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 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:04 PM)
Hang on folks. Ashley's having some technical issues.
Ashley Fox (4:06 PM)
Hi all. Sorry to be late. Was having technical problems. Good to go now.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
More disappointing team this season, Dallas or Detroit?
Ashley Fox (4:07 PM)
That's a hard choice. I will go with Detroit, only because they had an opportunity to take control of their division with both Cutler and Rodgers hurt and failed to capitalize. They've lost four of their last five and done it in typical Lions fashion. Turnovers. Penalties. Poor play. They should have walked away with the NFC North and now they're in third place staring up.
Marvin Lewis has been coaching for 11 years. In those 11 years he has made the postseason 4 times, one of those being a home game, and has never won in the postseason. Patience with a coach is one thing, not everybody makes it to the postseason and wins their first time like John Harbaugh. But how much more will the Bengals take?
Ashley Fox (4:10 PM)
They have been very patient, and this could be the year that patience pays off. I think it will be. They've been building that team for just this opportunity. The defense is stout. They've got playmakers on offense. It's going to come down to which Andy Dalton shows up in the postseason. And if they make a run, we'll probably be sitting here talking about how Lewis replaces one of his coordinators, who could move on to become a head coach himself.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Will Dez Bryant ever get it? You don't abandon/quit on your team like that? Do you think his constant lack of professionalism and maturity will prevent Bryant from realizing his full potential?
Ashley Fox (4:11 PM)
No, I don't. I don't like what Bryant did at the end of the Green Bay game either, but I will give him this: He stood and answered plenty of questions on Monday, when few if any of his other teammates did. That showed maturity. I think he understood what he did was wrong. He cares and he wants to be great. I really think he will learn and grow and reach that potential. His ceiling is high.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Happy Holidays, Ashley! What did you think of the Vikings' upset victory over the Eagles on Sunday? Do you think they have a chance to win both of their final 2 games, and keep Leslie Frazier as their head coach for 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:14 PM)
Happy holidays to you, too, Al. I was really impressed by the Vikings win over Philly, particularly considering who was missing from your Vikings. I think it is pretty obvious that Frazier thinks he is coaching for his job. If he wasn't, why wouldn't they just say, let's take a look at Freeman, to see what we've got? But they haven't done that. And Cassell is making things interesting. If Frazier comes back, does Cassell come with him? I think if they play the way they did Sunday, they have a chance to win out.
How important is it that the Broncos bring back Eric Decker, who's a free agent? As a Broncos fan I'm worried about Welker's health and age, and I feel like Manning isn't going to last forever. Might as well start building for Osweiler or whoever the future QB is.
Ashley Fox (4:16 PM)
I feel like we discussed this last week during the chat. For a guy like Decker, it is going to come down to two things: What value do the Broncos put on him, and what value does he put on himself? If another team thinks Decker is worth more than the Broncos are willing to pay, then he probably goes elsewhere (and should). Denver isn't going to overpay. They've got money invested elsewhere. So if you lose him, I wouldn't panic.
Martin (New York, NY)
There seems to be a lot of mixed opinions of whether or not Tom Coughlin will be back next season for NYG, but those sources closest to the team indicate he will 100% be back. What's your take on this matter?
Ashley Fox (4:17 PM)
I don't know what "sources" you speak, but I would tend to think if Coughlin wants to come back that he will. The Giants are a stable organization and Coughlin won them two Super Bowls. As I've said throughout this season, that doesn't buy him an infinite amount of time, but it buys him another year. And I don't see him wanting to walk away. To do what?
Hi Ashley.. with the injury with Maclin and his being an unrestricted free agent next season, do you see the Eagles moving on and in another direction or do they make every attempt to sign him?
Ashley Fox (4:20 PM)
It's an interesting question. They have a decision to make with Riley Cooper, too. It will be telling what Chip Kelly decides he wants to do. If it were me, I'd bring Maclin back and Cooper, but only at a reasonable price. When healthy, Maclin is their best option (no disrespect to DeSean Jackson, but it's true). I think they'll try to bring Maclin back and I would think Maclin would want to come back. It was really unfortunate timing with his injury, but it unfortunately happens.
Who would you rather play for, Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder?
Ashley Fox (4:21 PM)
Do I really have to pick? Depends on who would be willing to pay me more.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
If the Chiefs, Panthers, 49ers, maybe Arizona, Baltimore & Miami all finish with double digit wins and few make it and others dont who have double digit wins, will the NFL look to change the Playoff setup becasue the chiefs are the 5 seed and would be 13-3 or 12-4 and Arizona could be 11-5 and not make playoffs
Ashley Fox (4:23 PM)
I think regardless of what happens that the NFL is going to push to expand the playoffs. They've already floated that out there. But I don't expect to see them change the seeding system, because the goal is to reward teams for winning their divisions with at least one home game. It is unfortunate for the Chiefs that they could finish with a better record than other playoff teams, but that's just how it goes.
