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ESPN: Chat wrap: Todd McShay


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Todd McShay: Hey everyone. Thanks for all the questions. Let's get started...



Rat: Will Larry Fitzgerald put up good fantasy numbers this season?

Todd McShay: I'm not so sure that he will. With so many questions at quarterback and along their offensive line I think that offense will sputter badly. I'd stay away from him this season in FFB.


Chris, NY: Thanks for taking my question - The Jets looked awseme when their starters were out there last week in New Orleans. Pennington moved the offense so fast down the field. With a healthy Pennington, speedy receivers and a revamped young defense, do you see the Jets being in the playoffs this year, and perhaps the Superbowl in the Pennington years? I feel this team is overlooked and underrespected by the rest of the league. Your thoughts? Thanks!

Todd McShay: Don't get carried away. I think they're improved on both sides of the ball but I still don't think they are a playoff team.

Too many weaknesses still on defense -- especially in the secondary. They're going to try to play more man-to-man coverage but don't have the corners to do so. The O-line is decent at best and depth at WR is frightening.


Tim, USC: The Steelers just learned that they lost Kendell Simmons for the year... in your optinion, what is their best option? Are they any decent or servicable RGs out there?

Todd McShay: Not on the street right now, but some will get cut. Pete Kendall was the only one but he was swept up quickly by the Jets after being cut by the Cardinals. I think that will be a situation where they go in-house for now and then wait for another serviceable OG to get cut from another team. Todd Fordham has played some guard in the past. My best guess right now is that they'll move Fordham inside to fill that spot. Jim Jones, Keydrick Vincent and OC Chukky Okobi are the only other options and none of them are great options.


Mark (Green Bay, WI): Is Couch even going to make the Packer's roster? I'm thinking he shouldn't and do you see any Mckenzie return to the Packers or what have you heard?

Todd McShay: Couch looked flat-out miserable the other night but have some patience. He had only been in camp a week or so and he's trying to learn an entirely new system (west coast) from the one he ran in Cleveland. I'm not a huge Couch fan and I don't think he's ever going to be a great starter, but don't close the book on him after his performance the other night.

As far as McKenzie goes, from everything I've been told he is adiment about not returning to GB. The Packers are trying to trade him but haven't gotten any offers they like. I think the Cowboys have interest and they should because their CB situation is a joke after Newman.


Brian (Washington, DC): Thanks for taking my question. What are the Browns strengths on defense this year and what are their weaknesses?

Todd McShay: Strengths: Linebackers and starting cornerbacks.

Weaknesses: Safeties and inconsistency up front. If Brown and Warren finally play to their potential, their D-line will go from weakness to strength in a hurry. I've been told that they are both in terrific shape and are having strong camps, but I've heard that before and it hasn't meant anything when the regular season starts.


Rat: Mr. McShay- You don't have to write a novel to answer every question except for Rat's question!

Todd McShay: I'll keep that in mind, Rat.


Gary - Seattle: Browns, Packers, Steelers, Jets ... do they still play football in the Pacific and Mountain time zones? Is Seattle's D good enough to carry them deep in the playoffs?

Todd McShay: East coast bias... my bad.

I really don't think they do. A lot of the guys I work with at Scouts Inc disagree with me, but I just don't think you can win in Dec. and Jan. with all the holes they have up the middle defensively. Tubbs is going to be a good player but very few DT's make major impacts as rookies (see Sims, Rogers, Joseph, Sullivan, etc). I also think Orlando Huff is one of the worst starting MLB's in the NFL.


Mike (montreal): Fact or Fiction, the 49ers are the most underated team in the league?

Todd McShay: Fiction. I think they're one of the least talented teams in the NFL. Arizona is worse but few others have less talent.


Brandon: (Kansas City): Chiefs Question please: Why is it that everyone outside of the Chiefs organization can't see that the Chiefs have done what they need to make it and win the SuperBowl this year?

Todd McShay: I guess I'm part of that majority because I don't see it defensively. Outside of hiring G. Cunningham at coordinator, how is this defensive unit upgraded? The answer is it's not.


Chris (Sioux Falls): Is Thomas Jones for real. He looked good in the pre-season game against the Rams. I do understand its only pre-season

Todd McShay: I think he's a great fit for that system. He's obviously no Marshall Faulk but that's how they're going to try to use him in Terry Shea's new scheme. It's a lot like Martz's and Vermiel/Saunders (Chiefs) and Jones is a good fit because of his quickness and receiving skills. He showed some flahses when used in Gruden's scheme more in the middle of last season but he still hasn't put it all together. I think he's primed for a breakout season in that offense and that he'll only get better in 2005 with a year in the scheme under his belt.


