Mike Ditka on Michael Vick: The Official Ought To Feel Bad

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson previewed the NFL’s week 4 games with Suzy Kolber, analysts Trent Dilfer and Merril Hoge and NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. Some excerpts:

On how to protect Eagles quarterback Michael Vick…
Dilfer: “If you can spread the field out, put the quarterback in shotgun and design some quick throws, there’s less of a chance for the defensive line to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.”
Johnson: “Get him on the perimeter…not just sitting him in the pocket like a sitting duck.”
Jackson: “He showed a little bit of fear. … When you start paying attention to the guys coming at you, then your game is going to suffer.”
Carter: “He has to be able to protect himself because he has instincts that he’s used since he started playing football. He has to use those instincts.”

More on Vick…
Jackson: “I think the thing that we forget is that Mike Vick is different. And the reason that he’s different…he committed a crime that divided the community on how they feel about him. … I’m not saying that these officials are doing anything biased against Mike Vick, but we would be naive to think that those people don’t carry – all people – carry, who love dogs, carry either consciously or subconsciously, some feeling for Mike Vick.”
Ditka: “The call last week was missed. It was missed by the official. Period. That was a penalty. … The official ought to feel bad. That play is called 100 out of 100 times against any other quarterback.”

On whether the Detroit Lions can challenge the Packers in the NFC North…
Johnson: “Yes, they can. … When you start to win football games, it’s contagious. It turns into a habit. … There’s no weakness to me.”
Jackson: “Anybody can challenge anybody in the National Football League, and I love the way the Lions are built. … You’re darn right they can challenge the Packers and anybody else.”
Carter: “They’ve changed their mentality because they’ve gotten a lot of kids from programs that had winning traditions, so they’re not used to losing in Detroit.”

On whether the Buffalo Bills can be a contender…
Johnson: “I think so. … Those other teams in that division are going to lose games. … The Buffalo Bills, they have a head start.”
Jackson: “Going down the stretch I believe that they will have the character to deal with both of those teams (Patriots and Jets) and challenge for the AFC East title.”
Carter: “There are two concerns to me as far as Buffalo. Number one would be their overall depth. They’re a young football team. … Number two: how long can they handle the pressure?”

On the NFL snap count controversy this week…
Jackson: “Defense has been reduced to cheating…Anything we can to slow some offenses down.”
Ditka: “It’s not in the good sport of the game, but it happens all the time.”

On the New England Patriots…
Jackson: “If you’re going to have success against the Patriots, it begins with figuring out number 12.”
Carter: “Their defense is so bad. They weren’t good at a 34 defense. That’s why they switched to a 43. Now they’re the worst in the NFL at a 43. I think Belichick is spending too much time in those offensive meetings.”

On the Oakland Raiders …
Ditka: “They are the bullies on the block and they’re trying to go back to playing old-time Raider football. … I think it’s the commitment to exerting their will on the other team.”

On Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson…
Ditka: “He could be the best receiver in football. He’s as good a target as there is.”

On Rex Ryan and the New York Jets defense stopping the run…
Johnson: “The New York Jets built their defense to stop Tom Brady. … I think Rex Ryan forgot that there’s 14 other games that have to be played in this league.”