Jimmy Smith (Baltimore)
Ashley, did you see put the clamps on Megatron Monday Night? I intimidated him so much he couldn't even hold onto to the ball. Should I change my name to Optimus?
Ashley Fox (4:24 PM)
You asked for the assignment and got it. Well done.
What will happen first, man landing on Mars or the Bills making it back to the postseason? My money is on Mars...
Ashley Fox (4:25 PM)
Oh boy. I know. It has been lean times for Bills fans.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi, Saints at Panthers, division title & #2 spot in the playoffs, I like the Panthers at home and think Carolina will go along way in the playoffs, your thoughts on this match-up?
Ashley Fox (4:28 PM)
I can't wait to see this game on Sunday. I know this: The Panthers like their chances. They've won their last six at home after losing to Seattle by five in their home opener. And their margin for victory at home is 17.4 points per game. The Saints can deny it all they want, but they're a different team on the road. I like Carolina, if they can run the ball and score touchdowns in the red zone instead of settle for field goals like they did a few weeks ago in New Orleans. I'm not convinced they can "go a long way" in the playoffs, but we'll see.
Freddy (NY, NY)
Ashley, I think you're terribly mistaken about football being played in snow. Football is a sport that is meant to play in all kinds of weather. Rain, snow, sun, 80 degree weather, 0 degree weather, ALL KINDS. Your point about it being disadvantageous is misguided, because you can say that Drew Brees has an advantage in a dome stadium because....that's what he is used to playing in. The players have to adjust to their surroundings, that is what will make them a good player. I love it, and I know that fans love it.
Ashley Fox (4:29 PM)
Ok. Fair enough. I just don't want to see the biggest game of the year played with defenses at such a massive disadvantage because of the weather. If eight inches of snow fell on MetLife Stadium the way it did at Lincoln Financial Field a few weeks back, it would be a memorable game for sure. I just don't think it would be pretty. That's just me.
I know Peyton is considered one of the greatest Q.B's of all time but I'm not sure even he can carry this team all the way to the SB considering how vulnerable their defense has been...Agree/disagree?
Ashley Fox (4:32 PM)
I tend to agree with you at this point. Their defense has been vulnerable, particularly lately. And remember, it was the defense that gave up the big play in the playoffs last year. If they hadn't given up that bomb, they would have won. I was in Bristol for Insiders yesterday and we were talking about what would be a bad playoff matchup for Denver. The consensus was KC, in part because it is hard to beat the same team three times in one season. I'd like to see that matchup though.
I wonder if you think some teams like the Cowboys, Redskins, or Giants, if they have openings, might want to go after some college coaches, like say a Les Miles?
Ashley Fox (4:34 PM)
I don't see Daniel Snyder looking to the college ranks again. He did that when he hired Steve Spurrier, and that didn't exactly work out for him. I don't think the Giants will be looking. Jerry Jones could do that, but I don't see him and Les Miles as a fit. And I don't even know if Miles would be interested in coaching in the NFL. It is a different animal, and he's got a good thing where he is.
Ashley, who's team is it in DC next season? Cousins has shown he can play and the passing offense looks better when he starts, is RGIII capable of becoming an accomplished pocket passer? Is ego a problem with him?
Ashley Fox (4:35 PM)
It is RG III's team. He needs to have a solid offseason of work with whoever the coach is going to be. Is ego a problem? I wouldn't say that, but I would like to see him spend this offseason on football and not doing a documentary or a bunch of commercials. He's got a ton of talent, but he also needs to learn to be a better pocket passer, something he hasn't been asked to do until this season. Missing last offseason hurt him.
Big Bears fan and attending the game Sunday Night in Philly? Do you think Eagles will rest their starters if Dallas wins and if not, Chicago wins either way?
Ashley Fox (4:37 PM)
Chip Kelly has said they won't, and I tend to think he's telling the truth. I don't think Chicago wins either way. I think it should be a good game and that the Eagles offense will give the Bears problems. The Eagles have been pretty careful with the football and have been good in the red zone with Nick Foles at quarterback. It should be a great atmosphere for a game. I will be there, too.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Jason Garrett throws Romo under the bus after the game on sunday (i know its head of the moment) Monday Jerry Throws Garret under same bus by saying Romo is our QB... Who's bus leaves town first Garretts or Romo's
Ashley Fox (4:39 PM)
There seems to be an undeclared war unfolding in Dallas, doesn't there? Garrett says Romo changed the play call and that Bill Callahan is the one who made it. Jerry says he supported Romo changing the call. What does that tell you? It tells me that Garrett's bus is warming up.
Thomas ( Boston)
Big time Eagles fan in Boston! Truly surprised the Eagles are vying for a playoff spot. Hats off to Chip. My question: Is the Eagles talent on D better than advertised or are they playing just playing over their heads? Lastly, do they focus on S and CB in the draft??