Jason (Stamford, CT): There are a number of RBs splitting carries with younger backs this season. Who do you like to put up the best numbers between, Henry, Bennett, George, even Rudi Johnson has Perry pushing him. By contrast which of the young RBs battling for a spot will break through first?

Todd McShay: Rudi Johnson will have the best numbers of those backs you mention. I think the one that's going to get most interesting is Henry/McGahee. The organization swears that Henry will handle a majority of the load but I think that's lip-service to keep him happy right now. If McGahee stays healthy and continues to break-off long runs like he did in the preseason opener, there's no way they'll let him sit and watch Henry from the sideline -- espeically with as much as Henry has fumbled in the past.


David (Michigan): Do NFL experts hate Lions fans, or the Lions, because you experts NEVER answer Lions question. Do you see Harrington finally having that year the Lions hoped for, and if he doesn't, then should we give up on him?

Todd McShay: I think Harrington will be better this season but 2005 should be the breakout year for him and the Lions. No team in the NFL has as much young talent at the skill positions on offense that the Lions possess. They also should be much improved on defense and along their offensive line. However, those young guys are going to need some time to adjust and they're also likely to hit the old "rookie wall" midway through the season. That's why I think the Lions will be a 7 or 8 win team this year but will be a playoff team in '05.


Kelly (St Louis MO): Broncos question here....Do you think that Watts will knock Lelie out of a starting job before the season like Griese did a few years ago w/ Brister?

Todd McShay: No. I like Watts and I think he's going to make a very good No. 3 WR for the Broncos this year but he's not nearly as explosive as Lelie. I know Lelie has been terribly inconsistent but his speed really threatens opposing defenses, which in turn leads to less attention given to Smith on the opposite side. While Watts is a smoother route runner and has more consistent hands, he doesn't draw that attention that Lelie does.


Mike (montreal): Who's the surprise team this year?

Todd McShay: I think the Jaguars could be a huge surprise if Hugh Douglas decides he actually wants to play football this season. Playing Leftwich last year gives them a big advantage because he got a lot of the growing pangs out of the way that a guy like Carson Palmer will have to experience this season as a first-year starter in Cincy.


Larry (Boston, MA): I'm a little concerned about the Patriot's offensive line. Is there any veteran player that New England can bring in to add depth

Todd McShay: Individually I think it's one of the least talented groups in the NFL. As a whole, however, they do a great job of playing together, limiting mistakes and masking weaknesses. I think O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia is one of the most underrated assistants in the NFL. However, it's a good question because I think even they are concerned about the talent level. When they made such a hard pitch for Pete Kendall to come to Foxborough they showed their hand.


David (Raleigh): What are your views of Chris Gamble and will he contribute this year for the Panthers?

Todd McShay: I think he's loaded with talent but very raw. He spent a lot of time at WR and in the return game in college (mostly prior to his junior season) and I think that took away from him mastering his craft at cornerback. I watched loads of film on him and saw him make an awful lot of mental mistakes that led to big plays allowed. The one that sticks out in my head the most was when he jumped the out-and-up against Lee Evans and got burned in that game they lost to Wisconsin. So, in short, I think he eventually will be a good starter in the NFL but I don't think he's ready to be anything more than a sub-package cornerback as a rookie -- and he'll need to be protected when he's in the game.


Tom, OH: Todd, what's up with Domanick Davis...is he the next Fragile Fred? Is he a lock to be the Texans starting RB all season barring injury?

Todd McShay: Barring injury, yes. The good news, however, is that the Texans have an underrated back in Tony Hollings sitting behind him. The jury is 0bviously still out on Hollings after he left school early and was added in the supplemental draft, but I think he has starting potential.


Mike: Will Miami make any decent pick-ups before the season starts as players become expendable, cut even - ie. J.Jackson, McCardell, etc.

Todd McShay: I think they absolutely have to. I can't imagine them entering the season with Minor as the fulltime starter at RB and with that marginal group of receivers. I think there is some truth to the rumors that they are shopping Ogunleye and the Browns keep on coming up in conversations that I have with people in the league, but I honestly think they're better off finding a way to re-sign Ogunleye and then bringing in some other receivers and backs that get cut. There will be a lot of respectible WR's and RB's that get cut this year because teams like the Patriots are loaded at WR and teams like the Colts have a lot of depth at RB.


Samson from Newton, MA: Will Deion Sanders have a big impact on the Raven's secondary?

Todd McShay: I honestly think he can make a return and play a role as a solid nickel CB if he really puts his mind to it and decides he wants to make a return. He's been out of the game three years and he's lost several steps with age, but I bet you he's still in the 4.4 range when he gets back into shape. He is savvy enough to play inside in the slot and to read QB's eyes in a short-zone or underneath man-to-man situation. If he does make a successful return it will be a huge boost for the Ravens b/c that's really their only defensive weakness. Then Corey Fuller could move back to FS and play in the dime package, which is the right role for him at this stage of his career.


