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January 21, 10:43 AM ET
Chat with Chris Mortensen

Chris Mortensen
  (11:04 AM)

Good morning... this will be more of a true "chat" because I only have about 30-45 minutes but let's make the most of it.

Ben, Detroit, MI

No one is talking about steelers offense vs. cardinals defense. What do you see happening in terms of the steelers being able to run the football, protect ben, and score points?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:06 AM)

Well, it's a little early yet in the analysis portion of the game but the Steelers will score points, probably more than 20 and maybe 30. The Cardinals do have very, very talented players on defense so the Steelers' fans should expect this to be a tough game.

Alex (NYC)

Mort, do you think the Jets should retain OC Brian Schottenheimer? I believe that he makes to many questionable play calling decisions

Chris Mortensen
  (11:08 AM)

I would say they should absolutlely try to keep Brian Schottenheimer. The truth is, Mangini micromanaged everything. Schottenheimer probably would run the ball more cnsistently than under Mangini and he just has to feel if there is a good partnership there. I hope Jets fans get an opportunity to see what the real Brian Schottenheimer is like, both personally and professionally. He will be an outstanding head coach one day. He's a very quality man...and so is Rex Ryan.

Shawn (Toronto)

Mort, what is going on with the Chiefs coaching situation? Herm isn't at the Senior Bowl and his assistants are starting to scatter. Any idea why Pioli has left him twisting in the wind this long?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:10 AM)

Let's remember Pioli is from the Patrtios' school of doing things. He'll be his own man but the secrecy or low-key approach probably won't change. I suspected Todd Haley of the Cardinals was on his radar; the more info I gather is that it doesn't look like a fit. I wonder if they will wait to see if Kirk Ferentz will leave Iowa, or he simply could be really doing due dilligence on other coaches we're not even thinking of. And, yes, it's very possible Herm stays on for another year. Chan Gailey did a great job as OC, too.

Trevor Lubbock, tx [via mobile]

What is the status of Hines ward for the game?? Will he be a 100%

Chris Mortensen
  (11:11 AM)

The fact Hnes Ward missed the last three quarters against the Ravens in the AFC title game pretty much tells me he won't be "100 percent" but I'm betting he'll be out there.

Corey (Windsor, ON)

Hey Mort: Meeks just resigned while attending the Senior Bowl for the Colts (very bizarre timing). What are your thoughts? and where do you think the Colts defensive philosophy is headed?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:13 AM)

The Meeks resignation was not surprising, based on what I heard last week. I think Bill Polian the GM and Jim Caldwell the new HC just want a diffferent approach - at least a bigger DT and cornerbacks who can get in WR faces.

Sam (mesaaz) [via mobile]

Who are u rooting for in the super bowl?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:14 AM)

Here's how I root: I hope for a great game and nobody gets seriously hurt. My rooting interests ended a long time ago.

Christopher (Phoenix, AZ)

Mort- Thanks for the great work you do everyday! I know that Big Ben is a better than average NFL QB, but is he really so good that the Cardinals can't hold him in check? Seems like as long as they don't let him break contain his accuracy is average at best. If I take that and the oline problems they have had, coupled with the fact that Big Ben likes to hold onto the football too long, I have to think that the Cardinal D will get to him enough to create problems. Thoughts?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:17 AM)

I think the Cardinals will get after him, yes, but Ben is one of the best at extending plays because he's strong, mobile enough and just a clutch playmaker.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Speaking of injuries, what's your opinion on the McGahee hit? Legal, illegal? Most people do agree that it wasn't malicious.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:19 AM)

I thought the league make the right decision to not fine the hit. McGahee caught the ball, turned and made a football move before the contact. Helmet to helmet hits are not banned in many nstances. But the league cautions players because it's not just to guy being hit - it's the guy doing the hitting who is at risk,, too.

Anthony (NYC)

Mort we all know that Warner is effective against the blitz, but versus this Steeler team won't it be a bit much? having to worry about Harrison, Woodley & the rest of the front seven, plus Polumalu whose always on the prowl.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:21 AM)

The way the Eagles blitz and the Steelers blitz is totally different. The Steelers' are more difficult to attack because of their "fire zone" blitzes where it looks like 6 or 7 are coming and two or three defenders drop off into a zone. Of course, cards coach Ken Whisenhunt and OL coach Russ Grimm understand this perfectly since they came from the Steelers' staff so having an extra week will help. It still won't be easy. Polamalu, wow, what a player.

dan south brunswick NJ [via mobile]

Hey mort. do you believe rex ryan was the correct man for coach of the jets?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:23 AM)

How about i tell you in a couple of years? I do like the hire. He's a positive energy guy with a plan. He will use players to their strengths. But the Jets' schedule is much tougher next year and there is a mystery at quarterbak so I don't know that it will be a winning season. I really do like the hire, though.

