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)
Hello everybody. Thanks for joining me. Let's get started.
Hi ASHLEY Who Wins The NFC EAST This Year?
Ashley Fox (4:02 PM)
Victor, I really think it is the Eagles division to lose. Dallas has issues on defense. The Giants still have rebuilding to do and are breaking in a new offense. Washington to me poses the biggest threat, but overall I think the Eagles have the most talent. The big question is going to be can they adequately replace DeSean Jackson's production? I know they like the receivers they have, will use multiple tight ends and like the dual threat that Sproles brings. They are my pick.
Will (Boston) [via mobile]
After the debacle against Indy last season did that fully expose Kansas City as a pretender and not a contender in your mind?
Ashley Fox (4:04 PM)
The Chiefs obviously fell off last season once the schedule got harder in November and December. But I don't think they're a "pretender" per se. They do have a much tougher schedule this season, one that includes the NFC West. Andy Reid told me he welcomes the tougher schedule and that it will be an easy sell to get his players ready to play each. That division still belongs to Denver and I think San Diego is going to be tough, too.
How big a blow to the Giants is the loss of David Wilson?
Ashley Fox (4:06 PM)
It's a blow, for sure, but the Giants knew this was a possibility and they have planned accordingly. I feel bad for Wilson. It's sad that his career is over at such a young age. He was a good, multipurpose threat. But the Giants have other talented backs who now will get more of a chance. The offense is going to evolve as they get more comfortable with what McAdoo is asking.
Expecting a bounce back year from RG III or another year of troubles?
Ashley Fox (4:07 PM)
I do. Remember, he wasn't far removed from the ACL surgery when last season started, and I think if Mike Shanahan had to do it again, he would not have allowed Griffin to rush back so quickly. I'm intrigued to see what Jay Gruden does with Griffin and how Griffin grows under a new coach. It is a huge year for him. Whenever you essentially get a head coach fired, it is on you. He needs to have a big year.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Hi, Ashley. I'm a little surprised that Martellus Bennett got punished so harshly for his role in a training camp fight. Do you think his suspension was appropriate, and if so, why?
Ashley Fox (4:10 PM)
Hi, Al. I'm surprised that it was the GM who announced the punishment and not the head coach. It really needed to come from Trestman. But I think they wanted to send a message that slamming a teammate to the ground after a routine defensive play is unacceptable. I don't have a problem with it. And this wasn't the first time Bennett did something like that. Still, I think there's a possibility he plays on Friday. So we'll see.
Will [via mobile]
Indy is my darkhorse to make the superbowl. Is it conceivable to think he can beat Peyton or Tom, or both?
Ashley Fox (4:12 PM)
He being Andrew Luck? It's a team game, don't forget, but I get your point. I think Indy is going in the right direction and obviously have the right guy at the most important position. To me, the Broncos have the most talent on paper in the AFC. They spent a lot of money upgrading the defense and I think they are going to be more balanced on offense with an emphasis on the running game. Could Indy beat them? Sure. They did last year in Indy.
Chances Dallas has the worst defense in the league again?
Ashley Fox (4:14 PM)
They certainly could. They have issues on defense, which is one reason why you hear Jerry Jones say that he would be open to bringing Josh Brent back, if he gets reinstated and comes out of retirement. They have needs on the defensive line.
What are your thoughts on the Bills sale? Do they stay in Buffalo long term?
Ashley Fox (4:17 PM)
I hope they stay in Buffalo long term, and I really believe that is a league priority. The Bills mean so much to that region and have such a long history there. They need a new stadium to ensure their viability in Buffalo. I think the $1.2 billion figure is fascinating. If they are worth that, what is a team like the Cowboys actually worth?
Ashley Fox (4:18 PM)
I just saw part of the David Wilson press conference today. Wow. I feel for him. Give it a look if you can. It will rip your heart out.
Tim Irvin (Los Angeles)
Ashley, In your professional opinion, due you think that the NFL will return to Los Angeles in 2015 (Raiders or Rams)? Personally, I see both Raiders and Rams returning to LA. Teams playing in the Coliseum and Rose Bowl respectively until a new stadium is built at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium) and Jacksonville relocating to St. Louis (Mr. Kahn's home base). Am I delusional or is something like this possible?
Ashley Fox (4:19 PM)
It could be possible down the road, but not in 2015. That's way too quick for that too happen. But in five years? Maybe. I do think the stadium issue there needs to get resolved first. Like the Bills staying in Buffalo, getting a team in L.A. is also a league priority, but we've been talking about this forever.
