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July 8, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson
  (11:51 AM)

What's going on folks? Let's start this chat a little bit early today. Actually, if you guys want, we can make today a rather fantasy-heavy chat since it is slow time for usual NFL news. Gettyup!

Sean (Cincinati)

Give me the '09 stat line on John Carlson..

Matt Williamson
  (11:52 AM)

I like this kid. Maybe 6-8 TDs and for the most part, Seattle doesn't have top notch red zone WRs. 750 yards give or take. Nice season.

Todd N. (Seattle)

Matt: Looking ahead to the opening week, how do you see the Chargers at Oakland matchup unfolding?

Matt Williamson
  (11:52 AM)

Not well for the Raiders

RAY GORDON REID ( DAVIE FLA 33134)

QUESTION TO MATT WILLLIAMSON AT 12.15PM HI MATT WILLIAMSON WINS NFC EAST

Matt Williamson
  (11:53 AM)

Philly. Obviously a very strong division and I expect NYG to battle Philly right down to the end. Give me the Eagles though...also to advance to the Super Bowl as well.

Paul (Albany, OR)

Matt, each year some team comes from obscurity to do significantly better than expected. Then we have the Rams. How can this team continue to be so darn bad. We had the #2 pick in both the 08 and 09 drafts and from what I can see we may even be projected to move "up" to the #1 pick in the 2010 draft. This is NOT GOOD. Do you see hope on the horizon for the faithful fans. And what is a reasonable timetable for our expectations? Thanks.

Matt Williamson
  (11:56 AM)

Can see why you are frustrated! Rough. I do like their past off season-but they still need so much more for the long term. Spags could be the man for the job-we shall see. His job with the Giants was FAR easier than the one he has just taken on. But, the OL should be vastly improved and has long term potential. Outside of S Jackson though, I think their O skill guys are the worst in the NFL right now. That is a problem and it includes the QB. Let's see what Bulger can do this year if keepen upright for the most part.

Matt (Chicago)

Matt, personnel-wise, looking at the Chargers D versus the Steelers D, I see similar talent levels. Certainly Troy is an upgrade over whoever the Chargers have, but I don't see many others (maybe MLB?). Having said that, is that just a great indication of how good LeBeau is, or do you think S.D. and Rivera can study some of the Steelers plays, particularly blitz packages, to take advantages of all the ball-hawkers in their secondary?

Matt Williamson
  (12:00 PM)

Well, let's go through it. On the ever-important nose in these 3-4's, I would more or less give them a tie. I think J Williams is better than Hampton when healthy, but I really worry about his age and overall durability. Still-that is a wash and both teams are excellent at NT. I love A Smith at DE and think he is a very special player, but overall, the DE comparision isn't real far off. Losing Olshansky could hurt for sure and I like the Steelers' DL better overall-esp now with Hood-but once again, this isn't by a large margin. Harrison is excellent at ROLB, as is Merriman. Wash more or less. I prefer Woodley to Philips on the other side and also now prefer PGH's ILBs to the Chargers, esp with Timmons now as a full time player. Timmons is a wild card in this discussion that SD won't be able to match. You also mentioned Troy P-who also is a HUGE difference maker and his versatility is extremely important in a discussion like this one. FS is a wash, but Weddle could be much improved. I do like SD's CBs better if Cromartie's hip is okay, but they also did just use a first rounder at CB a year ago. I Taylor is excellent and PGH's CBs are fine though. So overall, they are not as far behind. I would say PGH is more athletic, versatile and tougher though. Yes, also better coached, but Rivera might be fine.

Peyton Manning (home)

I don't understand why you didn't tell me beforehand that you thought the Steelers and Patriots would be better than us. We haven't been communicating well and I feel left in the dark.

Matt Williamson
  (12:01 PM)

You have been too busy with commercials. Never return my call. However, I do like Indy's O to be improved this year as well. Running game should be much improved. Along the FF subject, draft D Brown.

jeff croop (Hagerstown,MD)

matt how do you think brady will do coming off a year long injury?

Matt Williamson
  (12:02 PM)

A lot like Peyton did last year. Slow early on. Gets better each week. Dedicated. By midseason he should once again be an elite player. Elite.

Aaron (Chicago)

Are you buying or selling Cutler this season with his lack of quality recievers?

Matt Williamson
  (12:03 PM)

For real life football? Buying. He will make that O MUCH better. I see Chi and Jax as two Os that I expect to improve a great deal. For FF? Not selling and would take him if the $$$ was right. Not going to throw nearly as many passes this year as last.

Xander (Philly)

If I have to draft an offensive player from Cleveland, who should it be?

