LaDainian Tomlinson on the New York Giants…This Could Be Scary for the Green Bay Packers

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend – ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge, guest analyst LaDainian Tomlinson, and NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, previewed the NFL Divisional Playoff games and discussed Saturday’s games. Some excerpts:

Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson discussed his impression of quarterback Mark Sanchez, Jets dysfunctional locker room, and the possibility of retiring…
Kolber: “You got to play with Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Mark (Sanchez). What are your impressions of Sanchez?”
Tomlinson: “There are a lot of things you can say about Mark Sanchez, but to call him lazy is a bit much. This is a guy that has worked very hard off the field, in the film room. I’ve seen it, in the weight room, putting in extra time with the coaches early in the morning after practice when everybody is gone. He is putting in time. So, he’s not lazy.”
Kolber: “They always say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where are some of these coming from? Maybe, if there’s a deficiency, what is it?”
Tomlinson: “I think some things that happened in the locker room between obviously him and the receivers. I think that’s where this is coming from. Some of the disconnect that happened throughout the year. Maybe, some of the arguments that you guys heard about throughout the year. So, I think that’s where this may be coming from.”
Kolber: “Do you think he (Sanchez) needs to be pushed?”
Tomlinson: “With all of us as athletes, we play our best football, or whatever sport you may be playing, when you’re pushed. Competition brings that out of us. For Mark, he hasn’t had that competition to push him. I do think he’ll be a better player if he has some competition, somebody to push him.”
Kolber: “How would you describe the locker room?”
Tomlinson: “I think in instances, there’s always locker room tension between guys. Let’s face it, you have 53 guys, strong personalities. You’re not going to always get along with each other. But you do have to respect each other. I think there were times in the locker room that things were happening, but the players, for the most part of the season, kept it under wraps and it didn’t get out to media until the end part of the season. I think it happened because of the losses we had at the end of the season. Once that started happening, you get guys that come out to the media saying things about they’re not happy with certain situations…So, I think that’s the issue that you have guys, anonymously, saying things that are bringing this team down. You can’t have that.”
Kolber: “When this season ended, it was the first time that you addressed the possibility of retirement. What are your thoughts now?”
Tomlinson: “I’m still at that point where I’m contemplating retirement. At the same time, I’m leaving my options open. I’m not saying that I’m completely done with playing football. I just don’t know yet. I’m a free agent.”

Countdown analysts on the key to tight end Vernon Davis leading the 49ers to victory over the Saints …
(In 2008, then 49ers head coach Mike Singletary banished Vernon Davis from the sidelines in a game. In his post-game press briefing, Singletary called out the talented tight end for being undisciplined. Yesterday, Davis caught the 49ers’ game-winning touchdown over the Saints.)
Ditka: “There’s no set way you’re going to handle a football player. I think Mike (Singletary) handled him the way he thought he should. He handled him, probably, the same way I would have. I think Jim Harbaugh handles him a lot differently. It’s a different kind of love. It works. What Mike (Singletary) did straightened this kid out because it made him realize he had to become part of this team.”
Carter: “The coach needs to do whatever he needs to do to get the best out of the athlete. What you see now is, Vernon Davis, when he shows up to work, he submits his talent to the coach. So, his talent might be highlighted in a game like that. If you don’t have that day, I don’t believe we have the success he had yesterday … It speaks to his character to be humiliated like that by someone like Mike Singletary, whom we have the utmost respect for. So we knew Mike was right. For him to look at himself, and improve himself, not only as a person, but as a football player, it was awesome to see.”
Johnson: “We’ve all played in the National Football League and we’ve all had turning points in our careers for the positive side of things. For Vernon Davis, what Mike Singletary did for him was the start of it. Yesterday, was the finished product, but not completely done, as well as (quarterback) Alex Smith. From this point forward, watch what Alex Smith and Vernon Davis become in the National Football League.”

LaDainian Tomlinson on the Giants…
“Let me just say this – this Giants team is like the Green Bay team from last year that won the Super Bowl. They got hot at the right time. They are hitting on all cylinders. The quarterback is playing off-the-charts, this could be scary for the Green Bay Packers.”

Looking ahead at Tim Tebow’s future after his 8-5 season…
Kolber: “As the teammates say, he’s one of the most consistent guys they’ve ever met. Clearly great in the locker room, you want to take a shot at his career.”
Hoge: “It’s kind of like a barbed wire tattoos or bell bottoms, it’s a fad. It was an amazing fad this year, but it is not different than the wildcat, the Bears defense … A sign of things to come was evidenced with the Patriots and the Chiefs. The second go-around after you’ve seen it, how you prepare for the speed option, neutralize the running game and put the other dimension on display. Now you got to throw it. Eventually you have to do that. The speed option will not be the staple of any offense in football … Eventually, the other phase has to be developed. And you have to be consistent from that phase if you are going to have consistent success in the NFL.”
Kolber: “LT (Tomlinson), you’re a free agent. Would you want to be on a team where he’s the quarterback?”
Tomlinson: “As far as me, I don’t know. That would be a tough decision for me to make to have Tebow as my quarterback. Not because he’s not a great guy. He is. He’s a great guy. I’m just saying I don’t think you can play quarterback like this at this level. Now, is there a place for Tim Tebow? Absolutely. He’s a passionate guy. I think he can help your team in certain ways. But to be the quarterback Tom (Jackson), I don’t know.”
Jackson: “Therein lies the problem, because the fan base that he has is so passionate about him playing that I don’t know whether they would be comfortable with Tim Tebow in a defined role once we get inside the red zone. Or will the quarterback who is quarterbacking the team be comfortable with doing that? The thing that I want to say is this. Number one, you have to be able to pass the ball in the National Football League in order to play right now. The other thing is that I believe if Tim Tebow is going to be on this football team, the fan base again has to be comfortable because John Elway has decisions to make about the future of the Denver Broncos that have nothing to do with the great person that Tim Tebow is.”