Week 1: ESPN “SUNDAY NFL COUNTOWN” NEWS AND NOTES – September 12, 2010
Bold Predictions for the 2010 season:
Tom Jackson: Houston Texans will go to Super Bowl XLV.
“There are a lot of teams 8-8 before the year that they go to the Super Bowl. This team finally got over that 8-8 hump to 9-7. They had the passer who put up the most yards in football last year. These guys (turning to Carter and Johnson) tell me it is a passing league. I’m coming over to that side.”
Cris Carter: Randy Moss will win MVP.
“I believe that Randy Moss – for the first time, a wide receiver will be the MVP in the National Football League. (Quarterback Tom) Brady will have an unbelievable year – close to 5,000 yards. Randy Moss, I believe he’ll have close to 1,800. He’s motivated by his profession. He is motivated that he doesn’t have a contract.”
Keyshawn Johnson: Donovan McNabb will win more games than Kevin Kolb this season.
Mike Ditka: Detroit Lions will finish the season near .500.
“You won three out of your last 40 games and I’m going to say you are going to win five more than that this year – the Detroit Lions.”
Chris Berman: Buffalo Bills will cause early problems in AFC East.
“They are not going to win it. They are not going into the playoffs. But the Buffalo Bills, in the first month of the season, will cause problems in the AFC East.”
Will the Colts experience Super Bowl hangover?
Jackson: “There’s a mental fatigue and drain that goes with working that hard and losing it … I think it comes down to the players, especially the guy who’s pulling the trigger. The first time we (Broncos) went to the Super Bowl, it was Craig Morton. No disrespect to Craig, he was no John Elway. We had a difficult time getting back. When we went and lost it the second time, John Elway was our quarterback and that guy took the Broncos right back to the Super Bowl. When you think about Peyton (Manning), are they capable of going back to the Super Bowl. I would say yes.”
Ditka: “There should never be a hangover. To me, it should be the most motivating factor in the world. You came that close to being the best in the world at what you do and you fall short. It happened to us in 1971 with the Cowboys. We went back the next year and we went to the Super Bowl … We were focused enough to understand we wanted to get that championship for coach Landry.”
Johnson: “Times are a little different now … The teams are so even across the board. You look at what’s going on in the league with the quarterbacks now – Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre. Every team has a nice quarterback that eventually will push to make his mark on the NFL … We had Brad Johnson, but Brad wasn’t the problem. It was us as a team and we won the Super Bowl. As a team, you have ego, you have people with their own agendas, all sorts of things. Now, there’s a big time free agency in the NFL. You just don’t really know how it shapes up.”
Carter: “One thing you couldn’t see on that list (in the feature) was, most of those franchises, they weren’t teams that had Super Bowl aspirations every year. The Colts are one of the six teams in the league that, every year, their aspirations are in the Super Bowl. There’s not that big a drop off. There’s not the highs and lows we see all these other teams go through.”
What impact will Ben Roethlisberger suspension have on Steelers?
Jackson: “On the field – Atlanta, Tennessee, Baltimore, you can lose two of those games. You can lose three. His (Ben’s) shadow will be on all of those games, win or lose. The other thing is, he has to regain the respect of this staff, the ownership, the football team, which he’s not the captain of and it’s not all because he’s missing four games, and then, the fans of Pittsburgh, because it is a different place. Yes, it is a beautiful city that has a small community feel to it. They are not satisfied with what he has done or is alleged to have done. So, his actions had better speak louder than anything else.”
Carter: “He is a very young player. This can be one of the great chances at redemption that we’ve seen in the National Football League. He has a great supporting staff in coach (Mike) Tomlin and one of the most stable franchises in the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, he needs to take advantage of that. But right now Ben, the proof is in the pudding. Your teammates need to see your reaction to the suspension, not only as far as your study habits, but also your preparation, what you’re eating, your body weight, because those things have been questioned in the past.”
Johnson: “Ben (Roethlisberger) wasn’t right before all of these happened in the locker room. He wasn’t very popular. What if Dennis Dixon goes 3-1, 4-0?”
Ditka: “A little humble pie is good.”
Berman: “I know (Dennis) runs. But maybe they get back, in these four weeks, a little more older-times Steeler football. That might be good for everybody. They couldn’t close games last year.”
Can Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco coexist in Cincinnati?
Carter: “I believe they really can. In Minnesota, we had a very similar situation – Jake Reed and myself. I was coming off five straight Pro Bowls and Jake Reed and I had NFL record of four consecutive dual receivers having 1,000 yards. So when we drafted Randy (Moss), I called Jake on the phone and was like, ‘Hey Bro, the kid is coming. We’ve got to make the situation work.’ … Out of the eight years I made eight straight Pro Bowls, that was the worst year I had – first year with Randy Moss. But Jake and I, we knew we had to compromise. The only way it works is if you win football games. Then the receivers are not looking at the stats sheets saying – ‘well, Key (Johnson) caught six passes in New York today.’”
Johnson: “It can work. T.O. is the older guy here. It’s Chad’s town. It’s been Chad’s town since he was drafted in the NFL. Chad has to understand, when he’s not getting the football, don’t get frustrated. But T.O. has to also understand, put your arms around him and say, ‘look Bro, if it is not working, we’re here to get to the Super Bowl.”
Carter: “T.O. is probably going to be the leading receiver.”
Johnson: “True. But they have to work together to get to the Super Bowl. Look, when I went to Tampa Bay, it was Warren Sapp’s locker room. I stepped in, you know me, I’m shinning. I stepped into the locker room, Warren Sapp did not like that. It was a problem. Every time you look up, he says something about me if I dropped the ball … But what we realized was, we had to do it together to win the Super Bowl.”
Jackson: “I live in the city. They benefit from a couple things. No. 1 – they are best friends. So, there is this sense of camaraderie that they have that I don’t know T.O. has had anywhere else … Chad has already acquiesced to T.O. – ‘You’re the future Hall of Fame receiver. I understand that. You are going to get more balls.”
Most impactful off-season acquisition:
Ditka: Donovan McNabb (Eagles) – marquee quarterback acquired from the same division
Johnson: Santonio Holmes (New York Jets) as well as Thomas Jones going from NY Jets to Kansas City Chiefs
Carter: T.O. (Terrell Owens in Cincinnati)
Jackson: Thomas Jones (Kansas City Chiefs – because of that coaching staff).
Ditka: Sam Bradford (Detroit Lions) will have the ball on every down
Johnson: CJ Spiller gives the Buffalo Bills to win some games
Carter: Bradford – franchise quarterback solves a lot of problems
Jackson: Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys) – Adding a player with his skills to a team with a lot of talent is off the charts.
Team with losing record last season that will make the playoffs:
Ditka: San Francisco 49ers – they are a much better football team, great coaching, they’ll make the playoffs
Johnson: Kansas City Chiefs – just because of the staff
Carter: Washington – quarterback and coach
Jackson: Washington – “Donovan McNabb, I’m a believer.”
Dikta impassioned reaction to the players’ display of solidarity before the season-opening Vikings at Saints game:
“If you’re going to do this, here’s my take. I have no problem with it. Every player on that team should have been out on the field. Every single player, not a handful, not eight guys, every single player should have been out there.
“Now, more importantly, I’ll say this: there should be no lockout. There should be no shutdown. Players and management have to work this out. This is the greatest game in the world. Everybody is making money. Don’t kill the golden goose. Men!, don’t kill the golden goose. It is too good.”
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