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 (4:02 PM)
Hello everybody. Thanks for joining me. Let's get started.
Ed (Queens Village)
I do not like Chris Johnson signing as a Jet fan. Why sign him when they traded for Chris Ivory last year?
Ashley Fox (4:03 PM)
I don't mind it, actually. I think they are excited about what Johnson can bring. I haven't seen the contract details other than the two years, but I would imagine they got him for good value. He's not going to be the Johnson of a couple of years ago, but at 10-12 carries a game, he should work. Don't look for him to be a 1,000-yard rusher. He'll likely be more of a situational back.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Hi, Ashley. What are your thoughts on the Aldon Smith situation? It seems he's really immature to make bomb threats to the TSA at an airport. How severely do you think he may be punished?
Ashley Fox (4:05 PM)
Hi, Al. I think there's a lot we don't know, but Smith has shown a pattern of bad judgment. I agree it is immature, among other things, to make any comment about a bomb to TSA at an airport. Just stupid. As for punishment, when you look at the collective picture, I think it could be steep. Roger Goodell praised Smith last season for getting the help those around him felt he needed, but there will almost certainly be an NFL-mandated punishment levied. Four games? Half a season? A whole season? I think anything is possible.
Don Taylor (Phoenix AZ)
Hey Ashley, if you were the Texans who would you draft in the upcoming NFL Draft? I think the concerns surrounding Jadaveon Clowney are very real concerns, and leaves me questioning if this freak of nature has been getting by on talent alone. I have not seen a real foot IQ with him yet. He also takes off plays. But he is extremely athletic!!!
Ashley Fox (4:07 PM)
Hi, Don. I would take Clowney No. 1 overall. Pair him with J.J. Watt, one of the most diligent workers in the game, and tell him to do everything Watt does. In the weight room. Away from the field. With regards to nutrition. Let Watt set the example and then give him good, solid coaching and let's see what happens. The concern is will he work hard once he cashes in? The other thing I think needs to happen is for everybody to stop comparing the kid to Lawrence Taylor, the greatest defensive player to play the game. That only sets him up to fail.
Cordera (Charlotte NC)
Do you see the carolina panthers reaching the playoffs again in 2015? With the new but old WR corps?
Ashley Fox (4:09 PM)
I think they can, sure, but they need to address their wide receiver issues. The team is very, very intrigued by the possibility of adding Sidney Rice. It makes a lot of sense. I also think you'll see them look to the draft for a wide receiver, although as we've seen, it is tough to rely on a rookie wideout to make significant contributions. Also of concern is the health of the quarterback. But the defense is loaded. So, yes, I think they can go back to the playoffs.
Marc (San Jose)
If you're the Niners brass; do you give Aldon Smith another chance?
Ashley Fox (4:12 PM)
They're going to. So there's that. He's a talented, productive guy who excels at rushing the passer. Those types of players don't fall off trees. But at some point he needs to understand there are significant consequences to his actions. It doesn't seem like he gets that just yet.
Ashley, the Raiders need playmakers on both sides of the ball. Who would be a better fit with the #5 pick, Watkins or Mack?
Ashley Fox (4:14 PM)
I really think either one would help. The thing you worry about with Mack is he didn't play against top-notch opponents week in and week out at Buffalo. But when he faced Ohio State the first week of last season, he was a terror. He had something like three sacks, an interception returned 45 yards for a touchdown and another strip sack that was nullified by a hands to the face penalty. That was against an Ohio State team that was no joke. But to your question, I think Oakland really can't go wrong either way.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where do you think that Johnny Manziel will play for in 2014 in the NFL?
Ashley Fox (4:17 PM)
At this point, who knows? There's so much misinformation out there this time of year that it is impossible to predict. I would think Jacksonville is as good a bet as any. He would energize that fan base and put fans in the seats. But someone I really respect in the business made an argument to me yesterday for a sleeper team taking him up high. The fact is, no one knows at this point.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, which quarterback do you feel may be the best fit for the Vikings to draft? My brother and I really like Bridgewater.
