“The whole idea that he doesn’t have a very good work ethic? I mean, to me, that’s crazy…This kid loves the game.” – Ryan Day to King on recent criticism of Justin Fields
“Everyone saw Fields take a kill-shot to his ribs in the second quarter of this season’s Clemson playoff game and he responded by having the game of his life…How do you do that if you’re low on desire? Give me 10 of those guys on my team.” – King
“The NFL is thinking seriously of a ‘Midnight Madness’ sort of opening to the training-camp season, with 28 teams opening on the same date and with some fanfare accompanying it.” – King on possible change to opening of NFL training camps
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 5, 2021 – Peter King speaks with Ohio State head coach Ryan Day about quarterback Justin Fields ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also shares insights on the impact of the NFL’s move to a 17-game schedule and discusses possible changes to the opening of training camps.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which provides extensive NFL coverage, 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. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show discusses offseason storylines. and the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast continues to rank 2021 NFL Draft prospects by position group.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft: “It’s the netherworld time of year, the time before the draft when nothing of great consequence – including overrated Pro Day workouts – takes place, and fact-finding is done by teams (often in Zoom interviews this year), and prospect reports are solidified. When there are 116 days between the last time most college teams played a football game and the draft, there’s an incredible amount of time to mine opinions in the NFL from coaches and scouts.”
King on recent criticism of Ohio State QB Justin Fields: “ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, a former quarterback and good young analyst, went on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ and threw out some red flags on Fields. Major ones. Because he’s a respected voice, Orlovsky’s words got huge. ‘I have heard that he is a last-guy-in, first-guy-out type of quarterback,’ Orlovsky told McAfee. ‘Like, not the maniacal work ethic…Where is his desire to be a great quarterback?’”
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day to King: “The whole idea that he doesn’t have a very good work ethic? I mean, to me, that’s crazy. He got done with the Clemson game [the loss in the college football playoffs in the 2019 season] and he came back and all he did was work to get back to that game. And when those other guys are opting out, what’s he do? He petitions to have a season…You know, you don’t love the game if you’re doing something like that. This kid loves the game.”
Day on criticism of Fields: “I heard something about the last one to come in, first one to leave. First off, the scouts weren’t in our building all year. Last one in? Every morning, at least every morning we could be in the building, early he’s in with [football sports performance czar] Mickey Marott. He was unbelievable. He changed his diet, he got stronger. He did better than most…I think some people are being a little reckless with their comments.”
King on Orlovsky’s comments on Fields: “Orlovsky told me Saturday that people from a couple of teams did question Fields’ work ethic, but he regrets not having more ‘clarity and specificity’ in his comments…It’s important that Orlovsky be free to pass along information he finds credible, but it’s equally important to put that information in context.”
Orlovsky on speaking with Fields after his comments: “‘Justin didn’t have to take my phone call,’ Orlovsky said. ‘He could have said, Screw that guy. I told him exactly what happened, said I wasn’t good enough in that moment, and that’s on me. He was like, I get it. It’s okay. I watch, and I know you’re someone who’s had my back. I appreciate you calling me. I felt like he was really mature, and I appreciated him hearing me out.’”
King on Fields: “The problem with questioning Fields’ desire is everyone saw Fields take a kill-shot to his ribs in the second quarter of this season’s Clemson playoff game and he responded by having the game of his life…(He) looked to be in agony, missed a play, returned to throw four TD passes in the next 22 minutes, and outplayed Trevor Lawrence. How do you do that if you’re low on desire? Give me 10 of those guys on my team.”
King: “In conversations with people from two teams that are studying the quarterbacks atop this draft, I didn’t hear any negatives on Fields’ work ethic or drive…I ask those I’ve trusted in my years covering the NFL. In the case of Fields, those I trust say he’s got zero work ethic issues.”
Day on Fields’ ability to read a defense and game plan: “He’s very, very intelligent. He reminds me a lot of [former Buckeye] Joe Burrow when it comes to that. Tell him something once, and he absorbs it.”
King on possible landing spots for Fields: “In an ideal world, Fields goes to a team with no pressure to play right away and a good teacher of the position: Atlanta (head coach Arthur Smith) at four, New England (offensive coordinator John McDaniels) at 15 or with a trade-up, or New Orleans (Sean Payton, though the Saints pick 28th).”
UPDATES ON 11
King on the opening of NFL training camps: “The NFL is thinking seriously of a ‘Midnight Madness’ sort of opening to the training-camp season, with 28 teams opening on the same date and with some fanfare accompanying it…The NFL has been good at inventing dates in dead spots of the calendar for the NFL to spring to front of mind.”
King on the preseason: “In the past, coaches and GMs loved having games on Thursdays, because it allowed for a mini-bye for 30 of 32 teams entering the season. I am told there won’t be many summer Thursday exhibitions this year (if any) because there’s no need to play the last game early this year…Now Sept. 2-5 will be a bye weekend before the start of the regular season.”
King on the impact of adding the 17th game: “A smart head coach would find 65 snaps during the year to rest virtually every starter on his team. Up or down by 20 or more in the last 10 minutes? Start pulling guys…The human body might be able to play 65 more snaps in a regular season, but why risk key starters in garbage time any more than you have to?”
King on bye weeks with a 17-game schedule: “Early byes will be loathed more than ever. The first byes in 2018 and 2019 were in week four, and it switched to week five in 2020…I will be very surprised if the league re-institutes byes in week four – it’s much more likely byes will start in week five.”
King on Washington owner Daniel Snyder recently buying out other WFT owners: “I am told Snyder may take on partners in the future, to assuage the massive cash he’s had to raise to buy out his partners. But I am also told the team is intended to be passed down to the next generation of Snyders.”
King on Deshaun Watson: “With one of the former civil cases now turning criminal – meaning it will be investigated by local police – authorities will now judge whether there’s enough evidence to charge Watson with a crime. If that happens, it could be a game-changer with NFL discipline; the league would intercede with discipline in a criminal case, but not usually in a civil case or cases.”
King on the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo: “The 49ers maintain privately they’ll keep Garoppolo, and for 2021, I believe them. This trade for the third pick in the draft is meant to enrich the quarterback position more than it is to dump Garoppolo…I’m not very bullish on the Patriots making a move for Garoppolo this year. At all.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on NFL meetings to discuss rules changes: “I think the NFL is targeting two dates a week apart to discuss the rules changes for 2021: (tentatively) April 14 and 21…Expect the big order of business to be the owners approving an expansion of duties for the Replay Official upstairs. I also think the Kansas City jersey-number expansion is likely.”
King on the potential change to NFL jersey numbers: “I would look for one big star to change his immediately. I hear Jalen Ramsey wants to return to a single number (he wore ‘8’ for most of his Florida State career), and he won’t be the only one. I look for a spate of players to go into the single digits – just for fun.”
King on the Seahawks’ reported contract extension for WR Tyler Lockett: “Seattle should be congratulated, in a time of a tight salary cap for almost every team, for rewarding a worthy player…You want to instill in your players that they’ll be paid at least near market value if they produce, and Lockett has been a fearless producer, well worth the trust of this new deal.”
King on the Panthers: “I think I just can’t picture what the Carolina Panthers are going to do at quarterback.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- 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, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.
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.