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December 10, 7:41 AM ET
Chat with Chris Mortensen

Chris Mortensen
  (11:10 AM)

Good morning again! I'm sure we'll have some very interesting questions...let's see if I have any interesting answers.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

Mort, As a life long Browns fan I want the team to spend whatever it takes to get The Chin on the sidelines. My only question (or fear)would be, what if he fails? How far back would the franchise be set back if he comes in and matches Crennels record?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:13 AM)

Wow, you sound like some of my ESPN friends who are Jets' fans. Even if your hopes have been dashed so many times, I think you always have to embrace the side of hope. Phil Savage really has done a good job in personnel, has a great scouting dept., etc., and you keep building on that. Whether it's a Cowher or a Schottenheimer or a bright coordinator (I thnk they'll go the head coach experience route), I would have higher hopes. You aren't the Lions. You have players and can continue to build on that.

john, Denver CO

Good Morning Mr. Mortensen, How do you assess the progression of Jay Cutler as qb in his 3rd year and how far do you think the Broncos can go in the playoff if they do make it. Thanks!

Chris Mortensen
  (11:15 AM)

As it was noted in one of the Denver papers, no team has asked a quarterback to do more than Cutler. The Broncos started eight rookies (counting the punter) this past Sunday. I don't know if theyll win another game but they'll probably win the division. Cutler is probably one year or two years away - with building the defense still a priority - from leading this franchise back to the Super Bowl. He is special.

Rick-Lowell, MA

Can it get much worse for the Pats? Not only did Wilfork, Sanders and Bruschi get banged up last week, Cassel's father just passed away...I'm not sure things could get any worse for Cassel, who has been everything we could have hoped for and more this year. Does he find a way to win out and lead this team to the playoffs?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:17 AM)

I think this team has such strong leadership from the coach to the locker room (players) that the Pats still appear to me to be the best bet now to win the AFC East. Cassel will get through this, in my opinion, although you never know which Raiders team will show up Sunday.

Shawn (Toronto)

Mort, do you think the spread offense can succeed in the NFL? The Chiefs have done much better with it than they were and are thinking of using it going forward. Is this an offense that defenses will catch up to? Your thoughts.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:19 AM)

yes and no. The Chiefs did it out of necessity because they realized that was the easiest transition for Tyler thigpen, who ran the offense in college. Also, the Patriots almost went undefeated with the spread. But there is a time - and the Pats' offense was slowed down a bit as the season wore on - when you must line up and run the ball. I think you stay multiple and you always play to your team's strength...and never forget that teams that are the most physical generally have the highest rate of success.

Trevor (Minneapolis MN)

Hey Mort, what is the latest on the Williams Wall case and their suspensions? And do you think the Vikings have a good chance in the playoffs? They have a great run game and solid defence and I could see them sticking around in games and making a push for the super bowl. Thanks

Chris Mortensen
  (11:23 AM)

The Minneapolis judge can send word today that the case doesn't have merit, or belong in his court...and that would pretty much kill the Vikings' chances. or, he can call for a full-blown hearing and by the time he does decide, they all play and, yes, the Vikings can always catch a little magic in the bottle down the stretch.

Aldo (Miami, FL)

Mort, are you finally a believer of the Miami Dolphins? You picked the Bills over the Dolphins last week. I hope you have them over the Niners this week. Oh and if Pennington leads the Dolphins to 11-5 and take the AFC East crown don't you think he should be in the top 3 in MVP voting?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:25 AM)

I certanly love what the Dolphins have done. I did think the Bills would beat them. I was wrong (geez, what a surprise!). I think the Niners are going to be a very, very tough game. I honestly would not be surprised if SF wins. I believe Pennington is in the MVP discussion but the final three games will determine all things in all races - divisional and individual awards.

Peter (DC)

Crowded NFC backfield Mort, which 3 RB's deserve the spot in hawaii?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:28 AM)

I'm getting this question a lot...I actually cast a few NFC ballots and it was tough...I can only say that Adrian Peterson is the one lock....I would lean toward Westbrook...and then try to decide between Michael Turner, Clinton Portis and Matt Forte. really good, hard choices.

