Marc Ross of NFL Network, screengrab via YouTube.

We’re in the second half of the NFL season, and there are plenty of questions. There doesn’t appear to be a great team and no clear-cut MVP. To learn more, we thought it would be a great time to catch up with Marc Ross of NFL Network.

Ross has been an analyst for the network since 2019. Previously, he worked in the front offices of the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, and New York Giants. He was with the Giants when they won two Super Bowls under Tom Coughlin. We spoke to Ross about this fascinating season.

Awful Announcing: Who should be the MVP?

Marc Ross: “Going into this weekend, I had Lamar (Jackson) as my mid-season MVP, and then he laid an egg against the Browns. He’s had his flashes, but who do you go with? Everyone’s flawed. Each week, there seems to be a different frontrunner. C.J. Stroud is hot right now. I think it’ll come down to the wire. It’ll be whoever is playing the hottest. Today, I’ll go with (Patrick) Mahomes.”

If C.J. Stroud were on the Carolina Panthers and Bryce Young were on the Houston Texans, what would their rookie seasons look like?

“Coming into the season, I thought Bryce had a better infrastructure. I thought with that coaching staff—not just Frank Reich, Jim Caldwell, and Thomas Brown—this is set up for him. I thought their offensive line was going to be solid. They have disappointed. Their playmakers have disappointed.

“On the flip side, I didn’t think the Texans had a ton of talent. They have a first-time head coach. I thought Bryce was in a better situation, but C.J. has taken his game to (another level). The way he’s playing, he would have thrived anywhere. He has raised the level of everybody in that organization. Even if he got drafted by the Panthers, he would have done the same things.”

What do you make of the Buffalo Bills firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and replacing him with Joe Brady?

“It wasn’t a surprise that somebody was going to be the fall guy after (Monday’s 24-22 home loss to the Denver Broncos). You could see it coming. And with Josh Allen’s struggles, it looked like it was going to go that way. Sean McDermott is not going to fire the defensive coordinator. Sean’s gotten rid of some people in the past, so this wasn’t a surprise. Whether it’s Leslie Frazier or Rick Dennison.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have a Super Bowl rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. Are their wide receivers good enough?

“Despite all we’ve seen from the Chiefs—the offense isn’t doing this, Mahomes isn’t doing that— they are still the best team in the AFC. Despite everything, they are 7-2. Who is the next best team that can compete with them? You think, ‘Yeah, they’ll beat everybody.’ That’s how good they are. They still have time, but someone else has to step up. I had high hopes for Skyy Moore. He hasn’t stepped up. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is who he is. Kadarius Toney paid some dividends last year when he made some plays, but the consistency is not there. If in spot moments, (different receivers) can step up at different times, they’ll be OK because Patrick is that good.”

Who is the best team in the NFC?

“Philly, by far. They are the most complete team. They’ve got the quarterback who has shown he can play at an MVP level and play that way in the big games in Jalen Hurts. They have the best offensive line. They have a playmaker in A.J. Brown who can take over a game. They have a No.2 receiver (‎DeVonta Smith) who can do that as well. The defense can dominate a game with all that talent up front. Of course, they have flaws. But they have so much talent, so much versatility.”

Can Chase Young make an impact for the San Francisco 49ers down the stretch?

“It depends. Even prior to his injury, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He hasn’t dominated the way people thought he would. Game one? Good opening results. But in Washington, he was just OK. Will he get back to the form that made him get drafted where he was? I think (the trade) was a good risk/reward approach. He’s getting reunited with his (Ohio State) teammate Nick Bosa. He’ll have to prove himself and that might be the best for him.”

A lot of people are following the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce romance. Who’s a celebrity that left you starstruck?

“Being a part of New York—and one of the (Giants owners) Steve Tisch is a movie producer—there was always somebody at our games. I’m not the type who cares about celebrities, but the one person was Magic Johnson. He was a guest of Steve Tisch. Even though I grew up in Philly, my favorite all-time player in any sport was Magic. I had the Converse Weapon sneakers and had the posters in my room. After the game, he was in our locker room, and I went up and introduced myself. He said, ‘You do a great job here.’ You can see why he’s done what he’s done. The personality was just instant.”

Has working on TV been much of an adjustment?

“It’s a skill to be on TV. You have to learn and practice. It’s not just as easy as jumping on there and just talking. There’s a lot of nuance to it, a lot of work. Overall, it’s so different from being a part of an organization. The mindset of a team is: ‘What do we have to do to win?’ The TV side is: What do we have to do to entertain?'”

What has been the toughest thing to learn?

“That it’s entertainment. It’s about how you present what you’re presenting. I had to learn I can’t say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. I watched the film, and I know you didn’t.’ People don’t really care. It’s how it comes across and how it gets presented. That’s what I’ve had to learn. The presentation of entertainment as opposed to being in draft rooms where I know everybody prepared and watched the film. We’re just arguing off of that, as opposed to discussing things off someone seeing a highlight.”

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.