ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 12


ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 12

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed the NFL’s week 12 games with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Comments from today’s show:

On the return of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon …

Jackson: “So many good things will happen if Josh Gordon is the Josh Gordon he was last year.”

Johnson: “He now adds an extra weapon to this football team. Last year he played with three different quarterbacks. Imagine now that he’s only with (Brian) Hoyer, what he’s capable of doing, not only in the pass game but the run game. It opens everything up.“

Ditka: “I don’t even worry about his talent. … Where’s his mind at? … And that’s what you’ve got to find out. … If he’s got it all together, he’s going to be really valuable to this football team because they’ve got to run the ball and he’s their passing threat.”

Carter: “Without a doubt – and you can’t say this about a lot of players – he has Hall of Fame talent. He’s one of the most talented receivers I’ve ever seen in the NFL. He has that type of ability. Now, I know something about this, and I know what he’s going through, and I’m more concerned about his day-to-day. Up until now, Josh has done everything he’s supposed to do. He’s got a great support system in the Browns. When this happened, I was calling for the Browns to release him. They have supported him and he has made tremendous strides off the field. Playing football – when you are going through what he’s going through – is the easiest part of his life. Now, me, I’m personally cheering for him because what he’s going to do today will be second nature to him. What he’s going to have to do every other day is make those right decisions. That’s what I’m concerned about, but I am pulling for him.”


On the Seattle Seahawks offense and their lack of a passing game this season …

Johnson: “This offense has no Golden Tait. They have no Percy Harvin. So if you are Arizona, you can stack the box, make guys come downhill, force Marshawn Lynch outside, try to pursue that way, make Russell Wilson do something besides run the football – put it in the air. … They’ve got to get the passing game going if they’re going to do anything.”

Ditka (on Marshawn Lynch): “It ain’t complicated. What’s my best deal? Hand it to him, and hand it to him, and hand it to him, and hand it to him again because he’s your best option. Hand it to him. Let him pound it. He likes that.”


On the success of the Arizona Cardinals defense this season under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles …

Jackson: “The one thing that Todd Bowles has done: he’s put tremendous pressure on the running game and the quarterback, and he does it at the same time – combination run-pass blitzes out of the 3-4 defense.”


On just how good Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt is …

Jackson: “I don’t think we’ve seen this exact combination of skills in a player. … When you look at his career right now – and I can’t dictate who’s going to go to the Hall of Fame and who’s not – this is what it looks like early on when a guy plays like this, whether he’s making money, whether he’s not making money. You play with every single fiber of yourself every down that you play.”


On the surging Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers …

Ditka: “I think what’s great about Aaron Rodgers is off the field. He’s a great example for young people – young athletes for how to prepare and how to play the game of football. … This defense was questionable early but it’s getting better now. They have this NASCAR look and they’re bringing people everywhere, lining up (Clay) Matthews all over the defense and he’s coming after people.”

Jackson: “It’s a team game but when you talk about Aaron Rodgers, yes, they are the best team in the NFC. … I’m going to tell everybody: put on a bucket list going to see him throw a football because it is different than everybody else in the National Football League. And I’m talking about Brady, Manning, everybody.”

Berman (on how tough the Packers are at home): “Even through the years of Brett Favre and everybody, Lambeau was never like an 8-0 place at home. It’s looking like that now for the Packers.”


On what makes Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots so good …

Jackson: “The brilliance of coach Belichick: when it comes to any football team in the National Football League, whatever your strength is – whatever the one thing is that you do best – I’m gonna take that away.”


On Robert Griffin III, head coach Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins …

Johnson: “I don’t have a problem with what Jay Gruden said about him in terms of his future with the organization, this year and long-term. I have a problem with coaches when they don’t tell the truth.”

Jackson: “RGIII critiqued his teammates, albeit subtly. He did it. So Coach Gruden felt the necessity to come out and let him know. … I actually appreciated that commentary about RGIII. I don’t think that it was necessary to come out and say ‘you’re not auditioning, the clock is ticking here with your career and the Washington Redskins’. I think that RGIII probably knows that and everybody in Washington and in that locker room probably already knew that. That, you could have said in private.”

Carter: “RGIII’s fundamentals are not very good. So to me, yes, the truth is necessary, and to be a great player it’s going to be necessary.”


On how the Dallas Cowboys will perform the rest of the season vs. past years …

Carter: “I believe that they are going to be able to get it done. This is not the same Dallas Cowboys. The reason why: I don’t believe their defense is as good, but Tony Romo and their ability to be physical on the offensive line, is totally different than what we’ve seen. If they stick to their MO, I look for Dallas to continue to have success and not be like the Dallas teams we’ve seen in recent years.”

Ditka: “If Dallas doesn’t win this game today, they’re taking a big step backwards, a really big step backwards because the Giants have no defense.”

Johnson: “I think in the end, they’re gonna be one of the four teams in the end playing in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.”

Jackson: “I’ll judge this team by what they are now and what they do now, but the collapses have been historic.”


On a lighter note …

Schefter: “Colts wide receiver TY Hilton and his wife had a baby daughter this morning. No truth to the rumor that they’re considering naming her Paris.”


Countdown also included the following features during the three-hour program:

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Media Contact: Bill Hofheimer [email protected] (860-766-9589)


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s pro football PR, including Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows. Other programs I work on include ESPN soccer, Around the Horn and PTI.