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!
Chris Mortensen (11:07 AM)
Good morning! Before we get started, I just want to encourage everyone as we near the holiday season to reach out to those who are struggling in this economy and also that we get behind our active men and women in the military, as well as our veterans who really need our support. Thanks and let's talk some football.
Matt (Spokane, WA)
Hi Mort-- when is VJax likely to actually see the field? How much of an impact do you think he'll make??
Chris Mortensen (11:09 AM)
Matt, I think Vincent Jackson will have an impact, even though Malcolm Floyd (when healthy) will have a significant role. The Chargers are in urgent mode and they will utilize every weapon they have and let bygones be bygones. We have learned not to make overstatements, but I do have a feeling the Chargers are about to make a run. Jackson is eligible to return after this week.
Reg (Austin, Texas)
Feeling really good about the post-bye stretch of games with the Packers and an injury report that's not as lengthy as it was earlier in the season. You agree?
Chris Mortensen (11:12 AM)
Yes, Reg, I agree (with all the appropriate disclaimers I mentioned above). The Packers somehow held the fort while they had a number of big-time injuries. But Mike McCarthy and staff have done a great job of working guys in practice and now many of them have experience. Good thing the Packers drafted Bryan Bulaga, right? He moves to RT with Mark Tauscher lost for the season. If the Packers can avoid the injury bug the second half of the season, I'm anxious to see just how good they can become. Running game still concerns me.
With draft in april and lockout prob in june, how can rookie cap be implemented in 2011. The current CBA also covers the 2011 draft as well. Dont the juniors in college need to be notified as well to current rule changes,?
Chris Mortensen (11:15 AM)
Any amendment to CBA can be made before it expires and, as noted, the draft is in place next April even though the agreement expires in March. The underclassmen in college should be making their decisions under the assumption there will be a rookie wage scale in place, no matter what. If the CBA expires, the league or the courts can decide to forego a true work stoppage and impose the "last best offer" in negotiations or a reasonable plan, too.
JC (Puerto Rico)
Hi Mort! How long before Troy Smith first INT? He and the 49ers offense have been relying on the big, down the field play recently.
Chris Mortensen (11:17 AM)
JC, we know Troy Smith will throw an interception at some point but you have to love the explosive plays downfield. Big plays not only have an obvious tangible impact on the scoreboard, they have a tendency to energeize the entire team during the course of a game.
How do you see the Eagles/Giants game playing out? I don't think Vick will have such an easy go of it with the Giants pass rush coming after him and his tendency to take sacks.
Chris Mortensen (11:20 AM)
Michael Vick seems more unstoppable than ever because he has become such an accurate, effective passer on short, intermediate and long throws. The one defensive coordinator that had a fair amount of success against Vick was Monte Kiffin of the Buccaneers. Monte often would rush five upfield, asking those guys to maintain their lane integrity. The Giants have the personnel to do that. But Vick has some great talent around him, too, including those two dynamic receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Mort: Do you think the Cardinals should try to trade for Kevin Kolb after the season is over? Philly could use the draft picks, and the Cardinals, if they don't get Kolb, will still be two years away from being competitive at the QB position.
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
Yes, Shane, I think the Cardinals should make a run at Kolb IF he's available. There's an glaring QB deficiency and I think Kolb would be Ken Whisenhunt's type of guy. That means giving up first-and-third round picks but I'd make a run at it if I were the Cardinals. Will the Eagles listen? You make 'em listen by being aggressive.
Do you think Sidney Rice will return to the field this Sunday against Green Bay? If he does suit up and play, will his presence have any impact on the offense, and could we see Favre and Co. begin to click like they did last year?Also, any hope left for my Vikings to make the playoffs? :'(
Chris Mortensen (11:25 AM)
There seems to be a greater element of uncertainty with Rice. He was sore after a hard week of practice. He is going to be a free agent - in other words, players may tend to either consciously or subconsciously protect themselves until there feel 100 percent. I thought the Vikes had a playoff run left in them. I'd say this Packers game is it. I think they need Sidney Rice to pull it off because him and Favre have had great chemistry.
