We move to ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and the quotes from that pregame show.
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed NFL Week 6 with Suzy Kolber /strong>, analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from the show:
Can the Dallas Cowboys pull off an upset at the Baltimore Ravens?
Jackson: “They can because they are on the road. Less distractions for this football team when they are away from their stadium in Texas. If they would run the ball with DeMarco Murray, some of that pressure is taken off of (quarterback) Tony Romo.”
Carter: “This is hard for me to believe that guys are going to be a lot tougher than they are at home. Watching Dallas on film, their offensive line, they are not that tough. They don’t stay together. Not good run-blocking. It is hard to call running plays when the offensive line is not good. This off-season, they didn’t address that problem. It will still be a problem today.”
Johnson: “If you ask me, I think they are cooked already. They are not going to bounce back from a defeat against the Chicago Bears 13 days ago. They are dropping back almost 70 percent of the time on offense. They are not even rushing the football. The head coach isn’t going anywhere, he’ll be there and that’s one of the biggest problems that they have.”
Berman: “Cowboys, to me, are the team that comes out in the $5,000 suit and you don’t know if they have matching sox or even if they left the sox at home.”
Following a report by Ed Werder from Baltimore, Countdown’s Tom Jackson offered a five-point plan to fix the Cowboys:
- Play better at home: “You built a billion-dollar-plus stadium. It ought to be of some advantage for you when you get in it. It is not right now as they stand, both home and away, 98-98 in this century.”
- Tone that screen down: “It is a great screen. Maybe, the best on planet earth. But, for the fans to watch the game on the screen is one thing. For players to be on the field looking up watching a football game that they are playing in, I would say, acts as a slight distraction.”
- Get rid of the dancing pole: “You really don’t need that in a football stadium. You’ve already told one guy that he can’t go to a place where they may have some dancing poles. Let’s make that effective for the entire football team.”
- Lose coming out of the club: “The other 31 teams in this league walk through a tunnel to get to the football field – gives them a sense of togetherness: ‘We’re in this to win it.’ I don’t think the Dallas Cowboys actually understand that as they slap fives with all their fans.”
- Jerry, let coach speak for the team: “At the end of the game, when they ask something about the team, let’s let Jason Garrett do the talking for the football team. I don’t believe that coach Jones needs to give the injury report.”
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that “people around the league believe that unless (quarterback) Michael Vick leads the Eagles to the playoffs and possibly deep into them, this would be his last season in Philadelphia.” Following the report, Countdown discussed Vick’s future in the league:
Carter: “To me, it’s not really about the Eagles, it is about Michael Vick. It is about where he is as far as his professional career. I’ve got great concerns about him. At 12 years in the league … there was no blitz that I had never seen, there was no hot protection I didn’t know, there was no front, no fades, no linebacker combinations or DBs that I didn’t recognize. There is no side adjustment that I would miss. So what I’m concerned about, how much football can Michael Vick learn? Has he reached the ceiling, as far as his learning ability, in the National Football League? … Has Michael Vick hit the ceiling as far as intellectually, what we can learn as a quarterback?”
Jackson: “He has seemingly regressed in some of those things that you are talking about – ability to get that protection right from the backside, knowing that it is coming. Bearing down receivers, delivering the ball where it has to be delivered and when it has to be delivered … Now you’re thinking about not only the game in front of you but about your future. (Head coach) Andy Reid has to come up with a game plan.If you give LeSean McCoy the ball 20-plus times, it helps you protect Mike Vick.”
Ditka: “I think he’s having a hard time recognizing coverages and getting the ball to receivers. For a good quarterback to be effective, you have to anticipate the receiver coming out of the block and put the ball where he’s going to be, and I don’t see him doing that right now.”
Johnson: “All quarterbacks struggle. No question about that, Michael Vick has struggled.But, it is not just Michael Vick. He needs help from Andy Reid. He needs help from his receivers. Those six interceptions, three of them are off the hands of his receivers … He can continue to learn.
Carter: “You are a little delusional. He’s been in the league 12 years. You think he’s going to get smarter in year 13, 14 or 15?”
Johnson: “If he’s (Reid) teaching him some things offensively, he’s going to learn. A year and half ago, he learned. How come he can’t continue to learn?”
Carter: “I’m watching the film. It doesn’t look like he’s learning.”
Giants at 49ers – Where’s the game won or lost?
Johnson: “Special teams. When you’ve looked at these two teams in the past, special teams have played key roles in their matchups – whether it is field goals, whether it is the fumbles by Kyle Williams … the revenge factor.”
Ditka: “This is Frazier-Ali. This is two heavyweights going at it. They play the same kind of football. Right now, the 49ers are the old Giants. They are going to pound and grind you; they stick it in your face …”
Carter: “This is one of those kinds of games, when we played in Minnesota, (head coach) Denny Green used to say, this is the kind of game you don’t bring your family. You don’t bring your wife. Because I need you to do things on the road that you typically wouldn’t have to do …”
Ranking the NFC West:
#4 – Arizona Cardinals
Johnson: “The Arizona Cardinals – Kevin Kolb is the quarterback. You all know, when you do not have a quarterback in this league, this is where you go.”
#3 – St. Louis Rams
Johnson: “Good football team. Young quarterback learning (head coach) Jeff Fisher’s system. This is right where they belong.”
#2 – Seattle Seahawks
Johnson: “Seattle, great defense. Young quarterback and a running game. If you’ve got that, you’ve got success.”
#1 – San Francisco 49ers
Carter: “This is one of the best teams in all of football.”
On New England Patriots Bill Belichick vs. Wes Welker – Fallout from Welker’s “nice to stick it in Bill’s face …” comments
Carter: “Right is right and wrong is wrong. Wes Welker has done everything that you would want when he came in the trade from the Miami Dolphins. He’s played out there, he’s played injured … The man deserves to be paid. You put a major investment in both your tight-ends. He’s done everything you want him to do on- and off-the-football field. I don’t care if it is Bill Belichick … It doesn’t matter. Right is right. He needs to be compensated.”
Johnson: “You know how these coaches think, especially a guy like Bill Belichick, who has been successful at plugging guys into different spots … He feels, at the end of the day, he can just put a guy in there like he tried Julian Edelman and got some production out of him.”
Next, CBS’ NFL Today quotage.