ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 12

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s week 12 NFL games with Suzy Kolber, analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:
 
On returning to the Countdown set after missing last week following his mild stroke…
Ditka: “I’m glad to see myself back, believe me.”
 
On Jim Harbaugh picking Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starting quarterback…
Jackson: “What you saw from Kaepernick on Monday Night was special. … I give Coach Harbaugh credit for having the guts to go out and do it.”
Johnson: “The problem is: you have one shot at it… You can’t continue to go back and forth with quarterbacks because the psyche of Alex Smith will get damaged.”
Ditka: “Harbaugh is doing what he thinks he has to do for the best of this team. He thinks Kaepernick has a higher ceiling, and that’s why he’s doing it, but he’ll use both of these guys before it’s over.”
Carter: “When you break down their roster, he’s (Smith) the weakest spot on their roster. … One thing you don’t have to worry about is Harbaugh losing the team because (Kaepernick) he’s a future star in the league. The wide receiver room, I think they’re pretty happy.”
Berman: “I’m not worried about this knocking him (Smith) off his pedestal. If it doesn’t work, they go back to Alex if they want next game. I think it’s okay.”
 
On Jay Cutler returning to the Bears’ lineup after missing a game due to a concussion …
Ditka: “You can’t count on the quarterback to play well if he’s playing on his back. This offensive line is horrible. … The ball has to come out quick today because if he takes another couple hits, he’s going to get another concussion.”
Johnson: “The one thing Jay Cutler has to do for himself – he has to protect himself. He has to learn to slide.”
Berman: “A proud defense that got shredded like that last week, I’d be shocked if Chicago’s defense didn’t play a superior game this week.”
 
On the New England Patriots…
Jackson: “They have been singularly dependent on Tom Brady to win football games. … They are one of the best running teams in the game right now. If they take that with them into the playoffs, they will be very difficult to beat when they get to that final game, the Super Bowl.”
 
On the Houston Texans…
Carter: “In four and a half days, they played almost 10 quarters of football. I believe this will pay off. The physicality of that football team will pay dividends in the postseason.”
 
On the Dallas Cowboys…
Johnson: “They are not a very good football team – not good at all.”
 
On the ruling that cost the Detroit Lions a win in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game…
Ditka: “It’s a horrible rule. It’s a rule that was made by people who never played the game or coached the game. It makes no sense at all. The idea of replay – just get it right! … They didn’t get it right. That’s an embarrassment to the league.”
 
On the Lions, Cowboys and Jets all losing Thanksgiving home games…
Berman: “That’s almost a quarter million fans who went to these games. They all went home upset. … All three home teams lost – what a waste.”
 
On whether back-up Charlie Batch can hold the fort for the Pittsburgh Steelers until Ben Roethlisberger returns…
Johnson: “I was wondering why Charlie Batch wasn’t starting in the first place. You ask yourself the question: who would you rather have in the game: Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch? I’d rather have a proven Charlie Batch in the lineup.”
Carter: “Charlie Batch, to me he’s been a bad quarterback for a long time. … To think Charlie Batch is going to go out there and be a difference-maker, I believe we’re lying to the general public.”
Ditka: “If the game comes down to Charlie Batch winning or losing it, it’s all wrong then. They’ve got to win this game with their running game and their defense.”
 
On the New York Giants, who face the Packers tonight…
Jackson: “They’re the best team in this division and these are the kinds of games this time of year when they start to prove that. I think that starts for them tonight.”
 
On the Seattle Seahawks…
Jackson: “Seattle may be a playoff team. They have three division games left. They play all of them in Seattle where they are almost unbeatable. They need to find a couple of wins on the road. I think Miami and Buffalo may qualify.”
 
On the Miami Dolphins offense…
Jaworski: “Until they can run the ball effectively, they’re going to be in trouble.”
 
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