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November 25, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson
  (11:56 AM)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone. What a tremendous holiday. Also-surely a lot of you are hitting the town tonight. Be careful. There are a lot of crazys out there-don't be one of them. Now, on to the NFL. Let's really get after it today...esp because I know none of you are really working hard at the office on a day like this.

steve (lakeport,ca)

Who should the Browns take in next years draft?

Matt Williamson
  (11:58 AM)

Well, we do know that they are going to pick high and to me, what they really must find out between now and the offseason is whether or not Brady Quinn is going to be their QB. If they believe he is, then they have to find either an impact player on D-and really just about any position will do-or an Andre J/Larry Fitz type of WR talent to grow up with Quinn and supply the needed weaponry. But...the Browns needs are many and they are great.

Mike (Dallas)

What do Dallas insiders think of Doug Free. Will he be a starter next year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:00 PM)

To me, he is a bit of a tweener in that he isn't nimble enough to be a true starting LT and isn't the mauler they want on the right side...but he can do either reasonably well. So-in the end-ideally I see him as the perfect #3 OT who should continue to get better and surely will see the field a fair amount.

Deb Ostrum (Camp Hill PA)

What do you think of the Cowboys being favored by 14?

Matt Williamson
  (12:02 PM)

Check out today's Football Today podcast. I was shocked to hear it, but on the podcast, Pod Vader gave us insane Cowboys stats on Thanksgiving. Complete blowouts in their favor. Of course their opponents were rather awful...but the Raiders fit that category as well. 14 is a big number I guess for a team that has really struggled on O, esp throwing the ball, but I do expect that running game to dominate the action.

Mike (Boca Raton)

Thanks for the heads up regarding the crazys out there. But there's not much us steelers fans can do about Bruce Arians, though, can we?

Matt Williamson
  (12:04 PM)

Don't think so. Not a big fan of his either. Doesn't adjust well in my opinion. But, I do get the feeling that he is a favorite of Ben's...so I bet he is staying. Arians does deserve some credit for Ben's maturation as well.

milton (illinois)

happy thanksgiving matt...any Q.B's in this years or next years draft that you think could eventually reach manning or brady type status in the pros?

Matt Williamson
  (12:05 PM)

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Not a fair question. I honestly believe that those two have an excellent chance of going down as the best who have ever played the position before it is all said and done. They both are still in their primes and look to have a lot more football left in them.

ken (md)

Is Fred Jackson a Starting Running back in this league? Thus, is he better than Marshawn Lynch?

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

I think he is better than Lynch, who I am really not impressed with over the past two seasons. Is Fred J one of the best 32 RBs on the planet? Possibly, but I would say that it is close. Not building that list right now by the way!

Joe (Alexandria, VA)

Do you think Josh Freeman is that much better than Josh Johnson? If so, why?

Matt Williamson
  (12:08 PM)

I really like the confidence that Freeman is playing with and he does a better job of extending plays while staying focused downfield. Plus, he just throws the ball better. More velocity. Forces the opponent to cover the entire field. I still like Johnson though. Freeman has his negatives as well though. Wasn't that accurate at K ST-despite playing in the Big 12, that really doesn't play D well. Plus, I think there are a ton of fumbles in Freeman's future with the ball he holds the ball in the pocket. Still a long ways away.

Marc (Charlotte)

Joe Montana begs to differ with your earlier statement about Manning and Brady.

Matt Williamson
  (12:10 PM)

I hear ya bro...as does Unitas, Elway, etc. Maybe it has something to do with my age (36) that I tend to have such high praise for those two-and I do realize that their numbers should be better considering the way the game has changed. But, they both just blow me away and I don't see them going away anytime soon. I have all the respect in the world for the greats who came before the players of today though.

Steven (Linlithgow, Scotland)

Hey Matt, was wondering if you think JaMarcus Russel is finished as a starter in the NFL?

Matt Williamson
  (12:11 PM)

He will get another shot. Maybe Oak plays it smart and lands a vet for Russell to look up to and learn from. A year on the bench might go a long way-think Vince Young for example. But, he just doesn't seem to show the competitiveness to be great at this level. If that doesn't change, it won't matter.

Blueman (INDY !)

Not much talk about it but the Colts short yd teams looked very improved against Balt.last week.Are they really getting better or did they just find a weekness and exploit it against the Ravens?

Matt Williamson
  (12:12 PM)

Want to see more first, but sure-that was encouraging. Addai is doing a nice job in that capacity as well and he has become a very consistent TD producer.

David (Indy)

What do you think the Colts will do with Bob Sanders? Melvin Bullitt is a beast.

