Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com NFL columnist Ashley Fox stops by to chat.
Fox joined ESPN.com in 2011 after 11 years as a writer and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covered the National Football League, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia 76ers. She also has worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal and Sports Illustrated. A North Carolina native, Fox lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and son.
Send your questions now and join Fox on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (1:00 PM)
Hi everybody. Thanks for joining me. Fire away and I'll get to as many questions as I can. Let's go.
Is it finally time for everyone to come to the same conclusion....Romo is NOT an elite Q.B.!!!!
Ashley Fox (1:02 PM)
He certainly wasn't elite last night, was he? Five picks. National TV. Against a Bears D that we keep saying is aging and they keep showing they can still play. Romo was awful. But Dez Bryant wasn't much better. DeMarco Murray fumbled. On and on. The Cowboys lack depth. Sure, Romo deserves blame, but he certainly isn't the only one. What happened to that team that beat the Giants in Week 1?
Tim (El Cajon, CA)
Ashley, the Vikings, that good and being overlooked or that lucky or ??? Beating 2 2011 playoff teams in a row, one at home and one on the road. I am thinking MAYBE lucky for the 9ers and the Lions are in disarray. But I will take the wins for sure!!
Ashley Fox (1:06 PM)
Minnesota certainly has surprised me. They've gotten good quarterback play and have Percy Harvin has been a great weapon. They've been moving him all over the place, making teams have to account for him on every play. The defense has played well, too. They did a great job on Calvin Johnson. They get the Titans this week, and the Titans have their issues. We could be here next week talking about Minnesota being 4-1. I would've never expected that.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, how about those Minnesota Vikings! A co-worker friend and I looked at their schedule, and we can see them winning 4 of their next 6 games, which would make them 7-3 at the bye week. Their schedule after the bye looks brutal, so I would not expect them to make the playoffs this year. But, it seems the Vikings could be one of the most improved teams in the NFL. Do you agree?
Ashley Fox (1:07 PM)
I know you're happy, Al. Take it one week at a time. But yes, things are certainly looking up.
Sorry for the fantasy question, but do you think Maclin get it going in this week's all-PA matchup?
Ashley Fox (1:08 PM)
I don't play fantasy, so I'm probably not the one to ask, but I think Maclin is going to break out at some point. The Eagles have a lot of options, and Vick really seems to rely on Brent Celek a lot these days, but I've got to think Maclin will break out at some point.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
Of the undefeated teams, the Cardinals are the only one whose opponents have a cumulative record above .500. That said, what do you think of Kolb this year? As a Cards fan, the biggest change for me is his pocket presence; despite taking 8 sacks (which most were not his fault), he has not shifted his eyes from downfield as much and taken off running when he "thought" pressure was near. Thoughts?
Ashley Fox (1:11 PM)
Hi Shane. I've been impressed by Kolb. He's looked comfortable and in command of their offense. And you can't argue with the results, especially beating New England and Philly. But they've still got to play the Niners, Packers and Falcons in a four week stretch, with the bye in there. Let's see how consistent he can play.
Dez Bryant -- worth the trouble?
Ashley Fox (1:11 PM)
Not so far, no. Great talent. But he can't let that ball sail through his hands like he did last night.
If you are a GM/Coach, wouldn?t you shy away from drafting Matt Barkley? See resumes of former USC Quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Matt Leinert, Matt Cassell and Mark Sanchez.
Ashley Fox (1:12 PM)
It is true that the USC guys haven't exactly lit it up in the NFL, but I don't know that that would make me shy away from Barkley if I need a starting quarterback. It is worth considering though.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who are your offensive and defensive MVPs after the first month of the season?
Ashley Fox (1:14 PM)
My offensive player of September is Matt Ryan. He has been on fire, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, 11 TDs, 2 picks. He got a clutch, come from behind win over Carolina on Sunday. He might throw for 5,000 yards this season. That would be huge. Defensive MVP would be J.J. Watt. He's been a beast. I'll be talking to him later today and writing about him later this week. Texans fans should be very, very pleased with the way their team is playing.
Julie (Key West)
Are the Browns on the right track with Weeden, Richardson & all the other young guys on offense or not?
Ashley Fox (1:16 PM)
I think it's too early to say at this point. We are only four games into Weeden and Richardson's careers. It's going to be interesting to see what the new owner does with the front office and coaching staffs, and then how that impacts the young guys on their rosters.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
I understand the other 3, but don't we have to be honest, and say that injury is the cause of Palmer's demise. It's hard for me to watch as Raiders fan now, and I wish Al would someone in the bullpen, but that guy has not been the same physically since Kimo rolled up on him in the playoffs.
Ashley Fox (1:18 PM)
I would agree with that. I hated seeing that injury, at that moment, for that guy. Tough.
