Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (3:00 PM)
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for joining me. Let's get going.
First of all, I give you credit for having the gusto to go back on what you've said previously - you were one of the many who gave the Ravens no shot to win it all at, really, any point in the season. You seem to be a *bit* more of a believer in the Ravens/Flacco with your new article.That said, can you explain to me why, just a month after they won the freaking Super Bowl (which, while it doesn't necessarily prove they were the BEST team, is still quite the accomplishment), the media in particular seems to think the Ravens are hosed next year? When I look at the team's potential losses, 5 come to mind:1) Ray Lewis: played the worst game of his career during the super bowl, clearly done2) Ed Reed: Seems to be warming up to the idea of returning (even if he has lost a step)3) Dannell Ellerbe: Might still get re-signed with the Flacco contract having been done4) Paul Kruger: Good pass rusher, way too expensive for a part time player, plus Courtney Upshaw began to come into his own towards the end of the season5) Cary Williams: Despite leading the team in picks, somewhat overrated and will be gone due to cost. But Lardarius Webb will be back (even if not full strength).Yes, if they lose Ellerbe it will be a big hole, but I'm just wondering your thoughts on the Ravens for next year. Obviously it's super early, but hey, that's what the offseason is for, right? Preposterous predictions.
Ashley Fox (3:03 PM)
Thanks for the question, Frank. First of all, if you went back and read everything I wrote about the Ravens, starting with a column on Flacco from August, you'd see I actually wasn't one of the many who gave them no shot. I didn't think they'd beat Denver in the playoffs. I was wrong. Good for them. As for looking ahead to 2013, I'm not down on them at all. I think what you see is the culmination of a changing of the guard there. This will be a team that will be known for its offense and that will have to carry the defense, at least in the short term. I still think Reed will end up coming back. Replacing Lewis on the field won't be as tough as replacing him in the locker room. But they've drafted well and have young talent on the roster. And they've obviously got the quarterback they want.
Al (Wausau, WI)
How's it going, Ashley? Do you think there's any chance that Mike Wallace will be signed by the Vikings in free agency? If so, do you think that may change their preference on what position they draft in the first round of the NFL Draft?
Ashley Fox (3:06 PM)
Hi, Al. Sure, there's a shot they sign Wallace. The Vikings are clearly revamping the wide receiver position. They finally got around to releasing Michael Jenkins, which wasn't a surprise. They've got the unsettled Percy Harvin situation. They're going to need help, but there will be competition for Wallace. Miami, Cleveland, Cincinnati and San Francisco could be in the mix, too. Since he will clearly have a vote, if there's a chance to play for the 49ers I would think he'd take it.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Are the 49ers a likely trade partner with the Jets for Revis given the number of picks they have available in the upcoming draft and their need for a corner? Or is this just the annual case of Revis/NYJ offseason drama?
Ashley Fox (3:10 PM)
Great question, Don. It wouldn't be an offseason without a little Revis/Jets controversy, would it? The writing clearly is on the wall there, despite Rex Ryan trying to tamp down the drama. And I'm with Revis on this one. He would fit there. He would make them better. That defense would be scary good with him on the back end. And San Francisco has the picks to pull it off. Makes a ton of sense, which is probably why it won't happen.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley, Do you see somewhere in the future the Redskins changing their nickname? I read several articles and it just seems like a long and lengthy legal battle not to mention much loss in revenue if the name change goes through. Not to mention how many fans grew up rooting for the Washington Redskins.
Ashley Fox (3:14 PM)
The pressure is mounting, that's for sure. I'm not sure what the legal ramifications are for changing the name, but I'm all for it. The name is offensive to some people. I grew up a fan of the 1980s Washington teams with Theismann and Riggins, and it wouldn't cloud my memory of watching Washington-Dallas games with my big brother. Just the opposite, actually. I don't know if it will ever happen, but remember the Washington Wizards used to be called the Bullets. They changed.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Which of the excellent 2012 rookie QBs are likely to fall into a sophomore slump a la Cam Newton?
Ashley Fox (3:19 PM)
Ah, Cam Newton. I'm interested to see how, or if, he bounces back in Year Three. He has so much talent but his attitude and demeanor at times is troubling. He could use a lesson in how to act like a franchise quarterback. But I digress. To your question, the one who I'm most interested to see is RGIII. How's he going to do coming off knee surgery? That will be a huge training camp story line. The reports are predictably positive. Another big story line will be how Andrew Luck adjusts to a new offensive coordinator. That's going to be big for him. I'm not saying either will have a Newton-esque slip, just that I'm interested in how they follow up really impressive debuts.
What do you think of the Falcons cuts so far? Not sure if they will work out, but love the idea of not standing pat with what got us 10 yards away.
Ashley Fox (3:22 PM)
It was a bloody day at Flowery Branch last Friday. It was Friday, right? The days are running together. I guess I was most surprised by the Abraham release. They paid Dunta Robinson a ridiculous amount of money, and he didn't live up to it. Clearly, they found Turner's replacement (younger and cheaper). Turner served his purpose by alleviating pressure on Matt Ryan early in his career. He was a huge signing for them at the time. These things happen. Changing of the guard. But the Falcons need a couple of defensive ends that can get after the quarterback. That's got to be a priority.
With the contract that Dwayne Bowe just received from the Chiefs, do you think the Giants will be able to afford both Cruz and Nicks?
Ashley Fox (3:25 PM)
Well, in my opinion Nicks isn't worth Bowe money. I'd have to compare their numbers, but I think Cruz would be in that neighborhood, or at least want to be in that neighborhood. Doubt he'd give a hometown discount. But Bowe set the market for Cruz and for Wallace. And Welker is still out there. The Giants want to keep Cruz. He's a big piece of what they do. But at what cost? That I'm not sure.
