Chat with Ed Werder
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder stops by to chat about the NFL season.
Werder joined ESPN in 1998, before that he had stints at The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Send your questions now and join Werder Friday at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT!
Ed Werder (11:04 AM)
Good morning, everybody. Two months until Super Bowl Sunday. Let's chat it up for half an hour. Anthony, I like the question and the observation. Jason Garrett has made it clear to his players that punctuality is part of being professional and that Valley Ranch is a place to work, not a frat house. What he's done with the electronic, digital clocks is take the argument out of what time it is. For years veteran players have complained about meetings starting late and player tardiness. You've heard offensive line coach Hudson Houck say that his players have performed better because Garrett has the team practicing in pades. Like Jimmy Johnson said, none of these changes are revolutionary. It's what the Cowboys should have been doing all along _ but weren't under Wade Phillips. The changes he has implemented have had an obvious result on the field from what I can tell, and I think the way the team has responded to Garrett is one more reason he will eventually get the permanent job as head coach.
Jimmy Suvoy (Indian Rocks Beach, FL)
The two names mentioned most often with concussions leading to death later in life are Mike Webster and Terry Long. Neither was a defenseless wideout or a qb. Yet all the attention has been on protecting those two positions. Linemen have helmet to helmet contact on every down, every week, every season. Yet they fail to address this. Do you find it hypocritical that the NFL has made such an issue protecting qbs and wrs yet does nothing to protect those players most vulnerable?
Ed Werder (11:06 AM)
Interesting point. You've cited good examples here, and I think the NFL has tried to protect offensive linemen with rules changes that eliminated the headslap, for example. But the reality is that the players who touch the ball are those subjected to the most violent, high-speed collisions multiple times per game and require the most protection as a result.
Andrew Bender (Cranberry Twp., PA)
Ed,Can you give me one reason why James Harrison shouldn't be the frontrunner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year? 10 sacks (3rd in the NFL), 6 Forced Fumbles (2nd in the NFL), and 2 INTs. Even with his being targeted by the NFL, he is still producing like a future HOFer.
Ed Werder (11:10 AM)
Andrew, Harrison is one of the most dominant players in the league on the defensive side of the ball for a franchise that has always had that identity. Harrison will be a strong candidate to win the award again, but I think his refusal to comply with the rules _ as evidenced by the three massive fines he has drawn for illegally using his helmet to initiate a tackle _ might prove difficult to overcome among some voters.
Would Garrett ever consider using Barber as a fullback? Have a dual-threat in the backfield with Barber and Jones. Our FB's haven't really done to much this year.
Ed Werder (11:11 AM)
A fair question. But the Cowboys are paying Marion Barber too much money to be using him as a blocking sled for Felix Jones or Tashard Choice. Jason Garrett seems firmly committed to Barber for reasons that perhaps nobody except Jerry Jones can explain.
Alex H. (Sheboygan, WI)
What does Kevin Ogletree have to do to get on the field? He had a nice stretch of games last year where he really helped the team. Is he having a sophomore slump?
Ed Werder (11:12 AM)
His role last year was limited in general and every receiver on the roster has moved down a spot with the development of Dez Bryant. Ogletree simply doesn't have the talent and history of production as the receivers in front of him, including Sam Hurd
CHURCHILL (Fairfax VA)
Hello Ed, big fan! The Rooney rule makes it mandatory that at the season's end regardless of how Jason Garrett does, JJ still has to interview a minority candidate which leaves the door open, if Cowher or Gruden is interested, does JJ hire either one of them over Jason Garrett?
Ed Werder (11:17 AM)
Appreciate the compliment. I think the thing you have to understand here is that Jerry Jones doesn't seem likely to be trying to find reasons to hire Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or any of the other Super Bowl-winning coaches who are potentially available. Jerry will be looking for reasons not to permanently award the position to Jason Garrett. He brought Garrett to Dallas to eventually be the head coach, the players have so far responded to his style and he ensures offensive consistency _ plus Jerry doesn't have to negotiate away his own power or may those established head coaches exorbitant salaries if Garrett proves capable of holding the job. I thought Troy Aikman made an interesting point in noting that the league requiring Jones to comply with the rule will force Garrett to wait at least a month to get the job, which might create the appearance internally that Jones wasn't convinced Garrett should get the job. I wonder if Jerry _ should he decide to hire Jason permanently _ just call Ray Sherman to his office for an interview.