Bruce( Oakes,ND): Vikings headed to another super bowl?

Todd McShay: Playoffs: yes. Super Bowl: no.

I think they're much improved on defense but those young guys (Udeze, Thomas, Henderson, Scott) need more time to develop.


Rat: Will the Raiders be abysmal again this season?

Todd McShay: I don't think so. I could see a 7 or 8 win season. They are much improved defensively and, if they can stay healthy on offense, they are strong enough at O-line and at quarterback to be competitive. They do, however, lack depth/speed at WR and they also need to upgrade their RB situation if they're going to take hte next step.


Jeff(Coral Springs): Do you think Drew Henson can be a solid QB in the future for the Cowboys

Todd McShay: Yes. I think he'll be the starter by the end of this season and I think he'll be a good starter in about two years from now. He obviously needs time to shake the rust off but he is a great talent. Prior to his decision to play baseball, I thought he was the best QB prospect in that draft.


Rat: Why does Jon Gruden covet Tim Brown so much?

Todd McShay: He loves guys that understand his system. Brown is nothing more than a No. 4 receiver in terms of talent/speed in my opinion at this point, but I think Gruden will get No. 2 or No. 3 production out of him because he knows how to highlight his strengths (route running/hands) and mask his weaknesses (speed/separation). That quietly has become one of the deepest WR corps in the NFL.


Christian, TN: OK can ya answer a Titans question, do you think that the Titans secondary is better than last year with an healthy echols and woolfolk? and do you think that McNair will have an MVP season again? thanks Todd..

Todd McShay: I do think it's a better group, mostly because of Woolfolk. If Woolfolk can stay healthy and progress the way he should, he'll be an excellent No.3 and his size will allow Dyson to move inside in the nickel package. Overall, however, this group is going to get tested a lot more because of the transition/injuries that the defense is going through with its front-7. In my opinion, the Titans are going to take a step backwards this season before re-emerging as one of the top teams in the NFL in 2005.


Jamie (Richmond, Virginia): Since i haven't seen one, i figured i would ask a Mike Vick question. Being from Virginia, I watched him play at VA Tech. He has a history of being injured, do you think he can stay healthy? And if he does for years to come, do you think his athletic ability can carry the Falcons organization to a superbowl victory?

Todd McShay: Dating back to college he's never been able to stay healthy and I don't like his chances of doing so again this year. When he is on the field the Falcons are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL and the sky is the limit in terms of their playoff potential. However, this organization has done a terrible job of preparing for another Vick injury and, after last year's disaster, you would think it would have learned its lesson. Why not go after Quincy Carter?


Benjamin (Chicago): Dear McShay,I need your help. I was recently introduced to my boss's mother, who will soon be working with me. I was given her first name by her son, and she also told me her name was "Angela." Should I use her first name, or as a sign of respect call her "Mrs. Jones"? Also will the Raiders take to the 3-4 or will it be problamatic?

Todd McShay: Mrs. Jones until she tells you to call her Angela.

I think it's a good fit for most of their personnel but I wonder if they are disciplined enough. Those safeties are terrible and the cornerbacks are too inconsistent. I think coach Ryan will need at least a year before he gets them playing with enough discipline/consistency.


David (Raleigh): Which is the better football game, Madden 2005 or ESPN 2K5?

Todd McShay: I might get in trouble for this, but Madden 2005... no contest.


Tyrell (New York, New York): Which rookie quarterback will have the biggest impact on his team's record?

Todd McShay: Eli Manning. I think the Giants are in the process of figuring out that Warner is done. It might be a real tough year for Manning -- especially behind that O-line and w/ the NY media -- but Troy Aikman bounced back pretty well. So did Eli's brother. I think Eli will get through it and he/the Giants organization will be better off in the long run for it.


Julie: boxers or briefs?

Todd McShay: boxer-briefs


Jason (Exeter, NH): What's the status on Jim Miller? If healthy can he unseat Rohan Davey as the Pats #2, or is Rohan the real deal?

Todd McShay: Miller is an insurance plan if Davey continues to falter. Davey had a great NFL Europe season but he looked uncomfortable and in over his head the other night in the preseason opener. He is still raw and has a lot of work left to do in terms of reading defenses and consistency with his mechanics, but he does have a lot of talent and should bounce back. I think his poor start can be attributed to the fact that he -- for the first time ever -- was playing in an NFL game with expectations on him. He looked and played nervous. I predict he'll bounce back, finish the preseason strong and will be the No. 2. If that's the case, Miller will likely be cut and Kingsburry will likely be the No. 3.

Todd McShay: That'll have to be all for today. Thanks again for all the questions and sorry to those that I couldn't get to. I'll be back again next week and we'll pick up where we left off.

Have a great weekend...

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