Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:51 PM)
Hey folks, Ashley has an interview that's running late. So, we're going to push her chat back to Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.
Ashley Fox (3:00 PM)
Hi everybody. Sorry to have to postpone the chat for a day. But let's get rolling.
Kyle (Lincoln NE)
History shows us a team will go from worst to first in their division this year. Which team do you think that will be? Qualifying teams are Eagles, Lions, Bucs, Cardinals, Bills, Browns, Jaguars, and Chiefs.
Ashley Fox (3:02 PM)
I looked at this a couple of weeks ago, and I don't see any of the eight you mentioned as making that jump. I think the Chiefs have the most talent but play in a tough division with the Broncos being loaded. The NFC East to me is the most wide-open division, but I don't think the Eagles have enough talent and are transitioning to new systems on offense and defense with a new coach. So I don't think we'll see any team jump from worst to first.
Ryan (Los Angeles)
I know you've probably heard this enough, but Matt Barkley? How do you see this playing out?
Ashley Fox (3:04 PM)
I think he's going to end up being a backup for the Eagles. But I will say this: Barkley is the only quarterback, aside from Dennis Dixon, who Chip Kelly hand picked to be on the team. I just don't think he has the arm strength to be a viable starter. The quarterback race for this season for the Eagles is between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. I think Vick will start the season, but if his injury history is any gauge, he will miss time and Foles will get a chance.
TJ (NY NY)
i dont understand how B.B. making tebow into something would be an accomplishment. didnt John Fox win a playoff game with tebow under center? so why does B.B. doing anything less than winning a superbowl with tebow warrant our praise? maybe it's time to stop giving B.B. the benefit of the doubt- what say you?
Ashley Fox (3:05 PM)
Fox went to Tebow out of necessity, but given the fact that the Broncos dumped him, they never really wanted him. That's not to detract from the job that Fox did. He changed his entire offense midseason, which was impressive. But if Belichick turns Tebow, who no one at this point wanted, into a viable starter, I think that would be a huge accomplishment.
Pop Elias [via mobile]
How are players doing with coach Kellys way of practice? I would think the philly fan hopes for a losing season with all the QBs in the draft. Niners play philly blind folded Niners fav by 6?
Ashley Fox (3:07 PM)
I think they've all bought in, but keep in mind no games have been played yet. It is easy to buy in to a new system after two unsuccessful seasons. Let's see where the team is at in late October. And I think you're right, that San Francisco would beat the Eagles. They are definitely a work in progress. As for Philly fan hoping for a losing season, if you think that, you don't know Philly fan. They yearn for a winner now. They've waited long enough.
Ed (Queens Village)
Which will happen first franchise moves to another city or expansion team?
Ashley Fox (3:09 PM)
My guess is that a franchise would move to another city. For all the talk about a franchise eventually being in London, the league needs to settle the Los Angeles situation first. St. Louis has stadium issues. Jacksonville has attendance issues. I could see one of those franchises moving before the league considers another expansion, which dilutes the talent pool and thus the product.
How does the Colts signing Bradshaw help them??
Ashley Fox (3:10 PM)
It gives them another reliable skill position player for the offense, and someone who can take some of the pressure off of Andrew Luck. I like the signing. For all of the Colts' success last season, they need more playmakers, and they got one in Bradshaw.
Richard (San Diego)
Was it a "stacked deck" or an "amazing coincidence" that Lombardi was voted greatest coach by ESPN just in time for theESPN show on Lombardi?
Ashley Fox (3:12 PM)
It wasn't a stacked deck. Nor was it necessarily an amazing coincidence, as you said. I think the voting was a fair representation of how the 20 or so panelists felt. We did the voting in April and it turned out the way it did. So we then laid out the project to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Lombardi's birth. Do you disagree with Lombardi being No. 1?
Are you surprised that it was the Patriots who signed Tebow?
Ashley Fox (3:14 PM)
No, not when you consider that Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator, and Bill Belichick were the two men most high on Tebow heading into the draft. McDaniels moved up in the draft to select Tebow in the first round when he was coaching Denver. He never got to have Tebow be the starter. Now, he and Belichick can work with Tebow, who fits all of the criteria Belichick looks for in a football player: Tough, smart and versatile. I think it is as good a fit as Tebow could have hoped for.
