Chat with Chris Mortensen
Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the NFL, joined ESPN in 1991 and appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter.
Send your questions now and join Mort on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Mort, the only destination moss could help out is anywhere if he wants to play but, the rams with bradford would really help to get those defenders out the box for jackson and he could tear a team up.
Chris Mortensen (11:03 AM)
I agree that the Rams are an intriguing team for Moss. The system/ terminology is similar to what the Vikings had in place. The Rams have lost their three most talented WRs in Donnie Avery, Mark Clayton and Danario Alexander. Sam Bradford is very, very good and they have a shot to win the NFC West. Now, do you invite Moss into your team-oriented environment? That's an interesting question but the Rams had interest in Terrell Owens and Vincent Jackson.
With Houston in need of defense in a HUGE way, do you think Merriman has a chance of ending up there?
Chris Mortensen (11:06 AM)
With the move of Brian Cushing from OLB to MLB - which I think is unwise - adding Merriman makes sense for the Texans. He's only 26 years old and, you're right, their defense has holes. But it seems unlikely Merriman would slip to their spot.
Matt (Walker, Mi)
Lions, 2nd half team?
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
The second half of this season is what I'm talking about. The Lions had a very tough schedule in the first half of the season and played a lot of those teams very close, mostly without Matthew Stafford. Their defensive line is one of the best and there are plenty of gamebreakers on both sides of the ball. I see them as a real factor in the second half of the season. And I believe they will set the table for a playoff run in 2011 and beyond.
My Steelers defense is not looking as formiddable as I'm accustomed to. Do you think Steeler Nation is spoiled from '08 and the 1st four games on '10? Troy has been out of position a few times and we are not getting consistent pressure with a 4-man rush.
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
It's still pretty darn good, even with the loss of Aaron Smith. Polamalu plays on a lot of instinct so, yes, he will get out of position occasionally but the reward are those game-changing plays. The Steelers secondary has some vulnerability but that's true of most teams and, as we know, the rules favor the passing game in the NFL. As for the pass rush, I would say that's going to be there.
Kevin (Mile High)
Why wouldn't Denver claim Merriman? The D is atrocious, especially the front 7.
Chris Mortensen (11:14 AM)
Heck, there is an argument for the Buffalo Bills - who have the first shot on waivers - to grab Merriman. Buddy Nix is the Bills' GM. Nix was part of the personnel staff that drafted Merriman in San Diego and they definitely have needs on defense.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
So when can we expect to hear about the waiver claims put in on Moss and Merriman?
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
Word should start leaking shortly after 4 p.m. ET and I would expect the teams that are awarded Moss and Merriman to say something by 4:30 or so. The NFL does not announce waiver transactions.
Mike C (Anchorage, AK)
Mort! Love your work! As a very loyal, but distant Dolphins fan, I am concerned about the Moss-Mess. With his connection to Pennington, one might say they have an "in" to landing Moss. I say that would be a bad thing. If Henne doesn't start throwing him the ball, I can see Moss lobbying for Pennington to take over. Instant QB controversy. What do you think?
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
That's an interesting take but Moss lobbying for Pennington is a stretch. For one, Tony Sparano is going to play who he wants to play. But it's more of a stretch because I don't think the Dolphins will get Moss. There's no "in" unless he clears waivers. He has to go to the team that claims him or he can just sit.
mort,what are the chances that seattle take a chance on moss?
Chris Mortensen (11:20 AM)
I haven't ruled out the Seahawks but I go back to training camp when it was very evident that Pete Carroll's theme was "Buy in." And those players who weren't buying in to Carroll's culture were out. I'm not sure the Seahawks would invite Moss into that culture.
Why did McDaniels trade Alphonso Smith after only one year for the Lions 3rd string TE? We gave up on him way too soon. He's playing very well for Detroit.
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
You're right. Smith has been borderline great for the Lions since that trade and when you consider that the Broncos invested a lot in him only to give him up this quickly is certainly open to second-guessing. I assume that like Bill Belichick, it's about guys that understand the system and adapt to it. Smith apparently didn't adapt but it looks questionable for now.