Now that they have interviewed Sterger, when can we expect to hear next steps on Favre's texting-gate from the NFL?
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
The NFL was doing some more work early this week before their security dept. turns over its report to commissioner Roger Goodell. I'm anticipating something by next week, if not sooner.
Chris (Chicago, IL)
Mort: Do you think the Bears are for real. And while I know they have a good record I have yet to be impressed by a win and they have some pretty detrimental losses. Do you think them or the Packers will pull out the division with remaining schedules as tough as they are?
Chris Mortensen (11:28 AM)
I believe the Bears can't be dismissed because we're seeing the offense beginning to mesh. I don't care what anybody says about Jay Cutler, he's a great talent, he's competitive and he's athletic. Prone to mistakes? Of course. But the Bears will likely push the Packers. I don't have the proverbial crystal ball, though, Chris.
How do you think the Steelers will play this weekend coming off that embarrassment vs. the Patriots? What did Belichick expose on that defense to roll up so many points?
Chris Mortensen (11:31 AM)
I'm still backtracking on that game, Bart, to determine why the Patriots dominated. One, the offensive line has real problems with the injuries, right? It also looks like the absence of DE Aaron Smith has now weakened the rush defense. Then again, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at their best can embarrass and expose anybody. I think that, more than anything, is what happened to the Steelers. The abundance of tight ends - and TE Alge Crumpler transitioning to a big-time blocker - also works well against a team like the Steelrs.
Tom (Kingston Ont)
Mort if you were an owner and starting a franchise from the ground who would be your GM and coach (alltime) ?
Chris Mortensen (11:36 AM)
Tom, I love the question but I would tear my hair out trying to figure this. I'd probably pick Ron Wolf as my GM with Bill Parcells as my coach because philosophically they get it, they're aggressive and it would be pretty magical, IMO. But how do you argue against Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Don Shula and Bill Walsh as the coach? The GM? I'll tell you one interesting combo would be Parcells as GM and Bill Belichick as coach. Bill Polian also would be a GM for the ages. Five-time executive of the year.
What is your opinion of Ted Thompson? I know he catched a lot of flack for not making more splashy moves, but seems to me that he has done a very good job of stocking the Packers with good young players.
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
Packers GM Ted Thompson is just a really good football man, Matt. He works his rear end off, he's a good evaluator, hires good evaluators and keeps his head down without seeking any publicity or glory for himself. The only knock I'd have is that he could be a little more aggressive on the free agency and trade front but that comes with cost and risk.
Mort, in the case of Josh McDaniels. If he continues to lose at the pace he has been are financial consideration really enough of justification not to fire him? The Broncos seem to have regressed to their early years as a franchise.
Chris Mortensen (11:41 AM)
I'm not a believer in change after two years. Maybe appropriate change within the organization but Josh McDaniels is bright and young. Mistakes? Sure. But I think you keep growing with him and make any necessary tweaks with him as your head coach.
Mike (Boca Raton)
There is a lot of debate among Steelers fans regarding the play of Troy Polamalu. Detractors say that he isn't nearly the same player since being injured last year. Others say that he is limited in what he can do given the state of the Steelers secondary. Do you have an opinion on this? Thanks for the consideration.
Chris Mortensen (11:44 AM)
Mike, I can't say I'm a real expert on Polamalu. I've always believed he was one of the top 5-to-10 players in the NFL. I do know he commands a lot of respect from opponents. His strength is something teams try to also take advantage of - Polamalu plays on instinct more than just about any player in the NFL. Him and Ed Reed. Teams believe if you can spread it out vs. the Steelers and still pass protect well, then you can neutralize Polamalu.
Joe Marshall (Saint Louis)
Mort, is it just me or has the Colts offense just looked different lately? I know they are injury plagued but it just seems like in the last few weeks they have turned into a dink and dunk offense without a lot of downfield attempts. Have you noticed this trend and could you help explain it? Thanks.
