“Every time we turn over the coach, every time we turn over the GM, we’re doing Coach Belichick and his great staff a favor.” – Buffalo GM Brandon Beane to King on the importance of organizational consistency
“(Cam) Newton’s crash to earth has made quarterback an urgent need for New England.” – King on the Patriots
“Cleveland’s run game and (Baker) Mayfield’s maturity as a player will make Cleveland a tough out.” – King on the Browns
“Now that it’s Jags 1 and Jets 2 headed into the last two weeks, I’ve got no clue which team will be in better shape after the hiring cycle this winter.” – King on the race for the No. 1 pick in 2021
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 21, 2020 – Peter King discusses how the Bills built their team and won the AFC East title for the first time since 1995 in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King speaks with Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane and defensive end Jerry Hughes, who is the longest-tenured player on the Bills, hands out his weekly awards, and discusses the news and notes from around the league in Week 15.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Week 15.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the Bills clinching the AFC East title: “On Saturday in Denver, the Bills finally summited Mount Belichick, the mountain this franchise has been climbing through seven separate coaching administrations since New England and coach Bill Belichick began division dominance in 2001…Think of it this way: The last time the Bills won the AFC East, in 1995, most of us didn’t use email.”
King on Buffalo’s roster construction: “Just two of the 79 active, practice-squad and IR players on the 2020 Bills were in this locker room four years earlier…Another way to look at it: Buffalo is an expansion team with a star quarterback and some great personnel decisions made by GM Brandon Beane and (head coach Sean) McDermott.”
King on McDermott and Beane: “The Bills are an interesting case study for teams in a rebuild. The classic NFL structure has a team hiring a GM first, then the GM (in conjunction with ownership and maybe a club president) hires the coach…Four months after giving McDermott a five-year deal to coach the team, owners Terry and Kim Pegula gave Beane a five-year deal to be the general manager.”
Beane to King: “When I interviewed with the Pegulas – and I think Sean’s interview was probably similar – we were talking about stability and it’s gonna take time…One thing we discussed in that interview was how many head coaches, how many GMs, had been through here? I said, ‘You just bought the team. This is not on you. But every time we turn over the coach, every time we turn over the GM, we’re doing Coach Belichick and his great staff a favor.”
Beane on the importance of consistency: “Look at the teams that constantly win: New England, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Green Bay. Stability was the number one, most important thing to me – stability and then just drafting, and staying true to the culture we’d try to build and foster.”
King on Bills QB Josh Allen: “The Allen story is a rarity – a quarterback who had major accuracy issues in college and his first two years as a pro, but went to school in the offseason to fix it. He consulted mechanics maven Tony Romo and his own throwing tutor, Jordan Palmer, in the offseason…He’s up 10 percentage points in accuracy and 10 touchdowns and looks like a much more comfortable player than he was.”
Beane on trading for WR Stefon Diggs: “This was an offseason that the pandemic was starting and we weren’t sure what kind of offseason we were gonna have. How much of an impact was a rookie receiver going to be able to make? We got a quarterback on a rookie contract. I just thought it made sense for us to add a proven commodity and Stefon was looking for a fresh start.”
Hughes to King on Bills fans: “Our fans can’t even go to the games this year, but when we boarded the buses this morning at the hotel – thousands of miles from home, in Denver, Colorado – we’ve got Buffalo Bills fans cheering for us. I mean, COVID sucks, and I feel for our fans because they can’t be there in this great season. But they find ways to support us.”
11 PEOPLE WHO IMPACTED THE NFL THIS WEEKEND
King on Chiefs head coach Andy Reid: “Kansas City is 22-1 since mid-November 2019, following the 32-29 survival test at the Superdome against the Saints on Sunday…Funny that they’ve won six straight by less than a touchdown, but I don’t put much stock into “the Chiefs are slipping;” four of those have come on the road against playoff contenders.”
Reid to King on Patrick Mahomes’ chest pass to Travis Kelce for a touchdown this weekend: “One day in practice, Patrick did it and I said to him, ‘How’d that feel?’ He said good. So I said to him, ‘Good. Keep doing it.’ Not too complicated. We just try to do the things that make sense.”
