Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (2:00 PM)
Greetings everybody. Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.
I'm a Jets fan who believes that the Jets could have drafted a lot better... what is your take on Geno? Can you believe the Jets did not draft a TE or WR.... ?
Ashley Fox (2:02 PM)
This is a team that had so many needs I don't think they could fill them all with just one draft. But you're right, they need more playmakers on offense. I think the quarterback competition is going to be fascinating to watch. Geno Smith was a terrific talent at West Virginia, and now he will be playing for an offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg who has a history of developing quarterbacks. Will he be the Week 1 starter? He certainly has a chance.
Mike Ho (Hong Kong)
Ashley, what is your opinion of Ryan Tannehill? He didn't get as much hype as some of the other rookie QBs.
Ashley Fox (2:04 PM)
I agree, Mike, that he got overshadowed by RGIII, Luck and Wilson, and for good reason. But Tannehill had a solid rookie season. He needs to cut down on the turnovers -- he had 12 interceptions and nine fumbles last season -- but you can say that about a lot of quarterbacks. And look what the Dolphins have done during the offseason. They've surrounded him with talent at the receiver position. Miami's offense should be solid this season.
If you look at the Vikings whole team except for QB do they have a SB caliber team? They have very little holes. If how much better does Ponder have to get? I think Peterson is the only RB that can make up for an average QB.
Ashley Fox (2:07 PM)
They are solid, for sure, but when discussing Super Bowl caliber teams, you can't discount the quarterback. At all. Even with a player as special as Peterson. I like how Ponder closed the season last year, but he can't have games where he passes for 50-some yards or 90-some yards as he did last year. When I think of Super Bowl caliber teams, the Vikings aren't one that comes to mind. I think a more realistic goal is making a second consecutive appearance in the playoffs. This is a huge year for Ponder to show he belongs and can get the job done.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley, It's only May and just trash talking but Steve Smith comments about Mark Sanchez, do you see the Jets giving Mark Sanchez enough playing time to use as trade bait for high draft choices in 2014? It just seems this year Mark is a lame duck QB as long as Geno is in camp.
Ashley Fox (2:11 PM)
At this point, who would give up high draft choices, much less a high draft choice, for Sanchez? I wouldn't. Not to mention no one would want to take on that contract. And I don't know necessarily if Sanchez is a lame duck. If he beats out Smith, he won't be. But he needs to seriously elevate his game, and I'm not sure Sanchez is more than we've seen. He makes a ton of turnovers, takes a ton of sacks and struggles to make deep throws.
Tim(Seattle) [via mobile]
Who rocks a better ponytail you or Clayton?
Ashley Fox (2:11 PM)
Clayton. For sure.
Ed (Queens Village)
Which team in AFC and NFC have good chance to go from last to division champs?
Ashley Fox (2:14 PM)
Well let's look. Buffalo, no. Cleveland, no. Jacksonville, no. Kansas City, doubtful in that division with the Broncos the superior team. In the NFC, Arizona, no. Tampa Bay, no (that division is Atlanta's to win). Detroit, possibly. Philadelphia, who the heck knows about that team. It is a hard feat to reverse fortune and go from the cellar to the top, and we certainly saw that last year with so many teams returning to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Sanchez also likes to run into his OL's buns and fumble. That's gotta be worth at least a 6th rounder, no? Ha.
Ashley Fox (2:14 PM)
Well, there's that.
Mr. Freeney(leaving San Diego) [via mobile]
Where am I gonna end up? My dad seems to think Det, NE, or Tenn?
Ashley Fox (2:15 PM)
Or the Giants, right? It seems the market is heating up for you, Dwight. Or at least your camp is making it appear that it is. I'm guessing San Diego. They need Dwight Freeney.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Is Mark Sanchez now officially the whipping boy of the NFL when players like Steve Smith, granted a star player, but who's made the playoffs fewer times thatn Sanchez, decides to pile on?
Ashley Fox (2:16 PM)
You know, I'm not sure why Steve Smith would even bother making comments about Sanchez. I didn't particularly care for that, but I don't know the specifics of how it even came up.
Do you think Peterson is the perfect RB? 6ft1 219lbs, elite speed and elite power. Lead the league in 20+ yard rushes and 40 yard rushes last year and had by far the most yards after first contact.