Mixi (Mixiland)

What do you make of this Todd Haley to the Chiefs story? I don't get it.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:26 AM)

I have suspected Haley would be a candidate there but the more homework I do, I now believe it won't happen. But that's just my informed opinion - it's not hard reporting. The reason why again Haley has been speculated about is he's a Super Bowl coordinator, he worked with the Jets when Pioli was there, he worked three years under Parcells, who is Pioli's father in law. I've been told that we're trying to connect the dots when the dots may not actually connect., Did I confuse you?

Brad (Greensboro, NC)

Hi Mort, Did getting the Cardinals to the Super Bowl put Kurt Warner over the top for the HOF?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:30 AM)

I am not on the HOF committee and i saw Peter King, who is, say this week he needs a little more to be convinced. In my mind, Warner taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl would convince me. Now, it's true that Kurt hit the jackpot in two places - the Rams with players like Torry Holt, isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk in their primes and a true creative offensive coach in Mike Martz. Then after a gap, he takes over in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston....oh, and domed stadiums where the elments aren't in play. But, hey, Kurt made it happen and I would vote for him. Two MVPs, three Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl title...that's pretty good.

Ben, Traverse City MI

What do you think of the Schwartz hire in Detroit? and who are the likely Offensive Co. candidates?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:33 AM)

Jim Schwartz was aiming for Jermey Bates or Brian Schottenheimer. I think Schottenheimer and Rex Ryan probably figure this out right away. Brian is a great family man with young children so I'm not sure he's anxious to leave; and he won't be a guy who pouts because he didn't get the job in NY. Where does that leave the Lions? I don't know yet.

Erik (NH)

Hey Mort, any chance Todd Haley is interested in the Raiders gig?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:34 AM)

I am hearing yes, he would be interested. I don't know whether that means he'd be offered and whether he'd accept but I have hard from a good source that he would consider it.

Chad (Sebring, Ohio)

Whats you're take on the Browns firing Romeo Crennel...Do you think it was the right decision?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:35 AM)

I am a Romeo guy. I don't know if it was fair for anyone to get fired with all that transpired this past seaosn but 3 losing years out of four in the NFL these days will get you fired.

Guy Enfield NH

That hit might not have been illegal but it was pretty dirty and Smith has a history of the unnecessary shots, just like the one he took on Wes Welker earlier in the season...

Chris Mortensen
  (11:36 AM)

This is not a sport for the faint of heart. That's part of the Steelers' identity, too. I wouldn't be surprised if the league didn't at least have another discussion with him and the point also is that he's putitng himself at risk.

Mike, Pittsburgh

Bill Cowher had a history of having a coaching tree. Are there any future head coaching canidates on the Steelers' staff now?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:38 AM)

That's a good question. Dick LeBeau got an opportunity in Cinci but I'm not sure that was a fair barometer of how good he could have been as a head coach. But he's 70 - the youngest 70 you would ever want to see- and owners don't hire 70 year old guys. I wish they'd take another look at LeBeau. I'm convinced he could handle it.

dan,sacramento [via mobile]

Mort the raiders are reportedly interviewing al saunders for the offensive coordinator postion i know its oakland but do you think davis is assembling a staff for the cable gux

Chris Mortensen
  (11:39 AM)

Very possible. This is the Al Davis way of doing things.

Terry (Rock Hill, SC)

Mort, please shed some light on the Peppers situation since you were the first to break the story. Why is he unhappy in Carolina? Do you really think John Fox held back his potential??

Chris Mortensen
  (11:40 AM)

No, I don't think John Fox has held back his potential. It's difficult to comprehend that the Panthers would just let him leave. And I did not talk to Peppers himself, I only spoke with his agent so that's something I'll have to work on.

Brad (Carlisle, PA)

Any truth to the rumors that the Bears are going to take a long hard look at free agent Byron Leftwich after this season is over?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:42 AM)

I think Byron has to get a look. He sure has thrown the ball great when he's had a chance. I think Leftwich could get a look in Carolina, too...maybe NY Jets. I also believe Derek Anderson will get some action though Mangini has indicated it will be a competition in Cleveland (a bluff?).


do you see any trickery from the cards since they did same play in super bowl

Chris Mortensen
  (11:44 AM)

Sure. Ken Whisenhunt always had something up his sleeve (as did Cowher) in big games. Remember the Antwan Randle El TD pass to Hines Ward in the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks? It's just finding the right spot, the right sequence, and setting it up. Maybe the Steelers do the same thing, huh? I actually love this matchup.

