Esiason on D&C: Jets roster has surpassed Pats
|01.25.10 at 1:31 pm ET|
Boomer Esiason joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the NFL’s conference championships and give his thoughts on the Super Bowl matchup.
The CBS analyst claimed that despite their loss to the Colts yesterday, the Jets have “passed the New England Patriots in young players that will be impact players as we move forward here.” With Mark Sanchez’ play yesterday, Shonn Greene’s performance in the playoffs and a talented young defense, Esiason suggested that Rex Ryan’s team has passed the Patriots, except at the quarterback position.
Esiason also discussed the conference championship games. In the Vikings-Saints contest, he suggested that Brett Favre’s interception near the end of regulation “was the careless Brett Favre that we have seen throughout the years.” Esiason claimed that the Vikings were the best team in the NFC and should have beaten the Saints, but killed their chances with turnovers, adding that Adrian Peterson would have been “buried on the bench” if he was coached by Bill Belichick. Esiason also argued against changing the NFL’s overtime scenario, though he did say there was a groundswell in the league to do so.
In contrast to his criticism of Favre, Esiason praised Peyton Manning’s play against the Jets.
“You take a look at his numbers, you take a look at the poise he showed the last second half there, I would probably tell you it was the best playoff performance he ever had,” said Esiason.
A transcript follows. To listen to the interview, click here.
Fair to say, yes. And I think Peyton Manning has played in 17 playoff games and I thought yesterday was by far his most brilliant. And even after the game, he said he was mentally worn out, and what he was talking about was that he had to play the Ravens and the Jets back to back. They present so many different looks defensively and early on the Jets certainly had his number defensively and he was grinding through it and all of a sudden a long pass came down the middle to Austin Collie and it was like they were off to the races. So that was a terrific performance by Peyton Manning. And unfortunately for Brett Favre, what is everybody going to be talking about?
That’s right, the interception. He did it against Philadelphia in overtime, he did it against the Giants in overtime and now he does it right before overtime on a play where it looked like he could have run for five, maybe 10 yards. I thought Troy Aikman pointed that out really well. And unfortunately he had a sleepless night, I can guarantee that.
Which team do you think is collectively more sick this morning: the Jets, who watched a 17-6 lead evaporate, or the Vikings, just one different decision by their leader away from going to the Super Bowl?
Easily the Vikings. You know, the Vikings defense played great yesterday. The Saints probably would not have had much of a sniff had it not been for all those turnovers by the Vikings offense. They are going to look at this film and say, “How did we lose this football game?” Going into the game, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Saints. I mean they had lost their last two home games against Tampa Bay and Dallas. They had beat up the Arizona Cardinals in their first home playoff game, but the Cardinals were terrible defensively. And I thought yesterday that the Minnesota Vikings defense did everything that it had to do to win the football game and unfortunately it came down to an interception by Brett Favre, but more importantly it came down to the other four turnovers that they had committed as well. So, to double or almost double the output of the Saints offense in their building and to lose by three points in overtime, it has just gotta be excruciating for them.
On the Favre interception at the end of the game, you can’t throw that ball across your body in that situation, can you?
No, you don’t do that in that situation and that was the careless Brett Favre that we have seen throughout the years. This year he wasn’t that player. Brad Childress and Darryl Bevel the offensive coordinator there really had him in check; he had a great season. The interesting thing for me really was the play before that. I mean, how the hell do you come out of a time out and have 12 guys in the huddle? You talk about FUBAR, that is exactly what it looked like. Like, you go here, no, you go there and it was out of sync for some reason. And that is inexcusable, and it leads to the next call, which was obviously the pass play. And listen, I don’t know how bad his ankle was. I will tell you that I’ve played in that situation before; it’s no fun playing with a twisted ankle. I’m sure he is going to have a problem walking on it the next three or four days. It might even be broken slightly, you never know, but to throw that ball the way he threw it, to do what every quarterback is taught not to do and to end his season on an interception is not only unfortunate for him, but it is really unfortunate for that football team, who played what I thought was a whale of a game yesterday.
Going into these games yesterday, everybody said the Vikings defensive front four would pressure Brees and while the Vikings defense was good, actually it was the Saints defense that was pounding the hell out of Brett Favre. In the other game, everybody said going in that the Jets would run the ball down the Colts throat and the Jets would stop the Indy running game. Actually, it was the Colts who ran the ball better and held the Jets to just 86 yards on the ground. We gotta stop with this pregame stuff Boomer.
Oh, come on, that is a big part of my paycheck. Easy with that. I think when we are pregame, we talked about this last week. An undersized defense, a fast defense by Indianapolis, no question, and yet the Jets because they have a rookie quarterback are going to try to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning, try to keep the decisions to a minimum for Mark Sanchez. All of that stuff is conventional wisdom. All of that stuff is the way that any coach would go into the game against the great Peyton Manning like that. Shonn Greene gets hurt and you can see that Thomas Jones doesn’t have the speed that Shonn Greene has, and that really hurt the New York Jets, even though I thought Mark Sanchez really played well and he showed great arm strength on the throw to Braylon Edwards and he showed great courage on the touchdown pass to Dustin Keller.
It’s clear to me that the New York Jets do have their franchise quarterback, there are a lot of really good young players on this team. I think I talked to you guys a couple weeks ago about how right now, the Jets, from a roster standpoint with the exception of quarterback because it is going to be awhile before he gets better than Tom Brady, have passed the New England Patriots in young players that will be impact players as we move forward here.