Jon (New York, NY)

Mort, do you see Braylon and Winslow back & playing for the Browns next year or do they move one of them?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:30 AM)

The new coach will have a strong voice in that decision. I would say Braylon definitely stays and K2 may be out but it's difficult to let go of really special players unless their maintenance is a distraction from building a true championship team.

Mike (Denver)

Mort, is there a good chance the Panthers will suffer a letdown after an emotional Monday Night game? Cutler and Marshall must be licking their chops after watchign Garcia and Bryant torch that overrated secondary.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:31 AM)

There's a chance, yes. The Broncos basically have played well on the road and they have done a pretty good job in pass protection. But can the Broncos' defense slow down the Panthers' running game and can that running game keep Cutler & co. on the sideline?

Devante Orange, NJ

Mr. Mortensen, How do assess the situation with the Washington Redskins with the recent rift between Clinton Portis and Jim Zorn?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:33 AM)

Zorn and Portis met this morning and I believe they have settled their differences. Portis is frustrated with the team's recent skid. will explain in a bit, but need a time out to talk to an NFL coach..back in 10 minutes.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:43 AM)

Back now..on Portis, he has been hurt, the Ravens game was a big one...he had some friendly rivals on the other side (Ed reed, Ray lewis)...he fumbled..and when the Skins got behind, well, Ladell Betts is their third-down, passing guy...but I do believe Zorn and Portis are Ok now. remember, Zorn wasa long-time player in this league, too, so he can relate to those frustrations as a coach and (former) player.

Joe (Tampa)

Winslow is a speacial player? On what basis? Can't stay healthy, doesn't produce when on the field, appears to be extremely immature. Addition by subtraction.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:45 AM)

That will be the discussion, yes. But last year he played through significant injuries and played great. Your other points are valid and need to be evaluated by everyone.

Joshua ( Atlanta, GA)

Hey Chris.....One question, how far are the Falcons from competing year and year out for a Super Bowl . Also...MATT RYAN, how long before we start referring to him as Pro Bowler Matt Ryan, MVP Matt Ryan, or dare I say...Future Hall of Famer Matt Ryan?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:47 AM)

Each year is unqiue to itself but Matt Ryan is so special and really maybe the equal or superior to Peyton Manning as a rookie. So the potential is great for him and the franchise. Please, let's not talk the HOF stuff. He has a shot at the Pro Bowl, he is among my 8 or 9 MVP candidates and he will win the Offensive Rookie of the Year over perhaps the most talented class in years.

Greg (Nashville)

Who you starting this week at QB if you have Romo vs. Giants or Warner vs. Vikes?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:47 AM)

Warner.

Joe (Plainsboro, NJ)

Mort, who would you say is the more disruptive force on the Steelers D: Polamalu or Harrison? And is Harrison your choice for Def POY?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:49 AM)

James Harrison vs. Albert Haynesworth for defensive POY, but Polamalu is in the mix. I think Harrison has forced 14 fumbles, right. Unreal. Who knows, maybe next week's game between Titans & Steelers will settle the argument.

randy ( austin,mn)

mort can the vikings be lead to the playoffs by T Jack?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:50 AM)

In my opinion, yes. I know I'm in the minority but I think Tavaris Jackson can still do it and maybe sitting more this year, he's learned a lot. He brings some mobility and a strong arm. He just needs to make sure that he knows he doesn't have to be Superman.

Farley (Ossian, IN)

Is the NFL going to continue the push for regular season games on foreign soil? Has it been worthwhile so far? I just don't see it.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:51 AM)

Yes, they are committed to the international games. I'm not a fan of it. Last i checked, they don't give me a vote on the matter.

Garry(Charlotte)

Mort what about Deangelo Williams as an NFC Pro Bowl running back. He ranks 5th in rushing yards, 1st in YPC and has the most TD's in the NFL. Not to mention he only gets about 16 carries a game and is still on par with the best backs in the NFL.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:52 AM)

I know! That's what makes this such a tough deal but all the balloting by coaches, players and fans are done, I think, so we'll find out soon. But the other guys are THE featured back. No knock on DeAngelo, though, because he is their No. 1 guy and I don't think he's fumbled this year, either. If he was named, I'd have no argument with it.

