NFL Week 13: Peyton Manning Will Torch the Chiefs Defense

Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 13 – Host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ron Jaworski previewed today’s NFL games on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. Highlights:

On news reports about quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Redskins locker room …

On “Inside Slant,” Countdown panel debates recent reports that the father of the Redskins quarterback visited with his son in the locker room after the team’s home loss to the 49ers on Monday Night Football as part of a larger discussion on how the Redskins have handled injuries and news surrounding their star quarterback:

Carter: “I believe it is unfair. He (RGIII) has gotten tremendous amount of visibility since he’s been there – the injury, the pre-surgery, the surgery, and when he comes back what type of offense? I just don’t believe it is fair to keep criticizing him just because his dad is in the locker room.”

Ditka: “He made them a lot better football team last year. He set the bar so high. The expectations are so high right now, and they are not performing. Not necessarily because of him. I don’t think he’s a 100 percent healthy. This is not a really good football team.”

Johnson: “Let’s move forward to this year. He had off-season surgery, he tried to rehab, he missed all of pre-season, and that first game against the Philadelphia Eagles, everybody was saying ‘let’s make this his preseason. Let’s keep him on the field. He’ll get into game shape.’ No. You play Kirk Cousins. RGIII is the future. Kirk Cousins, you drafted him as a backup contingency plan. You’ve got two quarterbacks on your roster … It was a big mistake, by both RGIII and the organization, to continue to allow him to play when he was not a 100 percent healthy.”

On whether the panel had a problem with RGIII’s dad being in the locker room post-game? …

Jackson: “I do not. His dad was there because he is concerned about the health of his son. If you look at the complete picture from last year to this – the way his season ended with him …, recovering from a surgery that should have taken a year to rehab and coming back in six months, and them allowing him to play without any preseason, would you not be concerned if you are his dad?”

Ditka: “I don’t have a problem. It is unusual. You don’t see it that often.”

Johnson: “… When I played in New York under (head coach) Bill Parcells, I don’t have a dad, but I have a lot of home-boys, a lot of friends and I have a lot of brothers. They would come to the locker room, they would come to the sidelines. Parcells knew how important that was for me, but he didn’t want them on the sidelines because he saw that as a distraction. At the end of the games, he had no problem with it because it was a comfort level for me.”

Carter: “Coach Ditka and Tommy (Jackson), a little bit different. But Key (Johnson) and I grew up in the situation – ‘all those years we played in the NFL, we wish we had a dad that would have showed up to watch us’.”

On whether Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin crossed the line …

Jackson: “Mike Tomlin took responsibility for it. He was in the wrong. He was too close to the field of play. He made Jacoby Jones veer inside. We all are aware of that. I don’t believe he did it intentionally. If you know him, he was not trying to impede his (Jones’) progress. Exactly what he said, ‘he looked up, saw the guy was going to be right on top of him, he tried to get out of the way – couldn’t do it in time to not affect Jacoby Jones.’ A fine is going to come down. You have to judge intent before you start talking about draft picks.”

Ditka: “I am on the coach’s corner. Get over yourself. That guy was not going to score a touchdown … He was going to be caught anyway. It doesn’t change the outcome of the play in my opinion … I don’t think he did it on purpose.”

On Peyton Manning vs. the Chiefs defense, the crowd noise and weather at Arrowhead Stadium …

Ditka: “The Chiefs defense gave up 34 points in the last two games. They hadn’t given up more than 17 in the nine before that. They are 1-9 in their last nine Divisional games. They don’t look like a very confident team right now. The injuries have hurt. I don’t think they can rely on their offense to score points.”

Johnson: “This defense has to get pressure on Peyton Manning. When you are missing key parts of your defense and you can’t get that pressure on any quarterback, let alone Peyton Manning. He’s going to figure out a way to torch you …”

Jackson: “The temperature is now going to be in the 50s in Kansas City, so Peyton manning is not going to have a problem throwing the football. I’m worried about the rest of the guys holding on to the ball. They have 16 fumbles – by far, it leads the National Football League. They had the chance to be undefeated if they weren’t laying the ball down on the ground.”

Carter: “That defense in those first nine games was outstanding … what this defense has done the last two weeks. that should be alarming – allowing 34 points and giving up nearly 460 yards a game. My concern is with that defense and their inability to get pressure because it puts a lot more pressure on the secondary as they try to clinch that division.”

On whether a team like the Chiefs can go into a defensive team slump …

Johnson: “When you have a defense of this magnitude, on the other side of the ball in the quarterback position, he can’t be in a slump. Your defense can slump a little bit. The Baltimore Ravens, the Seattle Seahawks, they can slump a little, but those quarterbacks on the other side, they have to be able to take care of some of the slump.”

Jackson: “Alex Smith is going to have to push the ball downfield.”

Carter: “Alex Smith has been in a slump since high school throwing the ball.”

On Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith …

Jackson: “You can’t commit as many turnovers as Geno does. One of those reasons is pocket presence. You have to have a sense when the pocket is breaking down, it is not where the exit door is so you can run, but a place where you can buy an extra four- to five-tenths of a second … He will learn. You look at all the young quarterbacks having success, they all have outstanding pocket presence.”

Johnson:  “The unfortunate part is that he is a young quarterback without a veteran that he can look up to. Quarterbacks that have had success, they learned behind veteran guys, whether it is Aaron Rodgers that had a Brett Favre. Even Philip Rivers had an opportunity to see Drew Brees. The fortunate part for him is that he’s learning. He’s taking the lumps right now.”

On Andrew Luck and the Colts struggles …

Ditka: “If I’m the opponent of the Colts, what scares me? They have no run game. They lose Reggie Wayne. They have no pass rush. They are putting (Andrew) Luck in a catch-up mode every week. It changes the way you play the game of football. Nobody is protecting him.”

Carter: “… let’s take a look at the number of times Andrew luck is getting hit. Since the start of last season, he has 333 pressures in 27 games. That number outweighs any quarterback in the National Football League. If your quarterback continues to get hit, it changes young quarterbacks.”