Ashley Fox (2:19 PM)
Well, yeah. He's pretty special. Not to mention the fact that he had the season he did after sustaining the knee injury. It was beyond remarkable. He's a special, special player. I don't think he's going to hit his goal of 2,500 yards this season, as I wrote about recently. I don't think the Vikings want him to rush for 2,500 yards. But Peterson will use that goal as fuel for this season.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Happy Friday, Ashley! Did the retirement of Rolando McClain surprise you? I knew he had a rough start with the Raiders (much of which seemed to be his own fault), but his retirement at age 23 really surprised me. I thought he would be a good linebacker.
Ashley Fox (2:21 PM)
Al is in the house. Happy Friday to you, too. I was surprised by his retirement, but I was happy for him that he acknowledged he needs to spend time and energy into getting his life in order. I think "retirement" might be a little strong for what's going to happen, although I understand that was his word. Sabbatical might be more accurate. We will have to see how that plays out. He could take a year or two off and still have an opportunity to return, as long as he keeps in shape. If he took two years off, he'd still only be 25. And teams always need talented linebackers.
Jon (Chattanooga, TN)
Is Alex Smith really a competent enough passer to elevate Kansas City out of the AFC West basement, and shake the "game manager" label from his time in SF?
Ashley Fox (2:25 PM)
Smith is what he is, but I think he is actually a good fit for Kansas City, given the options that were available. He is in a West Coast system that relies heavily on short and intermediate passes, which he is capable of executing. He's motivated. He has a coach who admires how he handled a difficult situation last season. I think he can be more of a game manager, but he's never going to fire darts down field like Joe Flacco can. Are the Chiefs going to supplant the Broncos? I sincerely doubt it. But I expect they will be much better than 4-12.
eric NY [via mobile]
Big Ben rated the 61st best player and 11th best quarterback in the nfl on the top 100 list last night. He never gets any respect! Its absurd..
Ashley Fox (2:26 PM)
The 11th best quarterback? That seems very low. I'd put him in the middle of the top 10, but that's just me.
Hi Ashley, what is your bucket list of sporting events/games to see (given your background I would think UK-Ville in Basketball and perhaps Duke UNC at Cameron are on it)
Ashley Fox (2:29 PM)
My bucket list of sporting events? The big one I have never been to that I'd like to go to is the Masters. My favorite events? The Super Bowl, of course. For college hoops, the two you mentioned are great and any game in Assembly Hall. I'm a fan of the Kentucky Derby. Wimbledon is amazing. And I've been to one Olympics, in Greece, where the coolest thing I saw was the men's 100 meters. Those are off the top of my head.
Hey Ashley. What's the atmosphere like at a Monday night game at Lambeau?
Ashley Fox (2:31 PM)
Lambeau is another one of those amazing places for any game and should be on any sports fan's bucket list. There's no other place in the NFL like it, given that the town revolves around the stadium and the team. I can't remember off the top of my head if I've been there for a Monday night game, but I've been there for playoff games and it is electric. And loud. And usually very cold, which only adds to the atmosphere.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Which receiver will have a better 2013 season, Greg Jennings or Percy Harvin?
Ashley Fox (2:33 PM)
Hmm. I like the question. I will pick Harvin, given who will be throwing him the ball. I think he was a tremendous pickup for the Seahawks. But Jennings will see a lot of throws come his way.
Steve Smith was defending his boy Cam on the radio, when the host said Cam has never made the playoffs and should be ranked lower than many QBs who have - so Steve said Sanchez made the playoffs multiple times, but he would not take him over Cam. So the quote in itself looks bad, but Smith was defending his QB.
Ashley Fox (2:34 PM)
Context. There you have it. Thanks. And given that, I would agree with Smith that I'd rather have Newton than Sanchez. That's a no-brainer.
Marc Trestman is known to turn an offense around quickly. Do you think the Bears offense becomes respectable in year one?
Ashley Fox (2:36 PM)
They've got to be better than 29th in passing offense, that's for sure. And that's why Trestman was brought in. I think he should have a good effect on Cutler, which is the key to the whole thing. They'll have a tough test in the opener from the Bengals, who quietly have one of the best defenses in the league and one of the most creative defensive coordinators. So we'll see pretty quickly how Chicago stacks up.
it goes to the point, why do media and others like to bring up W/L and attribute it solely to QBs? Isn't that ignorant, lazy, and short sighted? Team game after all...
Ashley Fox (2:38 PM)
It is a team game, but the reality is quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses, just like coaches are, fair or not. I don't think it is ignorant, lazy or shortsighted. But your point is taken. Quarterbacks get way too much credit when their team wins and way too much of the blame when their team loses. But that is life in the NFL, and every quarterback knows it.