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

They have very good safeties-even without Sanders. And, they have clearly learned how to be successful with Sanders out of the lineup. I guess a lot depends on the severity of this current injury, but he has turned out to be a terrible investment.

jon (iowa)

Matt do you think people will finally give up on Belichick proteges? Weis cant win, Crennel didnt win, Mangini never wins, & its not lookin good for Mcdaniels.

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

Curious why that is. I wonder if these guys get hired too early because of the team they came from. I also think that many of them-not Crennel so much-try to emulate BB's coaching style to a T. Instead, they should take some of what he has taught them, but in the end, you have to be yourself. ND is an interesting situation though too. I have not been involved in recruiting for some time now, but the current 16/17 year old doesn't remember the ND glory days. Means nothing to them. They remember The U, USC, Florida State, etc. Plus, ND isn't the most attractive place in the world for inner city athletes. But, ND has to be better than they have been-no two ways around that.

Larry (Pasco, WA)

Can J Ruyan still play? Will he help the Chargers O-line down the stretch?

Matt Williamson
  (12:17 PM)

I have no idea and do find it conspicuous that he was still on the market. My guess-guessing here-is that he is a medical risk and team doctors were not real excited about him. If healthy, I do think he can still play. Tough guy who gives it his all. Knows how to use his great frame.

Eric (Ontario, Canada)

Matt, what positions do you think the Steelers should be targeting early next year in the draft? I think OL, CB, S and NT. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

If Hampton leaves, NT will be the top priority. They used some picks at CB in this past draft and have a great track record of developing talent, but I certainly don't think that is out of the question. A 3rd safety or possibly a starter for Clark surely would be welcome. As for the OL, I don't see one massive hole there-nor do I see one tremendous strength. If there were an elite center prospect available, that sure seems like a Steelers type thing to do.

Mike (Nashville, TN)

Think the Titans can keep the win streak going against the Cards?

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

If Warner doesn't play, I am picked Tenn. If he does, I like Zona in a tight one.

David (Indy)

When should the Colts look into drafting a QB who will be capable of taking over for Peyton? 3 years, 5, 7?

Matt Williamson
  (12:21 PM)

That is a tough one. Any way you cut it, if Manning goes down, that team is doomed that year. I mean like a 4-12 season. But, although he is playing great now, he won't last forever. That is also a team that seems to have a lot of DDay needs and values those picks very much to consistently bring in new talent, so they can't usually afford to use a high pick at QB.

Todd (Seattle)

Matt: Can Detriot stay close with GB on Turkey Day?

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

I don't think so. I see GBay moving the ball at will-esp through the air. Sure, Rodgers might take some sacks, but GBay did their best job of the year in protection last week and while the Lions did sack Rodgers five times in their first meeting, I find that highly unlikely to reoccur.

Richard (Greensboro, NC)

Do you think Orton is a long-term solution for the Broncos or would they pull the trigger if a QB fell to them somewhere in the 1st round?

Matt Williamson
  (12:24 PM)

As a long term prospect, I think Orton is a middle of the road guy who will probably get exposed come playoff time. So-that isn't good enough to be an elite team. But, they have plenty of other needs for the short term fix. Maybe you use a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a QB with a lot of tools, but who will need a lot of work. Let McD work with him for a year or so.

Scott (Green Bay)

Gil Brandt said Jermichael Finley will develop into a better player than Gates. Thoughts?

Matt Williamson
  (12:25 PM)

I love Finly. Really do. Supreme athlete. All the upside in the world. But-if the O/U on Finly's career is right at what Gates has done...give me the U.

Mike (Boca Raton)

Is it still too early to be making playoff predictions? If not, who u got?

Matt Williamson
  (12:27 PM)

Too early? I had to make predictions four months ago! Division winners: Minny, Zona, Philly, NOrls, Cincy, Indy, NEng, SD...no really shocker there. Wild Cards: PGH and then I really have no idea, but will go with GBay, NYG and Houston. NEng and Minny in the Super Bowl...surely that was the next question.

Anthony (NYC)

M-Dub want to give kudos to Jeff Fisher & his staff, he never gets enough credit for the job he does. After an 0-6 start most teams would crumble

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

Huge kudos and to be honest, I have given them kudos quite a bit of late. Every chance I get. Who can blame him for keeping Collins in and VY out considering what we knew from last year and from every performance of VY of late. Very good coach.

Mike (Boca Raton)

Does it make you chuckle that people are jumping on the Vince Young bandwagon just because they won a few games?

