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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (4:01 PM)
Greetings everybody. I'm back after a couple weeks off. Training camp is upon us. Let's get started.
Has Philly's defense improved enough to help the offense?
Ashley Fox (4:03 PM)
That's a good question, Jim. They were better than I expected last year, and I think they have made some improvements. But I'm still concerned about their secondary. I think Malcolm Jenkins will help. He will lead the back of that defense. But I still think their corners could be a liability.
What percent is Jeremy Maclin at? Is he fully healthy and good to go? Does he still have that speed that stretches defenses and is he ready to be a number 1 kinda guy?
Ashley Fox (4:05 PM)
Sticking with the Eagles for a minute, I think Maclin is good to go. He says he feels great. I know that Chip Kelly really likes him and plans on moving him around the field a bunch. But he doesn't have the speed DeSean Jackson does (few players do). Even so, I think he's ready to be a No. 1 kind of guy and I fully expect him to have a 1,000-yard season. Darren Sproles is going to help him, too, by drawing defenders.
Who is the best back up QB in the league? Matt Flynn? Tavaris Jackson?
Ashley Fox (4:07 PM)
I'd put Flynn up there. If Michael Vick turns out to be the Jets backup -- and there's a long way to go before that happens -- he would be up there. Mark Sanchez has experience. As Chicago and Green Bay learned last year, the backup quarterback is an extremely important and valuable position. You need to have one who can step in and perform if and when necessary.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team will be the First to Open their Summer Training Camp in 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:08 PM)
It's the Bills and the Giants. They open later this week. Everybody else next week.
Ed (Queens Village)
Are there any training camps you look forward to visiting?
Ashley Fox (4:09 PM)
I always like going to training camp. Everyone is still pretty laid back. The grind of the season hasn't started yet. It's a good time to have meaningful conversations with folks. I don't have my schedule set yet, but I think I'll be sticking in the Northeast. Lots of good teams to hit between Washington and New England.
Jimmy (O.C., Ca)
What is the current situation with the issue of LA getting a team? I think LA needs one long before talk of London should get any attention. I also like the 32-team model (8 four-team divisions) and think a relocation would be better than adding a franchise, Your thoughts?
Ashley Fox (4:12 PM)
I 100 percent agree with you. The issue in L.A. is the stadium. But Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins owner, said a couple of months ago that he has a pretty good idea of where to put one there (not that he's moving the Dolphins; he's just familiar with the market). Ross also said he thinks there will be a franchise there within five years. Not sure about that. But yes, there definitely needs to be one there before the league thinks about London. Los Angeles is a priority.
David (Houston )
How will Arian Foster fair coming off his back surgery? Also, will his production decrease moving from a zone blocking scheme running game with Kubiak, to Bill O'brien's offensive scheme? I always thought a zone blocking scheme utilized his talents well due to him being a one-cut RB.
Ashley Fox (4:15 PM)
That's certainly one of the many unknowns with the Texans heading into this season. I know this: A running back can be a new quarterback's best friend. While Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't a rookie, he is learning a new offense. Foster will get his touches. He played only eight games last season and had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons before that. I would expect more of the same this season.
Steven (Seattle, WA)
Is Seattle better or worse than they were 12 months ago today?
Ashley Fox (4:17 PM)
How about as good? They're definitely not worse. A healthy Percy Harvin should make them better on offense, even though Harvin's injury history is troubling. And the thing is, they were able to pay a couple of their own guys, which is a good thing. They've had flexibility there given Russell Wilson is still on his rookie deal. That will change soon, but I really think the Seahawks are built for a championship run for at least the next few years.
With the Jimmy Graham contract lasting 4 years and Brees being 35, do you see the Saints having to win in the next 3 years and then trading away Graham before year 4 when he becomes a free agent?
Ashley Fox (4:21 PM)
Well, they definitely have to maximize their opportunities given Brees' age. And I think they will. They should be very competitive this season. They had to get the Graham deal done, and it made him happy and his teammates happy. What happens before his fourth season? Who knows. But Jimmy wants to be a New Orleans Saint. Entering that fourth year I think he will only be 30, so he should have good football still in front of him.
Fred (west palm beach area)
Hi Ashley, Welcome back! What moves do the Dolphins need to make them more competitive in the AFC East with NE and and improved Buffalo squad?
Ashley Fox (4:22 PM)
Thanks, Fred. I think the biggest thing the Dolphins and Joe Philbin need to do is get more out of their starting quarterback. They've got pieces around him and Tannehill needs to show he's progressing. If he doesn't, I think Philbin is going to be sweating it out a little. If the Dolphins struggle, I think Philbin's seat is going to get very hot.