Dontae NJ [via mobile]
which team is better Broncos or Patriots
Ashley Fox (4:21 PM)
On paper, I think the Broncos. But I love the addition of Revis in New England and the Patriots young receivers should be better after last season. As long as they have Brady, the Patriots will always be in the mix.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, in an earlier chat Matt Williamson stated that he thought Adrian Peterson may not be with the Vikings in 2015, citing that his contract next year would be "nuts". I get the feeling that the Vikings will somehow restructure his contract next year, so AD retires as a Viking. What are your thoughts on this situation?
Ashley Fox (4:24 PM)
Well, I would love to Peterson retire as a Viking, given what he's meant to Minnesota. But I agree with Matt that his contract next year will be cumbersome, to say the least. They certainly could restructure it, if he is willing. Otherwise, I can't imagine Peterson would be ready to hang it up. I've got to think that at some point we will see him playing in another uniform.
Ryan (Florida) [via mobile]
Why is Jacksonville not willing to give the keys to Bortles, I get not wanting to rush him and kill his confidence, but at some point he needs NFL experience, why not now?
Ashley Fox (4:26 PM)
Their reasoning is that he hasn't played a ton of football and they want to give him an opportunity to learn the pro game for a year. I get that. I also think that you learn more actually playing. But you're right, they don't want to destroy his confidence. They really like him. It will be interesting to see if they stick with the plan if they're sub-.500 in November. It is one thing to say it in August and quite another when things go sideways.
Do you see your colleague Herm Edwards ever getting back into coaching?
Ashley Fox (4:28 PM)
I was with Herm yesterday. He is a wonderful human being. I haven't asked him if he wants to get back into coaching, but he has a pretty good gig right now and I think he's very good on television. Colorful, insightful, informed. He does his homework. Selfishly, I hope he doesn't go back because I enjoy working with him.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley - 49ers & Ravens Thursday in in Baltimore, isn't it a little unusual for the NFL to schedule a game like this in the preseason, I can't recall in the last few years having teams on the opposite coast playing each other when it doesn't count, any reason the NFL Scheduled the S.F. @ Balt.?
Ashley Fox (4:30 PM)
I'd have to go back and look at the preseason schedules to answer this. But I like that they're playing. It's always good to get the Harbaugh brothers together. And I think the game will be pretty useful for each team from a "practice" perspective. It's the preseason, so each team is going to be pretty vanilla and the 1s aren't going to play much. And as preseason games go, I always find it interesting to see the 2s and 3s play and see who stands out. These are big auditions for a lot of guys.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Your thoughts on the Ray Rice punishment, the stand ovation he received, the commish's reaction to the public reaction, etc?
Ashley Fox (4:33 PM)
I talked about this on TV last week. I think the punishment was light. Two games did not sit well with me. And Goodell sounded tone deaf to the issue when he spoke about it in Canton. I was surprised Goodell didn't get out in front of the issue earlier. It was something we talked about for more than a week. I think four games would have been more palatable. I was impressed with the things Rice said last week. I was glad he seemed to speak from the heart and publicly apologized to his wife.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Summer Training Camp will you be Attending in 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:35 PM)
I've been to the Eagles already. I'm heading to Cleveland on Sunday for a couple of days. I anticipate going to Baltimore at some point. I'm not doing a camp tour but dropping in on a handful of places as the month progresses.
Jake (Detroit) [via mobile]
The idea of two more playoff teams to me is hit and miss. I love the less is more idea, but I like the idea of the two seed not getting a pass. Your thoughts?
Ashley Fox (4:37 PM)
If it's not broke, why fix it? I like the playoff format as is, but as we know, the league is about generating revenue and having two more playoff games would generate more revenue. So it will happen.
Hi Ashley, who do you see as the #1 downfied option for Foles with DJax now a ...... skin.
Ashley Fox (4:40 PM)
They don't have a player like Jackson on the roster now, and clearly Kelly is okay with that, otherwise he would not have released Jackson. I think they're planning on Maclin having a big year and using him all over the field. They've got some young receivers who have an opportunity to step up. Kelly clearly believes his system works and players are interchangeable. We'll see if he's right about that. Kelly said Jackson didn't draw a lot of double teams last year, but he did open things up for other players. Can Maclin now do that? Or does he even have to?
Brent (St. Paul)
What's up Ashley? I know it's early, but what's your early Super Bowl matchup?
