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June 24, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson
  (11:50 AM)

What's shakin' folks? Let's get this party started early on this fine Wednesday.

Wallace (Baltimore, MD)

Are the Ravens going to be physical enough in the secondary? There seems to be a lot of speed but not a lot of size.

Matt Williamson
  (11:51 AM)

Odd that someone would ask if the Ravens would be physical enough-but you do have a good point. Even Ed Reed isn't a killer back there-well, he was nursing a neck injury that clearly had something to do with it. Landry will be back though and he isn't afraid to lay the lumber. As for the CB position, I think they are fine sacrificing a little size/physicality considering who they have in the front seven and the aggressive nature of their D playcalling. Just can't allow too many WRs to get behind them.

Roger (Green Bay)

As a Packer's fan i'm actually enjoying watching the Brett Favre drama this off-season, Do you think he will come back....again?

Matt Williamson
  (11:52 AM)

Isn't it a done deal to the Vikes now? Reporting to camp. I can't disagree with you any more about the drama though...I can't stand it.

Nick (Arizona)

Is this the season Adrian Peterson breaks 2,000 yards?

Matt Williamson
  (11:54 AM)

I love him. Don't get me wrong. Pure superstar. FAR and AWAY the best RB in this league. But no. If I am defending the Vikes (Even with Favre), I am still stacking the box. Plus, C Taylor is more than servicable as a #2 RB. The Vikes should be wise and be careful by not overworking Peterson and saving him (somewhat) for the stretch run.

Ben (Chicago via Detroit)

Matt, good work. Is there any chance that Stafford begins the season for Detroit as the starting QB. Give the guy a chance a chance to have a productive career by starting him on the bench.

Matt Williamson
  (11:55 AM)

I think a QB can be succesful by starting right away or sitting. Depends on the guy's makeup-which is a tough thing for me to gauge sitting where I am. One thing I feel confident about though is that whoever is behind center for Detroit is going to get hit more than his fair share. That will surely be even more true with a rookie who will take time to decipher blitzes and feel and move away from pressure. But, if they feel that Stafford is mentally tough enough-I would have no problem with it all.

Dan(Ky) [via mobile]

how can you justify the punishment Stallworth received compared to Vick. The punishment for Stallworth compared to what Vick got was a disgrace

Matt Williamson
  (11:58 AM)

Honestly-and I am not being critical of your question-that is a question for a judge or a preist. I am scout. Judging what specific players/people have done off the field really is far from what I do. Plus, surely none of us know all the specifics of such cases. This isn't to bash anyone at ESPN or in the media in general, but why does anyone even care what I (or any of us) thinks about who did the worse thing against humanity and if they were punished equally? Like I said, I am not bashing your question, but I am paid to know football. That isn't football.

Kelly (St. Pete)

What teams are interested in Derrick Brooks?

Matt Williamson
  (12:01 PM)

I don't know that anyone is. Obviously Brooks was a great player and I think he deserves to go the Hall of Fame, but he isn't a great player any more. Plus, LBs in general are not especially difficult to find-and making matters worse for Brooks, he is more of less a one trick pony in that he is is just a WLB for a Cover 2 defense. Now, fewer teams are running that scheme than a few years back. Also-Further compounding his problem-is that the WLB position in that D must be a superior run and hit athlete. Brooks is no longer than player-and never will be again. Is he going to run down on kickoff coverage? Block on the punt team? Backup WLBs have to do those things and do them well.

Bones (The 'Loo)

Is there any chance that the Packers have a top-tier defense in 2009? I like the 3-4 change and the draft filled needs. If they can stay healthy, tell me why they might not be an elite defense.

Matt Williamson
  (12:03 PM)

i hate the change and have been very public in saying so...but...Capers is the right guy for the switch and having Raji fall into their lap is a huge bonus as well. I still go back to the fact that this scheme wasn't broken and adding Raji would have been enough (in the old scheme) without asking Kampman to do something that he isn't as good at-and that goes for more than just Kampman. But overall, I would expect this group to be average. Middle of the Pack.

chance calton (lexington,kentucky)

matt, do you think brian brohm can be good enough to challenge Aaron rodgers for starting job?

Matt Williamson
  (12:04 PM)

Oh my no. Not even close. I thought you were going to ask me if Brohm can be good enough to win the #2 job.