Andy (duluth, mn)

mort what is the buzz about matt jones only getting 3 game suspension for cocaine but the willimas wall possibly getting 4 for not even breaking the law or taking illegal substance.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:55 AM)

Apples & oranges. One (Jones) falls under the substance abuse policy and the other under the steroids policy. Until there is a revision, a diuretic is considered a masking agent for steroids - an illegal substance - and it is a collectively bargained automatic 4-game suspension. The substance abuse policy is more discretionary. I think the steroids policy needs a revision but if these diuretic players were competing in the olympics, or some other international sport, the penalties would be far more severe.

Ron (Atlanta)

The Dolphins have had a lot of success with the wildcat offense. Is there a chance that this becomes the offense going forward there or is it a gimic for this year? Will any NFL team (maybe Miami) draft Tim Tebow specifically to run the wildcat at the NFL level?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:58 AM)

the wildcat is an innovative play (direct snaps alone are not true wildcat plays) and it is very good for short yardage. I think it will have some life for a while. It will never become a full-fledged scheme, say, for a guy like Tebow. And he would not have the speed to be as effective. But he is a heck of a football player and I have no doubt that some team will utilize his versatility and competitiveness.

Ray (Detroit)

You got any idea who will take over the lions football operation next season? You think the Fords will be pushing hard to land Scott Pioli from the Patriots?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:59 AM)

Honestly, I have not heard anything of substance with the Lions. Scott Pioli has had opportunities to leave New England but has passed. One day, I imagine he will accept another challenge, but I don't know that for certain.

Luke (Aurora, CO.)

Mort, why isn't Jay Cutler garnering MVP consideration? I heard on "Mike And Mike In The Morning" that Peyton Manning is your leading candidate, yet, Cutler has had a far-worse injury situation to deal with than Manning (around 14 players are now on injured reserve for the Broncos - the most out of any team in the NFL). Eight rookies have had to start for Denver as well, largely due to injury. The Broncos are one of the youngest teams in the league. Cutler has also put up better overall numbers than Manning and has to deal with a worse defense than Manning. People say Cutler has been inconsistent, but Manning has five games where he's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns or just as many interceptions as touchdowns, yet, people don't say he's inconsistent.

Chris Mortensen
  (12:03 PM)

You're too long on your debate but I didn't have time on M&M to list all my candidates but, yes, Cutler is in that group. No team has asked their QB to do more than Cutler but Peyton, playing on a bad leg, kept the Colts in position and has carried the team through injuries to other players. I will never forget his courageous performance and win on the road in Minnesota early in the year. But Cutler is in that group, along with both Mannings, Adrian Peterson, James Harrsion, Albert Haynesworth, Kurt Warner, Matt Ryan, Chad Pennington, Ed Reed & maybe Brett Favre if Favre has three great games down the stretch.

Paul (Highland, CA)

Hi Mort. Is their any wind of owners being disgruntled with the job that Comissioner Goodell is doing? I know many fans are upset with his decisions. We see his irrational fines, suspensions, and questionable decisions. The League under his tutalage is going to be facing problems with the labor contract, television contract, revenue sharing, small market teams not having new stadiums and legal issues. Is he the man to lead the NFL. I am openly questioning his judgement and leadership abilities. (The NFL also laid off 150 employees yesterday... when some of the top brass should have taken a pay cut and kept those lower paid workers on)

Chris Mortensen
  (12:07 PM)

I do not sense any unhappiness with Goodell, except from the union and players with the excessive fines. These are tough times for a lot of people. The NFL notified their employees about layoffs (won't happen till some vested employees make decisions on severance pakages), some teams have done layoffs, too, and i think more are coming. The economic conditions are real but the main thing, Goodell will not allow it to impact the game itself.