Ashley, first and foremost, please do not consider this question as "picking" on you, it would be asked to anyone who shared the same thoughts as you, who covers this sport. Don't you though, find it very hyprocritical of yourself, do earn a living writing about a sport (NFL) in which you would not let your children participate in? Your job is to write about and, in a way promote the NFL, yet, you state that you would never let your children play in the NFL. If you're making a living writing about a certain sport or industry (in general) in a positive manner, I have a hard-time taking articles serious, if the person who is writing about it, doesn't feel that the sport/industry in of itself, is worthy of your children (again, generalizing). Can you elaborate on this? Thanks
Ashley Fox (3:16 PM)
I've said that my stance on not wanting my son to play football is hypocritical, but it is also based on my experiences of covering the sport at the highest level. I've seen what the game can do to players, and my preference is that my son choose a sport that doesn't have as high of a risk of concussions as there is in football. I love the sport and love covering it, but there are obvious risks I'd rather not subject my son to. I've seen them up close. As a parent, that's my right and my job.
What was your favorite moment in life as a Football Fan?
Ashley Fox (3:20 PM)
Well, I was a "fan" as a kid. I checked my fan card at the door when I became a journalist. So I have to go back a ways. And this wasn't my favorite moment, but my most vivid moment as a kid was watching the New York-Washington game when Joe Theismann broke his leg on MNF. I watched the game in my parents' bedroom on this tiny TV and just remember the horrible feeling in my stomach. As a kid, there are some things you never forget. For me, it was UNC winning the NCAA championship in the early 1980s, it was learning Len Bias had died and it was watching Theismann.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
If you were to pick any QB going forward to lead your team, who would it be - Luck? CK, RG3,Russell Wilson?
Ashley Fox (3:23 PM)
That's a tough one. I really like all four guys you mention. And I think one of the bigger story lines this season will be how those four follow up on very successful 2012 seasons. If I had to pick one, it would be Luck, with a close second to RGIII. Luck is that pro typical passer in the mode of his predecessor in Indy. My concern with Griffin is that he's coming off a significant knee injury. But he is one of those guys who just has "it." I'm just worried about how long he can hold up given his style.
What is the hold-up on the Matt Ryan contract extension?
Ashley Fox (3:25 PM)
Mike, I actually will have a column on Ryan tomorrow. I spoke to him yesterday, and he said he isn't concerned about it. From what I know, I think something will get done prior to the start of training camp. I don't know if there has been an actual "hold up," as you say. Both sides want to get something worked out.
Ashley, With Nicks back whats up with Cruz? He wont sit out a whole year just to prove a point? He should be greatful for the opportunity the Gmen gave me.
Ashley Fox (3:28 PM)
No, he won't sit out the whole year. I think he's back for Week 1. And I think he is grateful for the opportunity the Giants gave him, I just think he wants fair market value. Given the injury risk involved, I never fault a player for trying to get as much money as he can when he has that opportunity. The Giants want Cruz back. This will eventually get resolved when there is a more pressing deadline to get a deal done.
Mathieu (San Francisco)
Hi Ashley!,I'm hoping you can help me out with something, what are the rules around practice squad eligibility? Is anyone eligible for practice squad designation or only players with limited years and experience? Where I'm going with this is, if a team is concerned about the lack of recent football experience couldn't they sign Jamarcus Russell with the intention of having him play in camp and ride the practice squad for a year so he can be immersed in the culture and playbook of their teams. This would seem to be a way to take a low cost flyer on someone with immense talent and physical skills but with a Nook LaLoosh sense of maturity and dedication.
Ashley Fox (3:33 PM)
There are specific rules for practice squad players, and given that Russell played in 31 games and started 25 games for the Raiders, he doesn't qualify for the practice squad. A team could sign Russell as a third-string quarterback for minimum to no guaranteed money to learn their system. They could do so and also cut him prior to having to name a 53-man roster before the season starts. There are plenty of ways to get him into an organization for low risk and potentially some reward, if a team so chooses.
Papa Bear Halas being #4 is an insult to football, Chicago, the Bears franchise and its fans. He won more titles than Lombardi, was a founder of the league, helped create/stabilize the NFL, was an innovator, etc, etc.
Ashley Fox (3:35 PM)
I know there is debate over not only who made the list but where different coaches fell on the list. I will just say that ranking the top 10 greatest coaches was an incredibly tough task. And there were plenty of deserving candidates who didn't even make the top 20.