Bones (The 'Loo)

Is there a decent chance that Josh Freeman starts Week 1 in Tampa? I watched him play at K-State and he was a turnover machine (including many other terrible throws that should have been turnovers). How can he "learn" a new system that requires management and moving the chains so quickly?

Matt Williamson
  (12:05 PM)

With him, I think it would be a mistake. But, like all rookies, I want to see what he brings to the table in the preseason. The turnovers surely will be a big problem though. I can't see him being able to avoid that this early in his career. However, it must be stated that the other potential starting QBs in TBay are far from world beaters as well.

Terry (Atlanta)

Who do you think will take the NFC South this year? Tampa is "rebuilding", New Orleans and Carolina seem to be the same teams as last year, and Atlanta is still the same Falcons unless they have a winning season. That's never been done back to back here if you didn't know.

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

Yeah, I see ATL as the class of that division and expect them to score a ton of points. I see NOrls as slightly improved and Carolina as reasonably worse. TBay is the worst team in that division.

Bones (The 'Loo)

Huge Eagles fan, but the number of changes coming this year is even hard for me to keep up with being out of market. I think they are going to have a bunch of huge plays with Maclin and Jackson, but when it comes down to it, are they going to be able to run the ball behind the "improved" O-Line when it matters with either Westbook or McCoy? I wanted Shonn Greene!

Matt Williamson
  (12:07 PM)

I have mentioned this guy a lot-L Weaver. He can potentially be a McClain type power RB. He is more than a FB. McCoy is a Westbrook clone-and that type of RB obviously has flourished in this system for quite a while. I also expect the OL to be vastly improved.

Matt Williamson
  (12:10 PM)

Side Note: I see that DeJuan Blair is chatting opposite me. Want to wish him the best of luck in the upcoming draft. He will be missed a great deal here at Pitt. Awful fun to watch. Plays hoops with a football-like mentality.

Terry (Atlanta)

Can Matt Ryan grow on last year or will the leagues year of tape on him slow him down?

Matt Williamson
  (12:11 PM)

I fully expect him to be better than a year ago. More weapons around him. Surely a better feel for the speed of this game, reading coverages, feeling pressure, getting the ball out on time, etc. The guy is a stud in the making.

Eric (Sioux City)

Seeing these huge contracts that margin LTs are getting -- Staley and Starks -- makes me wonder what Jared Gaither is going to command.

Matt Williamson
  (12:12 PM)

Good point. He should be in that neighborhood after another improved season on the Birdie's blind side. Great tools. That is just the going rate for LTs. Rarely do good young ones leave their current team.

Xander (Philly)

Did you have any involvement in the All-Decade teams?

Matt Williamson
  (12:12 PM)

None. Actually, I haven't even looked at it yet. Will do that when I am done here.

Broad Street Brian (Philly)

Can Lesean McCoy be a bigger factor in the Eagles backfield than the departed C. Buckhalter?

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

In time. Will need refinement all all areas of the passing game, but surely he has more talent and is a better fit for the position in Philly ala Westbrook. Plus, he is from Pitt...so he has that going for him...which is nice.

Marc ((City of Brotherly Love))

Can Favre really make it through 16 games anymore?

Matt Williamson
  (12:14 PM)

Of course. He never misses a game. Even if it means playing without the ability to throw the football. He will be there. I fully expect him to be rather terrible during the 2nd half of the season. Been a bit of a trend with him and only should be magnified going forward.

Freddy (Santa Ana, CA)

Raider fan here. Do you see any hope for our franchise! or are we gonna be picking top 5 in the draft for the next 10 years!

Matt Williamson
  (12:15 PM)

Sorry to hear that. Picking in the top 5 for the next decade or so.

Broad Street Brian (Philly)

Who would you rather have Merriman or Ware? Injuries aside, just talent.

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

Easy to say right now, but I would take Ware. He might only be getting better. Just SO hard to overlook the most recent production of both players-who are both great obviously. But I can't overlook the injuries and suspension issues. Merriman is a true difference maker though and if he comes back strong, SD is going to be a very tough team and vastly improved D.

Matt (Philly)

Higher number? Touchdown passes for Eli Manning or interceptions by Brett Farve?

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

INTS by #4

Marc ((City of Brotherly Love))

Boo Birds > The Penguins. Ha ha ha

Matt Williamson
  (12:17 PM)

Huh? My boys are hoisting the Cup. Did you miss that?

