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August 10, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson
  (11:57 AM)

Hey everyone-lots to discuss, so let's get this party started a little early.

Matt (Cleveland)

Browns were at terrelle pryor's pro day. Assuming he's available and they can take him....do u try converting him to wr?

Matt Williamson
  (11:58 AM)

I would guess. They are a pretty strict WCO. He certainly fits a WCO more as a WR than QB. Good call by you. Could still take reps on the side at QB-see what he can do.

Jeff (Nashville)

Are you prepared to say that Philly has the best secondary, or is it still Green Bay? I think the top 3 CB's on both teams cancel each other out (Nnamdi obviously the best), but GBay's safeties are much better.

Matt Williamson
  (12:00 PM)

Well said. Yeah, I guess that is accurate. I would rank the CBs: 1. Nnamdi 2. Williams 3. Woodson 4. Samuel 5. DRC 6. Shields-although I might take him over DRC. And yes, GBay's Safeties are far superior.

Dillon (Buffalo)

Would you agree that the Bills were badly under-rated in yesterdays espne power rankings (31st)

Matt Williamson
  (12:02 PM)

Badly underrated? No, but I would have them higher than that for sure. I said on Twitter (@WilliamsonNFL) that I thought there were 9 bottom feeders. Buff would be one of those. Check out the Dareus article I just had posted on the AFC East blog.

Matt (Toronto)

Lets keep the run on Matt's going... Love the work, keep it up!Patriots are clearly the class of the AFC East, but how far do you see the Fish and Jets behind them? Thanks for the chat.

Matt Williamson
  (12:03 PM)

I see them both as noticeably behind NEng. I am a big fan of what the Dolphins have done though-and think they are an improved football team. As for the Jets, they are still strong for sure, but I am not sure that they are improved in any specific area of their team from last year.

Brian (Charlotte, NC)

The 49ers had a slow start to free agency but ended strong. Do you still think the 49ers had a "D" in free agency?

Matt Williamson
  (12:04 PM)

No. Certainly would have improved that grade. But probably up to a C. I like their safeties now though quite a bit. Still, not Earth shattering moves.

Jeff (Nashville )

Besides the old guard (PGH, BAL, NYJ, GBay), what other teams will be in the convo for top 5 defenses? Or do you see one of these teams slipping?

Matt Williamson
  (12:04 PM)

Miami & New Orleans. Maybe the Pats too.

Drew (NY)

What are ur thoughts on MSW, I think he will have a good year with Bradford, wut are ur thoughts?

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

Of all the guys at WR for STL right now, I would bet on MSW to have the biggest year. Certainly talented. 1 year deal-so certainly motivated. Expecting a good year myself.

Nathan (DC)

All of the moves Belichik is making defensively are very interesting. Do you think they will end up being more of a 4-3 team?

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

I do. But they will be very multiple. Carter in particular really doesn't fit a 3-4, but just about all the guys in their front 7 can do either.

lee (ia)

why don't the Vikings bring in a guy like Gaither?

Matt Williamson
  (12:07 PM)

It is very telling that Gaither is still out there-and was cast away by the Ravens. Just don't think teams trust him. But yes, exactly what the Vikes need on the field at LT. And it would allow C Johnson to be more of a swing/versatile guy.

B (NC)

Matt, how about the Giants in the top 5 Defense conversation?

Matt Williamson
  (12:08 PM)

Not far fetched, but not quite as high on them as the others. Just a small step below.

BJ (Salt Lake)

What do you think about Bush, Henne and the Mia offense as of now? Lots of people seem to think the Bush experiment will fail. I think he's exactly what Henne needs.

Matt Williamson
  (12:09 PM)

Well, Bush is extremely QB Friendly. And MIA have done a ton to make things easier on Henne. But for Bush to be used to his fullest, he needs to be in an O that is creative and with a QB who is a master pre-snap. Move him all over the formation depending on what the D gives ya. Not sure that is MIA.

