Sunday, October 30, 2011

ESPN NFL Sunday Countdown Pregame Notes - Week 8

From ESPN -

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 8
Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL’s week 8 games with Suzy Kolber, analyst Merril Hoge, and NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. Some excerpts:
On the Ravens offensive concerns:
Carter:  “He’s (quarterback Joe Flacco) completing 52% of his passes … This is my biggest concern in Baltimore.  I take my eyes off the quarterback and I go right to the wide receivers.  I don’t see the separation at the top of the route that I would like to see from the wide receiver to get the quarterback some separation.  Quarterbacks do not like to see wide receivers and DBs (defensive backs) married to each other at the top of the route.”
Jackson:  “His (Flacco’s) play has regressed from the time that he was a rookie when he won two playoff games on the road.  He is playing his worst football right now.  The guy who has to recognize that is the offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.  There is no way you can drop him back to throw the ball 41 times and at the same time give Ray Rice eight carries in a football game.  For once, I agree with those (Ravens) players who are complaining.  They’re complaining and they are doing it in the right way – ‘we need a different game plan to be successful.’”
Ditka:  “I don’t know Joe Flacco personally, but he is the most unemotional man I’ve ever watched on a football field.  He reminds me of the coach in Indianapolis … Here’s the thing, all the leadership on this football team is on the defensive side of the ball.  It doesn’t work that way.  You have to have leaders on offense.  You cannot win in this league with just one side of the ball.  You can’t win with just a great defense.”
Johnson:  “It is tough though at the quarterback position, or even for the offensive coordinator or the offensive staff, if you don’t trust the quarterback.  I don’t think the coaches trust the quarterback … The fact that he’s playing the way that he’s playing puts you in a bad situation to call plays, to game-plan because there’s no consistency.”
Berman:  “Only (Blaine) Gabbert and Kerry Collins have completed less passes than him.  Flacco is better than that.”
On teams losing for (Andrew) Luck:
Hoge:  “All players have a job.  They have mortgages.  It is what they do for a living.  I remember in my rookie year, we were like 5-10 – bad, bad year.  I was listening to Chuck Knoll’s press conference, he was asked – ‘Coach, this is going to be a very hard team to evaluate?’  He said, ‘no, it is going to be the easiest one I’ve ever evaluated.’  It caught my attention.  Really, why?  He was like, ‘because I know who already quit.’  You know what is interesting, half the guys were gone the next year.  They are playing for their jobs.”
Carter:  “I was on the Vikings, we were 15-1.  We decided to draft Daunte Culpepper compared to drafting Jevon Kearse.  Me, as a veteran, I think it was my 13th or 14th year, I’m like, my future is right now.  I don’t have a future.  Football players, it is not in our DNA when we go onto the field not to go at a 100%.”
Mortensen:  “A guy like Peyton Manning hasn’t been placed on injury reserve.  We don’t think he’s going to be playing in December.  I know this much, if he were healthy enough to play the last two games and he was still active.  If he can help Jeff Saturday and all his teammates from losing a game so they won’t be an 0-and-16 team, you know darn well he’d do that.”
Reaction to NFL players asking out of the game:
Hoge:  “Tapping out means a sign of weakness …I played in the league, I never tapped out.”
Johnson:  “I totally disagree with you.  In 1998, AFC Championship game up in Denver, we were playing the Denver Broncos, I tapped out …I couldn’t go the next play.  I felt the backup who is a good receiver in Alex Van Dyke, they just drafted him, they drafted him to do this – all I needed was eight seconds … Sometimes, players have to get their breather or they are going to hurt the team.”
Hoge:  “The winded thing though, bothers me.  You’ve got 35 seconds in the huddle to recover.”
Johnson:  “I’m not going to sit up here and act like you are a great athlete, you can’t tap out.”
Should 0-6 Dolphins make coaching change now?
Carter:  “They might want to blame it on the coach, but they’ve got a lot of problems there.  They have a football credibility problem as far as the people making the decisions.” 
Ditka:  “I don’t believe in changing a coach in the middle of the season.  I don’t think that’s going to change anything.  This is an organizational disaster – top to bottom.  They made bad decisions since Bill (Parcells) left, and they have to live with them now.”
On Tim Tebow:
In a one-on-one interview with his former teammate and Countdown analyst Tom Jackson, Denver Broncos executive vice president for football operations and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway discussed the Broncos:
Elway on Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow:  “As much as we love the kid, I mean, I’d love my daughter to marry him – that’s how special the kid is and he does everything right.  But the bottom-line is, we’ve got to look at his football ability and is that going to give us the ability next year, two years, three years, and four years, down the line to be competitive and compete for the championship.”
Jackson on believing in Tebow:  “I have my doubts.  I know that mechanics mean something.  I know that the ability to throw the ball is meaningful – accuracy, elongated throw, reading of defenses and anticipating where wide receivers are.  I am saying this and it is going to sound so mysterious, there is something about him that is unexplained, or maybe inexplicable, that you see it and you see it at the end of games.”
Johnson:  “In the quarterback position, you have to play it to give your team a chance to win the football game … All the intangibles in the huddle is great, but you have to be able to play that position.”
Ditka:  “As a coach, did I want every player that comes to me to be a finished product?  That’d be wonderful.  That’s not going to happen.  He’s a work in progress.  But that coach has to help him.  If I had his competitive spirit, nobody will hold me back.”
Carter:  “Football is a game of fundamentals. The reason why Tebow is having problems is because his fundamentals aren’t very good.  That’s why you see 55 minutes of bad football … For me, I can’t forgive and forget.  I can’t forget when he misses wide open guys.”
On impressions of Cam Newton:
Ditka:  “Poise under pressure.  His (Cam Newton’s) presence in the pocket, he stands so tall, it’s unbelievable.  And to deliver the ball the way he does, with people all around him, this guy is the real deal.”
Jackson:  “I met him a couple of times.  It is not often that you run into a professional player who is physically dominant over the rest of the players in the league.  Would he be able to pick up a pro system?  It’s something that I heard a lot when he was coming into the league.  It is true, when they called the plays at Auburn, it was literally a number.  He’d go into the huddle and go ‘53,’ and all the other guys had to know what 53 meant.  He has picked up the system.  He is perfect, in form and technique, kind of Anti-Tebow, and does all the things well.”
Kolber:  “This is something that coach (Ron) Rivera said that was so impressive about his progress and about making these reads and about being able to see defenses and nobody was sure he could.  That in the preseason, everybody was critical of the ball which seemed to go high, but on the play-sheet, he was making the right decisions.  They were already thrilled because, they said, his mind is getting it.  If his body can catch up to the speed of the game, he’s got it.  He did it right.”

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