This week, NFL Network brought new Thursday Night Football analysts Joe Theismann and Kurt Warner to talk to the media about their new roles for the package as live games begin next week. And joining them was new NFL Network Sr. VP for production and programming, Mark Quenzel. As usual, Theismann was verbose, but when is he not?
Here’s what was said in general.
Excerpts from NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football conference call with new game analyst Joe Theismann and studio analyst Kurt WarnerNFL Network’s fifth season of Thursday Night Football games begins on Thursday, November 11 when the Baltimore Ravens travel to face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Coverage begins at 6:00 PM ET with Thursday Night Kickoff, leading straight up to kickoff. The game will be called by Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann.The conference call featured new Thursday Night Football game analyst Joe Theismann, new Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show analyst Kurt Warner, and NFL Network senior vice president of production and programming Mark Quenzel.Below are excerpts on NFL Network’s first game between the Ravens and Falcons, benching of Donovan McNabb, challenges facing the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals, the play of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman and the drama surrounding the Minnesota Vikings.“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to get back where I always wanted to be and (where I) spent so many years in the booth.” – Joe Thesimann on joining the Thursday Night Football broadcast as a game analyst“I’m excited to be a part of an unbelievable team of analysts for Thursday Night Football and looking forward to covering it, getting my feet wet a little bit in this field.” – Kurt Warner on joining the Thursday Night Kickoff team“We saw in their first year how good they were going to be and how rare it is at this level to come in, in your first season, and have the success that both of those guys did.” – Warner on the match up of third year quarterbacks in Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.“Now we’re getting to see Joe Flacco open up his game personally, throw the football around a little bit more. I think the emergence of (Atlanta wide receiver) Roddy White in Atlanta has really taken Matt Ryan to another level.” – Theismann on the development of Flacco and Ryan“I don’t think it’s taken Coach (Mike) Shanahan eight weeks to figure out that his quarterback doesn’t know the offense. … There’s a lot about this scenario of what happened that just doesn’t seem very plausible, the reasoning, the explanation.” – Theismann on the reasoning coach Mike Shanahan gave for benching quarterback Donovan McNabb“The dots don’t seem to connect for some reason.” – Theismann on the benching of Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb“It took me completely by surprise that a coach would even think about that, and especially when you’re talking about a guy like Donovan McNabb, who makes his living making plays and putting his team in positions to win. It’s where he’s been the best throughout his career.” – Warner on the benching of Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb“It actually gets simplified in the two-minute situation that you only run a handful of plays (and) you don’t change formations.” – Warner on a team’s play-calling during a two-minute drill“(Baltimore safety) Ed (Reed) is a new dimension as we saw in his first action (two weeks ago).” – Warner on what Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed poses to the Atlanta Falcons“With Atlanta, it’s all about speed, and you can’t ignore the fact that there is an advantage for teams, especially with quick defensive linemen, when they play at home and noise becomes a factor.” – Theismann on Atlanta Falcons’ defense“From Baltimore’s standpoint it’s basically a big football team. It’s big on both sides of the ball.” – Theismann on the challenges the Baltimore Ravens pose.“The one thing you understand about this offense more than any other offense I’ve been in is that it’s all based on timing. The timing comes with the understanding of what’s going on around you.” – Warner on Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offensive system, having played in it with the St. Louis Rams“Where I see (Chicago Bears quarterback) Jay (Cutler) struggling right now is in the confidence and understanding, whether it be his part of the system and understanding the whole realm of that, or whether it’s the guys around him not necessarily being there on time. I see hesitation in Jay at the back end of his drop and in the pocket, where he wants to get back there, hitch a couple times, see something come open and then make the throw. And in this offense it’s not built that way. That’s the biggest struggle that they’re having is that the timing orientation of it is off right now.” – Warner on the offensive struggles of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler“There are times when he holds it too long. There are times when he just should throw it away. But he’s so set in trying to make a play that it just gets him in trouble.” – Theismann on the struggles of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler“Their inability to be able to convert on 3rd down is what’s killing them.” – Theismann on the struggles the Cincinnati Bengals have had this season“It’s a football team that has a lot of talent that hasn’t figured out how to sustain it, and that to me is the biggest issue. Defensively they can’t get the ball away, either. I mean, last year their defense really carried them.” – Theismann on the state of the Cincinnati Bengals“To me the team last year that was so good was a team that was built around running the football in Cedric Benson and the pass came second.” – Warner on why the Cincinnati Bengals were successful last season“(Cincinnati Bengals quarterback) Carson Palmer still can play at a very high level. But the team around him has to help him out.” – Warner on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer“Everybody thinks of Mike Martz and the automatic thing that you do is you associate it with the Greatest Show on Turf.” – Warner on if the Chicago Bears have the right personnel for Mike Martz’s system“What I’ve been the most impressed with is down the stretch in games, where it doesn’t seem like he gets overwhelmed with those big-time situations, that he plays better and is able to come up with the big play at critical times.” – Warner on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman“Josh Freeman has been fun to watch because I don’t think there’s been any (other) quarterback in the league that I have seen a leap (in improvement) from last year to this year.” – Theismann on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman“It appears that Brett (Favre) runs everything.” – Theismann on the Minnesota Vikings“To me, it’s in the best interest of Randy (Moss) to be out of there. It’s in the best interest of the Minnesota Vikings to not have someone there you don’t feel can contribute.” – Theismann on the Minnesota Vikings placing Randy Moss on waivers“A whole bunch of things are going wrong in Minnesota, and I look at it as a situation where it’s almost like they’re just trying to stop the bleeding a little bit. So many distractions, so many things going on, so many things going the wrong direction for them.” – Warner on the struggles the Minnesota Vikings have had this season“No one will ever question the toughness of Brett Favre. You have the warrior’s warrior. But there comes a point as a football team where what’s in the best interest of winning, and to me I don’t know – I feel that that is not the way they’re going to win football games, period.” – Theismann on if the Minnesota Vikings would be better suited sitting Brett Favre until he gets healthy“They need to figure out a way to be able to play better defense if they want to be able to contend.” – Theismann on the Houston Texans“What Joe brings obviously is an offensive expertise, and he’s very, very opinionated. He’s not afraid to put it out there and call it as he sees it. Matt (Millen) is the same way but he has a defensive orientation. Both of them are very, very smart and they’re opinionated, which means there are going to be times that they’re going to agree and there are going to be times that they disagree.” – Mark Quenzel on the Thursday Night Football broadcast team of Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann“What makes it really interesting for a viewer is the forward-looking part of it, what to look for. Joe and Matt are both very, very good at that, and we’re going to spend a lot of time with it. That really is what puts a broadcast over the top.” – Quenzel on how a three-man booth can be successful“Three-man booths can work and they can not work, and I’m feeling really good about this one.” – Quenzel on the Thursday Night Football broadcast team of Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann“You can call it parity if you want. It’s just the competiveness, and I think you’re just more interested around the country when your team is involved and when the outcome doesn’t seem like a foregone conclusion.” – Quenzel on the popularity of football“I’m very excited to be in the booth. I’ve worked a two-man booth and I’ve worked a three-man booth, and I like the three because it gives you a chance to be able to bounce opinions off of one another. And Matt (Millen) and I, we didn’t agree when we played against one another, and we’re certainly not going to agree in the booth.” – Theismann on returning to the broadcast booth
Thursday Night Football begins in Week 10 with the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Atlanta Falcons.