What rookie, offense or defense, do you see having the most productive year in 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:25 PM)
I wrote a few weeks ago that I think Calvin Pryor will win defensive rookie of the year. I love Clowney and Mack, but I think Pryor is going to have a huge impact on the Jets defense. He's big, brash, a vicious hitter and is able to blitz from all over the field. He's in the mold of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. I expect big things from him, as do the Jets.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
I get it, the Seahawks had an unbelievable season and killed the Broncos in the SB. But am I wrong in thinking that they're extremely ungracious winners, maybe among the worst of all-time? Or that just how it goes these days?
Ashley Fox (4:28 PM)
I assume you're talking about Bobby Wagner saying the Broncos were scared. That was an unnecessary statement. Sounded horrible. The Broncos weren't scared. And look, Seattle dominated them. The Seahawks were the better team. Everybody knows it. To me, I'd like to see a little more humility, but there are a lot of brash players on that team, particularly on defense.
Rank these rookie WRs based on production this upcoming season: Evans, Cooks, Watkins, Lattimer, Beckham Jr., Matthews, and Landry.
Ashley Fox (4:32 PM)
I don't know top to bottom. For whatever reason, it's tough on rookie receivers. I liked that Beckham was with Eli Manning at the Manning passing camp last weekend. That's a good sign. Watkins obviously was the top pick among the guys you listed, so the expectations on him are higher. Matthews is going to see some action in Chip Kelly's offense. Cooks has the best quarterback throwing to him of the receivers you listed. I also like Marqise Lee, and I think the Jaguars, believe it or not, will surprise some people this season.
Justin (Johnson City)
If you had to guess right now, who will have the better statistical season, Emanuel Sanders or Eric Decker? Will Sanders approach Decker type numbers of 85 catches, 1200 yards, and 10 TDs next year?
Ashley Fox (4:36 PM)
I will pick Emmanuel Sanders. He said on NFL Network this morning that he is very happy in that offense, and I believe he will slide right in to Decker's old role. Decker to me is not a No. 1 receiver. You know playing with Manning that you're going to see significant action. I don't think the Broncos are going to sling it around as much as they did last season -- they want to be more balanced -- but Sanders should see plenty of action.
"Ungracious winners" is ridiculous in regards to the Seahawks. Wagner was asked a question by Stephen A. Smith who said he thought they looked scared and asked Wagner if he agreed. It's an interview, we're supposed to tune into a show, watch a segment, read an article where no one has an opinion or expresses any personal feelings towards anything anymore? And are you seriously telling me the Broncos didn't look scared? Tape don't lie.
Ashley Fox (4:37 PM)
I didn't see the interview, but if that's how it went down, that does help add context to his comments.
Do you see any hope for the Jets Cb's this year? Dee Milliner looked lost 3/4 of the year,Dimitri Patterson cant stay healthy,Ras I Ddowling looked ok in ota's and Kyle Wilson is well Kyle Wilson
Ashley Fox (4:40 PM)
I think Dexter McDougle will challenge for one of the starting spots. Patterson is decent as a slot guy and while Milliner struggled as a rookie, he played better at the end of the season. So don't dog them out just yet.
What do you think the new Giants Offense will be like? Obviously everyone, old and new players alike, are learning a new system, but Eli's a smart guy and they have some good looking receivers is Randle continues to progress and Beckham/Manningham can provide something. My concern is still that line and keeping Eli upright.
Ashley Fox (4:42 PM)
That's a big concern, Alex, and Manning took plenty of hits last year, which didn't help things. To me, I thought Manning pressed at times because he had to do so much. I know his interception numbers aren't good from the last two seasons (or is it 2 1/2?) but I am not ready to write him off yet. And I think a change in voices with a new coordinator will be good for him, particularly at this stage of his career. They've got to protect him though.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How much do you think Lebron's return to Cleveland will help Johnny Manziel?
Ashley Fox (4:45 PM)
In what way? I think Cleveland as a sports town has gotten WAY more interesting in the last two months, right? It's very exciting for the city and its passionate sports fans. But Manziel is going to command attention even with James back in town. He just has that magnetism. It's kind of like the whole Tebow effect, in a different way. And I think the Browns are going to be hard pressed to keep him on the sideline as a backup, particularly if in the preseason Manziel is playing with and against second stringers and does his whole Johnny Football thing.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Yeah BD, he also said they looked like they didn't want to catch the ball..Demaryius Thomas goes on to set a record for receptions...there's a diff between being outplayed, which they were, and calling people out for being scared. You want an opinion? Act like you've been there before...oh wait, that's right, the Hawks haven't won one previously..no wonder they act like a bunch of clowns...