Mike (San Fran)

Ditto on Joe Staley. What were the 49ers thinking. He makes winston justice look like Ogden and is very weak in the running game.

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

But he will get stronger and you can't teach the length and footwork that he has. Good in protection. At LT, I will concede some hammer ability in the run game to keep my QB clean. Staley will get better.

Tommy (Arizona)

Is Larry Fitzgerald a top 5 wr in NFL?

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

No question. Very possibly #1. Also from Pitt by the way.

Pirates (Parts Unknown)

Sorry to bring you down Pittsburgh...

Matt Williamson
  (12:20 PM)

Worst franchise in the history of sports. Okay, enough of the 'Burgh. Back to the task at hand.

Terry (Atlanta)

Peyton over his coaching changes yet? Shouldn't he just run the offense anyway?

Matt Williamson
  (12:20 PM)

Oh, I am sure that he will, but I also commend him for speaking up (probably on behalf of the entire locker room) when he sees something that isn't right. The guy wants to win. Dedicated.

Mark Hart (Big Easy)

Do you think that the saints made enough moves this offseason to make a run at the Super bowl?!?!?

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

Perhaps. Have been a Saints' backer of late. But, if they have to travel to Philly or New York for the NFC Championship, I think they are doomed. Just not built for those conditions. Not saying that NOrls is a big time contender, but the D should be better and surely they can score points. Want more from the running game. DL has to play better.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

Who beats the Eagles in this year's NFC Championship game?

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

Picking Philly to go to the Super Bowl here...but you are probably right.

Kyle (minneapolis)

Won't it help Favre in injury prevention and performance that he does have such a strong running game to rely on? He won't have to be the man that wins games like he was last year in NY and years past in GB?

Matt Williamson
  (12:23 PM)

True. But that isn't who he is. Can he check his ego at the door and play 2nd fiddle? I doubt it. Drama queen. Reason #23 why I don't like Favre coming back.

tom (hackensack)

Matt Forte - due for a breakout year? or a sophmore slump....gotta think cutler and the new tackles make him a top 3 RB possibly in the league this year...thoughts?

Matt Williamson
  (12:25 PM)

Very good player. Not great though in my opinion. Solid in all areas, but not special in any. One thing about Forte is that he accumulated a lot of yardage as a check down receiver. Cutler isn't into checking down like Orton was. Cutler is going to sling it. I bet Forte's recieving totals drop. But, that being said, how many RBs would you rather have than Forte? Maybe half a dozen or so?

Liam (P-town, California)

Matt - Where does the Niners rushing attack rank this year? If Arizona follows the path of all the other recent Super Bowl losers, who wins the division?

Matt Williamson
  (12:27 PM)

I like Seattle in the West. Gotta think that Gore gets a ton of touches this year and it won't matter who is at QB, they will check down to him a lot as a receiver and he will be the bell cow of the entire O. One thing about that O that I expect to become more and more obvious as the season goes along-they have some WRs now. Might eventually open up more room for Gore.

Brandon (Bellevue, WA)

Mike Wahle coming to the Seahawks last year was thought to be a vast improvement, however, he didn't deliver on that promise (although most Hawks played sub-par). How do you think their O-line will be this year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

Switching to more of a zone blocking scheme should help the athletic Wahle. I also really like the Unger pick for them due to his versatility and fit in the scheme as well. But, overall, I see it as a middle of the road group. But, with Housh, Hass, Carlson, etc., I expect Seattle to utilize a lot of 11 personnel and help the OL with all their weaponary.

chance calton (lexington, ky)

in the draft, when the packers went with b.j raji instead of a good michael crabtree, did you think they made a mistake or did what should have been done to have a good team

Matt Williamson
  (12:29 PM)

That was a pick that had to me made. No question about it. They are stocked at WR as well-they were not up front on D.

Matty Ice (The Burgh, PA)

Matty, back in the best chat in the nation. How do you feel about the Max Starks contract?

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

Needed to be done. Not a great player, but servicable at either RT or LT. Those guys are tough to find-especially when you usually pick at the end of round one. He won't get Roethlisberger killed-which is huge. Cost of doing biz and keeping a strong team churning along.

joe (york)

when will fantasy football chats start uP?