Ashley, I know it's early to predict, but what kind of salary is JJ Watt going to get after his rookie contract is up? Are we talking most money ever for a D player? Will that handicap the Texans in attempting to secure players to surround him?
Ashley Fox (3:29 PM)
It is early, because the Texans can't redo his contract I believe until 2014. But in two years he's proved he is a key to their defense. He's young, talented, valuable, a playmaker, a good guy, all of that. He's humble, gives back to the community and is everything you could want in a teammate. Look at Flacco's deal. He got $120 million yet the way it was structured there is money left for the Ravens to remain competitive. That's key. The last thing any team wants to do is commit too much money against the cap to one player. I don't see why the same thing can't happen for Watt.
What do you think is behind the antipathy aimed at Joe Flacco? He is respectful, a family-man, hard-working, has a great underdog story coming out of Delaware, never makes negative headlines off the field, and most importantly, is a winner. Based on the some of the negative reaction to his contract, one would think he's being paid using federal tax dollars.
Ashley Fox (3:33 PM)
Is there antipathy? Certainly not from me. I really like him. And like I said in my column today, i don't think he get enough credit for walking away from the table last summer. That took major guts. I remember sitting in John Harbaugh's office in August talking to him about it. Harbaugh had some angst about Flacco's unsettled contract situation, and I said, Yeah, but look what it says about him that he's willing to bet on himself. Harbaugh agreed. Flacco thought he deserved more and was willing to prove it, and boy did he.
Jonathan (Cumberland, RI)
On Welker, CSN in NE reported that a Welker deal that would keep him here for the rest of his career is almost certain now. With that, do the Pats keep Lloyd or revamp their receiving core? I think Lloyd did fine but they def need a tall receiver on the outside.
Ashley Fox (3:37 PM)
I didn't see that. It's funny, teams always want to say a deal will keep a player in house for the duration of their career. Players are rarely ready to retire when their bodies or performance says they should. So time will tell if Welker will be ready to hang it up either when he plays out a contract -- if he gets a new contract -- or the Patriots cut him. Anyway, to your question. Aren't the Patriots constantly revamping their receiving corps? They had something like 27 receivers in camp last year, right?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best & the Worst NFL Stadium(Building)that you have Been to?
Ashley Fox (3:41 PM)
The worst is Candlestick. Can't wait for the Niners to get their new stadium built in Santa Clara. It can't happen fast enough. As for best, I don't know if I have a favorite necessarily. Seattle's is cool and so loud. Indy's is different and fitting for that city and team. And of course there is Lambeau with all its history. It's a pain in the neck getting to Green Bay, but it's always worth it.
Jonathan (Cumberland, RI)
I believe they had 10 receivers during camp last year - at least in contention :). Nelson (6'5" from Buffalo) is in serious discussion here. I wouldn't call him a #1 threat but being tall is always nice.
Ashley Fox (3:41 PM)
Ten, 27, same thing. You got the point.
Any tricks up Elway's sleeve to get the Broncos over the hump?
Ashley Fox (3:45 PM)
I'm sure. They weren't that far off last year. I'm still wondering what the real reason was for running the clock down at the end of regulation against the Ravens. I didn't get it then and still don't. You went and got Peyton Manning for exactly that reason and then ... Don't get me started. But yes, John Elway is shrewd and smart and knows what he's doing. You can trust that.
Because the rookie wage scale has made the top of the draft much less of a risk for teams, do you see top 5 talent dropping because teams are more willing to reach for need vs. taking best available?
Ashley Fox (3:49 PM)
Excellent question. The thing about this year is that who the heck knows who will be the No. 1 overall pick? Nobody. Not even the Chiefs at this point. There just isn't that obvious, no-brainer pick a la Luck/Griffin. If there were, Kansas City would take him (best available vs. need). I think most teams prefer the best available to fill a need, of course, but the rule of thumb is always best available. Often when teams go for need over best available, they make mistakes. The Eagles have certainly been guilty of that.
Hi Ashley. The Colts were a surprise success last season with their unexpected record. What team do you think might be a similar surprise success this season?
Ashley Fox (3:53 PM)
This might sound like a cop out, but I think it's too early to make that kind of prediction. Rosters are going to change dramatically in the next six weeks. Dra-mat-i-cally. But last year was the exception, right. So many repeat playoff teams (Indy being one of the exceptions). I'm intrigued by what's going on in Kansas City. That's not a team with 2-14 talent. I like the head coach, warts and all. Alex Smith helps them. The Bowe re-signing was big. That said, can they be better than 8-8? I don't know.
Cam definitely does not like the media, but can you blame him?? Actually, I am sure that you can given your credentials - but if i were in his shoes, i wouldn't go out of my way to pander to the media either, I am sure he still has a bad impression of you guys dating back to the draft. He is a good teammate and good in the community. He worked on showing his sideline emotions as the year went on, but media did not notice that - only focused on the NYG game.
Ashley Fox (3:55 PM)
Fair enough. I'm not asking him to pander to the media. But don't sulk, don't put a towel over your head on the sideline, be accountable. I hope he is good in the community, as you say. If so, that's good.
Ashley Fox (3:55 PM)
Okay, I have a few more minutes. Question for you guys: I'm going to start a Saturday mailbag-type column. What's the best way for you to submit questions? Would you do so on Twitter?
Ashley Fox (3:58 PM)
No opinion on that question? Okay. Fair enough. Thanks for joining me. We'll do it again next week. Have a great rest of the week.
Ashley Fox (3:59 PM)
Thanks, Jonathan, and Michael.