Aldo (Miami, FL)

Do you think the Dolphins' defense is a curse in that it will probably keep them in enough games to win them 7 minimum, thus keeping them out of the Luck sweepstakes?

Matt Williamson
  (12:10 PM)

Can't say I see it that way. Having a tremendous D is a curse?

Sam (NYC)

Who are the top 4-3 OLB's in the NFL in your opinion?

Matt Williamson
  (12:12 PM)

Hmmm....let me think. Will throw some names out: Greenway, Hawthorne, Briggs (might be declining), T Davis if healthy, Anderson, DJ Williams, Black. Not a stellar list. Who am I missing?

Mr. Williamson (NYC)

Matt, how do you feel about David Baas? As a giant fan i don't know much about him and was stunned to see his contract figures. 5 years 27 mil? Is this guy that good, or did Reese badly misread the market and panic?

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

Seems highly over paid to me. Okay player, but not an upper echelon OC. Tough guy. Best coming off the ball in the run game. But kinda stiff. Not quick to recover or isn't real fleet of foot. That move surprised me too.

Matt (NJ)

Apparently Rob Gronkowski has been unstoppable in practice. Is this bad news for New England's safteys/linebackers or good news for New Englands offense?

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

Good news of course. He is a total star.

John (Ks)

I'm surprised that Manny Lawson didn't end up in NE. Do you feel that he would have been an upgrade?

Matt Williamson
  (12:14 PM)

Yes. But apparently they are going more towards a 4-3. Lawson is a real solid 3-4 OLB though. Curious fit in Cincy too.

Matt (Boston)

Does continuity count for anything? I mean the Jets have been in the same defense for three years with the same players, while the Pats have a collection with 2nd year players with no OTA's, will this affect them?

Matt Williamson
  (12:15 PM)

Hard to guess this year. Excited to see some preseason. See how behind some of these teams really are. But yes, I would tend to think continuity is more important than ever this year-esp early in the season. And esp on O.

Matt (NJ)

What do you think of Brandon Spikes? Can he be star?

Matt Williamson
  (12:15 PM)

Very high on him. Power player. Physical. Nasty. So-so in coverage, but could improve. Never will be a great speed/range player though.

Carter (Philadelphia)

Love your work but confused about Eagles ranked lower than ATL. Eagles beat them last year (with Kolb, no less), played GB tougher in the playoffs, and had a better offseason in your grades (A+ vs A). Besides LB depth, what is there to worry about the Eagles?

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

Good points. Just think that ATL is slightly better. Slightly. Guess I don't have tremendous reasons why I say that. ATL improved quite a bit this off season too. Tend to trust Ryan more than Vick actually.

Drew (NY)

What are ur thoughts on Hankerson this year, could he be a late sleeper?

Matt Williamson
  (12:17 PM)

For sure. Like him a lot in this O. Could actually be a OROY type of guy. Big and physical. Fits very well.

Kevin (London)

No cameo for you in Batman M-Dub?

Matt Williamson
  (12:18 PM)

Haven't gotten a call....yet

Lewis (flint michigan)

Having a good backup QB is a must, what teams have the best backups in your opinion?

Matt Williamson
  (12:19 PM)

GBay comes to mind right away. Dallas and Detroit proved that their guys were solid. Hard to count the rookies (SF, Tenn for example), but that is a common situation. I also like Thigpen in BUF and Moore in MIA

Rob (San Antonio)

How would you grade Pgh. secondary? They were good enough to be one of the tops in the league but not good enough against elite QB's. It seems the key will be a healthy Troy and faster QB pressure to compensate.

Matt Williamson
  (12:20 PM)

Pressuring the QB isn't an issue at all. But they play a lot of off coverage and are susceptible to being hit with short pass after short pass-by hyper accurate QBs. Would give their secondary a C. Prob a B- with a healthy Troy and a D+ without.