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

I am not a FF guy, but gladly will do a few FF questions on this chat. Slow month or so for the NFL and I know all you guys are building yours lists, etc.

tom (hackensack)

how about thoughts on michael turner in atlanta? had a ton of carries last year...but that offense has improved and should open up more lanes in the run game=less need for quantity of runs. i say the addition of gonzo is huge as well...look for big things from the falcons this year...

Matt Williamson
  (12:33 PM)

HUGE things (on O) for ATL. I would worry about Turner's carries, but remember, he was a backup before last year. Still should have enough tread on his tires. Plus, Norwood is a very good player who is too often overlooked. Get Norwood a few more of Turner's carries.

Ben (Detroit)

Will the Lions with 6 games this year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:33 PM)

Oh no. I do think they are going in a positive direction, but I expect the Lions to win about as many games this season as the Red Wings did in the Stanley Cup finals. Not quite good enough.

Hunter (Overland Park)

Does Dwayne Bowe have ability to be a top 10 wide out?

Matt Williamson
  (12:35 PM)

He surely will get a ton of targets this year. Top 10 might be a bit lofty, but his stats should be impressive-esp since KC will be losing a lot late in games and will be forced to throw. Gonzo's departure though is huge. Can Bowe be the only real focus of opposing coverage schemes? On the fence about that one, but overall, I tend to think that he will struggle more than his final stats will indicate this year.

Paul (Cleveland)

Hi Matt, I love the fact that Favre is coming back. He either gets to reform his image with the public, or cement his rep as one of the most self centered QB's of all time. Isn't that entertaining? I know I can't wait for the first game of the season against the Browns!

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

Entertaining indeed. Looking at it from that perspective, it will surely be some good TV. Just tired of it all though!

BSB (Philly)

Follow up to the Bowe question, Will KC have enough talent so that Bowe isn't triple teamed in passing situations?

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

That is the problem. Gonzo was awesome for that reason...amongst many others.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

MW, would Cribbs, DA and a 2nd be enough to get Marshall?

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

Why do they want DA? REALLY can't see Mangini being interested in a malcontent WR who is consistenty in trouble off the field.

Ryan (NJ)

I think Moreno is the front runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He's gonna get a lot of carries especially if Orton can't get the passing game going. Do you agree?

Matt Williamson
  (12:38 PM)

I like the pick. Also VERY high on Donald Brown this year for that honor. Denver's OL is far better than many realize. Just check to see how many sacks they let up last year and what that crazy stable of soon-to-be-injured RBs averaged per attempt last year. Impressive. Moreno very well could be in for a big rookie year.

Mike (New Orleans)

Everyone was raving about how great Raji could be at NT, why is he lining up at DE for the packers?

Matt Williamson
  (12:40 PM)

That is an odd situation and honestly, he would be better off in a 4-3. I still think he will be a fine NT in that 3-4 in time, but that isn't an easy position. Constant double teams by very large human beings. He is extremely quick and I feel would be better off as a penatrator.

Donald Sterling (LA)

I'm I'm the worst owner in the NBA, whose the worse in the NFL?

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

I hate to say it considering that massive amount that he has done for the sport, but doesn't it have to be Al Davis at this point?

Marc (Malden, MA)

Do the think the Pats LB corp will be better without Vrabel? They were at their best when teams didn't know who the 4th guy coming was and that confusion went away because Vrabel was always the 4th guy.

Matt Williamson
  (12:42 PM)

I see Vrabel as a shell of what he once was. So I do not expect him to be missed. So yes, I do expect the LBs to be improved. A Thomas will be healthy to start the season. But still, I don't love the OLBs opposite Thomas.

CC (Atlanta)

The Falcons OL has to be one of the most underrated units in the league. Does anyone know how good they were last year? Obviously they can run block but Ryan was barely touched in most games. A bunch of no-names that get it done.

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

No question. I must say that I was very rough on that group at this time of the year one year ago. Thought it was a terrible OL. Surely better as a whole than the sum of its parts. Depth is worrisome there though.

Sean (TR NJ)

Fords

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

Tough to really argue with that either.

Sean (TR NJ)

What do you think about Chad Henne for the Dolphins? The coaching staff seems impressed should I be?

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Obviously I want to see more, but he can drive the ball downfield. Use Ginn's deep speed. Open up more room for the run game.

Sean (TR NJ)

I think the Dolphins did a good job addressing our defensive backfield this offseason what do you think? Did we do enough especially with the wideouts in our division?

