“There is no better quarterback in the National Football League throwing from the pocket than Justin Herbert.” – Jason Garrett
“It’s all come together here at the right time. They all believe. They’re starting to learn how to win in the NFL.” – Chris Simms on the Jaguars
“They’re a balanced team, they can run it, they’ve got weapons, but that quarterback was fantastic.” – Garrett on 49ers QB Brock Purdy
“The 49ers have been on fire and dominating teams. That’s not easy to do in the NFL.” – Simms
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 14, 2023 – NBC Sports began its coverage of the NFL post-season tonight from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., with Football Night in America leading into coverage of the Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in a Super Wild Card Playoff game on NBC, Peacock and Universo.
Maria Taylor hosted Football Night from NBC Sports’ Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. She was joined by former NFL head coach Jason Garrett, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, NFL Insider Mike Florio, and fantasy sports industry pioneer Matthew Berry. Two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison joined co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the game.
Simms interviewed Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence earlier this week. A portion of the interview aired tonight on FNIA. Click here for the entire interview. Harrison also interviewed Chargers RB Austin Ekeler during pre-game.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Tony Dungy (analyst), Kaylee Hartung (sideline reporter) and Terry McAulay (rules analyst) are calling tonight’s game.
Following are highlights from tonight’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock:
Garrett: “I think the Chargers, top-to-bottom, are a better team and their quarterback, Justin Herbert, is just simply one of the rare players in the NFL, but too often he has to act like Atlas. He’s got the whole franchise on his shoulders, and football’s a team game, especially in the playoffs. So, it’s critical for them to have that run game show up, have that defense show up, especially since their best playmaking receiver, Mike Williams, is out.”
Taylor on QB Justin Herbert: “Next-gen stats tell us that he completes more improbable passes than anybody else in the league.”
Garrett: “You call it improbable; I call it ridiculous. There is no better quarterback in the National Football League throwing from the pocket than Justin Herbert. (On a pass to WR DeAndre Carter in game vs. the Chiefs) This is with the bad ribs. This is the greatest throw I’ve ever seen in my entire life…Time and time again, he delivers strikes when he’s in that hole.”
Simms: “It’s not just the pocket. I agree with you, he’s the best pure pocket passer in football, but when he gets outside the pocket, he can do some things that (Jason) calls ridiculous, well, I call ri-donk-ulous.”
Harrison on S Derwin James: “He’s an absolute beast. I just talked to him and I told him, ‘Derwin, you cannot get kicked out of games. You’re the best player on defense.’ He’s going to have to do an excellent job, as well as this defense, in the run game and (stopping Jaguars RB) Travis Etienne in open spaces.”
Simms: “The Chargers are probably better in totality, but I think the Jaguars pose some really difficult matchup problems for them…They’ve got a bunch of young studs. Guys who are difference makers. It’s all come together here at the right time. They all believe. They’re starting to learn how to win in the NFL and that charge is being headed by their quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who I visited this week. He’s embracing the magnitude of this moment.”
Jac Collinsworth: “This Jaguars team grew up fast. You look at September vs. January, this is a whole different looking team.”
Harrison on head coach Doug Pederson: “I don’t think Doug Pederson gets enough credit for the job that he has done. It’s very difficult to go into an NFL locker room and get rid of that negativity, but it’s also very difficult to get rid of that losing mentality. He’s done a great job of that and plus, he’s done an awesome job with Trevor Lawrence.”
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence to Simms on coach Pederson: “He’s really laid back. He likes to poke fun and all that stuff. If you make a bad throw or a duck, he’ll look at you funny or make a noise in the background. He’s not a guy who’s a big ‘rah-rah’ get in your face. He understands the mental part of our position and what we need to get done, and we can communicate really well. He does a good job of that.”
Lawrence to Simms on dealing with criticism: “It’s changed as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve dealt with more criticism. I’ve actually started to use some of that stuff as more fuel. If you listen to too much of the criticism, it’s not good. If you listen to too much of the love, that’s not good either.”
Simms on Lawrence: “I think success was so easy for him in high school and college, this is the first time he’s dealing with a little bit of failure, and he’s bounced back in a big way. ”
Garrett: “The best players you and I have been around, they don’t have a chip on their shoulder, they have a mountain on their shoulder, and they draw on it all the time. He has a nice demeanor, Trevor Lawrence does, he’s very respectful to everybody, but deep down, there’s a fire burning in that guy’s belly and we’re seeing it show up on the field.”
Simms: “They’re dominant on both sides of the football. Their defense is great, and on the offensive side of the ball, their ability to run the ball and then (Kyle) Shanahan’s game-planning makes them so dangerous because they have weapons like Deebo (Samuel) and (George) Kittle and (Christian) McCaffrey where they pose real problems for a defense.”
Garrett on QB Brock Purdy: “That’s all good. They’re a balanced team, they can run it, they’ve got weapons, but that quarterback was fantastic.”
Garrett on the favorite in the NFC: “At this moment, it’s San Francisco for me just because Jalen Hurts has been banged up, was only ok in the last game…The Super Bowl goes through Philadelphia, so that will work to their advantage.”
Simms on the 49ers and the Eagles: “I want to say I’d be shocked if it wasn’t those two in the NFC Championship Game, but I would go with the 49ers as well. The Eagles, the injury to Hurts, maybe taking their foot off the gas pedal a little bit at the end of the year, stumbled a little bit. The 49ers have been on fire and dominating teams. That’s not easy to do in the NFL.”
Florio: “Folks around the league are very curious about what could happen if the Chargers or the Cowboys lose this weekend, and maybe more importantly, how they lose if they do indeed lose. The biggest name continues to be former Saints coach Sean Payton. I’m told it’s a true 50-50 whether he coaches this year or next year…Keep this in mind, with the best coaches now making $20 million or more per year, sitting out means missing out on a lot of revenue.”
— Football Night in America —