Michael Vick (Philly)

If I get hurt, can the team still win with Young?

Matt Williamson
  (12:21 PM)

Should have included VY as best backups. And yes, I do think so. Reid will coach him up. I like that situation.

Tommy (ATL)

Do you know if a rookie QB and rookie WR have ever led their team in each category? I think there is a very strong chance this will be the case in Cincinnati with Dalton and Green.

Matt Williamson
  (12:22 PM)

No clue. No one comes to mind though. And you might be right.

Geoff (DC)

How about the Bucs. Do Blount and Willimas keep improving or do they take a step back in YR 2? Thanks

Matt Williamson
  (12:24 PM)

TBay's OL is quite bad-few seem to realize it, as Blount and Freeman did such a great job despite of it. More and more of a Blount believer here. Want to see him run hard EVERY snap, but that might come. Will never contribute much as pass catcher though. Believer in Williams too. I see the arrow going up on all their skill guys besides K2, but K2 can still get it done. OL needs work and with as much as TBay could have spent in free agency, I think they dropped the ball on upgrading the front five.

Mike (Boca Raton)

Do you think baltimore is making a mistake by not going after another veteran wide receiver more aggressively?

Matt Williamson
  (12:25 PM)

They just had Cotchery in. But to answer your question: Yes. I don't understand that. Take away two of Flacco's safety blankets, but don't replace them. They certainly have some young receiving talent, but just can't trust it.

Brian (NC)

The ESPN power rankings had the 49ers last in the division. Do you think they are the worst team in the NFC west?

Matt Williamson
  (12:26 PM)

Right now I have them last. I have STL as a clear #1. Would go Zona 2nd. Seattle and SF are close.

dc (dc)

why do you think shanahan has so heavily under invested in QB and O Line? Seems odd for an offensive coach to do so, no?

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

It is and I usually destroy the Skins. But I said many times that-before this off season-if I were in charge of rebuilding this franchise, I would attack the D heavy. The D was close-get it to where it needs to be. Then, do what you can on O-but let Shanny coach up sub par talent...which he has done really well in the past with OL and RBs. But just can't have it all. Baby steps.

Johnny Williamson (NYC)

Matt, do you think Goff has established himself as a capable starting MLB in this league, or should the giants have looked for an upgrade this offseason and used him as a #4 LB?

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

Goff is a very solid starting MLB-but just a two down guy. Nothing wrong with that.

Bob (Wesley Chapel)

Matt, Are you doing the AFE East Blog now? if not, who is?

Matt Williamson
  (12:29 PM)

No, I am not. Have been asked that a lot. Just filling in some posts. I do that on all the divisional blogs. Did one on MIA DL yesterday and Dareus/Bills DL today. They just asked me to write something similar for Jets and Pats for later this week.

Curt (Rocklin )

Matt, I am die hard Broncos fan. Please tell me we are not going to start Orton all year while Tebow develops, and then turn the team over to Tebow next year. He is ready is he will ever be.

Matt Williamson
  (12:30 PM)

Unless DEN is a contender down to the end of the season, that approach would be a mistake. I feel like DEN HAS to know if TT can/will be their starter when this season ends.

Jay (Kalamazoo)

With LeShoure lost for the year (replaced by decent, but not very powerful runners Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison), does this change the Lions' approach on offense?

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

Expect even more throwing. Could actually lead the league in pass attempts. Throw a lot near goal line too.

Nathan (DC)

Do you think Grossman's prediction of an NFC East title indicates he has been told that he will be the starter, or that he is, you know, a little disturbed?

Matt Williamson
  (12:32 PM)

Wouldn't look into it too much either way. Talk is cheap.

Matt Williamson
  (12:33 PM)

I can't argue with any-except DeAngelo. Would have used that $$$ on a DT like Mebane instead.

Aggie (TX)

How do you expect the Cowboys to attack the Eagles D? Two and three TE sets?

