Good morning! Great Monday night games to end week one. Let's see what's on your minds today.
Mort, what did you think of Caddy in his first game back from his second major knee surgery? Did he not look as good, if not even better than his rookie year?
Perhaps the most revealing thing I learned on the training camp tour is how excited the Bucs were about Cadillac Williams. I assumed, like many people, that Derrick Ward's FA signing meant he was the guy. But Williams looks to me like he is the same guy they drafted as a top-5 pick and after two major knee injuries, that's a tribute to Williams' love of game. Yeah, I think he looks even more powerful than he did as a rookie.
Mort, how do you see this week's Patriots/Jets game playing out, especially considering it looks like Mayo is out for New England?
I always thought this could be a tough game for the Patriots but more challenging now without Jerod Mayo. The defense is already in transition, even average at best. This is going to put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady to deliver 30-to-40 point games most Sundays, I think. I think the Jets win this one, by something like 31-27.
Hey Mort, keep up the great work! I was really shocked to see in the Hard Knocks series just how involved the Bengals front office -- namely Team President Mike Brown -- was in personnel decisions. How does this compare across the NFL? Is there a big divide between the hands-on owners (Jerry Jones, Daniel Snyder, etc) and those who really entrust their GMs with these decisions?
Mike Brown is the team's general manager, too. I have mixed opinion on that. Brown grew up in one of the ultimate football families - his father, Paul Brown, is a Hall of Famer and one of the great innovators in pro football history. However, Brown has to be subject to same scrutiny we'd put on any GM - shaky. Perhaps most surprising is that he gives very little credence to the character issues.
How long will A. Gonzalez be out? Any way possible he can return in 2 weeks as the Colts are saying 2-6 weeks?
The Colts haven't specifically defined his absence. I was told it would be an extended period of time, which suggests at least 6 weeks to me. They won't sign Marvin Harrison. They wanted Bobby Wade, who went to KC. They don't want Matt Jones. Maybe they look at Hank Baskett, whom the Eagles plaved on waivers.
You think we could expect some of the same production out of Louis Murphy of the Raiders like he showed Monday night for the rest of the season? Murphy made some real athletic plays and seemed to be Russel's main target next to Zack Miller that night.
I agree that Murphy looks like a real factor for the Raiders. Zach Miller is very good at TE. If Chaz Schilens comes back in a couple of weeks from foot injury, the combo of McFadden
What are your thoughts on the Ravens offense? Flacco really seems to be the real deal and the receivers seem to be good enough to get it done. Do you think Cam Cameron wanted to come out throwing to show the NFL that we can be a dangerous offense all around?
No question the Ravens are prepared to take the offense to the next level because everyone saw this off-season and summer that Joe Flacco is making a big step to the next level as a quarterback. He has elite skills in many areas. The receivers are good enough - I always remind people that Tom Brady won his 3 Super Bowls without a true No. 1 wideout.
What kind of season is in store for Gage? I feel like Tenn runs the ball way too much for him to have a good season...thoughts?
They didn't run too much vs. Steelers. They'll throw plenty but there are more weapons - Gage, Nate Washington, and two rookies in Kenny Britt
Mort, your thoughts in Mike Martz and Jim Mora Sr criticism of Jay Cutler's post game comments? Unfair or justified?
I thought it was somewhat fair. A quarterback is the face of the franchise and Cutler has to grasp that. But Cutler doesn't get giddy after throwing 4 TDs a game so it may be a little over the top. Peyton Manning used to get criticism for his body language. This is Cutler's fourth season - he needs to take the next step in terms of managing a game.
Is Kevil Kolb the heir apparent in Philly, or do you think Vick steps into that role?
I think Donovan McNabb is the heir apparent! He has 4-to-5 productive years left and why worry beyond that? I think the signing of Jeff Garcia makes it clear that there is confidence lacking in Kolb's ability to function as the starter on a Super Bowl contending team. Vick is nowhere close to being ready to take over at QB and it's silly to think he would be; plus, the Eagles certainly aren't going to set up Vick for failure.
Chris, what are your thoughts on the Giants' defensive line, specifically the return of Umenyiora?
Umenyiora clearly is one of the league's best DEs and a great guy, too, so it's good to see him healthy and as good as ever. I felt the off-season pickups of Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty meant the Giants D-line rotation would be able to sustain over the long season. Those guys were injured all summer - that made a lot of peope in the building nervous - but that's not a concern now. The Giants O-line and D-line probably is best as a combo and that usually bodes well.
Mort do you see Miami getting the upset on monday night now that Indy lost Anthony Gonzales?I don't think miami's D was terrible considering how we stopped the run and put pressure on matt ryan
I do think Dolphins can pull this off because Jason Taylor and Joey Porter can really disrupt Peyton Manning. If the Colts' O-line and running game with Josepth Addai and Donald Brown aren't playing at a high level Monday, I see a Dolphins victory.
WHY ARE THE COWBOYS STRUGGLING DURING THE FIRST SERIES AND DEFENSE DIDNT LOOK THAT GOOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT.
It's being a little nit-picky, don't you think? I watched all 16 games and almost every offense struggled, especially in the first half. I think the Cowboys' defense may have some problems stopping run this year but the offense will be better and more consistent.
What caused the lack of offense for Denver? What can they do to get better on offense. On the flip side their D looked decent. What do you think has made them better?
