“The Giants have to start thinking about replacing Eli Manning.” – Rodney Harrison
“He’s got to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. They’ve got to get back to being explosive.” – Tony Dungy on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers
“Something very interesting is happening in Jacksonville right now.” – Cris Collinsworth
STAMFORD, Conn. – Oct. 8, 2017 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Week 5 Sunday Night Football matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. Mike Tirico opened the show live from inside NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Tirico was joined on site by the Sunday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. Paul Burmeister reported from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the Packers-Cowboys game.
Football Night featured an interview by Mike Tirico with Houston Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson; an update from Texans DL J.J. Watt on his hurricane relief efforts; and a feature on Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt.
Following are highlights from Football Night in America on NBC:
Harrison on team’s struggles: “The Giants have to start thinking about replacing Eli Manning…They have really good skill players, but I think it’s the offensive line. They have to do a better job of drafting. Ereck Flowers is absolutely pathetic. There’s no way he should be on an NFL roster.”
Dungy: “You said maybe it’s the end of the line for Eli. I don’t care who’s playing quarterback back there. When you can’t protect and you can’t run the football, it’s going to be a struggle. They’ve got to get some protection for their quarterback.”
Patrick: “I don’t think this can be a surprise because you didn’t have a running game or an offensive line coming into this season.”
Harrison: “They are in a lot of trouble because they can’t protect a lead in the fourth quarter.”
Dungy: “Sean Lee can’t stay healthy. They need him out there, but they do not have the pass rusher that can make that play when they have the lead. They can’t protect leads right now.”
Collinsworth: “This was the moment I started to believe in Jacksonville just a little bit – 11-point game, they have the ball backed up on their own one or two yard line, and they have a 12-play drive in which they do not throw a pass. All the way down the field, Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory just flipping the script on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Do they have the passing game needed to go on and make a big run? Probably not at this point. But something very interesting is happening in Jacksonville right now. That’s one tough football team.”
Harrison: “I look at Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator, and it seems like he changed his philosophy. We’re used to seeing big plays, them throwing the ball down the field. And now this offense has reverted to check downs and short, intermediate passes.”
Dungy: “Their pass offense is out of sync. I’ve never seen Ben (Roethlisberger) miss so many guys by such big margins.”
Harrison following Roethlisberger’s post-game comments: “They need to grow up. These are grown men making a lot of money…They need to grow up and make plays.”
Dungy on Roethlisberger: “He’s got to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. They’ve got to get back to being explosive.”
Dungy: “No doubt in my mind that Adam (Vinatieri) was going to make that kick to win it for Peyton.” (Note: The Colts honored former QB Peyton Manning at halftime)
Harrison on Manning: “He’s the only quarterback that gave me sleepless nights. And I’ve gone against John Elway and lot of the great ones. But he’s also the best quarterback I’ve ever faced.”
Patrick: “But you’re not talking about practice where you faced Tom Brady, right?”
Harrison: “Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I’ve faced. Stop trying to start something (laughs).”
Also: Mike Florio recapped the news surrounding Vice President Mike Pence’s departure from today’s game.
Dungy on if Dolphins offensive struggles are due to Jay Cutler or the play calling: “It’s not the play calling. I was down there in Miami. Adam Gates is an aggressive young coach. He thinks he’s got offensive skill people. He loves his receivers, he loves his running back. They have got to get some production out of the quarterback position.”
Harrison: “Jay Ajayi gave them a spark last year. You owe it to your team to give (Matt Moore) an opportunity. Jay Cutler is not getting it done, despite their win today.”
Collinsworth: “Yes, they’re throwing the ball down the field more, but they’re probably getting more shots down the field because they can run the football…they have a lot of weapons. And it’s hard to think of Kansas City’s offense as being this dynamic, triplets, MVP candidates, with the running back and the quarterback, but that’s exactly what they are right now.”
Collinsworth on Kareem Hunt: “We’re talking about Rookie of the Year, but he is very much in the MVP race as well. He has been phenomenal.”
Collinsworth: “When you bring in Deshaun Watson and the scrambling ability and the read option and all of that, all of a sudden those pass rushers can’t come flying off the edge. They have got too much to watch, it’s like a circus out there. He has really settled down that offensive line, and they’re putting points on the board. They’re exciting right now. ”
Harrison: “This is the ideal situation for (Deshaun) Watson. He doesn’t have to deal with the crowd noise. Dee Ford, he’s one of their (Kansas City) pass rushers, he’s not playing. And this defense gives up a lot of big plays.”
Dungy on Watson: “This is a great kid. I met him at the National Championship Game chapel service. He is a great kid, he’s a winner, but he is not a winner just because he is a great kid. He has skills that transfer over to the National Football League. He can throw from the pocket, he can throw on the move, and he is a smart football player. The thing that separates him right now is that mobility. If you play man-to-man coverage and cover all of the receivers, he finds these lanes and makes big things happen.”
Tafoya on Watson and Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt: “One could argue that at the quarter poll in the season, Hunt and Watson are the top two contenders for Rookie of the Year.”
MIKE TIRICO WITH DESHAUN WATSON
Watson on the impact Habitat for Humanity has had on his life: “I was a little boy actually and I just went to a church function, a Halloween party, and came home with a candy bag. Of course, my mom wanted to check the candy bag and make sure everything was straight. So she poured out the bag and saw the card that said, Habitat for Humanity — chance to win a house. She went online and filled out the application. And then two years later, we were blessed with the house. It was just a cool feeling to get out of the environment that I was in and start something new. Have that foundation and family feeling.”
Watson on becoming the family leader after his mother’s cancer diagnosis: “It made me grow and become a man before I really wanted to — 13, 14 years old, life was hitting me fast. So I’m going to school, playing sports, but also going to work. I take care of my younger brother and younger sister, make sure they have food, getting to school and their activities. I knew that my mom was going to be strong. That’s the first thing that she told me, it was like, ‘I’m going to get through this. Keep God first, stay in school, and be the kid that I want you to be and you’ll be fine.’ She’s doing well.”
Watson on giving his first game check to three cafeteria workers impacted by Hurricane Harvey: “They’re here at 4:30 [a.m.], leaving here about 9:30 [p.m.]. They’re always having smiles, not complaining, always having joy, and love coming here. And no one knew about their story…was like ‘I need to do this.’”
Watson on where his drive to be a leader on the field, in his family, and in the community comes from: “Just my supporting cast and the people that I’ve been around. It started with my mom, of course. Coach [Dabo] Swinney always told me, ‘Don’t just be a leader, be a serving leader. Serve others and you’ll be able to bless others. That’s going to take you further in life.’ So that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
J.J. WATT HURRICANE RELIEF FUND UPDATE
Watt: “It was literally as simple as a cell phone video and a fundraiser. I didn’t know if we were going to hit $200,000. The great people of the world took it from there and ended up with over $37 million.
“Since we ended the donations, what I’ve been doing is having personal meetings, phone calls, conversations with all different organizations who are here, on the ground in Houston. The No. 1 thing that I learned from people in other disasters was make sure you take your time to do it right.
“We are going to do a lot of good things. It’s going to cover a few different areas. It’s going to do things like rebuilding homes, food banks, and childcare centers, and medicine, and healthcare. I just want people to know that I’m making that $37 million go as far as we possibly can but there is so much more out there to be done so please keep donating. Please keep helping to all of these other organizations who are doing such great things.”
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–