Matt Williamson
  (12:46 PM)

Yes, but more importantly, the pass rush should be even better. The safety position looks to be improved, but I do have worries that neither guy is really a rangey FS type. Will be some growing pains in the secondary, but I assume that they can get a lot from V Davis-then they will be fine.

Jacob (Columbia,SC)

It is early but do you think Josh McDaniels is in over his head?

Matt Williamson
  (12:47 PM)

It sure seems to me that every coach who has left Bill Belichick's security blanket was in over their head.

Sean (TR NJ)

wow three in a row I am either special or you were sick of me asking either way though I apprecaite your input thank you

Matt Williamson
  (12:47 PM)

No...you are special. Keep telling yourself that.

CC (Atlanta)

Raiders or Lions for worst team in '09? Watch out for the Bucs... they are darkhorse candidate. Jets too.

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

I don't agree with NYJ. Will grind out a lot of 9-7 wins. Not a ton, but enough to keep them out of this conversation. STL needs to be included as well. Really leaning towards Oak though of late.

RAY GOERDON REID ( RALEIGH NC 27601)

QUESTION TO MATT WIILIAMSON 12.50PMHI MATT WHICH IS GONNA BE BETTER PANTHERS OFFENSE OR DEFENSE

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

I don't love either. Love their rushing attack obviously and S Smith, but still not enough other pass catchers and I see Delhomme on the decline. The D is okay at best-but not good enough up front. Coin flip. Obviously I am not all that high on Carolina for next season.

Blips McGee (Pittsburgh - City of Champions)

Who shoulders the RB load this year in Cincy? Still Cedric Benson?

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

Initially for sure. Will ride him like crazy. Don't be shocked if Scott is the guy when it is all said and done though.

Paul (Cleveland)

Given the close relationship, why didn't the Jets trade for Braylon Edwards? The Browns need more ex-Jets and they need a WR for their GQ QB.

Matt Williamson
  (12:51 PM)

All true. Probably could have gotten a decent deal on Phil Dawson as well.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

MW, how many games do you give T.O. before he goes off on any combination of Edwards/Jauron/Schonert? I say 7

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

It really doesn't look like a good fit, does it? Remember, Buff should have a very hard time protecting on the edges to go deep. Jauron is naturally conservative. Edwards is a bit overrated and is just an average thrower-who might just be brittle as well. Could be ugly. But, I do think their new flirtation with the K Gun will serve TO well at this stage of his career. Get it to him and let him make plays after the catch. He is excellent at that. Also, TO must realize that this is a one year audition for the rest of the NFL.

Blips McGee (Pittsburgh - City of Champions)

Houston Texans. Finally get over the hump or continue to disappoint?

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

If 8-8 is the hump, I will say yes-they finally have a winning season. Must keep Schaub healthy though. Must.

Teddy (Portalnd)

Who is the front runner for Defensive Rookie of the year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

Gotta say A Curry right off the bat. Very NFL ready. Decent supporting cast. Easy position to get recognition.

Sean (TR NJ)

I have been reading a lot lately about the Bengals and what the consensus seems to be is that they can take 2nd in the divsion and make the playoffs do you agree with that?

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

Oh yeah, it could happen. Need to improve their pass rush and obviously quite a few things on O. But getting Palmer back will be huge. Still really worry about the running game in general. Weak at OC and Benson is an interior runner against guys like Ngata, Hampton and Rogers in the division. But...I have been burned by the Bengals at this time of the year before. Hesitant to jump on that shaky (being kind) band wagon.

Blips McGee (Pittsburgh - City of Champions)

I just texted my friend to tell him I got published in an ESPN chat! Thanks!

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

Twice

BSB (Philly)

Can any center handle an elite NG one on one? I am starting to think it's almost impossible to ask it of anyone.

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

No question. But Cincy is very weak at what is an extremely critical position in their division. For example-Miami plays NEng and NYJ each twice a year. Satele was too small to handle the Wilfork/Jenkins types. So-they go out and improve with Grove. Logical. Cincy didn't do that. But yeah, when Rogers is right, he is going to whip every OC in this league. Rare beast.

Matt Williamson
  (1:00 PM)

Folks. I gotta run. This was a lot of fun as always. Stop by next Wednesday and we will tear it up again. Adios.