Good morning... let's see if you're as revved up as last week's group.
Mortimer - in light of Reggie Bush's recent microfracture surgery (his 3rd surgery on his left knee in 2 years), should we be concerned with his long term prospects in the league?
The microfracture surgery has gotten very good results in recent years so I think he's going to be OK. But there certainly has to be a level of concern and curiousity about Bush's longevity based on the recent injuries. I think he's frustrated because he put in a lot of time last off-season, he was really playing at a high level and now this. But I wouldn't count him out to be a big contributor in the same utility role that he's suited.
Mr. Mortensen: How much longer will my fellow Vikings fans and I need to suffer with Tavaris Jackson at QB? We are now two years into the experiment and it clearly is not working.
Well, he's had some very good moments. I mean, Giants fans were ready to run Eli Manning out of town the first three years. That being said, I do expect the Vikings to bring in another QB but I can't project right now who that would be.
Any favorites to get the Lions' head coaching job?
I haven't heard of a clear-cut favorite. I can see Leslie Frazier, the Vikings d-coord, getting the job. Also, I really believe the Falcons' Mike Mularkey would be a strong candidate, especially when you know they will be taking a young QB with that first pick. But, wide open, as far as I know.
Is Mike Nolan a shoe-in for the Packers D coordinater job?
I believe so. McCarthy was the OC in SF when Nolan was hired as HC there. He's experienced and there are some other ties.
Bob Ryan and Kornheiser theorized on PTI yesterday that Bill Parcells is going to jet out of Miami given that he doesn't get along with the "star" types like the new owner there. Do you see this happening? Any chance the Browns can lure Parcells to Cleveland???
I agree that Parcells is not big into the celebrity owners but I think he's committed to the Dolphins for one more year. He's been working hard on the off-season free agency/draft plan. It really motivates him and I think it motivates him to do it for the Dolphins for this year. I don't see Cleveland happening right now, but with Parcells you always have to keep the light on.
This might not fall under the NFL, but I have to ask you anyway. Do you think it is fair for for Boston College to fire their head coach Jeff Jagodzinski just for interviewing with the Jets. And if he does get fired where in the NFL could he end up?
I don't think it's fair unless they had a true understanding when Jags took that job that he woildn't look for three years. I believe this may be a case of a guy whose a good coach who just may feel like he belongs in the NFL, kinda like when we see a college guy go to the NFL only to realize he prefers college. I think if Jags goes, he will end up somewhere as an assistant but I said many months ago that Gregg Knapp will be the Seahawks' offensive coordinator in Seattle. Jags also has coached the O-line inthe NFL, as well as tight ends.
Mort, What areas do the Falcons need to improve most on in the off-season? I really hope Mularkey stays put for another season to continue with Matty Ice's progression.
The Falcons need to address the defensive side of the ball at all three levels - D-line, LB and secondary (especially safety). Get more talent and depth and still build the O-line and TE spots.
Mort, do you think Garrett is still a hot coordinator given the Cowboys struggles on offense and the griping by the players?
The griping by the players is a character issue for the players. Jason is in only his second year as OC. Those personalities were thrust upon him. He could have had either the Atlanta or Baltimore jobs last year. I remember John Fox was actually hired a year after he was "hot," and it's turned out pretty well for Carolina.
In light of the recent failures of a couple of successful college coaches (ie Saban and Petrino) are there any current coaches in the college ranks that you think would do well in the NFL?
I don't know. I think Pete Carroll would still do well in the NFL (we forget he did have a winning record in the league). It's just tricky terrain. I even believe Urban Meyer would be excellent but with the money, security and recruiting advantages at those top 5-to-10 programs, I don't know why they would even try the NFL.
Why is no one giving San Diego a chance? They were the preseason favorites and everything is clicking?
First I heard that no one was giving San Diego a chance. But it will be tough because Steelers have a heck of a team, they're rested and even though Darren Sproles was spectacular last week, I doubt he will be as spectacular this week. I think they will miss having a healthy LT. But it should be a good game.
Do you think it was a mistake to publicly say Oakland has lost their privilege with regards to being involved in your journalistic endeavors?
Yes, it was a mistake and as I soon as I realized it, I changed my point of view. Very poor choice of words (and action). I have since called Amy Trask of the Raiders and apologized. I did this on my own but it was the right thing to do. Some of my feelings hold true but Amy certainly deserved a phone call.
Do you think Bradford will end being drafted by the Lions?