Matt Williamson
  (12:34 PM)

Hmmm...that does make sense. Would want to challenge Philly's Safeties and Linebackers in coverage while also leaning on a power running game.

NR (Maryland)

Can Cofield truly play the NT position? Wouldn't the Redskins have fared better by signing Aubrayo Franklin as NT and make Cofield a DE?

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

I very much thought that Franklin should have been the target originally. Still would have been a great signing. But I have thought further on the matter-and it all depends on Bryant, who played the Nose quite well to finish the season. If he can be that early down giant NT type, than Cofield can play some NT, some DE and just be moved all over the DL-esp as passing down interior rusher. All depends on Bryant, as I do not think Cofield can be a traditional plugging NT.

Steve (NY)

To what extent can improvements in the Raiders young front seven (McClain, Houston, Shaughnessy, Wimbley) compensate for the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha?

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

LOVE OAK's front 7. Vastly underrated. You mentioned a few of the guys, but they have plenty of talent up front-Kelly, McClain, etc. I still worry about the secondary though.

Tarek (NYC)

With Miller gone from the Raiders, should they run more 3wr sets with Ford, Murphy and Schillens?

Matt Williamson
  (12:38 PM)

Maybe with Moore-who has supposedly been tearing camp up. But Boss is solid. Deserves snaps. And he will be an asset to the OTs in edge protection and the perimeter run game.

Adam (Jersey)

Looks like Mason Foster is only playing MLB in the 4-3 and Hayes and Black are playing in nickel (Watson, Hayes, Black in 3-3-5). Can that be the long term fix for the nickel, or can Foster develop into a pass defender?

Matt Williamson
  (12:39 PM)

That seems logical to me. Rookie-give him some time. But I do think Foster will be fine in coverage before long. Just not the athlete of those other guys.

Craig (Braintree, MA)

How do you see the Vikings defense this year? They shouldn't hurt as much because of the change in coaching staff as much as the offense.

Matt Williamson
  (12:39 PM)

Not sure that MINN is better in any area of their D. That is a worry for sure. I expect a step back.

Nolen (Canada)

With Fairley down, is the Lions front 4 still going to be a force this year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

Yes. The time off won't help Fairley for sure, but even if they just turn him loose on throwing downs "Sick Em"...he could be a force just doing that.

SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)

What's the latest on Lofa Tatupu? Not hearing much and seems like someone who can help a team in need of LB help.

Matt Williamson
  (12:42 PM)

Really hasn't played very well of late. Sluggish and slow. Injuries. Bet he thinks he is better than he really is-just my hunch.

Reno...norfolk virginia [via mobile]

Where do the cowboys rank in the power ranking?

Matt Williamson
  (12:43 PM)

Haven't done an official one yet, but prob right around 18 or so. Concerned a lot about their secondary. Could see a lot of shoot outs with Cowboys.

Aggie (TX)

Do you think the Jet's are better or worse at WR this year? Plaxico + Mason ? Edwards?

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

Commenting intelligently on Burress is awfully tough, but I think I would rather have Cotchery/Edwards instead of Mason/Plex. Close-and Burress is an obvious wild card.

Clay (Charlotte)

True or False: Carolina has the best LB corp in the league.

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

False. Pittsburgh has the best LB corp in the league-by far. But the Panthers are high on that list.

nick (Kentucky )

Matt how do you fit cobb in an offense with finley jennings grant etc?

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Slowly. It is often overlooked because the Pack is so stacked, but they were really short on return men before adding Cobb. He will make his bones doing that. Gradually move him into the slot. Maybe hand him the ball some.

Neal (Baltimore)

Ryan Harris has apparently been strong in training camp. Does he solidify the Eagles right side of the O line, and why was he available in the first place?

Matt Williamson
  (12:46 PM)

Injuries of late, but still-that was shocking. Actually, search the NFC East blog for my Philly OL article last week-very high on this crew. And tons of options now. Harris also really fits Mudd's scheme.