What do you think Tebow's role will be?
What is your take on NFL commish coming out in support of Redskins name? Also, do you think names like Blackhawks/Braves etc should be gone as well?
Keith H (Seattle)
Ashley, I don't see anything hypocritical about your stance with your son and football. Given the risk of serious injury, I'd say it's more like common sense. In fact, Gregg Easterbrook stated in one of his TMQ columns that what you are doing will prove to be the downfall of the NFL as more and more parents steer their children away from the sport. You're far from alone on this one.
Ashley Fox (3:37 PM)
Standby. I'm apparently having technical difficulties.
I'm sorry, but having Papa Bear Halas #4 is an insult. He has more titles than Lombardi, coached longer, help create and stabilize the league in its darkest hour. I'd be fine with #2.
Ashley Fox (3:39 PM)
Okay, for some reason questions weren't posting for me. But now they are. Let me get to a few.
Ashley Fox (3:39 PM)
As for Tebow's role, I think he will be a backup quarterback, not a personal punt protector or a fullback or anything else. The Patriots will groom him as a QB.
Ashley Fox (3:40 PM)
To Noah, I think Goodell was supporting one of the 32 franchises he is supposed to govern. It's not surprising. But I am on the record as saying Washington should change its name.
Ashley Fox (3:44 PM)
To Keith, with all due respect to Gregg -- and I didn't see what he wrote -- I don't think parents like me not wanting their kids to play football will be the downfall of the NFL. I actually talked to Jerry Rice about this at the Super Bowl. There will always be parents who want their kids to play and hope that they can hit it big. I just don't happen to be one of them.
Why do you think teams assign a significantly lower value to slot receivers than outside receivers? Welker and Cruz have been among the most productive receivers over the last couple of seasons.
Ashley Fox (3:45 PM)
It's just the nature of the position. The outside guys, like Calvin Johnson and Larry Johnson, garner more attention and bigger dollars and open things up for the other players. But you're right that Welker and Cruz have been incredibly valuable to their teams. And I think New England will miss Welker big time this season. It's why Brady was so upset that the Patriots didn't get him resigned.
What do you think about first picks this year?
Ashley Fox (3:46 PM)
I think I want to see how they contribute this season. The top picks are supposed to come in and start right away. It looks like that should happen with most of them, but let's give them time to show what they are worth to their respective NFL franchises.
With the Return of several players who were injured on defense, most noteably ILB Brian Cushing, along with Ed Reed & a few noteable draft picks, why does it seem Houston's defense (
Ashley Fox (3:48 PM)
Why does it seem Houston's defense is what? Overlooked? I think they should be very tough. Reed is going to provide good leadership. The Texans really missed Cushing after he went out last season.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
They'll always be tied together since they were drafted the same year and within a few picks...who would you rather take? Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas?
Ashley Fox (3:51 PM)
I think Bryant is the superior talent but he has had off the field issues. Thomas is solid and has one of the QBs in the league throwing to him. All things considered, I'd take Thomas.
Best college basketball arena/atmosphere to watch a game?
Ashley Fox (3:53 PM)
A non football question, because you asked and you probably know I love college hoops. Assembly Hall, the Yum Center, Cameron Indoor, Pauley and Kansas are some of my favorites.
What's your favorite part of your job? The least favorite?
Ashley Fox (3:55 PM)
I get to meet really interesting people from diverse backgrounds who strive for excellence. I love the games and how important they are to fans. A least favorite part? Probably the pressure of writing on deadline on those days when the words don't flow.
Does Denver have the most talented trio of wide-outs in your recent memory?
Ashley Fox (3:56 PM)
They have talent, for sure. But the most in recent memory? There are others. Atlanta and Baltimore last year were pretty tough.
baltimore no chance more whithout lewis,reed and hard hitter pollard? plus trench caller birk and offense leader boldin, what do you think?
Ashley Fox (3:57 PM)
I think Baltimore lost a ton of talent off its Super Bowl team, but I know this about Ozzie and the Ravens: They are pleased with how they've drafted recently and how they've cultivated talent. I think they're going to be competitive even without the players they've lost.
Ashley Fox (3:58 PM)
Thanks, everybody, for all of the great questions. I'm on vacation next week so we will pick up the chat when I get back. Have a great rest of the week.