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December 22, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Chris Mortensen

cj (delaware) [via mobile]

is it possible that Mike Shanahan knew when he gave donovan the extension knowing he would be traded with his contract so in some way mike was watching out for him so he wouldn't be stuck with a one year deal somewhere

Chris Mortensen
  (11:06 AM)

Clearly, the way the extension was written, the Redskins had trading McNabb in mind. He pocketed $3.5 million and gave them control until the first day after the regular season opener before they have to exercise option and a big paycheck. That even takes into account a lockout. However, if I'm McNabb I scream for my release so I can determine my own destiny.

Mort Fan (Wellsville, NY)

Will the NFL create an expansion team for LA or move an existing team there?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:07 AM)

An existing team first - the Chargers are a growing likelihood. However, 5, 6, 7 years down the road I can see expansion there even if others do not.

AP (Florida)

Coming off last season's 7-9 record, the Jacksonville Jaguars sit at 8-6 with an outside shot at the playoffs. Do you consider this a fluke season, or is this a team on the rise?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:09 AM)

Not a fluke. The GM, Gene Smith, has done a nice job of laying the foundation, especially in the trenches. There's more work to do but I see them being competitive for awhile.

jack (athens ga)

why is dilfer so down on the falcons?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:09 AM)

He's not down on the Falcons - he's so high on the Saints. I think that's the essence of it.

Sharell (NCFalconFan)

Not only am I praying for Peace on Earth this holiday season, but also praying that we can avoid a FALCON and eagle NFC Championship in the GA Dome. Not only am I worred about a L, but to see old #7 jerseys cheering for vick instead of the home team. Will the city of ATL ever move on from Vick? If you think they have, read the AJC Boards.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:12 AM)

I mentioned this last week, Sharell, that it will be an incredible, eery sight if Vick and the Eagles are playing for the NFC title in the Georgia Dome. As you know, that's not farfetched. Yes, I believe there will be Vick fans in the house but Matt Ryan's performance and a chance for the Falcons to head to a Super Bowl should prevail in terms of the fan energy.

Jason (Miami)

Are the Eagles really the #3 team in the NFL? They were thoroughly dominated for 52 minutes, isn't that more representative of the Eagles then a flukish, gift win in the last 7 minutes?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:14 AM)

I don't label it quite as "flukish" because you can only corral great talent like Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson for so long. Those are dynamic football players. What I wonder is whether they will wear down because they are somewhat smallish in size; that's why getting a first round bye would be critical for the Eagles, in my opinion.

Ted (Newark)

Which individual in ESPN's senior management group does Brett Favre have incriminating pictures of? Its the only explanation for the endless Favre lovefest that peaked this past Monday.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:19 AM)

Ted, I get the frustration...the Favre fatigue. I have it. Ed Werder has it. My mother-in-law has it. However, I think the irritation many people have is blinding the fact that this is truly one of the greatest players of all-time who had two of his finest seasons in the latter years - 2007 and 2009. He also has consistently drawn the highest TV ratings on all the networks - maybe it's akin to people who can't turn away from watching a car wreck. But he has gone to a couple of Super Bowls, won one and lost a terrific SB to John Elway

RaiderFanSteve (CA)

Is Darren McFadden now UNDER-rated? Could he really be one of the three best RBs in the NFL right now?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:20 AM)

I think he might be one of the top three RBs in the NFl and certainly in the top five. He reminds me of O.J. Simpson (the football player). If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to establish himself as very elite.

Glenn (Sturbridge, MA)

What do you think the Giants chances are to beat Green Bay this week with Rodgers being cleared to play?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:22 AM)

Great game. If the Packers can go on the road and almost beat New England, then they certainly are capable of beating the Giants at Lambeau Field. I don't know that I'd like to play the Giants this week after what happened against the Eagles, though. I expect a heck of a game. I'm probably leaning Giants to win. It's a shame the Packers have had 14 players placed on injured reserve - many of them key guys - because they had a chance to be elite.