No, I don't. I am hearing some pretty good NFL evaluators who have seen Bradford in practice and they have some doubts. On tape, it's pretty terrific but concerns are there with some. He really hasn't faced a lot of pressure. I believe Matthew Stafford of Georgia or Mark Sanchez of USC will eventually rate higher than Bradford if they come out but I also will note that quarterbacks who have less than four years of school do not have great track records in the NFL.
Lost in the way Scifres played for SD last weekend is the way Sam Koch punted for the Ravens, as he has all season. The guy is incredible at dropping the ball inside the 20. In what should be a low scoring, defensive game with the Titans Koch will be huge.
Yeah, it's pretty remarkable how much we can forget the importance of the punting game. Scifres was unbelievable, Koch was great and Jeff Feagles of the Giants is one of the best directional punters to ever play the game. field position, long drives, etc., all that plays into who wins.
With the recent request to interview Heckert does this change Mangini as the Browns frontrunner?
I would say they're covering their bases in case the Ravens block Kokinis from taking the job (yes, he's interviewing Sunday). If Lerner decides Mangini will have final say on personnel, that won't qualify as a true "promotion" for Kokinis.
Will a long postseason run by the Titans impair Jim Schwartz's head coach opportunities given that many teams are in the thick of the hiring process now?
If the Titans go to the Super Bowl, it might hurt. Again, that's what happened to John Fox and Marvin Lewis in 2000 - both got shut out. The next year, both teams fell off but they were hired. But teams are wise to wait and not panic.
With Jake Delhomme's sometimes inconsistent play, do you see the panthers going deep into the play-offs?
I think Jake is quite capable of getting these guys to the Super Bowl. QBs will not play perfect. Did Phillip Rivers throw a pick in the end zone vs. Colts? Sure, but he competed like crazy and so will Jake. The key is the Panthers pound the ball and make sure Steve Smith gets his chances.
Chris - With the transition in the college game to spread offenses and the effectiveness do you see more offenses converting to that style. Look at what the Patriots have done, and even the Cheifs made their team respectable. Along with this, all of the talent from college will be coming in with knowledge of the system.
Somewhat but not with the quarterback having designed runs, as they do in college. That's not going to happen with success consistently in the NFL.
What are people saying about Offensive Tacke Andre Smith from Alabama? Should the Lions draft him?
I have heard some scouts - good ones - who do not believe he is a top 5 pick and even wonder if he will have to play guard in the league. If he comes out, that will be something more deeply evaluated.
Mort, what do talent evaluators think of Jared Gaither? He's faired very well against elite pass rushers.
Most underrated aspect of the Ravens is their offensive line and, yes, Gaither is looking like he will be a Pro Bowl caliber guy if continues to work and make progress.
How do you rank these young OT's...Long, Thomas, Clady, Albert, Otah, and Gaither.
As left tackles (which Otah isn't) I would put Ryan Clady and Joe Thomas at the top but it looks like theyll all but good ones for a long time.
I agree about the Qb's running, too much punishment. Does this make Leach an intriguing OC for some of these younger offenses?
No, but for different reasons. He works on a different clock that most coaches and NFL folks believe he's exactly where he should be.
Chris - Why haven't the Titans Included Vince Young In some type of wild cat formation? Having Vince Young and Chris Johnson in the back field at the same time would be nice to see.
In the past the Titans tried running Young on designed stuff out of the shotgun - like at Texas - and he didn't have a lot of success. His most effective runs have come when he's in passing mode and simply pulls it down and goes. Vince also has been hurt the past two years and one reason is he's long and lean - just tough to protect yourself with a body like that.
Mort - Ronnie Brown is going to the Pro Bowl a year removed from ACL surgery. Should be stronger next year and is also heading into the last year of his rookie contract. Any idea how Parcells/Ireland/Sparano feel about Brown and chances of getting an extension this year?
I can tell you he had to prove he could be durable and work through some pain and injuries - and he did that. It will be interesting because Parcells doesn't generally believe in spending big bucks on running backs - Curtis Martin was the lone exception.
Doesnt Sam Bradford appear to be Alex Smith 2.0?
I think he throws the ball better and is more accurate. However, the lean body type is the same. Bradford also has some doubters because he hasn't really been an under-center dropback passer and, like Matt Leinart, didn't get hit a lot or have to throw in tight spaces. (Though I still believe Leinart will be a successful NFL QB).
happy new year chris, do you think the chiefs will land pioli?
Maybe. I think it's the Chiefs or Patriots.
Does Arizona bring back Kurt Warner next year?
I think Kurt winning the playoff game really helped him. I was beginning to think the last four or five weeks of the season was diminishing his value. A lot will depend on how much they want Kurt; at some point, Leinart figures to be the guy.
Mort - what's the latest on Monte Kiffin's replacement?