Ashley Fox (4:46 PM)
Another opinion. Thomas did go off, but that was in large part because Decker completely disappeared.
Who has better numbers this season, Jeffery or Marshall?
Ashley Fox (4:47 PM)
Oh boy. Great question. You know Marshall is Cutler's guy. He goes to him almost by default. But Jeffery is so talented. It's certainly an excellent problem to have. The Bears could be scary good on offense this season.
Brad (Cedar Rapids)
What non-playoff team from 2013 do you see possibly building towards being a perennial "power." Perhaps the next NE, SF, or GB type?
Ashley Fox (4:50 PM)
I wouldn't say "perennial power," but I really think that Jacksonville is going to surprise a lot of people. They're building that franchise kind of in the mold of Seattle. They're not there yet, but Gus Bradley knows what he's doing and the players love him. I think if they can keep heading in the right direction that they're going to be a playoff contender at least in the next year or two.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Take some of the outside pressure off him now that the KING has returned? I know the Johnny Football persona has a life of its own. But you didn't think the vibe would be a little more intense, and the fans more uptight and restless, if the "Prodigal Son" didn't return?
Ashley Fox (4:52 PM)
That's certainly possible. I hadn't really thought of it that way, probably because I really didn't think LeBron was going to go back. But I also don't think Manziel feels any of that outside pressure. If he does, he doesn't act like it, or at least hasn't yet.
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, WI)
Hi Ashley! Thanks for doing the chat. In making predictions for the upcoming season, I like looking at things that went really well for a team the previous year that likely won't, and vice-versa. Law of averages. Looking at the NFC East, nearly everyone is pegging Philadelphia as the division champs. Here's what I'm thinking. Nick Foles is highly unlikely to post that crazy TD:INT ratio again. McCoy probably isn't hitting 1600+ yards in back to back seasons. Not to say that they will severely drop off, but I don't like their chances to improve record wise much. Meanwhile, Eli Manning isn't likely to be as awful as last year, their running backs aren't likely to all get hurt, and they play Tampa Bay/Detroit as opposed to Carolina/Green Bay, giving them an easy opponent advantage. I think the Giants take that division. What do you think of that thought, and what other kind of trends do you think will fall more towards the "means" this year? Thanks!
Ashley Fox (4:55 PM)
I think Philly is going to be tough, but I also have not 100 percent bought into Foles. I need to see more. He was ridiculously accurate and careful with the football last year, but I need to see that spread out over a 16-game schedule -- one that includes the NFC West. And I agree that the Giants should be better. I also think Washington is going to be in the mix. Dallas, too. I think it's going to be a pretty even division. Other trends: I think this could be the year we have the first repeat Super Bowl winner since the Patriots. And I think we're going to see a lot of repeat playoff teams from last year. Those are a few.
Danny (Peoria, IL)
Can the Bears overtake the Packers in the NFCN?
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
Oh sure. Another division that I think will be tough. Don't sleep on Detroit, either.
I highly doubt the Broncos were scared, but it's difficult to imagine they weren't at least intimidated. How can you not think that based on the score of the game? With that said, I hope the Hawks get knocked off this season.
Ashley Fox (4:57 PM)
Intimidated is probably the better word. As I said earlier, I think the Hawks are here to stay.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
The team that goes from worse to first in 2014 is _______?
Ashley Fox (4:58 PM)
That's another one of those trends. It's happened each of the last 11 seasons, I think. We actually had to pick this for NFL Live, and I picked Atlanta. But that was before the whole Hard Knocks thing happened. I don't think that distraction is going to help them at all.
Greg (New York, NY)
If the Giants don't make the playoffs this year, do you think they will make a head coaching change? While Coughlin is great, surely a proud franchise can't be happy with not making the playoffs in 3 consecutive years.
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
That's a good question. They like consistency there, and the man did win two Super Bowls over the Patriots. I certainly don't think he'd step down. I don't know that they'd pull the trigger, either. Will definitely be worth watching.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How much will your fellow Hoosier be able to help Denver this year in the passing game?
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
I hope a lot!
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
Alright, everybody. Thanks so much. We'll do it again next week. Have a great rest of your week.