Andy (Rochester)

just think Mort- if the Bills had won their OT games vs the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers (all of which they had a chance to do) and if they didn't have to chase that missed extra point all game vs the Bears- they'd be sitting at 8-6....

Chris Mortensen
  (11:23 AM)

I think Chan Gailey & staff have done a really good job this year. And how about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe there's hope in Buffalo!

Luke (Waterdown, On)

Mort, What's your take on the Dolphins situation? Do you change coach and QB?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:26 AM)

I wouldn't change the coach. I'm not a believer in firing coaches unless you're looking at dismal (1-15, 2-14, 3-13 in consecutive years...that kind of dismal). As for Henne, I wonder whether he just doesn't have it. If he doesn't, then obviously it was a mistake to draft Jake Long over Matt Ryan, even though Long is a Pro Bowl left tackle.

Scott (SD)

Even if the 49ers limp weakly into the playoffs by some slim chance, is Singletary still gone at the end of the year?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:30 AM)

Based on what I'm hearing, I believe that if the 49ers manage to win the NFC West with a 7-9 record and lose in the first round, then Singletary is probably out. However, if they should win a playoff game - and consider how many tight games they lost against good teams - then he could save his job. Right now, word is they are evaluating other head coach candidates in case they make a move. Again, I'm not advocating a change but reading the tea leaves on this one.

Scott (Wisconsin)

Regarding the Eagles and their #3 ranking, weren't they handled by the Bears fairly well just a few weeks ago? I think that the media has a bad habit of riding the highs and losing perspective.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:31 AM)

Scott, I think that's true of media and fans. That's why I don't overreact to the Eagles losing to the Bears...and neither do I consider the Bears a fluke.

Joe (NJ)

Chris, the Cardinals have been a mess after winning 4 playoff games the previous two years. Do they go with a stop gap QB in the offseason like McNabb, draft a top QB in the draft or try to develop John Skelton?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:32 AM)

I think they need to address the QB. I don't know if McNabb is the right fit but they have to find their guy somehow some way.

Brian (Dover, DE)

Does Goodell have complete control of fines, or is there some other body he has to answer to?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:33 AM)

Ray Anderson controls the on-field fines and Art Shell and Ted Cottrell determine the appeals for the NFL.

jared (bristol)

hey chris happy holidays do you have any info and the cba?do you think the giants will go after bill cohwer in the off season

Chris Mortensen
  (11:34 AM)

No I don't think the Giants go after Cowher, nor do I think they should. I don't see him as an upgrade over Tom Coughlin in any way, shape or form. Also, even if Coughlin was gone - which I highly doubt - I don't think the Giants would hire Cowher. He doesn't fit a very successful model they have created.

Jason (Boston)

Mort, who do you have for Rookie of the Year? Is Devin McCourty getting any looks?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:36 AM)

I think McCourty is getting looks - deservedly so - but I have Ndamukong Suh as the defensive ROY and I believe Bill Belichick would, too. McCourty has done a terrific job, though.

Jamie (Rochester)

On the Bills and Fitzpatrick, can they lean on him a few years and go after Defense with their early pick next season? Then QB in 3rd or 4th?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:37 AM)

It will be interesting. I think Fitzpatrick can win but the Bills have done due diligence (and will continue) on all players, including QBs. I think they'll take the best player at QB, OL or DL in the first round.

Brian (DE)

Will Pouncy get any post season awards?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:38 AM)

He's certainly going to make the all-rookie team and I believe he'll get some consideration for Pro Bowl.

Anthony (NYC: NY)

Mort, please tell all the doubters in KC that Cassel is the real deal and stop chasing every QB's since Len Dawson outta town? Last week's game was "proof" what Cassel is to my young Chiefs. He's the heart of the team. Please tell the KC doubters that Pioli and Haley knew what they were doing when they came to town.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:39 AM)

I haven't heard those doubters in 7 or 8 weeks. I agree with you.