The Bucs have already named their bright, young secondary coach Raheem Morris as the DC, providing he doesn't land one of the HC jobs.
Calvin Johnson is scary. Do you see any team w/multi picks , like PHilly, stockpiling Draft picks to get him?
The Lions have very few good players, let alone a great player like Calvin Johnson. He will not be available.
Mort, i know you have something to say about those Razorbacks..... Go Hogs!!!!!!!!!
Here it is: Wooooo, Pig Sooey!
How is Len P doing? His fans miss his contributions to the network.
Thanks for asking about Len. He's making progress from his health problems - he had a tough setback that was unreleated to his bypass and subsequent disease/virus but he sounds great and we're hoping he'll get to the Super Bowl this year. He is doing some podcasts.
Bradford compared to Alex Smith? Not even close. Bradford does not depend on the spread option like Smith did. Bradford also sets up all playaction from under center. Alex Smith had average footwork at best while Bradford is excellent in this area. Also, the slight frame won't be a problem. He has the frame of an NFL QB, the rest comes with working out in an off season. Bradford is best fit for a team with a starting QB where he can wait for a year or two. This kid will be far better than Stafford (very erratic) and Sanchez (game manager).
Well, you have some good points...and Stafford is erratic but he has some Elway-like qualities (and Elway was "erratic"). Sanchez is not simply a game manager. This guy's skills, intelligence and leadership are really, really exceptional.
Mort- will Vincent Jackson be allowed to play sunday? how can you get a DUI & be allowed to play 5 days later?
The NFL policy under the labor agreement says that a DUI falls under substanc abuse and until there's a final dispensation with the case, he will not be suspended. The NFL's substance abuse administrators certainly will monitor and some discilinary measures will be forthcoming if warranted but nothing this imminent. But he was arrested, not convicted.
Mort - Which team do you feel should be the biggest underdog this weekend?
I'd probably say the Cardinals but they did give the Panthers a heck of a game in their first meeting, which was also in Carolina. But if it's raining (there's a chance), it's big advantage for Panthers.
Chris, where do you see Sproles being more valuable, in the return game or in the offense? Against Pittsburgh, he'll likely take a pounding and they need him as fresh as can be in the 4th quarter. Do you think they'll use Bennett more in the offense, or use Sproles less in the return game?
I do think Michael Bennett will get more carries but Sproles will get his touches in return game and on offense.
Julius Peppers or Jordan Gross.... they cant franchise both of them.....which one is gone?
I don't see 'em letting Peppers get away and I think they'll work hard to re-sign Gross.
Mort, the tempature is scheduled to be 19 with snow Sunday in Pittsburgh, with the Sun down at 4:45 kick off, well be in the Teens, how will SD respond to that?
They had tough weather in NE last January without LT for the most part and Rivers playing with a torn ACL, and they almost won the game. They are a tough-minded team so I wouldn't count them out.
Do you think the Jets should trade up in the draft to try and get Matthew Stafford?
The price would be ridiculous but I do think the Jets need to be ready to jump if one slips. I would be more inclined to get Derek Anderson, or somebody like that, in a trade for a reasonable price. He has the big enough arm that can play in any weather. Get the defense more dominating and find a WR that can stretch the field.
Chris, Any news on the Kansas City Chiefs' meeting with Scott Pioli? Do you think the Chiefs can make significant improvements next season if they keep Herm Edwards?
I think the meeting with Pioli meant well. I thought the Chiefs did improve, especially on offense - to be honest, I thought Chan Gailey did a great job as OC once they adapted to Tyler Thigpen's strengths. So, it's still a mystery as to what's about to go down.
Will the Colts let Marvin Harrison go after this year? Will they go after Anquan Boldin or someone else?
I'm going to be surprised if Harrison is back, unless he takes a drastic pay cut, which I don't see happening. Boldin is not a free agent. They likely will draft another WR.
Any thoughts on the Giants-Eagles brawl?
I am as anxious as you to see it play out. I expect a terrific game, physical, etc., and haven't a clue as to who will win. I think Brandon Jacobs needs to have a huge game (with other RBs), not to mention the defense for the Giants to win.
Who do you think is the best QB in the playoffs right now? and why?
Nobody is playing better than Phillip Rivers right now.
Listen Mort, is it me or is it absolutely ridiculous that Pioli would pass on the GM job for the Chiefs? I mean, 30 mils under the cap next year with a few more vets to be traded or released. Some good young talent that Herm's drafted, plus a #3 draft pick, with a workable 24 yr old QB. To top it off, Clark Hunt is extremely loyal.