Ashley Fox (4:19 PM)
Again, people are all over the map with the quarterbacks. Bortles might be the best of them all when it comes to projecting to the next level. Bridgewater is really sliding down. Not only was he shaky at his pro day at Louisville, I've heard he has not looked good in his individual workouts. He's been inconsistent throwing the football, which is not a good sign. Don't sleep on Carr. He might be attractive to Norv Turner, although one criticism I've heard is he can't get out of the way of rushers.
Desmond (san Francisco) [via mobile]
Ashley read your niner article ! Do you personally think that with all the distractions and turmoil, along with possibly playing all year without their two best players in smith and Bowman will be to much to overcome to compete for the playoffs let alone suber bowl?
Ashley Fox (4:21 PM)
Not necessarily. San Francisco has one of the deepest rosters in the league, and don't forget they went 5-0 without Smith last season. But you can't discount distractions and turmoil and the effect they have on teams, even at this stage of the game. You want to eliminate distractions, not invite them. Even so, San Francisco on paper at least should be one of the teams to beat heading into the season. As we know, though, there is more to winning a championship than just that.
Francis (Conego, IL)
Is Eli Manning still an elite QB?
Ashley Fox (4:23 PM)
He's won two Super Bowls, which puts him in elite company. But there is no question he has committed too many turnovers the last few seasons and now he's going to miss part of the preseason with a new offensive coordinator who runs a different system than he's used to. That's not a great start. But it's also not all on Manning. The Giants roster really rotted, and it caught up to them last season.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the teams who need QBs would be wise to draft the best available player in the first round and then take a guy like Garoppolo or Carr in the second? Bridgewater, Bortles, and Manziel are not franchise signal callers like a Luck or RGIII a few years ago IMO.
Ashley Fox (4:27 PM)
Drafting best available is always the "wise" way to go, but given how many teams need quarterbacks, I think we'll see some of the quarterbacks go higher than they would otherwise. The market sets the price, as it were. But your point is well taken. There is not a no-brainer pick like a Luck or an RGIII, which is why there's been so much consternation about which QB will go first and who is the best fit where. And when it comes to drafting a quarterback, there is emotion involved. When a QB needy team is on the clock in the first round, it will be hard for them to say no.
If Clowney and Ha Ha end up on the same team, would that be laughable?
Ashley Fox (4:28 PM)
That's not bad.
Hi Ashley, Do you think Atlanta should draft the best player available or trade back for more draft picks? Also, can they return to the playoffs in 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:32 PM)
Their top three needs are: an offensive lineman, a pass rusher and a safety. Given the depth of the draft, I don't think they'll move back and I still don't think it is out of the realm of possibility that they move up. What if Clowney is available at 2? Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has a great relationship with Rams GM Les Snead, who used to work in Atlanta. Might they swing a trade, given that St. Louis doesn't really need Clowney (although you can never have too many pass rushers). And yes, I think they can return to the playoffs, but they've got work to do in the draft.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
49ers signed Brandon Lloyd..any hope he can productive?
Ashley Fox (4:33 PM)
I think it's a stretch. He didn't play last year. He's a veteran and a unique personality. The 49ers need speed on the outside and he doesn't exactly fit that description. If I had to bet, he won't be on the roster come Week 1. But we'll see.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Can the Packers improve enough in one year on defense to challenge the Niners and Seahawks for the NFC crown?
Ashley Fox (4:36 PM)
It seems like every offseason we are talking about the Packers need to improve on defense. I guess the short answer is yes. But there is a gap between the Seahawks and Niners (in that order) and the rest of the NFC. The Packers made the playoffs last year even with Aaron Rodgers missing all that time, in large part because the Lions and Bears couldn't capitalize (each had its own problems). The NFC North is going to be tight again this season. You might should start with worrying about winning the division first.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Will the Bears regret not retaining McCown's services?
Ashley Fox (4:38 PM)
It comes down to economics. And McCown understandably wanted an opportunity to start (and he got it in Tampa). As we've seen, backup quarterback is an extremely valuable position, which is why Green Bay quickly re-signed Matt Flynn after he briefly flirted with the Giants. All things being equal, the Bears would have loved to have McCown back. But it had to be at the right price.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Any chance Marqise Lee drops to the 49ers? If so, would they take a receiver in the first round?