If I were Mike Tice, I would have benched Cutler the moment he walked away while going over the game plan. My question is, what kind of backlash (if any) would Cutler expect to face from his teammates, fans and coaches for his ongoing on-field behavior? At some point, enough has to be enough!
Ashley Fox (1:20 PM)
I didn't like it, either, but that's Jay Cutler. He didn't want to hear it at that moment, so he walked away. Better to walk away then to erupt. That said, the quarterback has to be the leader and set the example. These guys are professionals and you have to get professional behavior from your starting quarterback. Have to. But a big win will soothe a lot of problems.
Who gets benched first, Mark Sanchez or Tony Romo? and Why?
Ashley Fox (1:23 PM)
Romo is not getting benched. Sanchez is in a rough spot. He hasn't played well at all, but the Jets problems aren't all his fault. Their running game has been nonexistent. They can't stop the run. They're without Revis. Now Holmes is out. Sanchez has no weapons. And now he gets the Texans D on Monday night. If they get blown out, Rex Ryan could make a change just to shake things up.
The Patriots went crazy in the 2nd half. Is their offense that good, or Buffalo's defense that bad?
Ashley Fox (1:26 PM)
Their offense is that good. Brady really was feeling it, wasn't he? Wow. Every time I looked at that game, the Patriots were scoring. And so much for the talk about Wes Welker being shut out. Get open and Brady will get you the ball. I'm looking forward to the Patriots game Sunday against Denver. Manning v. Brady, maybe for the last time. Should be fun.
Does Denver have a shot @NE?
Ashley Fox (1:29 PM)
I think so. It will be a good test for the Patriots defense, that's for sure. Manning seems to be getting into a groove, too. It was always going to take him some time to learn his receivers and get comfortable after missing a year of football. He makes his receivers better. It was good they picked up center Dan Koppen a couple of weeks ago. They certainly need him to play now.
Ashley, do you think the Steelers's D gets back on track this week vs Vick?
Ashley Fox (1:31 PM)
Well I think the bye week came at the perfect time for the Steelers. I saw where James Harrison tweeted this morning that he was going to do whatever it takes to play Sunday. That will help. Polamalu is supposed to be back, as is Mendenhall. That certainly should help. They will need to get pressure on Vick, who has taken a ton of hits this season but played, I thought, really well against the Giants on Sunday. He didn't turn it over which obviously helped tremendously.
Tim S. (Calhoun Ga)
What are the chances of an Atlanta Falcons / Houston Texans Super Bowl? And which of the two has the easiest road to get there?
Ashley Fox (1:36 PM)
They've been the two best teams, in my opinion, thus far, although you can't discount San Francisco, Baltimore and New England. If Philly gets hot and protects the football, they could make a run. It's early. Who has the easier road between the Falcons and Texans? Atlanta still has to play all four NFC East teams, which will be tough. Houston's schedule looks more challenging. After the Jets they get the Packers, Ravens, Bills and Bears and still have to play the Patriots. They should go 6-0 in the division.
Do the Rams have a shot at the playoffs this year via the wildcard?
Ashley Fox (1:36 PM)
I would be extremely surprised. The NFC is a deep conference.
Why does it seem that there's an overall lack of respect for the Falcons franchise? This is the first year I've ever heard the media consistently say good things about them, and even then there seems to be an asterisk about the playoffs (even though they always seem to face the eventual superbowl winner in the first round). What more will it take for the Falcons to get the respect they deserve? Superbowl? Perfect season?
Ashley Fox (1:38 PM)
I don't know about there being an overall lack of respect for the Falcons. I'm very high on them. But it is fair to say that it is time for this team to win in the postseason. They've been very good in the regular season but the 0-3 playoff record for Ryan and Smith is a big blemish. Show you can win in the playoffs the way the Ravens have. Take the next step. I think they will.
Tony (EKU Library)
What is up with the Lions? They were considered a legit contender and they have played awful.
Ashley Fox (1:38 PM)
Yep. I totally agree. They didn't get better in the offseason and it appears to have caught up with them.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
I get the criticism of Romo, but if you and 3 of your fellow ESPN columnists want to do an interesting article, have a "QB only Draft" where each of you take turns taking a QB (1-32) that you would want next on your team; I bet Romo is still "drafted" in the top half of the 32 picks. Lots of teams would still love to have Romo over their current option.
Ashley Fox (1:39 PM)
Fell that in the air? That's Tebow Time about to descend on the big apple. YOu can't fight it. Just hop on and enjoy the ride.
Ashley Fox (1:40 PM)
I bet we see more of him this week, just not on every snap. Use him as a weapon.
People should give Romo a break - not only does he have to worry about being a QB, but he also has to personally tell Dez where to line up every play. that can't be easy for 4Q's. Agree?
Ashley Fox (1:41 PM)
At least he doesn't have to do a curfew check. I believe someone else is handling that responsibility.
Even though there were still alot of blown calls in the Packers/Saints game, having the real refs back, just makes the game easier to watch. The pace of the game is faster, and I really think that is why the Saints, Packers, Patriots have been off to slower starts. Thoughts?
