“At a crucial point of our season, Michael Thomas was a big piece of cheese.” – Brees to King
“That’s the kind of play that the Larry Fitzgeralds and the Anquan Boldins, the great receivers, the guys who go to the Hall of Fame, they do.” – Thomas to King on New Orleans’ fourth-down touchdown in the second quarter
“That is where I wanted to be. But when this opportunity arose, I took it.” – Kliff Kingsbury on leaving USC for the Cardinals
Football Morning in America Runs Every Monday Exclusively on NBCSports.com
STAMFORD, Conn. – January 14, 2019 – Peter King’s Divisional Weekend edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, is highlighted by post-game interviews with New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas following the Saints’ 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Additionally, Football Morning in America previews the upcoming conference championship games; examines the latest head coaching hires around the NFL; unveils King’s All-Pro selections; features this week’s “What I Learned” with Denver Broncos general manager John Elway; awards, quotes, travel notes and more.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
THE LEAD: SAINTS
Payton on the “Doobie Pump”: “Looks like Mike’s gonna get it, but all of a sudden, it’s a pump. See, most times this season people would see that motion and we’d stick it in there to Mike, but in this case, Drew pumps. Everything about this play was Mike Thomas, till it wasn’t.”
Brees added: “So, I pump to Mike and they’re reacting to it, and that leaves [rookie receiver Keith] Kirkwood with a step on his guy over the top in the end zone, just the way we hoped, and just what happened in practice.”
Thomas added: “That’s the kind of play that the Larry Fitzgeralds and the Anquan Boldins, the great receivers, the guys who go to the Hall of Fame, they do. I’m happy to build my résumé by putting that one out there for people to see.”
Brees on his tenure with the Saints and whether he envisioned another shot at a Super Bowl: “Well, ’14 and ’15 were tough, really tough. We lost a ton of guys and it was a different locker room, a different vibe. But after the ’16 season, we made an effort to draft the right guys—guys of character, toughness and intelligence. We rebuilt the foundation and the culture of the team that we had for so long here but somehow we lost. We brought in the right guys, and look at the results.”
Brees on how he’ll celebrate his 40th birthday: “I’m gonna be sitting there grinding on Rams film. Like I always do. I’ve got the whole offseason to celebrate. My son [Baylen] turns 10 Tuesday. He was born on my 30th birthday. So it’ll be all about him. I might get a piece of his birthday cake.”
On Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury: But in hiring former Broncos coach Vance Joseph as his defensive coordinator, Kingsbury will likely have a job situation like Sean McVay with the Rams; McVay allows Wade Phillips to be the de facto head coach of the defense. “The mentorship of Josh Rosen will be extremely important,” Kingsbury said. On his jilting of USC after one month: “That is where I wanted to be. But when this opportunity arose, I took it.”
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht on picking up Jameis Winston’s fifth-year option: “If Jameis is somewhere between 15 and 20 right now [in performance] among NFL quarterbacks, is it really absurd to pick up his fifth-year option [at $20.9 million], considering what other quarterbacks make? No.”
Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians on working with Winston: “There’s two things with a quarterback. There has to be trust between the coach and the quarterback. You have to be closer to your quarterback than you are to any of your players, because they mean so much to your team. Two, you’ve got to work with them on fundamentals daily. I call it going to the driving range for 25 to 30 minutes every day. That’s how we’ll work with Jameis.”
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio on “Death by inches”: “A player is off in the right technique just a little, and you let it go because he’s playing okay. A player’s late for a meeting by 30 seconds. One act. Meaningless. But if you don’t correct it, then two players walk in a minute late the next day. All these things build on each other. It’s death by inches—or, in our business, it’s losses.”
“WHAT I LEARNED” WITH ELWAY
Elway on not making up your mind before hiring coaches: “I’ve probably pre-drawn my thought process going in before. I talked to [Vance Joseph] before the process a couple of years ago, and knew him, and going in, I had an idea that he was kind of our guy. I admit it. I was wrong on that one. I don’t like to say it out loud because I don’t want to offend VJ, who is a good football coach. But things didn’t work out.”
Elway on the importance of having a franchise quarterback: “The other thing that I’ve learned is that the bottom line in this league, it’s about winning. Forget about anything else. You want to do things the right way and we work on everything else. It’s very difficult to do it year in and year out unless you find a franchise quarterback. And, you know, we drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round [in 2016] and [head coach] Gary [Kubiak] was on board with Paxton and I thought he was a good fit with what Gary did. And then Gary gets sick and can’t do it anymore. Now all of a sudden we change a whole system that we had drafted a quarterback for. And once that [public] tidal wave started against him, he is getting bashed, and it’s hard for a 23, 24-year-old kid to beat that.”
Read the rest of the column here.
A new “Football Morning in America” will post every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.
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