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
Joe, there's not a lot of explaining to do. The injuries are real. Even with some of the guys who are playing on offense, a lot of them miss practice time and practice does indeed count. The other problem this past week is bringing guys up from the practice squad. The Colts don't provide a lot of those practice players with all their "codes" because those players can be signed at any time by another club.
Any doubts that Chad Pennington retires now? If he does retire could you see him going into coaching? One of the smartest QBs in the game
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
The consensus is that, yes, Pennington will retire. He would make a great coach. I guess his dilemma is that he's a wonderful family man with young children so that's a compromise because of the coaching demands. But I'd love to see him go into coaching.
Hey Mort, Tough Weekend for the dolphins, so you see them rallying together around Tyler Thigpen? Have you heard anything about the Henne Injury?
Chris Mortensen (11:51 AM)
Thigpen will start this game. I'm a real fan of Thigpen's. He is prone to some mistakes because has a bit of that gunslinger mentality. He reminds some of Tony Romo but his release isn't as quick. He is very athletic, has a good arm and very high character. I could even see improved quarterback play with Thigpen if he can stay away from those mistakes, especially in the red zone. On Henne, I don't have a lot of info.
Who is the true MVP of the league so far if you had to choose today and why?
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
I don't have to choose today! Michael Vick is the popular answer - I'm a big fan - but he has missed three games. If he stays healthy the rest of the way, the Eagles win the NFC East and he plays at this level, I imagine my vote wold go his way. But for now my very, very tight MVP rankings are: 1. Tom Brady; 2. (tie) Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and Michael Vick. ....Yes, I know there are other non-QBs we can consider but the position is the most difficult and important in football. These guys are playing at an extraordinary level.
Mort, can the Raiders actually win their division? They are 3-0 against the AFC West and their scheduele looks kind of favorable after the Steelers. Plus how well can Jason Cambell and Run DMC do if they make the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
Mario, be careful playing the schedule game. That's dangerous. But, yes, the Raiders can win the division. I believe they're going to have to hold off the Chargers. Darren McFadden staying healthy is a major factor to their success the rest of the way and Jason Campbell growing in this offense is obviously important. This Steelers game will be interesting.
Mort... Jets or Pats? Who wins the AFC East? This should be good!
Chris Mortensen (11:58 AM)
I'm sticking with my Jets pick for now. But you're talking to the guy who picked the Bengals to go to the Super Bowl, Jobin.
Hey Mort, can we discuss Josh Freeman for a minute. It seems all the talk is about Stafford, Bradford, Sanchez, Flacco, etc....I would say with what Freeman is working with (all those rookies) you would think what he has done so far is just as, if not more, impressive. Thoughts? Seems like he is totally ignored by the national press.
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
Oh, yeah, you're probably right. Freeman is a bright, bright young QB with a lot of talent. I also think the Bucs have done a good job evaluating and developing those young receivers. The Bucs just may be fighting for a playoff spot this season and Freeman is a big reason.
Why do they Texans always find a way to crumble and not make the playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (12:02 PM)
Right now, they have a true secondary deficiency. And losing DeMeco Ryans at MLB was a big deal. I know it's disappointing but there are still games left to play. It's just tough to be a playoff team without a fairly strong defense or one that produces a lot of takeaways.
Daniel (Los Angeles)
Hello Mort, whats the chances that Dallas will land Brian Billick of Gruden??
Chris Mortensen (12:03 PM)
Daniel, I believe the Cowboys have the best man in place right now in Jason Garett. His leadership qualities are off the charts. And you don't get to exert those qualities in an assistant's role.
Roger (New York)
Kicker Question! Should the Jets be concerned with Nick Folk?
Chris Mortensen (12:04 PM)
Roger, I have to answer with a question: What in the heck is going on with kickers all over the league? The Cleveland playing surface and conditions were poor but it seems to be an epidemic around the NFL.
Chris Mortensen (12:05 PM)
Thanks everyone. I have to run. Catch up with me on Twitter @MortReport. We have Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. Take care and God Bless!