I don't know that he will, Erik. But that would be a great pick at that spot if he does. Some people think Mosley will be a top 10 pick.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Where do you think CJ?K ends up? Not the Jets, really?
Ashley Fox (4:44 PM)
CJ?K? That's clever. The Jets are a possibility. I still wouldn't be surprised if Atlanta is in play. I would think we'd know something by the end of the week.
Ashley, with Sanchez as the Eagles backup QB, where does that leave Matt Barkley? Has Chip given up on him?
Ashley Fox (4:48 PM)
Chip likes to stockpile quarterbacks. He had five in camp last year and carried three. They have money invested in Barkley, so Chip hasn't given up on him. I think he was intrigued by Sanchez, but we will see when final roster cut downs come. I don't think having Barkley as the No. 2 heading into the season is the best bet.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, suppose the Vikings select Derek Carr in the first round (either at #8 or by trading down in the round). What position do you think they should target in the next round? LB? CB? Best available player?
Ashley Fox (4:51 PM)
With Cassel under contract for two years, it isn't a given they would use that No. 8 pick on a QB. I always prefer the team to go best available player rather than draft for need. But you're right, they have needs on defense. If I had to prioritize, given the way the league has gone, I would prefer secondary help over linebacker help. Zimmer is a defensive guy, don't forget. So that will play a factor in what they do at 8 as well.
Ashley Fox (4:53 PM)
Any chance Benjamin is still there at 32 for Seattle?
Ashley Fox (4:55 PM)
He definitely could be. He's another guy the Eagles have looked at. Could probably say that about every receiver in the draft.
What do you think the chances of all 4 NFCW teams being above 500 this year?
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
Very good. It is the best division in football right now. They're going to beat each other up pretty good, though. Keep your eye on St. Louis. They are going to be a player.
If Clowney is gone, how do you think Mack would work out for the Rams?
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
Great, from everything I'm hearing. The Rams are going to get better in this draft. As I said, ascending.
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
Alright, thanks for joining me. We'll do it again next week.