ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week Two


ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week Two

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis previewed today’s NFL action with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:

On the debut of Chip Kelly and the Eagles up-tempo offense …

Jackson: “This is the most fun that that offense has had in a long, long time.”

Carter: “I’m cheering for Chip Kelly. We need this fresh type of coaching, this type of innovation in the National Football League. The league has turned to the quarterbacks but it’s also going to have to turn to offensive minds like Chip Kelly to keep it fresh. The next question is: how do they grow the offense because NFL defenses will catch up.”

Johnson: “At Oregon, they did all this. The one goal was to win a National Championship. They never did. The one goal [in the NFL] is to win a Super Bowl. So, doing all this – we watched the New England Patriots score a lot of points, do a lot of things, but when they got to the New York Giants, nada.”

Ditka: “That’s what he does because you cannot play a conventional 4-3-4 defense against that offense. … He’s not going to change. Someone’s going to have to catch up with him.”

Lewis: “With defenses, because you get into that 4-3 package, you can’t blitz when you are going that fast, so now you have to stay in these vanilla defenses, and you can’t get to him, and that way they dictate. And you saw the other night, if you make a mistake, that’s a big play. That’s the beauty of this offense.”


On who will lead the Baltimore Ravens this season …

Lewis: “I want to see this myself. I really want to see where it comes from. Does it come from Terrell Suggs or does it come from Joe Flacco? Mr. Bisciotti gave him $100 million. Does that $100 million calculate to you now spending bonus time with your young receivers, with your young team? There’s one thing about talent — talent is seen with the eye; leadership is rarely seen because it’s done most of the time after-hours. And that’s where I think the biggest issue is: who’s going to be the leader to invest in that team? For so many years when I was there, the No. 1 things that I did so much was spend times with guys off the field, when the coaches wasn’t around, when the film wasn’t showing. That’s the most crucial time when you’re talking about players’ development. How do you develop a man into a man? You’ve got to spend quality time with him. So now the question with the Ravens is: does Terrell Suggs spend that time? Does Joe Flacco spend that time with those young guys to get this ball club back where they need to be?” 

Ditka: “The greatness of this organization started with the defense. … There’s nothing about this defense that is imposing to me, and maybe that’s because they’re missing the leadership on the defensive side of the ball.”


On whether Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player …

Jackson: “Yes. He’s been verging on for a long time, and I’ve been a big Suh supporter, but when you never take responsibility … right now, he’s got to make an adjustment.”

Johnson: “I don’t know that he’s dirty. I think he’s overly aggressive, and whatever it is he needs to stop it. At some point in time it’s going to hurt the football team. … He can play. He just has to somehow figure out how to stop that type of behavior.”

Lewis: “We’re looking at this player that’s in a game of pure aggression. … We don’t do mental tests with the mind with athletes. When you talk about a player like this, who knows what his issues really are. Who knows what his rage really is when he gets on a football field. Why is he exploding like this? Why is he letting all this come out? … Ndamukong Suh is dealing with a completely different mindset and if we don’t get into these athletes’ mindset to understand where they come from and what they’ve been through, then it’s going to be a hard time figuring out.”


On the San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks Sunday night game …

Jackson: “No one knows how to finish better than the San Francisco 49ers.”

Lewis: “We always talk about these ‘cute positions’ – the quarterback, the wide receiver – everybody wants to be cute, right? This game will simply be won by the front seven on one side of the ball or another. … I like what San Fran has around Patrick Willis. Anytime you can put that many pieces around Patrick Willis, with a playmaker like him …  those guys, right now, if I had to go back, reminisce just a little bit, I could say they remind me of what [the Ravens in] 2000 actually looked like on defense.”

Ditka: “Which team can impose their will physically on the other ball club? … The team that’s going to run the ball best is going to play the best football game.”


On the emergence of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick …

Johnson: “Every single week going back to last year, he just gets better and better and better. The Green Bay Packer game, he didn’t even use his legs – threw for 400 yards.”


On Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s ability to perform well in the passing game coming off his knee injury…

Carter: “He’s going to have to stay in the pocket. Watching the [MNF] football game, it took me back to 2004 and a young Daunte Culpepper – 39 touchdown passes that season, over 4,700 yards which led the National Football League, came in second in the MVP. Not trying to scare the Washington Redskins, but Daunte Culpepper after that horrific injury in 2005 never started more than eight games in the NFL. Now it’s important that he (Griffin) develops in that pocket because if he wants to extend his career, that’s where he’s going to see the greatest improvement in his game.”


On the greatness of Peyton Manning …

Lewis: “After playing Peyton for so many years, one of the things I started to figure out was what was real and what wasn’t real. … The relationship that we had as leaders of both football teams, and as true competitors, we kind of understood each other from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint how much he studied and how much I studied. The whole game was a chess match. You could never show him what you were in. … One of the ultimate competitors in this game. They were always classic battles that we had.”


On what to take from the Dallas Cowboys’ week 1 win over the Giants …

Jackson: “A win is a win and I’ll take it, but I don’t like the way they won.”

Lewis: “The bottom line: let’s see about the playoffs. Let’s see if we can get to the playoffs and win a playoff game. All of these stars down there … we have to figure out what’s their identity when they get into the playoffs. Jerry Jones has not spent this much money for the Cowboys to keep being out of the playoffs.”

Carter: “I’m impressed with the way they spread the ball around in that offense.”

Ditka: “Offense: fantastic. That’s the worst defense I’ve ever seen.”


On the importance of establishing the running game for Peyton and Eli Manning …

Jackson: “The difference between the two brothers: Peyton Manning can do this and he don’t need very much to go along with him. Eli needs the running game.”


On the struggles of Giants running back David Wilson in week 1 …

Jackson: “You cannot play running back in this league if you fumble the ball. Wilson will either get that straightened out or they will find someone else to do it.”


On what to expect from the Kansas City Chiefs …

Johnson: “They are my Super Bowl pick. Not to win it, but to get there because of the conference. When you look at this football team and the make-up of this team – nine Pro Bowlers from a year ago. Now with nine Pro Bowlers, they add a coach in Andy Reid, a quarterback in Alex Smith, this looks like a real football team.”


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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