Mike Ditka on Robert Griffin III: I Am Buying the Hype Completely

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 Suzy Kolber, analysts Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:

At the start of Countdown, Mortensen broke the story of replacement official Brian Stropolo (a side judge) and the pictures on his Facebook page identifying himself as a New Orleans Saints fan. When made aware of the situation, the NFL pulled Stropolo from today’s Saints-Panthers game in place of an alternate official.

On Stropolo being pulled from today’s game and the NFL’s replacement officials …

Jackson: “I’m going to look at worst-case scenario, and it’s not an isolated incident. … I think all of this puts in question the integrity of the league. Let’s get the regular referees back doing the job they should be doing.”

Carter: “It’s pretty clear in this situation, this man never ever wanted to be an NFL referee or he never would have had those pictures taken. He never expected that his career would take him – that he would be an NFL referee.”

Johnson: “Even the regular referees, I’m sure, are fans of some teams in the National Football League or whatever other sport, but they didn’t display it out publicly in social media to have everybody scrutinize the situation.”

Ditka: “Commissioner Goodell has his first headache, and this is a big headache. It’s time to get the real guys back to work.”

On Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III …

Ditka: “I am buying the hype completely. He’s a breath of fresh air. He’s a leader, and every young football player in the National Football League ought to watch his example on the field and off the field.”

Johnson: “He’s been a leader at everything – college, high school, track, whatever it is. … Now he has the opportunity to get the Redskins back in contention.”

Carter: “He is the real deal.”

Jackson (discussing an RGIII throw last week, comparing him to John Elway): “I’m not comparing their careers … but the last time I saw it, the No. 7 in Denver was wearing it.”

Berman: “The first NFL quarterback starter to be born in the 90s. I have socks older than that.”

On Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles …

Jackson: “The key difference that has to happen here is game plan. Anytime you ask him to go back throw the ball 56 times … you’re setting the tone for trouble for the quarterback.”

Ditka: “Since the start of 2011, he has 22 turnovers, which is sixth-most in the NFL. That’s too many.”

Berman: “It’s almost like a sports car which you know can run great 100 miles per hour on the highway. Every now and then it drives a little fast. Every now and then they’ve got to pull back.”

On whether the Baltimore Ravens’ Joe Flacco is ready to be an elite quarterback …

Jackson: “(The) guy’s gone to the playoffs and won games every year he’s been in this league. There are very few QBs who can ever, ever say that. Yes, he’s ready to be elite.”

Carter: “There’s always a transition from being a good player to a great player, and Flacco is making that right now. … The Raven may be developing into one of the best teams in the league.”

Ditka: “I think he’s made that transition already. His defensive football team knows they’ve got a chance to win every football game with him on the field, and that takes the pressure off of them.”

Berman: “The offense is arriving together. … They might be as good as the defense – maybe even better – by the end of the year. If that’s the case, we’ll see in New Orleans.”

On Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler calling out his offensive line during Thursday’s game …

Jackson: “Bumping that guy, yelling at guys on national TV like that – your teammates. It will come back to bite you in the end. And I think it might come back to bite Jay in the end.”

Ditka: “It sets a bad precedent. It’s an immature act by the quarterback.”

Johnson: “The maturity level for Jay has to come. He’s been in the league way too long at the quarterback position to continue to do these sorts of things.”

On the New Orleans Saints missing Sean Payton …

Jackson: “I didn’t really realize it until last week – how much they are going to miss him.”

Ditka: “It’s called organization, and I think that’s one thing that Sean brought. … The other thing I didn’t see [last week] was intensity.”

Johnson: “I know Drew Brees is great but you can’t just plug him in without Sean Payton. It just doesn’t work that way.”

Carter: “The Saints have long-term problems. And, if you guys think you’re going to lose your NFL coach, and you’re going to get over that – every game they lose, every player has to answer the question, ‘Hey, you miss Sean Payton?’ After two, three, four losses, I believe that’s going to wear the team out.”

On the Oakland Raiders…

Jackson: “The problem for them is, when they got Carson Palmer, it was all about throwing the deep ball to the speed receivers downfield. He threw so many picks that now they’ve reeled in their offense a little bit. You see the shorter passing game by him, not quite as effective, and Darren McFadden to me seems like the only thing that they can depend on offensively.”

On quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins…

Ditka: “Ryan Tannehill I think is going to be a fine football player. Right now they don’t have enough pieces around him.”

On Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden…

Jaworski: “Of all the rookie quarterbacks – five of them starting last week – I said Brandon Weeden was not ready, and he proved me correct. He even mentioned it himself – his lack of accuracy. That is the most overlooked aspect of playing the quarterback position. … This guy’s going to be a player someday. He’s not right now.”