Matt Williamson
  (12:04 PM)

For the $$$ right now, I would say Edwards. Still has a ton of upside, esp near the goal line with K2 now in TBay. I don't love the pick-or their O-but if you have to take one considering where they will be selected, Edwards could be a good value.

Brett (WI)

You have gone on record saying the Bears defense will be strong if Tommie Harris is healthy and matches his previous production, but I am having trouble seeing what other areas make them a potentially formidable unit. Can you explain what I am missing?

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

He is such a difference maker. Fantastic disruptor. Makes the LBs' job FAR easier...esp Urlacher, who hasn't quite been the same since Harris has fought injury. I can live with the secondary and I also expect those DEs to step it up a bit with Marinelli now as the DL coach-Chi's pass rush wasn't good enough last year. I like their D to improve. It won't be elite, but it should be strong.

Robby (Florida)

Real Life football: who deserves most of the carries in the stacked Pats backfield?

Matt Williamson
  (12:08 PM)

Maybe I am in the minority and I certainly see his warts, but I would want Maroney to be the guy there over the others. The guy played with a cracked shoulder blade. Clearly he has the most upside of any of the RBs. The others-we know what they all bring...which should be enough considering what NEng has in their passing attack. But, to me, I would root for Maroney if I were a Pats fan. He can be a difference maker. The others cannot.

tom (boston)

will fred taylor be an impact player

Matt Williamson
  (12:09 PM)

No-but I still like the pickup. Not much of a force in short yardage or in the passing game, but they have Faulk and Morris for that...assuming Maroney isn't able to step up. So yes, Taylor was good insurance and didn't cost the Pats all that much.

Ryan (San Diego)

Pittsburgh's defense is better but the Chargers are very close. Let's not forget that with a healthy Merriman and Wade Phillips they were one of the best units in the league and set sacks records. Now that Rivera will have a full offseason, a healthy Merriman and Cromartie, a new toy in English I expect them to return to a top 5 defense, 10 at worst right?

Matt Williamson
  (12:10 PM)

I very much agree. Do not overlook what a difference Merriman makes. That secondary will be doing cart wheels that he is back. I also have no problem with Rivera. Top 10 for sure.

Sam (Green Bay)

What areas of the game do you believe Rodgers needs to improve on in order to be mentioned in the top 5 QB conversation?

Matt Williamson
  (12:11 PM)

He is on that cusp. Want to see another year of being the starter though. And yes, he needs to win more games. How does he perform when the chips are down? We don't really know that yet. Big fan of his here though.

Alexander (Dallas)

Can Dallas make some noise even without a good enough receiver and a secondary who has gotten better but still is questionable.

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

For sure. They can really get after the QB, which surely helps the secondary a ton. Still, their DBs worry me more than the WR position. Someone will step up as a #2 WR. Can/will Roy W be a #1? I do have some doubts there as well. But, I really like their TEs and RBs and those positions will be featured more going forward. Doesn't it seem like J Jones handled this off season like an owner who may have sunk too much into a brand new awesome stadium during a very rough economic time?

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Concerned about Jason Whitlock's article?

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

I have no idea what you are talking about-fill me in. Will check it out after this chat.

Larry (MO)

Should I be worried about Matt Cassell regressing after stepping outside of New Englands system? I just didn't see him have to make too many plays that weren't high percentage throws. I hate to use the term "system" QB, but what is your scouting report on him from last year? What can we expect from him this year in KC?

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

I was tough on him early in the year, but I must admit, he really did improve as the year went along. I also think it was a good move for KC, considering he only cost a 2nd round pick. He is very athletic, which many tend to overlook, but he also doesn't feel the rush all that well yet. His arm is just average and he needs more reps to better anticipate throws. Not a massive risk taker either-but he may have to be moreso in KC.

Redington (Akron,OH)

Do the Browns have an outside chance at a wild card?

Matt Williamson
  (12:17 PM)

I REALLY don't think so

Alexander (Dallas)

With that being said can Dallas win the NFC East

Matt Williamson
  (12:18 PM)

Sure they can. Still very talented roster. Injuries will occur to all teams and that simply cannot be overlooked. Believer in Romo here as well.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

What have you heard about Carson Palmer being a good QB again?

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

Very excited to see him in preseason, but by all accounts he is healthy finally. That is obviously huge for Cincy. I am also a believer in Palmer. I do worry about his protection however. If they can get better OL play, the Bengals' O should be drastically improved.

kc (oakland)

Niners -- outside chance at WC?

Matt Williamson
  (12:20 PM)

Not picking them, but yes, outside chance for sure. Need more of a pass rush for sure-not sure if that will materialize. Better OL play should happen though and I really like their stable of WRs now.

chauncey (teaneck)

Do you think Ochocinco should be allowed to tweet during games?