King on Patriots QB Cam Newton: “He is so off, stunningly so, that it’s hard to figure out where to start to diagnose it…Newton’s crash to earth has made quarterback an urgent need for New England.”
King on Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Ohio St. QB Justin Fields: “After Clemson’s beatdown of Notre Dame and Ohio State’s road-grading of Northwestern in weekend conference title games, the divide between Clemson’s Lawrence and Ohio State’s Fields is significant. Lawrence seems headed for Jacksonville with the top pick in the April draft.”
King on Titans RB Derrick Henry: “Barring injury, the Titan of Tennessee is headed for his second straight rushing title…Henry is averaging 111 rushing yards and 1.1 touchdowns per game since opening day 2019. What a trail he’s leaving.”
King on Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: “It’s ironic that he has his most productive day as a Buc (390 yards, 110.4 rating) the day the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He’s headed for a season, at 43, when he’ll be better statistically in all categories – yards, TD passes, accuracy and rating – than he was last year in New England.”
King on Browns QB Baker Mayfield: “This is the player GM John Dorsey swore he was getting with the first pick in the 2018 draft…Cleveland’s run game and Mayfield’s maturity as a player will make Cleveland a tough out.”
WEEK 15 NEWS & NOTES
King on Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence: “Truly, if I’m Trevor Lawrence, and the two options are Jets and Jags, I have no idea if I’m rooting for Jets or Rams sitting in my apartment at Clemson on Sunday evening. Now that it’s Jags 1 and Jets 2 headed into the last two weeks, I’ve got no clue which team will be in better shape after the hiring cycle this winter.”
King on Eagles QB Jalen Hurts: “Anyone still knocking Howie Roseman for using the 53rd pick in the 2020 draft on Jalen Hurts?”
King on Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky: “Mitchell Trubisky is auditioning for his next gig, it would seem, and putting some excellent football on tape for a new team in 2021. The Bears wouldn’t think of giving him one more year, would they? Imagine, for a second, Trubisky becoming a solid starter for team number two beginning next summer. Talk about torture for Ryan Pace.”
King on Eagles QB Carson Wentz: “I think the odds of Wentz playing elsewhere in 2021 – too early to tell where, but my early money’s on Indy – just went from 34 percent to 52 percent.”
King on Panthers DE Brian Burns: “Whoa! Brian Burns of the Panthers: two sacks, four hurries, a gigantic impact in holding Green Bay to three points in its last eight possessions. He’s a big-time keeper.”
King on the Packers: “The game encouraged me about the Packers defense, particularly the secondary. The back end was a huge factor in the win; that’s a feisty, competitive, physical group. When Aaron Rodgers isn’t a miracle man, Green Bay can still win.”
King on scheduling he would implement if a 17th game is added: “AFC vs. NFC, in every matchup…Make the matchups malleable each spring, based on attractive games. DO NOT make the matchups formulaic.”
KING’S WEEK 15 AWARDS
Offensive Player of the Week: Kyler Murray, Arizona.
King: “Trying to save a playoff berth out of the insane NFC West…Murray had one of his biggest wins in two years piloting the tough-to-put-away Cards.”
Defensive Player of the Week: Devin White, Tampa Bay, & Adrian Amos, Green Bay.
King on White: “I continue to be amazed that White is just 22 years old, in his second season as the nerve center of the Bucs defense. And Sunday in Atlanta was his best day as a pro: three sacks, 12 tackles, two passes defensed.”
Special Teams Player of the Week: J.T. Hassell, New York Jets, & Andy Lee, Arizona.
King: “Hassell, from the football factory known as Florida Tech, slithered through the right side of the Rams’ punt team and smothered a Johnny Hekker punt. The Jets recovered at the Ram 27, and went on to kick a field goal. And won by three. Great awareness and quickness by Hassell.”
Coach of the Week: Sean McDermott, Buffalo.
King: “When the Bills hired him 47 months ago, no way McDermott was expected to make the playoffs in three of his first four years and finally beat back New England for the division title in year four. But he’s done that, and developed a team ethos that the veterans recognize as special.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- Football Night in America: Week 15 Recap with Liam McHugh, Rodney Harrison, Tony Dungy, Mike Florio and Steve Kornacki.
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss Week 15 and look ahead to Week 16.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 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 PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.