Ashley Fox (4:42 PM)
I'm surprised, too. It is a credit to Chip Kelly. He's done good job while learning on the fly, even though I do question some of his in-game decisions. That's another topic. To your questions, I think the defense is playing above its talent level. They still need to upgrade the talent there. And at this point, I don't know how to predict exactly what Kelly will want to do in the draft. Has he found his quarterback? I'd say yes, but we won't really know until the draft. They could use upgrades in the secondary. Depending on what they decide with Maclin and Cooper, they could need an impact WR.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Do you like the Browns chances of making the playoffs before Barack leaves office?
Ashley Fox (4:43 PM)
That's not that long you know. I will say no, given the depth in the division. But there is talent on that roster. That much is evident.
Dave (Columbus )
Hi Ashley, I wonder if you can envision in the near future expanding to more cities in the US? I think there are cities like LA, Portland, and Orlando who could support teams. Thoughts?
Ashley Fox (4:45 PM)
I don't see expansion. I see relocation. Los Angeles is the priority. After that, I think the league would like to see a team in London at some point. Portland and Orlando are not cities you hear in the discussion.
Greg (Bellevue, WA)
What do you think the chances are of the Cardinals knocking off the Seahawks this weekend? I have heard and read of some people grumbling about it but I am having trouble thinking that we would lose even if the game was in Arizona. And since it is in the friendly confines of the Clink, I feel like the Hawks are going to prove that they are in a class above and ready to make that path to the super bowl run right through their front yard.
Ashley Fox (4:46 PM)
I don't see Seattle losing at home until 2020. Or at least until the 2014 regular season, if then. They are so dominant at home, it's scary.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Do the Cardinals reel in the 49ers or Panthers and make the playoffs?
Ashley Fox (4:47 PM)
It's really impressive what the Cardinals have done this season with a new head coach and a new quarterback, but I have to think they're going to be on the outside looking in and saying, if only.
Looks like San Diego is going to just miss the playoffs again. They've beaten the Chiefs and Broncos on the road, but lost to Houston and Washington earlier in the year. Sometimes they look like they can beat anybody and other times look terrible. Will they ever put a full season together?
Ashley Fox (4:49 PM)
I really, really, really like Mike McCoy, and I think he's helped Philip Rivers, aka the Bolo, enjoy kind of a renaissance season. His window isn't going to be open forever, but I like the Chargers chances moving forward into 2014. They need to show some consistency, which has been an ongoing theme with them for a while now.
As bad as the Falcons season has been, I think they could be right back next year. $30m in cap space, returning injured players all over the place and high draft picks. I like the young secondary. If they get a pass rusher and fortify the OL in free agency, watch out.
Ashley Fox (4:52 PM)
Didn't we say that last offseason: Get another pass rusher and upgrade the line. It has been a hugely disappointing season for Atlanta, but I tend to agree with you. They got killed by injuries early and couldn't recover. It happens. There are two positives to take from this: They got young players, particularly on defense, invaluable playing time. And they will have a ridiculously high first-round draft pick. And the Falcons under Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have done an excellent job of targeting top talent. So there's that.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
The depth of the division? The Browns own victories over Baltimore and Cincinnati. One with Hoyer, one with Campbell. What other team playing 3 or more QB's has wins from all 3 QB's? Stabilize that position, they return to prominence.
Ashley Fox (4:53 PM)
Ok. And your point is well taken. I would venture to say that no team has gotten wins from three different starting quarterbacks. But stabilizing the position is a little easier said than done.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Is Mike Shanahan coaching in the NFL next season?
Ashley Fox (4:54 PM)
I would think so. Question is where.
Ed (Queens Village)
September 2014 head coach of Jets Rex Ryan or other?
Ashley Fox (4:54 PM)
I'd like to see Rex remain in New York, but it seems unlikely given the circumstances.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
Ashley, the Tar Heels got McDonald back. Are they now Final Four material? C'mon, take a break from football, and channel your inner North Carolinian for second.
Ashley Fox (4:55 PM)
I am not a Tar Heels fan. Ask my brother. Go Hoosiers.
If Stafford didn't have Megatron, where would he rank on the top pick bust scale? Closer to Russell or Bradford?
Ashley Fox (4:57 PM)
I think if Stafford played in Dallas he would be getting skewered. I don't think he's a bust but I do think he bears responsibility for part of what's short-circuited in Detroit this season.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Is anyone in Philly worried Chip Kelly might be intrigued by the Texas job?
Ashley Fox (4:58 PM)
I think everyone in Philly is worried Kelly might be intrigued, given the buying power Texas has. And this is going to be a constant theme for the next few years whenever an attractive college job opens and Kelly is in Philly (if he stays in Philly). You saw it when the USC job became open. It just goes with the territory.
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
Alright everybody. Thanks for all the great questions. I will be enjoying Christmas with my family next Wednesday. We will get back at it after the holiday. Enjoy it and be safe.