Matt Williamson
  (12:21 PM)

Not if I were his head coach. Rediculous. Do you see players on the phone with their agents or buddies on the sidelines during games?

Brett (WI)

Whitlock wrote about McNair's affair with the woman he was found dead with and how it reflects incredibly poorly on his sons for multiple reasons. Just a damnation of our societies inability to respect the demands of fatherhood.

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

Thanks-I will read it. Do you guys think McNair gets into the HOF? Should be close. Great player either way though as was a joy to watch. Terrible.

Alexander (Dallas)

Do you think that the Patriots would be at the top this because of the return of Tom Brady.

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

I like NEng ahead of every other team in the NFL right now except the Steelers. Philly (

Bill (Tennessee Tennessee)

Who will be the better back this year - LT, S Jax or Westbrook?

Matt Williamson
  (12:23 PM)

I would really worry about all three from a durability standpoint, but give me Jackson. I just think that he is the best player of the bunch right now and will get a TON of touches.

Redington (Akron,OH)

Who will win the quarterback battle in Cleveland?

Matt Williamson
  (12:23 PM)

It will be Quinn-no doubt in my mind.

Robby (FL)

Who starts at QB for the Jets?

Matt Williamson
  (12:25 PM)

Sanchez. If there was a proven vet (Culpepper type) then I would bet on the vet, but in this case, you might as well go with your future. But-like all these debates-MUCH will be told in the preseason. Do not overlook the importance of preseason football.

Alexander (Dallas)

Is Wade Philips on the hot seat this year.

Matt Williamson
  (12:26 PM)

For sure. Sorta shocked that he still has a seat. Heck of a DCoordinator though.

Sam (San Diego)

What exactly do you look for in the pre-season to predict which teams will surpass or fall short of expectations come the regular season? Basically, how do you stay ahead of the curve with the jumbled mess that is pre-season football?

Matt Williamson
  (12:27 PM)

Not sure that you can really stay ahead of the curve with all the preseason action. Fast and furious to keep up. But, I really want to see specific players-guys returning from injury, aging players, etc. Also, I think that bad things are almost more important. Some teams just look terrible in those preseason games-that worries me. But you also need to diagnose why..of course.

Darryl (Fullerton)

Can the Chargers win it all now that everyone has returned healthy (Merriman, Cromartie and LT)?

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

Oh yeah. No doubt about it. Gotta love their chances of sealing up the division early and getting a bye as well. What do they have now in LT though? Huge.

joey (rutland vt)

are the pats better this yr or in 07

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

2007. They only lost one game that year Bro. Perfect regular season. That is pretty awesome.

Mike (Brooklyn)

M-Dub, let's talk NYG secondary. Where would you rank them, top 10? I believe this is the most underrated secondary in the NFL. Thoughts?

Matt Williamson
  (12:30 PM)

First off and most importantly, if that secondary is just average, it will look like one of the best because of what is going to be a rediculously dangerous pass rush. But, I like Webster for sure and think that Phillips can be a star. Should be improved. Ross had a so-so season and could improve as well. That D will be fantastic.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

When it is all said and done, Champ Bailey will be a top __ corner of all time.

Matt Williamson
  (12:32 PM)

Five I guess. Asomugha is better than Bailey right now and it isn't really all that close, but career wise, Bailey's is superior for now. I would take Deion or Woodson over Bailey from what I remembered. Blount for sure. Surely there are others...but remember, I am 36 years old. So a guy like R Lott played when I was a teenager. While I loved the game then and watched everything that I possibly could, I also went to school, had a job and goofed off quite a bit...sorta like now, but I get paid for goofing off and watching a ton of football.

Dj (Chicago)

With Bailey nearing the end and Asomughueacecn in his prime now, which would you say is or was better at the peak?

Matt Williamson
  (12:32 PM)

I don't remember anyone as good as NA is right now.

Amanda H (Twin Hills, PA)

Matt, are you my fantasy guy? I am a fan of the hookup. Do you think I should go after Favre AND B Berrian in my draft?

Matt Williamson
  (12:34 PM)

I will be your fantasy guy. Nothing wrong with the hookup at all...but that one isn't making me happy. Far too hit or miss. Plus, I don't trust Favre one bit this year.

Anthony (NYC)

M-Dub in your book, currently who are your top 5 WRs

Matt Williamson
  (12:35 PM)

For FF? To me, there are four super stars-Andre J, Fitz, R Moss and Calvin J. I would probably rank them: Fitz, Moss, Andre, Calvin...but all are very close. Then there is a drop off for sure and you start comparing Wayne, Jennings and S Smith. Give me Smith of that group. If we are talking about the real world, my list really wouldn't be much different-if at all. Moss might be a monster this year.