Sean (philadelphia) [via mobile]

The Boldin blowup with Haley got me thinking. Cards coaching staff doesnt seem to take any stuff, and with the soap opera in Dallas is a joke. Would the Cardinals consider moving Boldin even though hes a great WR. They do have Fitz and Breaston.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:46 AM)

Sean, I wonder the same thing even though their GM Rod Graves has told me they really want to kep Boldin. He's a different fb player than the other two WRs. Also, remember that Haley has a reputation for a short fuse - did in Dallas and has in Arizona (Kurt Warner, too, remember?). I'm not saying that's a big negative. Stuff does happen in the heat of the game.

Andy( Albany, NY)

Hey Mort, I'm a lifelong Bills fan and would like your thoughts on the Bills retaining Dick Jauron despite 3 straight 7-9 seasons, along with his coaching staff. It seem to me that the Bills coaches have no play-calling imagination. Don't you think its time for a change?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:48 AM)

Look, I'm very much on the record that the problem in Buffalo was not Tom Donahoe, wans't Mike Mularkey, isn't Dick Jauron. Why did John Butler run away? You can figure this out but I do think stability is important. If Donahoe hadn't been fired, Mularkey would have stayed and you would be a playoff team by now. Hopefully,it happens for you next year.

Christopher (Phoenix, AZ)

Remember when Jon Gruden took over the Bucs and made Rich Gannon look silly in the SB vs. the Raiders, that's what we are about to see on Feb 1.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:49 AM)

What, Jon Gruden's going to make Ben Roethlisberger look silly? (just kidding)/ I think Monte Kiffin's defense forced Gannon into a tough game.

Nathan, Carbondale

Big Ben to another Super Bowl. Will a victory cement his place in the HOF?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:50 AM)

No, this is way too early. Ben played horribly in that first Super Bowl. Let's let his career unfold. I really like him but it's just too early to have a legit discussion on Ben and the HOF.

Chris (Reno,NV)

I know that it looks as if Parcells is going to stay in Miami, but I won't feel comfortable until these 30 days are up. What factors is he considering when it comes to staying or going and what does your gut tell you he will do?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:52 AM)

First and foremost, Parcells is having a blast doing what he's doing and do it with people he likes in GM Jeff Ieland and coach Tony Sparano. He also likes So. Fla. Now, Parcells is always a mystery. I don't know details but I wonder if there has been an arrangement which allows this clause to be triggered next year. But, honestly, I don't know about that.

Evan (Israel)

Speaking of the McGahee hit, how about the PA playing music while he was motionless on the ground? Totally inappropriate, right?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:52 AM)

Yes, I think so.

Jeff (Pittsburgh)

Do you think the Cardinals are gonna be ready for how physical the Steelers will play? They can't simulate that in practice.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:53 AM)

That's very true but going back to week 17,Ken Whisenhunt has had his players in full pads, pracicing very physical and he believes in physical football, too.

Tyler Tx [via mobile]

Mort, what do you think of my Saints running back issues? Do you think deuce will be back in a saints uniform? If. Of what direction do you see them heading.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:56 AM)

Deuce is a class act and it will be an interesting call. Pierre Thomas is good and I think regge Bush will come back fine. It does make sense to draft another one but not a first rounder.

Ryan (San Diego)

Rivers is often looked at as the worst of the 2004 draft class. Where do you put him? Neither of the other two played well at all in the super bowl

Chris Mortensen
  (11:58 AM)

Eli was outstanding in his Super Bowl. Moved the chains, helped keep the Pats off the field enough and made clutch throws when it counted. But I like all three guys - Roethlisberger is the most physically gifted and Rivers may have more "positives" while Eli is a very cool customer.

Jeff (KC)

Mort, considering no defensive player is worth drafting 3rd overall, should the Chiefs draft Crabtree? He, Bowe, Thigpen, and Jamaal Charles would be a very talented, young base to build around.

Chris Mortensen
  (12:01 PM)

I would find it stunning if the Chiefs used a that high of a pick on a WR. The word is Crabtree isn't very fast...well, the word was Larry Fitzgerald wasn't very fast, either, and he was the third pick. I would think Pioli will continue to build the defensive front and really take a hard look if one of the two QBs - Stafford or Sanchez appeal to him...or, better yet, get some more draft ammo or a big-time veteran player by trading that pick. How about Julius Peppers? (Now I'm having fun).

Chris Mortensen
  (12:03 PM)

Gotta run. Thanks. We have or ESPN Radio Football Friday show from 7-9 pm ET and a special 90-minute Sunday NFL Countdown Show at 11 aam ET. Take care and God Bless!