“There’s something special about being on a team – you realize that you’re a lot more alike than you are different. When you’re able to fight for something together, it really bonds you and brings a closeness that is tough to simulate in the outside world.” – Ryan Tannehill on the Titans and postponing practice last week to discuss the Jacob Blake shooting
“After watching the Titans last year, I’m convinced Smith’s one of the five best play designers and playcallers in football.” – King on Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
“Everyone thinks we should just play, but at end of the day we’re role models, and I feel strong we have to act that way.” – Detroit Lions safety Duron Harmon on social justice activism
STAMFORD, Conn. – August 31, 2020 – Peter King speaks with Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and writes about spending time at Titans training camp in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Detroit Lions safety Duron Harmon about the team’s decision to postpone practice last week in wake of the Jacob Blake shooting.
Across NBC Sports this week, The Rich Eisen Show continues on Peacock and NBCSN at Noon ET. PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock at 7 a.m. ET every weekday, with King joining the show tomorrow and NBC Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison making his weekly guest appearance this Thursday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast prepare for the upcoming season.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
RYAN TANNEHILL & THE TITANS
King on the Titans: “The Ryan Tannehill story has not gotten enough run. Everything about it is amazing. The Arthur Smith story has not gotten enough run. Everything about it is amazing…[Tannehill] ended up leading the NFL in passer rating, helping the Titans shock the world in the AFC playoffs and supplanting Marcus Mariota as the Titans’ quarterback of the future.”
King on Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith: “Smith, Titans offensive coordinator and son of FedEx founder Fred Smith, could have excelled in the family business. But taking a quality-control job on Joe Gibbs’ last Washington staff in 2007 led him to be one of football’s most imaginative play-callers instead of a shipping magnate.”
King on his visit to Titans camp: “The vibe I got at Titans camp is this: Shut up about what we did in January. Please. Did you see how we barely made it into the playoffs as the sixth seed?”
Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to King: “Just because we got to the AFC Championship Game, it means absolutely nothing when we kick off [in Week 1] against Denver. That to me is why it’s the greatest game in professional sports. It’s the biggest challenge.”
King on the unique challenges of this season: “There’s the COVID-19 impact, the rigid testing and personal freedoms going out the window, the lack of any offseason program, Zoom-learning the playbook, and the impact of the George Floyd murder and other shootings of Black people that have made activists of everyman football players.”
Ryan Tannehill to King on the Titans missing a practice last week to discuss the Jacob Blake shooting: “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in locker rooms pretty much my whole life. There’s something special about being on a team – you realize that you’re a lot more alike than you are different. When you’re able to fight for something together, it really bonds you and brings a closeness that is tough to simulate in the outside world.”
King on Titans rookie Darrynton Evans: “The Titans are one of the most interesting teams in football, even adding no one of major note in the offseason…The most interesting addition might actually be third-round offensive weapon Darrynton Evans of Appalachian State…If he gets right, and if put in the hands and offensive brain of Arthur Smith, Evans, the 93rd pick in the draft last April, could be one of the most interesting rookies in the NFL this year.”
King on Smith: “After watching the Titans last year, I’m convinced Smith’s one of the five best play designers and playcallers in football…Smith’s ethos comes in part from being so open-minded.”
Smith on designing and calling plays: “I love the strategy part of it, testing the limits to see what we can do. I love working for (Titans head coach) Mike Vrabel. He allows you to push the limits.”
Tannehill on Smith: “From the minute I took over he believed in me and just wanted me to go play, wanted me to go cut it loose, not overthink things. That was a lot of fun for me to just go out and play, throw confidently…Really at the end of the day, that’s what it was. Arthur does a great job of pushing the envelope of keeping defenses on their toes.”
Smith on Joe Gibbs’ influence on his career: “I look back on my season with him and I realize how good he was handling the team, how he thought about the game. Thinking about John Riggins late in the year, in the playoffs, I kind of thought about that with Derrick [Henry] in the playoffs last year, and the similarities of how he thought about playoff football.”
King on Smith and the Titans: “This team’s fun, and will continue to be, because the offensive coordinator is not afraid of calling anything, and his head coach backs him, and he knows, like his mentor Gibbs, that offensive versatility is offensive strength. Tennessee’s not going to be a one-year wonder.”
DURON HARMON AND NFL NOTES
King on the Lions postponing a practice last week: “This is certainly not a contest, but I found it interesting that the Milwaukee Bucks got the credit for starting the work slowdown…by refusing to play a playoff game Wednesday, to draw attention to the plight of Black Americans after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. By my clock, the job actions began 25 hours earlier. That’s when the Detroit Lions refused to practice.”
Lions safety Duron Harmon to King on how the Lions decided to postpone practice last week: “I came in Tuesday, and you could feel the sadness on the team. Disappointment, fear, anger…Matty P [coach Matt Patricia] pulled me to the side and said, ‘You okay?’…He said he wanted to give the team a chance to have an open dialogue, and wherever it goes, it goes. We spent about two hours – it didn’t feel like two hours – and white, Black, everyone talked it out. Great conversation…Matty P basically said, whatever you guys feel, I’m on board. We’re a team. He wanted to make sure our voices were heard. It couldn’t have been a better moment.”
Harmon on the Lions’ actions: “Everyone thinks we should just play, but at end of the day we’re role models, and I feel strong we have to act that way…We didn’t do this for people to say: Look at the Detroit Lions! We have a platform, we have the resources. It’s time to use them.”
King on what NFL end zones will look like this season: “End zones will have “It Takes All Of Us” on one end line, “End Racism” on the other.”
King on in-game audio in stadiums: “The Competition Committee will have to determine the decibel levels that can be used while games are being played, but rest assured that there will be some sort of low hum consistently inside the venues. The league doesn’t want to make it easy for teams to find patterns’ in opponents verbal signals and cadences.”
King on the Vikings trading for DE Yannick Ngakoue: “The Vikings just got better, and maybe a lot better, and paid 60 cents on the dollar (in draft capital) for a good young player at a position of great value in Mike Zimmer’s defense.”
King on the Jaguars trading Ngakoue: “The good news: Jacksonville has seven picks in the first four rounds of the 2021 draft…The bad news: The Jags got lousy compensation for a 25-year-old top-tier front-four disruptor.”
King on the Steelers: “I think one of the stories of camp that, in a normal year, would get more attention is how good Ben Roethlisberger looks and feels in Steelers camp at age 38, coming off elbow surgery…a healthy Roethlisberger would make Pittsburgh a legit threat to Baltimore atop the AFC North. But a 38-year-old quarterback being good again after major surgery is a big if.”
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. King joins the show tomorrow and NBC Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison will make his weekly guest appearance on PFT Live this Thursday.
- The Rich Eisen Show continues on Peacock and NBCSN weekdays at Noon ET.
- com: ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast continue to preview and prepare for the upcoming NFL season.
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 NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.