Ashley Fox (1:43 PM)
The pace was back to what we've come to expect, even though the regular refs showed last week that they aren't perfect either. But you're right. It's hard to run the no huddle effectively when you have to wait 2-3 minutes for a call to be made. That kind of defeats the purpose. As to the Saints, I think their issues are bigger than dealing with replacement refs. They miss their head coach.
I know it's only 4 games, but is RG3 already a top 10 QB?
Ashley Fox (1:44 PM)
I'm not ready to say that just yet, but he has played well. I'm interested to see how the Shanahans open up the playbook as we move forward here and he reacts to having more on his plate.
Bob (Studio 54)
Your surprie teams of the year so far?
Ashley Fox (1:46 PM)
As I said earlier, I'm really surprised the Vikings are 3-1. I'm surprised the Cardinals are 4-0. And I might be in the minority on this one but I'm surprised the Chiefs are 1-3.
Are the Cardinals better than the 49ers?
Ashley Fox (1:47 PM)
I think at the end of the day the Niners will win the division. To me, over the stretch of a long 16-game season, San Francisco is the more complete team that has what it takes to consistently win football games. Elite defense. Solid running game.
How much longer until the 49ers recievers start asking for Kaepernick to take over. I know winning helps, but three times smith missed his recievers who were wide open down the field! That has to drive them crazy when they work hard to get by the CB!
Ashley Fox (1:49 PM)
How passes has Kaepernick thrown this season? Answer: One, and it was incomplete. Yes, poorly thrown balls and missed reads drive receivers nuts, but the Niners aren't switching quarterbacks this season. Kaepernick did make a nice wild kitty though, didn't he?
Hows Tannehill looked after 4 games? Do they have any regrets not starting Moore instead?
Ashley Fox (1:50 PM)
I don't think they have any regrets. You drafted Tannehill to be the guy, so play him. It's a learning process. There was no real benefit to playing Moore instead. It's not like the Dolphins are going to the playoffs this season anyway.
You are still trying to stem the tide that is TEBOW TIME? He is not just a weapon. He is a LEADER OF MEN.
Ashley Fox (1:51 PM)
I hear you. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. But not this week.
I guess to further my point though, was that some of the more explosive offenses were back to being explosive. Saint, Packers, Patriots.. We have seen glimpses but not to the level we have accustomed to see the last few years. What are your thoughts of the Packers after that game?
Ashley Fox (1:53 PM)
It's a valid point, there's no doubt. I'm not overly worried about the Packers. If they were sitting at 1-3, then maybe. But they'll be okay. I'm actually going to see them play the Colts on Sunday. I'm looking forward to getting a first-hand look at them.
Edwin (Manassas VA)
I am a big eagles fan but they have not surprise me at all do you think all there games that they have won shold have been lose or is it just luck or maybe there that good
Ashley Fox (1:55 PM)
It is not luck. As Bill Parcells said, you are what your record says you are. They've won three games by a combined four points. Their defense is improved. They're loaded on offense. It all comes down to the quarterback and his ability to not turn the ball over. It is as simple as that.
Follow-on to Chris from Fresno...we know that Kaepernick hasnt thrown passes yet, but when you take a QB in the 2nd round of the draft, develop him, and see your starter play poorly, the question of when to give the backup more chances naturally comes up. Lets not forget Kaepernick has all the physical tools, and has a high NFL IQ. Its a legit question to ask.
Ashley Fox (1:57 PM)
No, I hear you and Chris from Fresno, too. You both make valid points. I just don't see Harbaugh making a change this season. I did like Kaepernick in the wildcat role. But to make him the starting quarterback of a team that poised to make a Super Bowl run? I don't see Harbaugh doing that.
No Where Man (No Where Land)
Is this league full of parity or what? Only see 2 or 3 teams that would really scare me if I was a coach.
Ashley Fox (1:58 PM)
That is what the league strives for: Parity. The Texans might be scary. Look what they did in the playoffs last year with their third-string quarterback. If they can stay healthy, they are going to be very dangerous.
When is Pete Carroll going to admit hes wrong with Wilson. Now Flynn is injured and cant start, but if need be he can come in we arent sure how much he can throw. They only have two Qb's on roster??????? Where will teh madness end
Ashley Fox (2:00 PM)
Carroll gambled for sure. It was very characteristic. But I bet Flynn is chomping to get a shot. Why else is he there?
Jim Harbaugh (SF)
Alex Smith is our QB. We did not investigate Manning, and we did not take a QB in the 2nd round of the draft, and we are not playing that 2nd rd QB at all...nope, not at all. Youre mistaken. Nothing to see here.
Ashley Fox (2:00 PM)
Ashley Fox (2:01 PM)
Alright folks. Thanks for joining me. We'll do it again next week at 3 p.m. Enjoy your week.