Matt Williamson
  (12:30 PM)

No- I feel like it is deserved...to a degree. He has played VERY well. Played within himself. Has been much more accurate with the football than I ever thought was in him. Still incredibly dangerous with his feet and it makes playing man coverage against Tenn very tough to pull off. But-they are keeping it all very simple for him and this O will always be limited with him behind center. For example-and this is a bad example since it worked out for Tenn-but on MNF, VY had to a lead a long drive to score late in the game. They got it done on runs from VY and C Johnson, but counting on the running game for big plays is hit or miss.

Rob T (New York)

NE in the Superbowl??? Come on Matty Ice, you know that come playoff time a strong D is necessary and NE does not have that.Gimme Pitt vs. NE AFC Championship, SB Pitt vs. Minn

Matt Williamson
  (12:32 PM)

Hmmm...are you a Steelers fan? Just a hunch. I hear you though. If #43 comes back soon, this D could catch fire. I don't dismiss that PGH is a contender. They also win by double digit points in Balt on Sunday Night.

Ramiro (Nicaragua)

Matt do you think B. Brohm has a shot at becoming the starting QB for the Bills in 2010??? What does his future have in stroe for him??

Matt Williamson
  (12:33 PM)

Oh my...he has pretty much looked horrible since entering the NFL. Poor movement skills. Very average arm-on a good day.

David (Indy)

All this talk about good defense in the Super Bowl. The best D right now in the NFL is the Colts. All that matters is points against. What are you talking about Robbie T?

Matt Williamson
  (12:34 PM)

Valid points. I really don't see a dominant D in this league right now. No one close to on par with PGH or Balt from last year.

Mike (New York)

Is Tony Romo going to play tomorrow? Does Marion Barber run for a 100 yards?

Matt Williamson
  (12:34 PM)

Yes-I think-and Yes.

Brad (Philly)

Happy Thanksgiving to ya and yours!! 2 QQ.. you agree Stewart Bradley was the one guy on D the eagles least afford to lose and Do you think Kolb is the Qb in 2010 for the Birds?

Matt Williamson
  (12:35 PM)

Yes and Yes. Philly asks their MLB to be very much of a power player. Big time run stopper. Haven't had that guy since losing Bradley.

Dan (Chicago)

MJD has 5100 (combined rushing/receiving) yards in his career. AD has 4700. They were born 2 days apart. Who will have more career yards?

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

MJD has been in the NFL longer though...which is important here. But-interesting indeed and just because he entered the league earlier, that doesn't mean that he will leave it earlier either. Great players, but I like Peterson in this comparison. Just too special to bet against.

Mike (New York)

Does the J-E-T-S defense wake up this week?

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

Doubt it. I don't think it was a coincidence that the collapse happened just about the same time that NYJ lost K Jenkins for the season.

Lou (Boston)

Psst, New England's D is currently rated higher than Pittsburgh's.

Matt Williamson
  (12:39 PM)

True, but if 43 is in there, I will take the Steelers. Still, I like NEng's D well enough to win the whole thing. Still need another pass rusher though.

Ramiro (Nicaragua)

Matt what's your take on Braylon Edwards??? Do the Jets sign him long term??? Will he ever become an elite #1 reciever again??

Matt Williamson
  (12:40 PM)

I have to say that I expected more from him in NYJ thus far, but-his QB isn't helping matters. Edwards has just been so incredibly inconsistent with everything he has done in this league. For what he would cost, I might decide to use that $$$ elsewhere, but that is also the kind of move that could come back to burn you.

Carlos (Los Angeles, CA)

Matt, Is A Smith the answer for San Fran? Thanks.

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

Wow-you have some tough questions. Well, that Brohm question wasn't too difficult. Like VY to some degree, if they go with Smith, they will always be limited. Just not a big armed guy. I do think he deserves a chance though-esp when you consider what they have invested in the guy. Doubt I would pull the trigger on a first round QB this year in SF.

Tim (Saginaw, MI)

What current player is most indispensible to his unit? Manning, Brady, Polamalu?

Matt Williamson
  (12:43 PM)

Manning. Far and away. The Pats (remarkably) did win 11 games without Brady. PGH's D is still respectable and good enough to win a lot of games with. Still think that Indy would be 4-12 without Peyton.

Carlos (Los Angeles, CA)

Matt, Do you think San Fran made a mistake by taking Crabtree over an OT? Like Oher? Thanks.

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

No. You'll see. Crabtree is going to be an elite WR in this league before long. Stud in the making. I thought he was the best player in the whole draft.

Mike (Boca Raton)

Is it safe to assume that these aren't the same old bungles that we could count on to collapse the last 1/3 of the season?

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Last Wednesday, I would have agreed with you. Bad loss though in Oak. But yes, I do think you are dead on. They will come back with a vengeance over Clev

Brian (San Diego)

What do the Chargers need to improve on in order to make it to the Super Bowl? Also, if their winning streak continues, do you think Philip Rivers will get serious MVP attention?

