“It’s tough to do, and that’s why I’m picking Philadelphia not to repeat.” – Rodney Harrison
“Believe it or not, you practice these things. We did it in training camp when I was coaching.” – Tony Dungy on preparing for weather delays
“He looked like he was favoring his knee. He wasn’t 100 percent. Why rush this guy? You have the Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles.” – Harrison on Eagles QB Carson Wentz during warm-ups
“Give me 20 rushes on 2nd and 3rd down. If you knock Aaron Rodgers down five times, we’re going to win the game. That’s your goal this weekend.” – Dungy on his message to Bears’ LB Khalil Mack
NBC Sports’ Week 1 NFL Coverage Continues Sept. 9 with Bears-Packers on Sunday Night Football at New, Earlier Kickoff Time of 8:20 p.m. ET
STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 6, 2018 – NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2018 NFL season began tonight with a special edition of Football Night in America, leading into coverage of NFL Kickoff 2018, as the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Kickoff of tonight’s game was delayed until 9:05 p.m. ET due to severe weather in the Philadelphia area, forcing the studio team to report for a lengthy period from the stadium tunnel.
Philadelphia Eagles fan, actor and comedian Kevin Hart opened the show, narrating a piece that recounted the franchise’s heartbreaks through the years, discussed what defines one of the NFL’s most passionate and loyal fanbases, and relived Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Click here to watch.
Mike Tirico hosted tonight’s special edition of Football Night in America from inside the stadium and was joined on-site by Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl champion Rodney Harrison, and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com and PFT Live.
Coverage included Football Night in America co-host Liam McHugh’s interview with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. In addition, Kathryn Tappen reported on-site at the NFL Experience at
Penn’s Landing, leading into a performance by singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes.
Pre-game coverage also included a conversation between Dungy and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson about Super Bowl LII and the difficulty of repeating as champions. Click here to watch the interview.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter) have the call of tonight’s Falcons-Eagles NFL Kickoff 2018 season opener.
Following are highlights from Football Night In America on NBC:
Dungy on weather delay: “As a coach or a player, this kills you. You’re so routine-oriented. ‘We’re going to go out and warm up at this time, we’re coming back to the locker room, we’re playing at this time.’ They’re going to have to go back in and adjust.”
Harrison: “But we’re used to adjustments. We have to adjust to different schemes, weather conditions, coaching styles. I think the players will be fine. The main thing is you get to go back to the locker room, look at your playbook, review some things and calm yourself down.”
Dungy: “Believe it or not, you practice these things. We did it in training camp when I was coaching. We’re going to come inside and stop practice, and I’ll let you know when we’re going to come back out. You think it will never happen, and all of a sudden, it does.”
Harrison on Eagles’ chances to repeat as champions: “It’s tough to do, and that’s why I’m picking Philadelphia not to repeat. The toughest part about it is that you have to be able to forget about what happened last year. It’s difficult because everywhere you go, you are constantly reminded…it comes down to the leadership in that locker room – guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox – to convey that message.”
Harrison on how Wentz looked during warm-ups: “I saw him – he was trying to throw passes across his body. He looked like he was favoring his knee. He wasn’t 100 percent. Why rush this guy? You have the Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles.”
Collinsworth on the Falcons’ offense and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian: “The pressure is on him at this point. Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator the year they go to the Super Bowl. They averaged 33 points per game, extraordinary. They come back last year and average 22 points per game…Julio Jones is a factor. Sometimes I think there’s so much pressure to get the ball to Julio Jones, you just wonder if they’re reading the defense down there (in the red zone) the same way they’re reading them in the middle of the field.”
Harrison on the Falcons targeting Julio Jones in the red zone: “(Jones) said, ‘In the red zone, they don’t need to force me the ball.’ I completely disagree with him. Force him the ball. Antonio Brown, he gets the ball forced to him. Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady forces the ball to him. When you have a great player like Julio Jones, you have to force the ball to him.”
Dungy on what he’d tell LB Khalil Mack if he coached the Bears leading into Bears-Packers on SNF: “You don’t have to know any of the defenses. Give me 20 rushes on 2nd and 3rd down. If you knock Aaron Rodgers down five times, we’re going to win the game. That’s your goal this weekend.”
Harrison on Mack’s impact on the Bears’ defense: “They can be one of the best defenses in the league. It’s really a gift, as a defensive back, to get a guy like that.”
Dungy on the strength of the NFC South: “I live in Tampa. There’s a lot of optimism down there. They think their team is better, but they can be markedly better and still be the fourth-place team in that division. It’s that tough.”
Florio on Le’Veon Bell contract situation: “One of the teammates who spoke out is Ramon Foster, he’s the union rep, and the thinking is the union rep should not be getting between a player and his effort to get the most money possible…it is all about money. He can’t be signed to a long-term deal at this point, by rule. But the Steelers could try to get him to come in by offering more than the $14.5 million he’s due to make under the franchise tag, or they could trade him to a team that would pay him more than that. Either way, I expect him to play for someone this year.”
In the Sept. 9 opener of Sunday Night Football – America’s No. 1 primetime television show for an unprecedented seven consecutive years – two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers celebrate the start of the franchise’s 100th season against 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recently acquired LB Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears. Coverage begins with Football Night in America – the most-watched studio show in sports – at 7 p.m. ET. All SNF games will feature a new, earlier kickoff time this season at 8:20 p.m. ET.
DOUG PEDERSON WITH TONY DUNGY
Pederson on how many times he’s re-watched Super Bowl LII: “I’ve probably watched it a half a dozen times. The first few times I watched it as a coach, obviously, looking for the mistakes, the corrections, the good plays.”
On when he first re-watched the “Philly Special” for enjoyment: “It was at least a week after (laughter). Even though you know the outcome of the game, I still got the emotions and everything kind of welling up inside of me as I was watching it even as a spectator.”
On if he’s thought about making adjustments in order to repeat: “I try to maintain my same demeanor, my same attitude. I don’t want to come across as uptight with the players or change my philosophy a whole lot. I still want to have fun with the guys and let their personalities show on the field.”
On if his aggressive play-calling nature will stay the same: “Philosophy-wise, I don’t think it needs to change. I still need to maintain the aggressiveness on the football field.”
On how many times Carson Wentz has told him he’s ready to go: “Just about every day (laughter). And rightfully so. He’s done a great job with his rehab and he’s worked extremely hard, obviously, to get to this point.”
Pederson on deciding to sit Wentz in Week 1: “The bottom line is the health, the health of the player, and where he is medically. I think on the outside, he’s good. On the inside, he might be disappointed, mad and upset, because as an athlete you want to play.”
On tonight’s opener against Atlanta: “In two years, even though we’ve won, we still haven’t thrown a touchdown pass against this defense. And yet, we’ve been able to rush the ball for some scores. It’s going to take a full 60-minute game.”
Dungy: “And maybe going for it on some fourth downs (laughing)?”
Pederson: “And maybe some fourth-down calls to keep some drives alive (laughing).”
Dungy: “Do you have another “Philly Special” in the works for them?”
Pederson: “I can’t say. I can’t tell you all of my secrets (laughing).”
Click here to watch the full interview.
–FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA–