Let’s continue to do the Sunday NFL pregame quotage with ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. The show had to go without Mike Ditka who suffered a stroke on Friday, but apparently is out of the hospital now.
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL games with Suzy Kolber, analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.
(Note: Analyst and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka was not on the show today. He is recuperating from a minor stroke he suffered Friday.)
Big Picture – Have head coaches Andy Reid (Eagles) and Mike Shanahan (Redskins) lost their touch? …
Jackson: “Two different situations – Andy Reid has had a marvelous run for the Philadelphia Eagles, which is now almost over. He will be headed somewhere else. Sometimes, as the guys have always said to me, time, at a certain place, takes its toll. With coach Shanahan, that level of frustration is driven by the fact that he has them on the right track. They run the ball. He has an outstanding young quarterback … Coach Shanahan sees he’s got this team on the right track. Different situation in coach Andy Reid who I think his tenure is virtually over in Philadelphia.”
Carter: “What it really boils down to, is there’s a shelf life for NFL coaches regardless if you are a legend or not? There’s only a certain amount of time that guys are going to buy in to everything that they are going to say. I don’t care who it is, (Joe) Gibbs, (Bill) Parcells, eventually in that locker room, you have to get a new voice. Andy Reid, this is supposed to be his most-talented team ever, and look at the performance. The players, they don’t play like they love Andy the way they used to.”
On Tim Tebow vs. Mark Sanchez …
Jaworski: “I don’t know who the starting quarterback should be. But I know who it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be Mark Sanchez. He has thrown 1,708 balls in his career, and you just don’t see the growth that you need to see from a quarterback that has played that much.
“Now, a real life example, critical situations of the game. Go back to the Seattle game last week, 7-7 tie. They are going in to score, (offensive coordinator) Tony Sparano designs and calls a perfect play. Stephen Hill opens up against cover-two, the linebacker jumps up, wide open under the goal-post, Mark doesn’t see it – ends up throwing an interception. Here’s a critical situation, perfectly designed by the coach, and he doesn’t execute. That’s the issue right now. I don’t think it should be permanent. I think it is ‘go to the sidelines, take a deep breathe, watch someone else play.’”
On whether it is fair for team legends to criticize their former teams …
Following a Greg Garber report on the impact critical comments by legends have on their former teams, Cris Carter and Tom Jackson discussed the issue:
Carter: “I don’t think the legends are fair … their comments aren’t fair to the people playing the position … Ahmad Rashad, Anthony Carter, those guys didn’t criticize me. They gave me an opportunity to play the position at a high level. If you played at the high level, you know how difficult it is. I don’t believe these legends, sometimes are fair to the guys playing now.”
Jackson: “You have two distinct sides to this. One, are the guys who want to see their guys be successful. I want Von Miller to be the best outside linebacker in the history of the Denver Broncos. That’s what I would look forward to. You have the other guys who are looking at it and going, ‘I don’t want the guy to play better than me.’ That, sometimes, is honestly what is behind what they are doing.”
On overlooking the Green Bay Packers dominance (vs. Detroit Lions)? …
Jackson: “When you have the kind of year that the Packers had last year, it is only natural to compare. I’m going to look at week 17 the last year, (then backup quarterback) Matt Flynn threw six touchdown passes in a game that Green Bay did not need … This is the perfect game for the Pack to get some more momentum as they roll toward the end of the year.”
Johnson: “How do you overlook a team, a couple years ago, that went and won the Super Bowl with half their team chilling. The one guy that’s a constant there for them is (QB) Aaron Rodgers. If you have a quarterback like that, no matter who else is on your team, you can win football games. You don’t need topline receivers when you have a quarterback and you keep him up right …”
Carter: “We just assumed that two seasons ago, when they went on that four-game run with all those injured players and then they came back and dominated next season, that they had a dynasty … They stumbled. So they didn’t get that second Super Bowl championship. They have Aaron Rodgers. If they get into the playoffs, they are awfully dangerous.”
On quarterbacks Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady …
Carter: “Don’t think that Tom Brady won’t have the same intensity he’s had every time he’s faced the horseshoe on the opposite side. He doesn’t get credit like some of other quarterbacks in the league we talk about as the great competitors. Tom Brady is a hired assassin. He is trying to spoil this rookie’s debut in Foxboro. This is the way he always is. He is a great competitor.”
Johnson: “It’s been a long time since a rookie quarterback has won a football game in Foxboro. When you look at Andrew Luck, he’s done great this year. You can’t argue about the way he’s played, leading the team and doing all sorts of things. But now, he faces Bill Belichick – the guy who eats rookie quarterbacks for breakfast … This is different.”
Jackson: “Let me tell you a reason that they (Colts) have, at least, a chance. When you look at Andrew Luck’s game and the way he plays – his ability to extend plays, buy time, keep his eyes down the field, find a wide out who is always open when teams try to bring pressure. When they try to bring that pressure, this guy is able to find (WR) Reggie Wayne almost at will. The bigger thing, and it is an intangible, they are playing and he is playing for something bigger than himself. When they go out on the field, they are thinking about coach Chuck Pagano and how ‘we can make him feel better about the battle that he is in for his life.’ That is, in part, why they are 6-3 and why Andrew Luck is playing as well as he is playing.”
On whether QB Peyton Manning is in the mind of the Chargers …
Carter: “It might not be in the mind of the Chargers, but he’s in the mind of every other quarterback in the AFC, because you have to beat Peyton Manning to win the AFC Championship.”
Johnson: “(Chargers quarterback) Philip Rivers just has too much weight on his shoulders. He is trying to do too much. It is like he’s trying to save the franchise.”
CBS and Fox are next.