Keyshawn Johnson on the Mess in Tampa Bay – “He (Josh Freeman) Needs to Grow Up”

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week V – ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown with Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL games. Some highlights:

On the mess in Tampa Bay – benching and releasing quarterback Josh Freeman …

Jackson: “I don’t care whether you like the head coach or dislike his methods, you do have to respect the guy that you are working for. I can’t tell in Tampa Bay if they are garnering a respect for their head coach or whether they are really bonding against their head coach in terms of the way they are being treated as football players … I’m talking about what is going on, on the field.”

Johnson: “As a football coach, you get that respect when you win football games. You can act a certain way as a coach because the players will run through the wall … Those guys right now are not having fun because they are not winning and he’s (Head Coach Greg Schiano) making things rough on them.”

Ditka: “How do you go from being the face of the franchise to being out on the street in three weeks. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Carter: “You have also talked about being responsible as a pro, which Josh (Freeman) hasn’t done?”

Johnson: “That’s true.  It’s both sides.  He needs to grow up, but the organization can’t kick him on the street.”

Carter: “Professional athletes don’t mind to be coached hard. They want to win. And when you are not winning, you are going to have problems.”

On whether the Eagles should abandon the hurry-up offense …

Johnson: “They should make some adjustments. When you think about where (Head Coach) Chip Kelly came from in college football, college coaches tend to not make adjustments. They don’t need to. When you’re up 40-0 in the second quarter, you don’t have to make those adjustments. In the National Football League, week to week, your game-plan changes … He doesn’t have the same personal he had at the University of Oregon.”

Carter: “He’s got to make adjustments. In the National Football League, the ball is in the middle of the field on the hash marks – a drastic difference from college. In college, it is always on one side. So, if you have more speed, and this is a speed-based plan, if you get on the hash mark, you can run to the wide side of the field and out-number your opponents. You can’t do that in the NFL. So they can’t run any speed sweeps – that takes away from their offense. And (QB) Michael Vick, he’s got to play better. He’s on a list – Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Michael Vick – fourth worst passers in the league, only completing 55 percent of their passes.”

Jackson: “We talk so much about Chip Kelly’s offense. This team is last in time of possession in the National Football League. They need to abandon the defense. They need to abandon whatever they are doing defensively.”

On Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s struggles …

Carter: “This is a lot like a horse race. Schaub is good enough to get you to the Derby. I’m talking about the Kentucky Derby. He’s good enough to get you in – they typically have 16 or 18 horses in the race. But, is he good enough to win the Derby? Let me also let you know who else is running in the Derby.  There are six other quarterbacks that have already won a Super Bowl. We’re in a golden age of quarterbacks in the league. … Is he good enough to beat these other horses – Peyton, Aaron, Brees, Eli, Big Ben? What about Brady, Luck, RGIII, Matty Ice? … He’ll get you there, but he won’t win the bed of roses.”

Jackson: “With a very solid football team, you can do things in a different way. I was thought when I was playing that you have to know your personnel. That means (Head Coach) Gary Kubiak has to understand that, maybe, you don’t have Peyton Manning, you don’t have Tom Brady. So, when I’m calling the plays, there’s an understanding of another way that we can win these football games without him throwing at the end. They were playing outstanding defense, when that pick took place. Kick the ball downfield. Make them drive 80 yards. See if they can win it. They haven’t been able to do it all day. Let’s depend on the fact that they can’t do it the last two minutes of the football game.”

Johnson: “If I’m Gary Kubiak, I’m talking to my quarterback, I’ll tell him simply – ‘I built the team around you offensively and defensively. You are the franchise quarterback. I cannot do everything from a head coaching standpoint. I can put you in certain situations. But when I put you on the field, no matter when, I’m not telling you to throw the ball to the opponent. The one thing I am asking you is to get the team in the end zone. That’s your job.’”

Jackson: “I can hand the ball off to (RB) Arian Foster?”

Johnson: “Yes, I can at times. But sometimes, it doesn’t call for that. I have to stay aggressive. If I elect to stay aggressive, you as my quarterback has to deliver the football. If you don’t, it becomes a problem. So, I don’t believe Matt Schaub is a championship winning quarterback. Tom Brady can do it. Peyton Manning can do it. Aaron Rodgers can do it. I just don’t think that he is built for that.”

Ditka: “Did Schaub make a mistake, yes. The coach also made a mistake. You run the football. If you don’t make it, you punt the ball away. Now, you put it in your defense’s hand. That was him (head coach) disrespecting his defense.”

Johnson: “What if you don’t feel good about your defense right there at that moment and you feel like you need to stay more aggressive?”

Ditka: “Go do something else besides coaching.”

On the realistic goal for Cowboys defense today vs. Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense …

Jackson: “I do not believe that they are going to stop Peyton Manning. This is tailor-made for him (Manning) to have success. So, I’m going to look at the other side of the football.  When DeMarco Murray is running for 131 yards a game, which he does when they win football games, then Peyton Manning will be on the sideline where he is least effective. If he is running for 48 yards a game, as he has in the losses, then Peyton Manning will eat them alive. The thing that Dallas fans need to remember right now, (QB Tony) Romo is playing as good a football as he’s ever played in his life and they are 2-2. So, it is not about Romo. It is about some other things going on with the football team.”

Carter: “When we talk Tony Dungy, when we talk Monte Kiffin, people are always under the assumption – ‘Oh, it is Cover 2.’ But Monte Kiffin doesn’t play ‘Cover 2’ like he used to. He doesn’t have an under-tackle like (Hall of Fame DT) Warren Sapp, who can get rush on the passer through the pocket. Watch the Dallas Cowboys … they don’t have the personnel to matchup with Peyton Manning. They are going to be very, very vanilla.  You can’t stop them when you’re vanilla.”

On quarterback Tom Brady continuing to win with a new cast of unproven receivers …

Carter: “He (Brady) and (Head Coach) Bill Belichick together, they are going to win 10 games. I don’t care what kind of talent you put around them. They are that good and they have a system that they can plug guys into and get the best out of them. What Belichick does, better than anyone else, is that he puts a different game-plan together every week, and also he gets his players to do whatever their strengths are. Whatever your weaknesses are, he doesn’t let the opponent’s defense or offense exploit them. He has you doing things that you do well.”

Jackson: “What is amazing is how quickly they can implement that system with new guys … They are the only team that I’ve seen that can take this coach-quarterback combination and do this with anybody.”

Johnson: “Tom Brady has been doing this his entire career. (WR) Randy Moss is the only guy that you can point to and say ‘Hall of Fame wide receiver with a Hall of Fame quarterback.’ The one thing that a lot of people don’t know is when they go and scout these players, the search for players with high football IQ. They have to be able to understand the system when they plug them in.”