NFL Week 8 News: Breaking Down the Undefeated Kansas City Chiefs

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

On the New England Patriots’ offense – are you concerned? 

Jackson: “Yeah, I’m concerned. You look at the bigger picture. Number one, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, multiple Super Bowl winner. Any conversation about best quarterback ever, Tom Brady is going to be included. So we preface things by saying that. I don’t know of any elite quarterback who is more affected by getting hit than is Tom Brady. He is on pace right now to be sacked 46 times this year and if that happens, they will not end up playing in New Jersey for a Super Bowl. It cannot happen.”

Ditka: “How do you get better protection? Get a running game, use some play-action. That will help you a little bit. That’s one thing they have to do. These young receivers aren’t the problem. Their offensive line protection is the biggest problem right now.”

Johnson: “When you look at Tom Brady and the way he’s playing and you go back to those three championships – he’s not playing any different than those three championships. The difference is, he’s a little older, he’s, you know, he’s more mature. But it’s the personnel. He doesn’t have the right personnel.”

Carter: “If you go to Tom Brady today, Tom Brady’s going to tell you though, it’s me guys. Alright. I need to be better at doing my job. Alright. He’s going to take that onus. He’s not going to put it on the offensive line. But the real problem is the wide receivers. Okay. You cannot hide from having young wide receivers. Wide receiver is one of the tougher positions to transfer from college into the pros.”

On the last unbeaten team: the Kansas City Chiefs…

Ditka: “It’s not too complicated. 2011 and ‘12 they won nine games. They’ve won seven this year. I mean, you know, Andy Reid has changed the culture there. Now I know they have good players there, but he’s made these guys understand they are good enough to be the best. And they’re playing that way.” 

Carter: “Coach, this is the thing that should jump out at you and it’s no stat. It’s confidence. And from the first meeting, Boom, and you know Andy well – from the first meeting he had with this football team, he sat ‘em down and told ‘em collectively in this room, we have a lot of people that have achieved a lot of individual success. But what I’m askin’ you, and I’m tellin’ you, I’m not here for rebuilding. I don’t rebuild. My battery’s charged up. I’m ready to go. What I want you guys to think about is, sacrifice your individual success for team success.”

On Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson…

Carter: “Calvin Johnson – we have never seen anyone in the history of the NFL with the size and speed and what he does. Now Dez (Bryant) gets a lot of the coverages like Calvin, but he can’t stretch the field like Calvin. Calvin also plays in the slot. Right now, it’s not even close. Alright. Everyone else is fighting for second, third and fourth. But the best receiver in the National Football League is Calvin Johnson.”

On the Dallas Cowboys…

Carter: “What I like is the conversation in Dallas is about football. It’s not about off-the-field issues; it’s just about the football team. And that’s what it should be about.”

On NFL player safety rules…

Jackson: “It’s the profession we chose. You know that injury is a possibility. You play this game long enough, you’re gonna get hurt… Just like you get in a boxing ring, you’re gonna get knocked out eventually if you stay in there long enough.”

Ditka: “Now I know boxing you can’t go out and just jump rope and run around and be ready to play. You have to have contact. You have to spar. There is no sparring in football. There is no practice with contact. Now I’m not saying that would be the answer. What the league is trying to do is absolutely right. But what do you do? If I’m a player, Cris, I don’t know about you, I want to be hit high, I don’t want to be hit low. That’s my livelihood.”

Johnson: “And the league is doing the right thing, but eventually they’re going to run out of body parts to target… when you think about the concussions, nobody this year that I can think of has been knocked out the entire season because of concussions, but there’s a lot of guys because of knees and ankles.”

Carter: “We represent the last four decades of playing in the National Football League, and the practice rules were a lot different. The one thing we have in consistency – we believe that NFL players only get better when they practice their profession compared to going through walkthrough. And I believe that’s the biggest reason, Boom, in why the players are getting hurt.”

On quarterbacks Geno Smith and Andy Dalton: is either in more “danger” today against the other defense?

Ditka: “I think Geno is the best athlete, and I don’t care what defense is up against him. I think he’s got a better chance to adjust to any defense against him.”

Johnson: “I think Andy Dalton is in a little bit of danger because of the defensive front of the New York Jets; they sacked the quarterback 24 times this year, Boom, and we all know what they can do when they get to the quarterback.”