ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes – Week 7
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL action. Some excerpts:
On 49ers rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree and the immediate impact he will make…
Carter: “The reality is Boom, to be a professional receiver you have to do it all the time. You’re not going to be taking any off-season, holding out, the job is too difficult to do. I get sick and tired of people who have never played the position, saying that people off the street are going to come in and make an impact.”
Johnson: “I didn’t go to training camp so that explains that to you. I didn’t have 1,000 yards because I wanted money like Crabtree. …Once they put him on the football field he’s not standing there as a cardboard cutout, they’re going to have to make some adjustments. One of the things you do with him is put him on some screens. You do things so he does not have to make an adjustment on the fly and read the defenses.”
Jackson: “I want the ball in your hands and then make people miss, which was the strength of his game.”
Ditka: “I never doubted my ability. I don’t care if I was a rookie or what; you’re out there doing your best. He’s going to make an impact. … “What this kid does best, you put the ball in his hands and you let him run with it.”
Berman: “Essentially what they did is pull of a trade at the trading deadline. So, kudos to them for eventually getting it done.”
If he starts poorly, should the Jets bench quarterback Mark Sanchez…
ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer: “Mark Sanchez, I think, if you look at the volume of work, is making nice strides. There is no way in my opinion that I would make a quarterback change.
Carter: “It’s pro sports. Your job is based on performance. Where can you perform any kind of way and still keep your job. You’ve got 52 other guys depending on you, I don’t care who you are. Well, Peyton Manning – you can’t be benched; Drew Brees – you can’t be benched; Tom Brady – you can’t be benched; but the rest of us, you play bad, sit your butt down.”
Johnson: “I don’t think you bench him at all. This is the reason why, he’s supposed to be your franchise quarterback. In NY, if you bench him and Kellen Clemmons gets off to a good start … next thing you have is a firestorm in NY. You don’t want that as a first time head coach and having to make a decision on your future quarterback, you could ruin him by doing that.”
Ditka: “I do not like body language like he’s shown the last couple weeks. You can’t pout. You can’t fret. You are the leader of this football team. Step up and take that responsibility. You’re going to make mistakes, let’s just bring it down a little.”
Are the Patriots an elite team?
Jackson: “They are 4-2. They are the leader in their division again. This reminds me more of the team that won the championships, than the team that won the 18 straight. Grind it out, win the game at the end, play 64 minutes. This is the team that’s the championship team.”
On the Dallas Cowboys…
Ditka: “Dallas to me is one-dimensional. They want to win the game by throwing the football. They’ve got to run the football. They’ve got three good running backs. I think this is what it comes down to, don’t blame Tony Romo. Blame the guy calling the plays because if you commit to the run, then you run the football and the play-action will open up.”
On establishing an NFL Team in London in the next decade…
Jackson: “I hope it’s not the Broncos. I didn’t even want to travel to Kansas City. I didn’t want to take that hour flight to KC.”
Carter: “I like a team in London. The reason why is because they are running out of resources in the United States. Teams are going from $750 million to a billion, go international.”
Ditka: “I thought the question was, is it the right thing to do? It’s not the right thing to do. Football doesn’t belong over there. It’s a stupid thing to say, period. It’s an American game, not a European game.
Berman: “I agree. I think it’s crazy.”
The guys discussed the four remaining undefeated NFL teams – Broncos, Colts, Saints and Vikings – in a round of “Undefeated Idol” with EA sports virtual leaders from the teams and told each who will be the most likely to advance to Super Bowl XLIV in Miami:
Jackson to a virtual EA Drew Brees: “Drew I always knew you had the talent, but now you’re showing it. You are the most accurate quarterback in the league – short, intermediate, hand-deep and now that you’ve got a good supporting cast there’s no doubt that you could go even further than you did last year when you were offensive player of the year in this dance.”
Johnson to virtual EA Brett Favre: Brett Favre, my man. You did a good job. I had only one question before I saw you perform. It was the age, four-zero. Forty-years-old my man, close to Tommy (Jackson), but you pulled it off. You answered all my questions. Now there’s only one question left, how are you going to split those votes between Green Bay and Minnesota in the Midwest.”
Ditka to a virtual EA Kyle Orton: “Mr. Orton you’re the guy America’s falling in love with. You know, you’re getting better and better every week. You’re making some great decisions and after that first audition you had in Chicago, I wasn’t so sure. But now dog, I’m feeling you.”
Carter to a virtual EA Peyton Manning: “Peyton Manning, it’s you’re cadence. When you start yelling and everything at all the other players, you’re voice, it goes a little pitchy. But dog, your play selection, that’s what saves you. You made it your own.”
From ESPN’s Rachel Nichol’s report of New Orleans being home to two of the best players in these marquee roles for their respective sport – Drew Brees (NFL) and Chris Paul (NBA).
Paul on Brees: “I’m a huge Drew Brees fan. I think he’s one of the most underappreciated professional athletes in sports.”
Brees on Paul: “He’s unbelievable. He’s driving a lane and you don’t know if he’s going up with it, dishing it or what.”
Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott on Brees and Paul: “(On Brees) When he’s going back, it might be three-step drop, a fake or whatever. Whatever it is, it slows down for him. So he sees it in a totally different speed than most guys do. It’s the same way that Chris sees the court. It’s something you can’t really put your finger on.”
Paul: “I know how he feels when this guy needs a shot or this guy needs a shot, it’s a similar situation… It’s something beautiful to watch. … He comes to some games and when I see him there, it boosts me to know that we have that support. Kind of storybook, in that we both came here in ’05. The city faces all of these different challenges. But look at where the Saints and the Hornets have come now. In 2005, a lot of people would have said this isn’t possible, but look at us now.”
On Brett Favre, Big Ben and the pump fake …
Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians on Roethlisberger: “It’s improv, it’s not happening on purpose.”
Former Packers safety Leroy Butler (1990-2001): “Reason why it works is because every defensive back knows that Brett is the all-time leader in interceptions. So, ‘here’s my chance, maybe not,’ touchdown!”
Carter: “Both of these quarterbacks their offense is built for them to play with, Pittsburgh with throwing the ball, and Brett Favre and the swagger this team has right now. They have it, only because of Brett Favre.”
From the weekly Ditka’s Doghouse segment, on the Chargers…
Ditka: “LaDainian Tomlinson has one touchdown. Shawne Merriman has zero as in zero sacks. Coach Lombardi said it a long time ago, football is not a contact sport. Dancing is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport. This is a soft football team. Worse than that, this is a tragedy because there’s too much talent on this football team. You should be a lot better than you are.”
Senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Raiders Coach Tom Cable and alleged training camp scuffle: “The Napa Valley DA did not file assault charges against Raiders coach Tom Cable in his alleged assault against assistant coach Randy Hanson. During the investigation, Cable exercised his rights to never talk with police or prosecutors but he may not have the same gag privilege with the NFL. Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, will receive a report from the Director of Security Milt Alherich and could decide to still speak with Cable to determine if there’s a personal conduct violation.”
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