Matt (Philly)

So is Asomugha now better than Bailey in his prime??

Matt Williamson
  (12:35 PM)

I think so. No one throws at the guy. Fear.

joey (rutland vt)

who is the most valuable cardinal fitz.or boldin

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

Fitzgerald by a large margin. Boldin struggles against upper tier CBs.

Robby (FL)

Tom Brady and Randy Moss hook up for _ touchdowns in 09.

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

18

Joe (MN)

Matt, what do you think of the rumors of Marvin Harrison coming to Minnesota? Would you be for it?

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

Sounds like desperation...much like signing Favre. If it would stunt Harvin's playing time/development at all, I would not be for it.

Anthony (Allentown,PA)

Is Willy Parker too old to go for 1000 yards rushing this season?

Matt Williamson
  (12:38 PM)

I think so. His yards per carry average just keeps falling. Doesn't help on throwing downs or in short yardage. Can't stay healthy. Not much of a fan here. When right-which isn't all that often any more-he can be a very good RB.

Sean (Cincinnati)

Take on Kevin Smith this season..

Matt Williamson
  (12:40 PM)

He isn't a special player, but he has good run instincts and runs hard. Should get a lot of touches once again though and he is someone who can be productive if given the ball a lot. He needs those touches to get big numbers. For FF, he is a real solid #2 RB. Not special, but expect a better entire season than he had last year. That is a team that wants to keep their D off the field-rightfully so. So they will run a lot...like Tennessee.

Scott (Ames, IA)

Please rank these young OTs on potential. Staley, Roos, Stewart, Winston, and Gaither.

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

Roos is far and away number one. This is a very good list though. I guess I would put Stewart last. Winston is second. Gaither is third. Staley is 4th. Tough question!

Jerry (Texas)

Do you really think bringing in Favre to Minn is a good idea, I mean the guy dosent want to show up for any OTAs etc, come in 2-3 weeks into Minicamp and then expect to start at QB like he has done for the past couple years, wouldnt starting someone who has been with the team the whole offseason benefit the team more?

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

I think it is a terrible idea.

Jeff (KC)

If Jamaal Charles adds 10 pounds, will he be the chiefs starting RB in 2010?

Matt Williamson
  (12:42 PM)

Maybe. I really doubt that it will be LJ. But honestly, I would bet that KC's starting RB isnt presently on the roster.

Jason (Moon Twp.)

Do you think this is the season Hines Ward regresses, and Santonio eclipses his numbers? In my opinion, Santonio will never be a true 1, more of a great 2.

Matt Williamson
  (12:43 PM)

Agreed. But yes, expect Santonio to have the better season of the two. Still, on third and 7, Roethlisberger is looking for 86.

Sean (Cincinnati)

Matt Shaub wil play in __ many games this year..

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

A dozen. Maybe more. Fragile guy and I believe that. I do think that he should be thrilled that Haynesworth now plays in the NFC East though. FYI, tune into to Houston's ESPN radio station today at 5:15 Eastern-I will be on, as well as every Wednesday going forward.

Anthony (NYC)

From that list of top 5 WRs which two would you beuild your team around(not really thinking in terms of FF)?

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Fitz and Calvin. I did an article about the Top 10 guys to build a team around (look it up) for the next few seasons. I put two WRs on the list-those two.

Liam (P-town, California)

Texans finally get in the playoffs this year. For all the talk about how tough their division is, I don't think Tennessee contends this year. I think Houston will compete with Indy for the division.

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Couldn't agree more. Both could get in.

Vincent R. (Bakersfield)

How many wins do the Broncos get this year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:46 PM)

6. I like them to go 3-1 vs. KC and Oak...but 0-4 against the NFC East.

Brent (Slo, Ca)

FANTASY QUESTION: What RB's will be better than Peterson? Anyone?

Matt Williamson
  (12:47 PM)

Nah...but, the only worry I would have about the guy is that he isn't a GREAT goal line runner and also fumbles too much. Perhaps-just sayin'-Minny could pull him from that duty, which obviously is a big deal in FF.

JC (Denver)

Is Marcus McNeil an elite tackle? Where does he rank?

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

I like all the guys mentioned before ahead of McNeil. Also J Long and Clady ahead of him. He is prob in the 10-12 range. Not bad at all. Was best as a rookie though.

Big John Stud (Indy)

Matty!!!!! Can the Colts sack up and be tougher along the lines this year? Have to stand up to the run on D and pound that rock more on O.