Ashley Fox (4:42 PM)
I actually had to make predictions today that will run, along with a whole host of other people at ESPN.com and ESPN, in a couple of weeks. I picked San Francisco and Denver, with the 49ers winning. It's fun to make predictions, but it is a long season and it is impossible to predict injuries. If Peyton Manning suffers a season-ending injury in September, that prediction obviously would be out the window.
Can the Packers hold off Trestman's Bears and win the NFC North? What does the Fox say?
Ashley Fox (4:44 PM)
Ha. I had to make predictions on division winners, too, and I picked Chicago over Green Bay, with the Packers being a wildcard team. That division is going to be tough. I think all four teams are improved, but I think Chicago's offense could be scary good. They have the best receiving tandem in the league and Cutler by all accounts is in a really good place and likes Trestman.
Josh Brent? Can he even contribute? He didn't do much on the team before his retirement...
Ashley Fox (4:45 PM)
I'm not saying he can, but I think it speaks to how much help the Cowboys need on defense that Jerry Jones would even contemplate bringing him back.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
I thought that it would be a year at least for Carlos Hyde to make am impact, but the way things are going , do you think he could be the team's main backa s early as the 2nd half of this year?
Ashley Fox (4:46 PM)
I don't think so, but I think it's cool that Frank Gore has taken him under his wing and is helping him out. He's obviously got talent. He'll definitely get some reps, and running behind that offensive line is only going to help.
Chances MJD has a revival in Oakland?
Ashley Fox (4:50 PM)
I think it's a lot to ask of a 29-year-old running back with over 1,800 career carries to have a major impact. The Raiders are banking on McFadden staying healthy and being productive. I think you'll see a lot of both.
Matt (Bridgeport) [via mobile]
Your take on all these Thursday night games?
Ashley Fox (4:51 PM)
It is a major money maker. But I know the players hate them. It's really hard on their bodies and it is difficult to prepare on such a short week. But all teams have to do it. It is a necessary evil at this point. The games themselves usually leave a lot to desire. The product on the field is compromised, which I don't think is good.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, do you think the Vikings can win 8 games in 2014?
Ashley Fox (4:53 PM)
Oh boy. I don't know. They have a brutal early schedule with the Rams, Patriots, Saints, Falcons and Packers in the first five weeks. That's tough, particularly with a new coaching staff and potentially a rookie QB. I like what Mike Zimmer is doing and Norv Turner is an accomplished offensive coordinator, but looking at the schedule it's tough to find eight wins.
I know 9ers are a popular pick again this year to go to the Super Bowl, but I can't help think that the additions on offense aren't quite going to make up for some issues on Defense. Stevie Johnson/Hyde/Lattimore vs Aldon Smith Suspension/Justin Smith's age/Bowman injury/DB defections. They should be one of the top 4 NFC teams w/o a doubt, but is 11-12 wins more realistic or does Kaep's maturation trump all?
Ashley Fox (4:56 PM)
I think on paper they have the most talent of any team, and Jim Harbaugh has shown he can coach and get the team to peak at the right time. And 11 or 12 wins very well could be enough to get them home-field advantage, particularly in that division, which, top to bottom, should be the best in the league. And yes, Kaepernick's continued development is key.
adam james ( )
Ashley, if the NFL is dead set on keeping the Thursday night money grab, why not add a bye week for each team and set up the schedule so that teams playing in Thursday night games are coming off of one of their byes? I'm sure the schedule makers could figure out a way to run the byes from week 3 to 16 and make this happen.
Ashley Fox (4:58 PM)
All of that should be under consideration. We haven't heard the end of the 18-game schedule, either, which would necessitate a second bye week. That in turn could work with the Thursday night games. The players are dead set against an 18-game schedule, but the CBA will expire eventually.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Do you find it interesting that reports are that Revis Island is no more..it' s just Left Side Revis? Think they're going to mimic the Hawks defense, or just staying vanilla for the preseason?
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
There's a lot of smoke and mirrors in the preseason, but everything I've heard out of New England is that Revis looks great. Belichick didn't have a problem last season putting Talib on an opponent's best receiver. He didn't do it every week, but he did on occasion. I've got to think he would do that with Revis, too.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
NFl sack leader this season will be ____.
Ashley Fox (4:59 PM)
Simple question... Who will get the starting job. Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel?
Ashley Fox (5:00 PM)
Hoyer for Week 1. But I think we'll see Manziel, too.
Ashley Fox (5:00 PM)
Alright, thanks for all the questions. Appreciate it, as always. We'll do it again next week. Have a great rest of your week.