Aggie (TX)

Do you think the Cowboys could put a run together similar to 09 Saints. Awesome O and turnover creating D?

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

Asking a lot. Very wishful thinking. But impossible? Certainly not impossible.

Justin (Boston)

Where did Tim Grahman go?? THe AFC east is lonely without him

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

I bet. He's awesome. Now works for The Buffalo News.

Blane (Grantland)

How do you prepare rookie O-linemen in Indy for the first time Manning goes into his pre snap ramble of audibles fake or real?

Matt Williamson
  (12:49 PM)

With 18 missing time in the preseason, that could be a real issue for those new linemen. But they are apparently smart guys-should catch on quick.

steve (DC)

Matt - how much of a load do you see Ingram getting in New Orleans?

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

A ton. Going to shift to more running. Physical. I think Ingram gets a ton of carries-and has a very big year.

Ken (Youngstown, OH)

How do you feel about SD's O-Line and running game? Will it be a committee or does Tolbert return to more of a fullback role?

Matt Williamson
  (12:51 PM)

Still very much a believer in Mathews-could have a monster season if he can play with pain and avoid major injuries. And keying on SD's run game will be very tough for opposing Ds to do. Balance. Mix in Tolbert, but it should be Mathews' workload.

Jason (Moon Twp)

I'm not sure I understand the fascination the Steelers have with this 2nd/3rd TE? If Spaeth was so important, why didn't they just keep him?

Matt Williamson
  (12:52 PM)

Because Spaeth wasn't very good. Instead of a FB, they use double TE sets. Need a blocker-and it is a big help to their OTs. Not spending a fortune on such guys.

Adam (Jersey)

I think the Bucs should take a chance on Gaither. Even if he can't pass a physical he's got to be better than Trueblood...

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

Oh he is way better than Trueblood, but they just resigned Trueblood. Highly doubt that they go down that road. Not saying they shouldn't though...

Todd (ND)

Matt, what do you think of Joe "Headhunter" Mays? He is the Broncos starting MLB and played really well last season.

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

Thought he played extremely well last year. Was kinda shocked that they used such a high pick on that position.

Austin (CA)

How much of an impact will Steve Breaston and Kelly Gregg have for KC?

Matt Williamson
  (12:55 PM)

Breaston gives KCs yet another option. They have done a great job of surrounding Cassel with a wide variety of weapons-fine work. As for Gregg, I still think KC dropped the ball by not signing Franklin. But Gregg needs to stay healthy and they need to manage his snaps/practice time.

Brad (Beverly, Ma)

Surprised Crowder retired so youg? Thinks it's permanant?

Matt Williamson
  (12:55 PM)

Very strange. Not sure what to make of it. Could still help a 3-4 team as a heavier ILB

Bills Fan (Rochester, NY)

Tell Pod Vader to take over the blog. Then he'll have officially turned Football Today into Patriots Today, and the AFC East Blog to the Patriots blog and we can hear about how great Drew Bledsoe is everyday of the week.

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

Nice! I will pass that on!

Lewis (Flint Michigan)

How much time will Shanahan get in D.C?

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

Could see things heating up after this season

Aggie (TX)

Can a stronger arm be developed?

Matt Williamson
  (12:57 PM)

Yes. Guys fill out as they age. Refine their passing technique. Guys like Brady and Brees' arms have improved at this level. Seems to happen more of late than in the past. Hard to count on it though.

Chip (NC)

Matt- What do you think of Ryan Williams in AZ? Is he going to take over as the lead back or just complement Beanie?

Matt Williamson
  (12:58 PM)

Big fan on Williams. But Wells also has a ton of ability. Talent certainly is not an issue in Zona's backfield. I tend to think that I would hitch my wagon to Williams before Wells though. Bad OL though in Zona.

Matt Williamson
  (12:59 PM)

Okay folks, great stuff. Check out the Football Today podcast and follow me on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL. See ya next week.