Ryan (Medford OR)

Were you doing this chat and "The Herd" at the same time?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:40 AM)

I taped Cowherd a little earlier so there'd be no conflict.

Scott (Cleveland)

What is your analysis of Colt McCoy? I know he's only had five starts, but he definitely looks like a franchise QB.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:42 AM)

I don't know if he's a true "franchise" QB but I sure like what Colt has shown so far.

Blueman (INDY)

Is the biggest mistake teams make hiring coaches not finding a coach that uses a system that the team has personel that fit?Unless you are a 3 win type team that needs to gut the roster anyway changing 3-4 to 4-3 and vice versa is a 3 year process to get the right players.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:43 AM)

Great point. I believe it's usually a setback when you'be built your team around a 4-3 and then bring in somebody who's a 3-4 purist. Look at the Redskins - they had a strong 4-3 team and their 3-4 conversion has been shaky.

Scott (Minnesota)

Mort, aside from the usual suspects (Peyton,Brady,Brees, Rivers, Rogers, Vick?) who else do you feel is near cracking this group of elite QB's?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:47 AM)

Roethlisberger, obviously. Off the top of my head, I'd put Matt Ryan on the brink, a healthy Tony Romo and I think Eli Manning is close. Waiting for some of the younger guns to put in a couple of more years and I believe Jay Cutler next year will emerge again with one year under his belt in the same Martz system.

Ashley Traube (NY)

Does it say something negative about a team's scouting, conditioning, training, etc. when they suffer a lot of injuries in one season?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:51 AM)

That's a very complex question with complex answers. Football is a 100% injury-rate sport - it's difficult to assign blame on severe injuries. I do think all of those elements you mentioned could play into the injury factor - especially on how quickly players recover from injuries. I also think the lack of contact in training camp has been a contributing factor - players generally have to re-condition or re-learn how to protect themselves. I know that's contoversial but the best coaches I know believe in it. The problem, they all operate under fear right now because of the consequences. Tough for me to point fingers. There's a comprehensive way to diminish these injury factors but you never eliminate them.

Jon (Sacramento)

Merry Christmas Chris! Who do you think will win the NFC West? Also, what is your take on a team in this division possibly with a losing season going to the playoffs over a better team with a winning season?

Chris Mortensen
  (11:52 AM)

I think the winner of the 49ers-Rams game this Sunday will win the NFC West. Now watch the Seahawks prove me wrong, which is fine.

Kyle (St. Louis)

The Rams offense has been quite offensive the past two weeks. What's the main reason; Slow WR's? Bad pass blocking? Rookie QB? Play calling? Thanks.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:53 AM)

Oh, I think it's the combination of defensive coordinators having more film study on a rookie QB with a bunch of No. 3 receivers.

Alex (Long Island)

Hey Chris, Happy Holidays!! What are the chances that Brian Shottenheimer returns as offensive coordinator of the Jets? Would any team really hire him as a head coach? Thanks. Enjoy the holiday

Chris Mortensen
  (11:55 AM)

I'm inclined to believe Schottenheimer is back and, yes, teams would hire him as a head coach. Not saying he'll get a job but as you see with Jason Garrett, being a head coach and a coordinator has different levels of responsibility. Brian Schottenheimer has some strong traits but he's probably a couple of years away from that opportunity. On the Jets' part, who replaces him if you get rid of him?

Jacob (VA)

Any chance luck gets to the bills and what are the chances we get him

Chris Mortensen
  (11:56 AM)

If Andrew Luck comes out, he's going to the No. 1 pick in the draft. So the Bills - or any team - would have to figure out a way to get there.

Chris Mortensen
  (11:58 AM)

Make sure you check us out on Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 am ET. I have to run - last window in next 3 or 4 hours for me to get some Christmas shopping done. On that note, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and God Bless!