I have to believe the offense gets better. Now they do lose some of the explosive plays that Cutler was able to give them with his arm, accuracy and mobility but it was the second-ranked offense in the NFL last year and I would expect them to get better. Defensively, kudos to DC Mike Nolan. Got to see 'em play more, though.
Hey Mort! What are your feelings on the Bills? The offense was very efficient and the D looked solid for 55 minutes, even with out Poz. Can they compete in the AFC East?
I guess I'll be surprised if the Bills are competing for an AFC East playoff spot. The Patriots defense isn't very good (Pats know this) and any capable-to-good offense should be able to put up three to five touchdowns on that group. The Bills' offense scored 17 points (the defense scored 7). Also, Edwards has to challenged teams more vertically - I don't know if he threw a pass that traveled more than 10 yards and when you have weapons like Evans and Owens, you have to do that.
Mort, anyway the Panthers can trade Peppers to get a 1st and a 3rd in the draft?
I'm sure they could move Peppers for a 1st and 3rd but it would have to be a team that can absorb the nearly $17 million cap hit and get Peppers to agree to a long-term deal. You also would be sending a message to your ticket buyers that you're giving up on the season.
Mort, what can the Pack take away from Sunday's win? Should we be worried about Rodgers if the O-Line can't protect better?
I think the Packers expect their O-line to be a strength; it better be. I do believe it was evidence that Bears' D-line coach Rod Marinelli remains a difference maker. I still expect Rodgers and the Pack offense to have big season. It was also a reminder for all of us that preseason is preseason.
Was the Raider defense from game 1 a fluke or can one guy (Seymour) make that great a difference?
I'll be honest with you - I expected the Raiders to finish second in the AFC West with an improved offense and defense. Then that Saints game, third week of preseason, really threw me off (see above note). I did have some NFL GMs/coaches say that Seymour could make that a very strong front four and bring out best in the other guys. Don't think it's a fluke, as long as they play hard.
Break down the Bengals for me Mort. Was the offense just confused by Mike Nolan's defense? Can the Bengals defense keep up the pressure against other teams in the league?
The thing that has concerned me most about Bengals is their offensive line. Look at what we saw this past weekend - when the O-line isn't performing well, your quarterback, receivers and running game can look average to inadequate. I think there has to be big improvement there. Defense was better last year and should be better this year.
No one ever answers my Clinton Portis question. Seriously, how many years does he have left? Have the Redskins even considered an heir yet?
I think the Redskins gave us a preview of how they're going to handle this by going with a 60-40 split with Ladell Betts. That's a good way to go with Portis and Betts. They need to pay attention to their O-line going forward; you can find running backs a lot of ways each year.
How big of a role do you see Percy Harvin getting in the minny offense?
I think the Vikings will get Harvin more touches as the season moves on. He's a threat. I don't know how much receiver he'll play in terms of getting a lot of balls, though.
Baltimore vs San Diego. Big early game in the AFC. What are your thoughts?
The game is in San Diego but I saw some problems with the Chargers' pass protection. The Ravens have to create pass rush because their corners are so-so and not very physical. The Chargers did have trouble protecting Rivers so I see the Ravens taking a road game. It also looks like Chargers tend to be slow starting team.
Is Michael Crabtree not about money at all and Crabtree just doesn't want to be a 49er?
Good question. I think if the 49ers had caved and given him "top five" money, then he would already have been signed. But I have sensed that he wasn't thrilled about going to 49ers. That's life. A lot of players would like to be able to choose their teams coming out of college but that's not how the system works.
Hey Mort! Sproles is more effective than even a healthy LT. I'm sellin' it, you buying? More importantly, is Norv buying?
I might be buying, especially seeing that LT is not a gametime decision with an ankle injury. More injuries is a sign of age and I know LT has to be frustrated because he takes such good care of himself. I think you go with the hot hand on a per game basis.
Don't find it hypocritical that athletes are suspended for steroids and banned substances yet ESPN discusses how Donovan McNabb may use pain injections as well as other athletes that have. Isn't that performance enhancing or at least enabling. Why is that OK by NFL standards but using substances to AVOID injury are unacceptable? Double standards apply.
Ha! Interesting question, at least to me. But on your point that performance enhancing drugs help avoid injuries, I would beg to differ. In fact, one of the symptoms of steroid use has been more injuries because muscles get bigger but tendons and ligaments remain the same. But I do like your question.
Will the Lions' Matt Stafford receive help from his running back and defensive backs this week?
The Lions believe they will run the ball effectively this year so it had to be frustrating that they didn't do it against the Saints. As far as the defensive backs, the key is getting a pass rush. The Lions defense just isn't there yet. I think the offense will have its moments but this is a true rebuilding job.
Regarding Phil from NO's point, that is just the double standard in sport. Cortisone is a steroid. Lasik Eye surgery can level the playing field between 2 guys where one was gifted better vision and uses it to his advantage like Yao uses his height. Ricky williamas builds muscle better than me and roids could even that out. The double standard is an arbitrary one like Alcohol and pot. Its just how society rolls... laugh at it and move on I say
I just wanted to post Neal's thoughts. It's just a fun conversation, like he says. Now, let me point out that if a player's doctor prescribes a steroid for a true medicinal purpose, that is not against the policy. Everyone knows that true steroid users take much higher doses.
There goes the hour again. Thanks for some compelling questions! A reminder that I also can answer some questions on Twitter.com @mortreport. Also, we have our weekly ESPN radio show every Friday night. All Sunday morning on TV, including NFL Sunday Countdown @ 11-1 ET. Until then, God Bless!