Matt Williamson
  (12:49 PM)

It will be better, but physical teams like Tenn should continue to give that D a lot of trouble. But, a healthy Bob Sanders could go a long way. Both of those rookie DTs could play a lot this year, but their LBs are very ordinary. If Indy scores a lot of points, which happens often, they are in good shape. Slug fests are not their bag.

Sean (Cincinnati)

Why does Trent Cole get no love from the national media?

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

Good call. He was a real force in college (Cincinnati) as well. Guy just plays hard and gets after the QB. Very good player on a very good D.

Pete (NC)

Show me some Panthers love! DeAngelo and Stewart. Is there a better 1-2 punch out there?

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

I really don't think so. Goodson could be a valuable addition as well as that #3 RB. Want to see Stewart stay healthy though-worries me.

Sean (Cincinnati)

How do you see Maulaluga fairing this season in the AFC North?

Matt Williamson
  (12:52 PM)

Needs to play within himself. Playing SLB should help-easier reads. But, I expect quite a few highlight reel plays-and after film study, some questionable reads. Rook.

Jack (Toronto)

Regarding McNair's HoF chances, who is his most likely comparable, McNabb? If so, I give McNabb a better shot because of all those trips to the conference championships. Even then I'm not sure McNabb is HoFer, so McNair unlikely.

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

I think McNair had a better career than McNabb to this point...but McNabb throws the ball a far greater amount and although I am not looking at it, I would imagine that McNair's lifetime passing stats are not esp overwhelming. Can be my QB anytime though.

Landon (Boulder)

Do you think the VIkings O line will improve this year with the addition of Loadholt or will the loss of Birk make them decline?

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

Birk didn't play that great last year. Declining player. Loadholt is a perfect fit. Hutch is awesome, but McK is overrated. I think that OL in general is rather overrated. Peterson is one of those rare RBs who makes his blocking appear better than it is. The guy is just a superstar.

Mike (Wilmington)

Don't forget Jeff Otah among OTs fellas.

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

Or J Gross

Steve (AZ)

Do you have a facebook or twitter account?

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

Nah. Not really my style. I must admit that I really don't fully understand either, but I am also not a reporter. I don't break news stories. Should I Tweat what I have for dinner? What I bought at the grocery store today? I suppose that I need to learn more about it...but to give you some idea, I got my first iPod about six months ago.

Brandon (Bellevue, WA)

Walter Jones>everyone else.

Matt Williamson
  (12:57 PM)

When right. Battles a lot of injuries. The year I spent in Cleveland, I was in charge of the NFC West. That was when Jones and Pace were in their prime. It was amazing. DEs just gave up. Realized that they had no chance. Side note and not comparing, but Philly has themselves quite a set of OTs now as well.

McCullough (PA?)

Is long-snapper not the coolest gig around?

Matt Williamson
  (12:57 PM)

All you dads-get your son long snapping at like age 3. There are only 32 of them making money, but it is real good money!

James (Indy)

You could tweet about your experiences at ESPN. Hell, I smell a new reality show!!!

Matt Williamson
  (12:58 PM)

Sweet Baby James, I work from home. In Pittsburgh. Take the kids to and from day care every day. Listen to my iPod. Watch a lot of football.

Sean (Cincinnati)

Donald Brown or Addai this season?

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

Brown-going to have a big year.

Peyton Manning (indy)

will anthony gonzales step up this year and finally be worthy of his draft poistion.

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

Not sure that he has been dissapointing thus far, but also expecting him to really excel this year in an expanded role. Indy's O is lethal.

Matt (Philly)

How great is Andy Reid for going from Thomas and Runyan, to Andrews and Peters in one offseason

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

Tremendous. He really values the big men in the trenches.

Dan (Waterbury, VT)

Would expect that the Pats super bowl hopes rest on thier gamble to get younger and faster at LB (Guyton, Crable etc.) ....but if it does work, and some young guys step up, seems they should be every bit as good as 2007.

Matt Williamson
  (1:01 PM)

That is really saying a lot. That team only lost one game!!!! Good point about the LBs...but you also know that BB is going to really coach them up and will put them in positions to make plays. I really like the secondary now and of course the DL is strong.

Mike Tomlin (Sixburgh)

Am I the best young head coach in the NFL and is this year's team better than the one who won the championship in 08?

Matt Williamson
  (1:02 PM)

Who else is in the conversation as top young head guys? It has to be Tomlin. Better than last year? Surely close. Think about what Timmons can bring. Mendenhall and some other young guys also could really step up. Ben is a stud. Elite D.

Matt Williamson
  (1:03 PM)

Okay everyone. Nice work by you (