Matt Williamson
  (12:46 PM)

Deserves some consideration for sure. I would still put Brees and esp Peyton over him. Brady will start to build steam as well. I don't trust SD's running game or run D to put them with the big boys for a playoff run.

Carlos (Los Angeles, CA)

Matt, With 2 picks in the 1st round should San Fran target T Mays if available and OT? Like C Brown from USC? Thanks

Matt Williamson
  (12:47 PM)

OT-or OL in general would certainly go a long way. I hear you with safety as well-but maybe you move Clements to safety. Would love to see that D with a stud pass rusher coming off the edge at OLB. Might need two reasonably high picks on OL.

Pat (Chicago)

What would you do if you were the owner of the Bears if they finished 6-10 or 5-11?

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

If I could get one of the big name Head Coaches-like Cowher, Shanny-then I make that move.

Steve (Berkeley, CA)

There are 3 6-4 (Philly, NYG, GB) and one 5-5 team (Atl)... do you think two of them will finish at 10-6, or will 9-7 be enough for a WC spot?

Matt Williamson
  (12:49 PM)

Would say that ten wins will get you in. Maybe that 6th seed gets in with 9, but that is prob unlikely.

Tim (Saginaw, MI)

It looks like the Lions possible have the QB position covered now. What's next? O-line? The defense isn't great either.

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

One stud OLineman would go a long way-maybe you get involved in free agency for that guy. But overall, the D needs a lot of help up front and in the secondary. First pick at DT would be an excellent start. Give that staff their Haynesworth.

Stewart (Charlotte)

I have been offered Brees and Tony Gonzalez for McNabb, Ochocinco and Olsen. I have VJax, Jennings and Boldin, so I am still deep at WR. What should I do???

Matt Williamson
  (12:51 PM)

Do it. Upgrade two starting spots-and all it costs you in a WR who you prob will not play.

josh (nc)

how can washington bring their confidence back

Matt Williamson
  (12:52 PM)

Wow-that is going to be tough. I must say that the O has improved since Lewis started calling plays, but looking at that O, I think they need to find a starting QB, RB, WR and at least two OLinemen. Huge wish list.

Ed (San Diego)

Chargers draft...NT, OL, MLB...in that order, right?

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

I have no problem with that-except somewhere a RB needs to factor in.

Todd (Indy)

I believe 5 Colts will make it to the Pro-Bowl (Manning, Wayne, Clark, Saturday, and Freeney). I also believe that none of them will have the chance to play in it due to their superbowl game the following week. Your thoughts on those 5 and the SB possibility?

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

I picked NEng/Minny, but it certainly wouldn't shock me if it were the Colts. Great team. I like all those choices. How about Mathis?

Ryan (Oshkosh)

When looking at the Lions offense i see the potential for a great offense, if they could get a couple lineman i could see them one of the best offenses in football in a few years...agree?

Matt Williamson
  (12:55 PM)

Yes, I do. And while the OL isn't great, they must just need to add one stud. A true #2 WR wouldn't hurt either.

Blueman (INDY !)

Pats keep stockpiling draft picks,do you see them making a move up in next years draft or are they just gonna try to build up a good young base and use the money they save with all these young guys to bring in 1-2 vet defenseive studs?

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

They always stockpile picks-esp 2nd rounders. So smart. And surely they will do a lot of moving around on DDay once again. They manipulate the draft board so well-so, in order to do that, they need to hold a lot of cards. BB knows exactly what he is looking for.

David (Indy)

Do you think Brett Fav-ruh can stay healthy enough to get Minny to the SB? Clearly your pick of them depends on him.

Matt Williamson
  (12:57 PM)

Of course it does. Well, you know he is going to play. He doesn't miss time. But yes, that is a worry-how does his body hold up. Should have a bye week though before their first playoff game.

Benji (Dayton)

Could it possibly help the Colts to lose to Texans and Jags? They still probably keep home field and if those two can keep winning it would nock out a tougher potential wild card team such as Balt-Pitts?

Matt Williamson
  (12:58 PM)

I guess you could look at it that way, but I doubt the Colts do!

Ryan (San Diego)

So SD doesnt have the run game or the run d to hang with Indy? Indy is just as bad as the Chargers in that area. And please don't hang the Peyton thing on me because the Chargers have beat him two years in a row

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

That would be a good matchup for SD-as is has been. I didn't say that specifically. I just think that is a weakness on both sides of the ball and at some point during a playoff run, it will be exposed.

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

Okay everyone. I am out. Enjoy Thanksgiving. Enjoy all the football tomorrow as well. See ya