Tod (Sedona, Az)

Mort is it possible somewhere there are actually Packer fans wishing they still had Favre while there are Jet's fans wishing they still had Pennington?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:08 PM)

Maybe, but the packers aren't losing games because of Rodgers and Pennington hasn't had to play in these bad-weather games like Favre.

Paul (Detroit)

Hi Mort. I know the NFL has some odd rules, and I could be way off here, but is there any provisions which permit the league to take over a team's management or influence its hiring decisions? I have heard of reports saying the league had offered the Lions assistance. Does that mean the league would go out and hire someone for them?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:10 PM)

The league has some consultants - for instance, former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is doing a bulk of that work right now - to assist any franchise through a process of hiring a GM, a coach or restructuring a football operation. That doesn't mean the league makes the hire. They provide the support if it's wanted.

Luke (Aurora, CO.)

Mort, you bring up the injury situation with Peyton Manning again, and use that as a reason to showcase that "no team" has asked their quarterback to do more, but as I pointed out in my previous post, Cutler has had to deal with a much worse injury situation than Manning. Denver has 14 players on IR - the most out of any team. Let's not forget that the Broncos defense is worse than the Colts. If anything, Cutler has to do more with less than Manning.

Chris Mortensen
  (12:11 PM)

You're arguing with the wrong guy - I believe I led the Cutler parade a long time ago and, yes, the Broncos have had a lot of injuries - started 8 rookies on Sunday. But if I cast a vote today, it's Peyton Manning. I don't cast a vote today. I cast it the day after the regular season, as required.

Elmer (Pittsburgh)

Mort, few weeks back you told me you liked the Steelers to make a run, do you still feel the same way as we approach January, and who do you like to win the AFC???

Chris Mortensen
  (12:13 PM)

I would say the Titans, Colts, Steelers & Ravens would be my handicap in a very tight photo finish.

Nate (Madison)

Do you think the Wildcat offense would have fit Vick?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:14 PM)

Without quesstion and Bobby Petrino had some pretty creative ideas designed for Vick.

Jay (At Work)

Mort, with Tampa gettin ran all over monday night, think they make playoffs? and if so are they one and done?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:14 PM)

Lesson of this season, and almost every season: Don't let one game form your opinion.

andy (austin)

it seems like the nfl's argument with the steriod suspensions is that it was collectively bargained. do you think this episode will make the negociations that much more tough when the CBA expires?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:18 PM)

It will be an issue, yes. Technically, the specific terms of the policy are not collectively bargained...basically they agree a policy will be in the CBA and then they hammer out a "side" agreement on the details. But I think that's not going to be a huge issue. I don't think the league or union want the politicians in Washington assuming control of their steroids policy.

Nick (DC)

How hard do you and the Big Tuna party when you get together?

Chris Mortensen
  (12:19 PM)

I can honestly say Big Tuna (Parcells) and I have never partied. We are friends with a long-term relationship but we're not party pals. He doesn't party. I don't party. Maybe we're party poopers.

Steve - DC

Mort - Do you think that Pierre Thomas could actually be a better fit for the Saints at RB than Reggie? He seems to have a better knack for moving the ball North and south as opposed to dancing in the backfield...

Chris Mortensen
  (12:22 PM)

No, I think the complementary use of Thomas & Bush is ideal. That's always how the Saints envisioned Bush - much like he was used at USC, they want to utilize his variety of skills in different formations while still having a featured back like Thomas or McAllister.

Bud (So Cal)

Mort, Do you think the league will try to address the poor officiating and calls on defensive secondary players in the off-season. There seems to be too much ticky-tack calls on plays that I think is really hurting the game.

Chris Mortensen
  (12:24 PM)

Pass interference always has been the most controversial and difficult judgment calls for officials. They get graded every game, every play, and I think everything probably will remain status quo.

Chris Mortensen
  (12:26 PM)

All right, that's a wrap. Catch us Friday night on ESPN radio from 7-9 ET and on NFL Sunday Countdown 11-1 ET with some early Sportscenter previews/information. Thanks again, have a great week & God Bless!