Those are the selling points, no question about it but Pioli also has a good thing going in New England, too.
Do you believe the Ravens have a chance in Nashville? Do you think Ray Lewis will be back next year along with T. Suggs. ? And what do you think of our rookie QB Joe Flacco?
Why wouldn't the Ravens have a chance? They're playing as well as anyone left. I believe Suggs will be back and I just have difficult time seeing Ray Lewis not being a Raven. Flacco, obviously he's very impressive and I think once the ravens get him more depth at WR, it should only get better.
hey chris we got some heated blogs going on about who has the best wr on their team against the cards and panthers..i know this is tough but i think steve smith is the best but larry is very close, but for all the things that he can do for the panthers, pr and kr also..what do you think..and what type of game will thsi be?
Steve Smith vs. Larry Fitzgerald (or Andre Johnson, for that matter) is like debating manning vs. Brady. This will be a physical game with some big plays.
Mort, follow up to Ryan in MD's question.. The Ravens signed Jim Leonhard as a FA based on a couple offseason workouts to 500K... He has to get locked down with his recent strong play right?
Yeah, they need to lock him down. Leonhard was another one of those undrafted free agents that Tom Donahoe had in Buffalo (like Jason Peters & Jabari Greer).
Will Vince Young be the starter next year or will Kerry come back.
I think the Titans have to bring back Kerry Collins as the starter and I'll be a little surprised if that isn't the case.
speaking of Anquan Boldin...have you heard anything about the hamstring injury he sustained in Saturday's game?
Based on what I know about hamstrings, especially with skill athletes - and one that is as muscular as Boldin - I think it will be tough one for him. I expect him to try but how effective?
Do you see the Rams drafting a QB in the 1st round?
Depends on whose there but they have to really rebuild the O-line. Big priority.
Mort, Is the relationship between Pioli and Mangini too far gone to patch up? Is this all spygate or a power struggle?
I think Pioli and Mangini probably will be OK in their relationship going forward. Spygate certainly created some hard feelings.
Is it possible that Mike Tannenbaum interviewed Jeff Jagodzinski, because he developed Matt Ryan into an NFL-ready quarterback; therefore, having Tannenbaum think that Jagodzinski could make Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge ready for the NFL game?
Jags only had one year with Ryan, who started four. Jags is a guy, though, who had extensive NFL experience and was a successful HC for his two seasons at BC.
So let me get this straight, Pioli's team try to cheat against Mangini's team. Mangini called him out, and now PIoli is mad at him?
I don't know that Pioli is mad at him but I can tell you that it rubbed some nerves raw. As time moves on, these things can heal. Heck, Parcells and Belichick didn't speak for ahwile after the Jets fiasco but that eventually healed.
Hey Mort, if Pioli wants to bring in a college coach (to take the Browns job), why not bring in Jim Tressel form OSU. He has a better record than the Iowa coach and he would smooth things over with the Brwons fan base, right?
Browns Fans: Quit thinking like college fans! Kirk Ferentz has done more with a lot less, even though Tressel is a heck of coach and man.
Do you think Jerry Jones will finally cut ties with Tank, Pacman, and even T.O. to address the character issues? Is he really going to stand pat with Wade Phillips?
I believe Pacman will be out and probably Tank. On TO, I just don't know. I think I'd let him go. As for Wade, we'll see. JJ has done a lot of research, he doesn't want to get into firing coaches after two years but Mike Shanahan is in play, whether it's this year or next.
mort they kicked u out for a mustache expert, what gives?
Can you still read my answers? If you can, I'll leave when I have to leave (which is in a few minutes).
Favre retires, Brady hurt, & Parcells out of the spotlight, who's your next man-crush gonna be on???
Hmmmmm, let me think. Rivers? Ed Reed? Roethlisberger? DeAngelo Williams? Albert Hayesworth? Brian Westbrook? Eli? I just can't make up my mind. There are some great players left, always are.
Why on earth would the Lions draft a QB #1? You can count on two hands how many wins this team will probably notch in the next 2, maybe 3 years. What's the point of paying a near $40m guaranteed for that? Build from the trenches out! It's amazing how many GMs don't know that.
I think it depends on the QB. Everybody thought the Falcons had a dreadful O-line but they still took Matt Ryan. That worked. The Lions do have the Cowboys' 1st, 3rd and 6th rders from the Roy Williams trade so they have flexibility.
Best Super Bowl halftime performer ever chosen??
The one we're about to see _ Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.
OK, got other things to work on...thanks again... once again, plenty of good stuff coming this weekend on NFL Countdown on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m ET. Also, doing the radio special at 3 ET Friday. Hope all is well and God Bless!