Gil (Bel Air, MD)
Do you think the D-line can bring enough pressure to knock Peyton off his point?
Ed Werder (11:19 AM)
No quarterback likes being hit, and Peyton Manning responds especially poorly to it because it hasn't happened often recently. I think the Cowboys can create inside pressure. Manning's going to release the ball in about two seconds on average so sacking him will be difficult. But since they can play the pass first because the Colts are the most one-dimensional team in the league, the Cowboys should be able to hit him as he releases the ball and affect his accuracy.
Harry J (East Hanover, NJ)
Ed what do you think the odds of pasqualoni being the fulltime DC next year in Dallas, assuming and I am, that Garrett remains the HC. Thanks and happy holidays.
Ed Werder (11:21 AM)
I've talked to quite a few people who have known Pasqualoni for years and many who have worked with him. They say he has a lot of personality, an aggressive approach and a real presence in the defensive meeting rooms. I think he stands a very good chance, although I'm curious as to why Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano were so quick to dismiss him in Miami.
wat more likely gurden or garrett as head coach next season?
Ed Werder (11:23 AM)
Unless the Cowboys suddenly quit on Jason Garrett or he and Jerry Jones have some huge disagreement _ over, perhaps, the return of Tony Romo _ then I think Garrett has at least a 70 percent chance of keeping the job. And that may be conservative.
Tim Bender (Richmond, VA)
Ed, I'm interested on your take on the fines that have occurred this season. The way they're fining these hits is so inconsistent and confusing. The James Harrison hit on Fitzpatrick appeared to be a totally clean hit to me, but the flag flew before he even made contact...with a fine to follow. At this point, it is just 100% subjective. If the NFL is going to crack down, they need to create a set of clear-cut rules, agree?
Ed Werder (11:26 AM)
The rules are defined but subjective in terms of how they are enforced. The league has been very clear about not allowing players to use their helmets as a weapon, and I think there is a perception in the league office that James Harrison is testing their will or for some reason refuses to change a technique that has made him wealthy and successful. I think it's important to realize the rules are in place to protect the player with his head lowered and his neck vulnerable _ Harrison, in this case _ as much as it is to protect whomever he has targeted.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think are the Best & Worst Head Coaches so far this season?
Ed Werder (11:30 AM)
I think Wade Phillips and Brad Childress got the least out of two of the most talented teams in the NFL and were fired as a result even though both won division titles and playoff games last season. Marvin Lewis and his eight-game losing streak put him in jeopardy. Mike Singletary hasn't impressed me. Bill Belichick is clearly still the best in the game. Rex Ryan has been incredible. John Harbaugh in Baltimore and Mike Smith in Atlanta don't get enough credit but have been regular winners. Andy Reid overcame committing his franchise to the wrong quarterback by making the right decision with Michael Vick even though it contradicted what he did at the start of the year. Todd Haley has done a fabulous job in Kansas City developing young players and changing the culture. Nothing wrong with Sean Payton either
Hi Ed! Jets or Pats? Ravens or Steelers? Who wins these games and why? Thanks!
Ed Werder (11:32 AM)
Ah, Hattiesburg, the famous home of .... the Purple Parrot! And some guy named Brett Favre. I like the Patriots Monday night because Belichick will be incredibly motivated to end Rex's bluster. Mark Sanchez could take a step back. I'm very leery of Ben Roethlisberger having limited mobility because of his foot injury against the Ravens defense. I like Joe Flacco a lot so I think the Ravens will be hard to beat. But I didn't pick Cleveland over New Orleans and New England either, so who really knows, right?
Jon (Des Moines)
A couple general questions, Ed. Will the Packers make the playoffs and will you be bored without all the Favre coverage next year? We've enoyed seeind you up in the Midwest, but this time I think Favre is finally done.
Ed Werder (11:36 AM)
Jon,I do expect the Packers to make the playoffs and believe they can win the division over the Bears, although Aaron Rodgers is right when he expresses fear about the lack of a running game given the weather conditions they will likely confront. As for Favre, I've enjoyed covering him for two decades, admiring his love of the game, his playing style and his willingness to be honest in answering questions. I don't know if he's ever missed a regular press conference obligation _ win or lose, hurt or healthy, scandal or not. I think when Favre says he has no regrets about playing that what he's really saying is that he can retire now without wondering what might have happened had he played just one more season. He knows he's finished.Thanks to everybody for their questions and happy holidays.