Lightning round: Odds of a lockout?
Chris Mortensen (11:23 AM)
How about 70-30 on, yes, a lockout is coming? I hope I'm wrong.
Shane (Southington, CT) [via mobile]
Who are the midseason MVPs on both sides of the ball?
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
I was going to evaluate a little more but I think my midseason MVPs would be Tom Brady/Peyton Manning on the offensive side. (Sorry I have yet to determine my tiebreaker). I'd say Clay Matthews of the Packers on the defensive side but the Giants' Osi Umenyiora is right there, too.
Paul (Los Angeles)
If Philip Rivers manages to get the Chargers into the playoffs and breaks Marino's passing record, is there any way that he's not awarded the MVP this season?
Chris Mortensen (11:28 AM)
I would say if Rivers leads the Chargers back to a division title and he sets that record (which I believe he will), then he would be a very strong MVP candidate. Can't say it would be a lock, though. He's had a great individual first half and they have won three games.
William (New York)
What combination of factors will it take for Dallas to land Bill Cowher? We know the money will be there, and Jerry Jones loosened control in order to get Parcells. The biggest hurdle - would Cowher ever consider going so far from his home/kids. What's your take, what are you hearing? If anyone can make the pitch, it's Jerry.
Chris Mortensen (11:29 AM)
I don't think it's a match for Cowher, especially. I also don't know if he's the best coach available, although he would certainly bring an identity and persona that would be the complete opposite of Wade Phillips.
Ron (Philly Philly)
Vick or Kolb your pick
Chris Mortensen (11:30 AM)
I'll take the Michael Vick I saw when he was healthy.
How will the lockout affect the draft and contracts in the league?
Chris Mortensen (11:32 AM)
There is a draft in 2011. That was built into the current CBA. Contracts remain contracts. The uncertainty may have to do with free agency and franchise tags. But if there's no CBA, the NFL or even a judge can impose a reasonable system based on the most recent models.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
Should I start Vick over Roethlisberger>?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
Ha! I have the same decision to make on one of my fantasy teams. For now, I'm sticking with Roesthlisberger but I change my mind.
Nick (Melbourne FL)
What do you think of LeGarrette Blount and how the Buccaneers stole him off of the Titans practice squad. Beyond having Chris Johnson don't you think that was short sided of the the Titans to try to sneak him through on waivers?
Chris Mortensen (11:36 AM)
These things happen. Give the Bucs credit for pouncing on Blount. It could be quite a story. The Bucs are quite a story. Lot of good, young talent there so GM Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris deserve a lot of praise.
Rob (San Antonio)
Jamarcus Russel? And Shanahan complained McNabb couldn't run the two minute offense. Can you see any reasoning to all of this?
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
Russell was one of 15 players who worked out. So did JP Losman. Teams due a lot of due diligence on unemployed players during the season, especially during the bye week. Russell was the first pick in the draft. He had a lot of first and second round grades from teams. No problem with checking him out. Losman actually fits what the Redskins do even more than Russell but, again, it's just due diligence.
Marc (Malden, MA)
If you were running the Rams, would you really want Moss hanging around Bradford? I wouldn't.
Chris Mortensen (11:41 AM)
I don't believe Bradford can be negatively impacted. He's very smart, very cool. And lot of players really praise Moss for his football IQ. It's a head scratcher. I do believe teams have pause on Moss for the apparent reasons.
Thoughts on Clausen in Carolina? Is he their future? I think he is and suspect he'll start the last 6 games or so.
Chris Mortensen (11:44 AM)
The assumption is that Clausen is the future QB. But coaches like John Fox who have nine games left on their contract are going to play the guy they believe gives them the best chance to win. That's something even Mike Holmgren pretty much stated in talking about whether the Browns should play Colt McCoy or not. It's difficult to sell to the other players if they see a discernable difference in practice between the QBs in question.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
Any chance Jamarcus Russell every becomes a good QB? Who would have thought Seattle's Mike Williams would be playing right now.