I'm a bit perplexed as to why everyone is annointing Seattle as elite heading into 2013. They were the 4th best team in the conference last year and lost to Atlanta in postseason. Good team sure, but top of the heap I think not. I like SF, Atlanta and Green Bay ahead of them for sure.
Ashley Fox (2:41 PM)
The fourth best team in the conference is elite. And I think they will be better this season. They lost to Atlanta, yes, but had Pete Carroll managed the end of the first half better, they wouldn't have lost that game. I'm with you on San Francisco and Atlanta being up there. But Seattle I think is up there, too. Their defense should be just as good as the Niners. It will be important for Wilson to continue to progress, but the same can be said for Kaepernick.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Teams do you think will look the Best after The Rookie Mini Camp?
Ashley Fox (2:43 PM)
Rookie minicamp means very little, even for the best rookies, who are practicing with guys who won't, for the most part, even make the roster. So Matt Barkley could look great in the Eagles minicamp, but he wasn't throwing to DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin. It is just about gaining familiarity.
I agree, i do think it is unfair to judge a QB solely on his W/L record. And unfortunately, alot of people do just that. Same way alot of folks put Super Bowl Winning Qbs on a pedestal, but i would take Marino/Kelly over a whole lot of them.
Ashley Fox (2:44 PM)
Yep. Nature of the game.
True or False, Shariff Floyd will be the NFL Defensive ROY?
Ashley Fox (2:44 PM)
I don't know. It's May 17. Ask me again in October.
Have you ever been to Paul Brown Stadium? I'm going to watch the Packers and I've heard the fans are rude.
Ashley Fox (2:47 PM)
I have been to a game in Cleveland, although it's been a while. I think, as a general rule, fans everywhere can be rude, particularly to fans of the opposing team. Like some of the other stuff we've been discussing, that's the nature of the game, unfortunately. My general advice is, if you are going to see your team play in someone else's stadium, I wouldn't wear your team's jersey there. But that's just me. And I don't wear jerseys anyway, so there's that.
The Ravens' wide reciever depth worries me, as Torrey and Jacoby are the only proven talent. Staff has confidence in the young guys, but if they fail to shine in camp who do you see Baltimore going after?
Ashley Fox (2:49 PM)
It's hard to say because at this point we don't know who will be available. I know this about Ozzie and the Ravens: They are very good at identifying young talent and developing it. They might even be the best in the league at it. So I would trust that they know what they're doing.
Haha, Paul Brown Stadium is in Cincinnati.
Ashley Fox (2:50 PM)
Gees. It is Friday. Forgive me. Same applies.
fran christy (collingswood nj)
Ashley, do you think Chip Kellys methods will do more then improve the players conditioning? Can he get them to at least .500 this year?
Ashley Fox (2:53 PM)
It's going to be fascinating to see. I was at the NovaCare Complex on Monday for the Eagles first minicamp practice, and they certainly were moving at a rapid clip. Vick made the comment that after each play, he would turn to his OC for feedback and there wasn't time for it because they were on to the next play. I think .500 is a reasonable outcome in the first year. But if the team starts slowly -- let's say they're 2-6 at the midpoint -- I think it's going to be hard for him to keep hammering the fast tempo and smoothies and blaring music. Everybody's on board now, but it's May.
What is your favorite tv shows?
Ashley Fox (2:54 PM)
My favorite shows? I don't watch a ton of TV that isn't sports related, although I watch Shameless religiously. And I loved the Wire.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Cam Newton finished strong in 2012 for the Panthers? Do you think he'll be able to pickup where he left off and lead Carolina into the postseason?
Ashley Fox (2:58 PM)
My colleague Pat Y. had a column about Newton up today where he said he fully expects Newton to have a big year with a new offensive coordinator particularly given how he finished 2012, and I agree. I think Newton got overshadowed by the rookies last year and by the fact that Carolina started the season so poorly. Now, can he play well enough to help the Panthers get into the postseason? I'm not sure about that. They'd likely have to be a wildcard team.
With Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker, who do you think Peyton Mannings favorite target is going to be?
Ashley Fox (2:59 PM)
That's a strong receiving corps, isn't it. But I think it will be Welker and it might not even be close.
Ashley Fox (2:59 PM)
Alright everybody. Thanks for all the questions and the discussion. We'll do it again next week. Have a fantastic weekend.