Ashley Fox (4:40 PM)
I think both are possible, yes. It is also possible the Niners could package a couple of picks to move up. They have plenty of picks and not many roster spots available, and as I mentioned earlier, an outside receiver is a position of need for them.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
What type of offensive help do the Ravens need to give Flacco next season?
Ashley Fox (4:42 PM)
I think the biggest concern at the moment is what's going to happen at running back. Will Ray Rice be available for the entire year? We should have a good idea of Baltimore's feelings about that in the draft if they take a running back high (like the second or third round). I think defensively they feel good with where they are. John Harbaugh told me yesterday that he thinks Smith and Upshaw will be long-time starters and could soon be Pro Bowlers and that, while it's early, he likes Elam a lot, too.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Speaking of Flynn, he stole some more money from another NFL franchise. That settles it Ashley, it is now time to file grand larceny charges against this guy. You deserve a raise, call his agent for representation. The guy is a miracle worker.
Ashley Fox (4:43 PM)
He did do that. But he's a solid backup, in my opinion, particularly in Green Bay, where they know him well.
Detroit is constantly under-achieving. Do you think Caldwell can set a new tone and get them on the right track? Who do they draft in the 1st round? And how just how good will their offense be this year with the addition of Golden Tate?
Ashley Fox (4:47 PM)
I really like Jim Caldwell, and he took that job in part because there is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. As for who they pick at No. 10, I think they're in position to go best available, but at this point it is impossible to predict who that might be. As for Tate, he should help them. Not surprisingly, he thinks Detroit's offense will be a better fit for him than Seattle's was. Calvin Johnson should open up plenty of opportunities for him. It is time for Stafford to take the next step. Caldwell should help with that.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Which 2013 playoff team will slide the most next season, KC or Carolina?
Ashley Fox (4:49 PM)
Well, if you go by how each team finished the regular season, I think you'd have to with Kansas City there. They had a great start but once the competition improved, they struggled. They still need a safety and another receiver to play opposite Bowe. There are significant questions about the offensive line. Carolina has its issues too (which we discussed here a few minutes ago). But forced to pick, I'll take Kansas City.
bob b nj [via mobile]
hi ash who do u see the jets taken with the 18 pick do they trade down too acquire more picks?
Ashley Fox (4:51 PM)
I think they could go best available and whoever they get should help. And I don't think they should trade down. They have too many needs. It is interesting: I talked to two head coaches this week looking for direction on where they might go draft wise, and both said that at this point, they still haven't finalized their respective draft boards. And that's the thing: No one, aside from maybe Houston, knows for sure what they're going to do at this point. We're still three weeks away. I know people don't like to hear it, but teams are still trying to figure things out at this point.
Garry (Los Angeles)
Notice to the NFL: We don't need a team in Los Angeles now that we have Gene Simmons KISS indoor team!!!
Ashley Fox (4:52 PM)
Frankie (Haitleny, NY)
Thoughts on why Ngata turned down an extension?
Ashley Fox (4:54 PM)
If I had to guess, and I don't know, the offer wasn't to his liking. At his age, he probably has one more big deal left to sign and he's probably trying to maximize his value. The Ravens wanted to lock him up and reduce his cap hit this year but couldn't get it done. When those things happen, it's almost always over money.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
How much pressure is on Chip Kelly and the Eagles Organization after releasing DeSean Jackson? Philly fans aren't the most understanding people in the world if things go south.
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
Kelly has bought himself a grace period given that the Eagles won the division in his first season as head coach last year. But you're right. The problem with cutting Jackson is they don't have a replacement for him currently on the roster. They can draft a guy and plug him in, which is fine, but if that guy doesn't produce and if the Eagles offense -- and thus the team as a whole -- takes a step back, Kelly is going to have a lot of questions to answer, and deservedly so. He is of the mindset that it is his system above any player. We will see if that is actually true.
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
Alright folks. I've got to jump. Thanks for all the questions. We'll do it again next week.