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
I'm not totally ruling out that Russell can resurrect his career. But he has put a lot of money in the bank and what's his motivation? Does he love football enough? I guess we'll find out.
Bill (NY, NY)
What's the story behind Darren McFadden's resurgence? How did this happen?
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
Easy. When McFadden has been healthy, he has been every bit as good as advertised. But the one question a lot of cynics had on McFadden was whether he would be durable with his body type. Healthy, he's pretty dynamic. He's healthy now.
Paul (Los Angeles)
The word out of Arizona is that Larry Fitzgerald will leave in the offseason. What are the logical destinations? San Diego beat writer Kevin Acee has suggested that the Chargers will make a play for his services.
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
I don't think Fitzgerald is a free agent. How can he leave? Now if someone wants to offer the Cardinals a pair of first-round picks, then maybe they would listen. Otherwise, I don't see it.
Brad (Beverly, Ma)
Do you think Merriman's lack of productivity is due to steroids? Ever since his suspension he hasn't been the same, but you never hear anyone mention it. If he were playing baseball that is all you would hear.
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
I've heard it discussed with Merriman. But the injuries have also deterred him. Of course, there are experts on PEDs who say that injuries are a byproduct of usage. However, Merriman has been tested frequently and randomly year-round since his steroid positive and he has tested clean.
I usually don't pay attention to schedules but how on Earth does the NFL schedule at team coming of a bye week(Philly) to play a team that plays a Mon. night game.It's a big disadvantage to play on a short week but to play a team that has had an off week on top of it seems bit much.
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Those complaints surface. Then again, I've had players say that as welcome as a bye week is, teams have some trouble getting back in lock-step and rhythm, especially on offense. Look what happened to the Jets after their bye week. Shut out by the Packers.
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
To Shane in Los Angeles, the Cardinals passed on a chance to get McNabb in the off-season. Maybe they'll reconsider if he's a free agent but they're not inclined to pay big bucks even on a short-term deal. We shall see.
Is Josh Freeman on his way to becoming an elite QB in the league?
Chris Mortensen (11:55 AM)
Freeman has all the makings of an elite QB. Big, strong, athletic and poised. But don't send him to Canton yet.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
Isn't it true that coaches who win Super Bowls with a team and then leave don't win Super Bowls again? Wouldn't Dallas be better off with a younger coach who hasn't reached his peak yet?
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
I've heard that argument many times but can Jerry Jones sell it?
Chris Berry (Columbus, Ohio)
What in the world can the Browns do to get back on track?
Chris Mortensen (11:57 AM)
The Browns have played very well in the majority of their games. It's clear that they have very marginal skill talent at QB, WR and RB. They don't have the playmakers. It's a well-coached team.
Is Luck the guaranteed #1 pick if he leaves?
Chris Mortensen (11:59 AM)
Andrew Luck of Stanford would almost certainly be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 draft if he came out. I don't think he is inclined to turn pro, based on my conversations with him at the Manning Passing camp in July. It's also a certainty that there will be a rookie wage scale/hard cap in place for this next draft and when you consider the uncertainty of when football will be played, there may be ample reasons for Luck to stay in school if Jim Harbaugh is still coaching the Cardinal.
Which current NFL assistant coach would make the best head coach, in your mind?
Chris Mortensen (12:03 PM)
I'd still lean toward Vikings DC Leslie Frazier. I also think Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer has a good resume (regardless of being shut out Sunday). Keep watch on Giants DC Perry Fewell and there are GMs who like Falcons OC Mike Mularkey and Bengals DC Mike Zimmer. This is mostly off the top of my head so don't read it as gospel.
Chris Mortensen (12:05 PM)
OK, time's up and I have a bunch of calls to make. Thanks for the hour. Really good questions. I hope the answers were really good, too! Check us on on Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. ET. We also have a Sunday NFL Countdown page on ESPN.com. And I am available on Twitter and Facebook via MortReport. Thanks again and, as always, God Bless!