ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis previewed today’s NFL action with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:
On the New England Patriots: can they overcome offseason losses?
Lewis: “When you talk about the New England Patriots, they’re systematic… They (Bill Belichick and Tom Brady) don’t need superstars to run that system; they need role players to plug in there and they can just keep rolling.”
Ditka: “One thing about the Patriots – and Ray hit it right on the button – fear is not part of their game plan. Belichick and Brady do not fear it. They’re going to make adjustments on the run. They’re going to make things happen. That’s the best quarterback-coach duo that I’ve ever seen.”
On the Baltimore Ravens…
Lewis: “Baltimore will be fine. They’re that type of team, alright. Our pedigree has always been that. And one stumble in the road ain’t never stopped nothing… And being a better team is the first half the other night they played checkers. You see? The second half you was supposed to play chess.”
On the New Orleans Saints: what does Sean Payton’s return mean for the team?
Lewis: “Now all of the distractions is out of the window… when that guy (Payton) walks back in there, that’s the brain of that operation. He is to New Orleans what Bill Belichick is to the New England Patriots. Without that, without him, you saw last year they had a great imbalance of what leadership looked like in the Saints organization.”
Carter: “It should be said – that this is just not a regular coach coming back. We all consider him to be one of the best coaches in the NFL. That’s significant.”
On New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s future…
Ditka: “I like Rex, but is he doing all the right things? No. Does he have all the right players? No, he doesn’t have the right players right now. They’re not a good football team at this point. But who do you blame for that? He was part of the selection process that brought those players in.”
Johnson: “He was part of that process, but I also think a lot has to go on their former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. When you leave nothing to be coached, okay, you can’t coach them. You don’t have talent. The cupboard is bare.”
Jackson: “That mistake that he made with Mark Sanchez – who could have given him a little bit of a bridge to start the football season – puttin’ him in with the backups and lettin’ him get hurt, that is a fireable offense. That’s what that is. So I mean, I don’t know how long Rex Ryan is going to last in that position as head coach.”
On Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett not calling plays…
Ditka: “Now when I coached the Bears initially, I had an offensive coordinator who called the plays. It drove me nuts. Because if I’m gonna get fired, I want to get fired doin’ it my way, callin’ my plays. So I took it over. Was it right? No. Was it fair? I don’t know. But hey, it’s my life. I gotta take the shot. If I’m Garrett, I feel the same way. You hired me because I’m an offensive mind. Let me use it.”