You could see Peyton Manning figuring out the Jets defense, as they were in the two tight ends, switched to three wideouts and started picking this defense apart. This guy is the best in the business at doing that, is he not?
Yeah, there is no question. He had a brilliant game yesterday and he is the offensive coordinator. He goes over and talks to Tom Moore, there is no question about that, but all those plays he is calling at the line of scrimmage. After the game yesterday he said that he pretty much changed every play before the snap of the ball at the line of scrimmage because of the defenses he was reading. He’s so smart that he can read defensive fronts and how coverages are tied into those defensive front, and if you don’t get home with the blitz he is going to find the open guy. And one thing they did yesterday that I thought was really magnificent was they showed how it isn’t always about Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne. That these two young players, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, who by the way if they were stuck in Jacksonville or Buffalo or something like that, would be just average players, and they might even be practice squad players. But because they are playing with the great Peyton Manning, they have now burst onto the scene and found a home, and really are becoming one of the reasons why they are so difficult to defend against. So my sense is that Peyton had a great game yesterday and it took awhile to figure out all those things Rex Ryan was showing him, but once he did and he unlocked the combo it was like a track meet and that is the last thing the Jets wanted to get themselves into.
If you are the Jets clinging to a 17-6 lead, was the 80-yard drive in 58 seconds at the end of the half to get the Colts to 17-13 a game-changing moment?
Well, to me it was the long pass to Austin Collie, I think it was for 46 or 48 yards, right down the middle. The coverage is what they call Cover-2 man: two deep safeties, man coverage underneath. If the ball is maybe five millimeters one way or the other maybe the defender for the New York Jets has a chance to knock the ball down. But because it was perfectly placed Austin Collie made a great catch and to me at that point it was off to the races. They score a touchdown at the end of the first half and they score again coming out of the second half and the Jets did not really want to get into a situation like that. To me, once he gets into a rhythm like that and he is reading your defenses, he knows where your blitzes are coming, he is in his element. And like I said, you take a look at his numbers, you take a look at the poise he showed the second half there, I would probably tell you it was the best playoff performance he’s ever had.
What’s your take on the NFL’s overtime rules?
I think it should stay the way it is. The defense had a chance yesterday to make an interception and they didn’t make the play. Their special teams could have pinned the Saints kickoff return team inside the 20. I understand where John and Gerry are coming from with this, but I’ve always believed that the other side gets paid two. I don’t understand why two-thirds of the team should be let off the hook just because they’re not getting their job done. If you ask me, it was up to the Minnesota Vikings defense and special teams to stop the offense of the New Orleans Saints. They didn’t get it done, and unfortunately for them, they are going home and the Saints are going to the Super Bowl.
I would rather see something other than a coin toss and here is my suggestion: something like time of possession decides who gets the ball first to start the overtime.
I’m sure that this debate will rage on because nobody likes to see a game end the way it unfortunately ended yesterday. And in most people’s mind they would have liked to see Brett Favre get another shot at it. But I’ve been around the NFL, obviously, for 30 years now and to me it is up to the defense and special teams to do their job too and not just the quarterback and wide receivers.
Do you think this overtime game will lead to a rule change?
It may. I know that there is a sentiment within the league that they would like to change it. But, really, I don’t like that because you are changing the way the game has been played. I certainly don’t want to see the ball put on the 25 yard line the way it is in college; I think that’s hokey. I don’t know what the real answer is, but other than defenses have gotta play football. Special teams have gotta play football; those guys receive paychecks as well. I know there would be an outcry over it if, say, the Patriots had lost to the Indianapolis Colts in overtime yesterday. But you know what? So many teams have gone that way before and there is a history for it, I’m really against changing it. But I do know that there is a groundswell for changing it.
Speaking about rule changes, have they gone a little too far with replays? I know it is the NFC Championship, but you can’t be reviewing every single thing, can you?
No, you can’t, and I just think they wanted to make sure they got it right. I mean, the last thing that the NFL would want was to somebody to win the game on a bad call, although I did think the pass interference call against the Minnesota Vikings was mindless. I mean, the game is in the balance. I didn’t see any of the contact, I didn’t see where there was any interference. The ball was highly overthrown. I think that is the place where the referee has got to use his discretion and eat the flag. The other thing too, when Brett Favre got hurt and twisted his ankle, the guy went low and dove at his knee. Now if that were Tom Brady the guy would be fined $15,000 and thrown out of the league.
If the Vikings had held onto the ball and not turned it over time after time, they would have won going away.
That’s absolutely right. And how about the fumble that Adrian Peterson had where he fumbled it and actually recovered it seven yards in front of him? How fast do you think his heart was going? It was just amazing.
Would Bill Belichick yank Adrian Peterson? Because Maroney looks at him sideways and he puts him on the bench for three days. I wonder if Belichick would say, “That’s it Adrian, you’re done.”
He would’ve been buried on the bench, you know that, because Coach Belichick holds people accountable. And every coach is different about how they handle people and Adrian Peterson has been such a big part of that franchise that I think Brad Childress sometimes handles him with kid gloves. But, you know, in an NFC Championship game, the key ingredient in all these championship games, and Shannon Sharpe said it yesterday, that turnovers are like gold in a down economy in these championship games. You want to hold onto the ball, you do not want to give it up, and you want to make sure that you don’t give the other team ample opportunities to win the game. And that, in my estimation, is the only reason why the New Orleans Saints won the game yesterday, and I think this is obvious to every football fan out there, were those turnovers, including the last interception by Brett Favre in regulation.
When we look around the four teams yesterday, I think you could make the argument that all four of those teams have better young, impact players than the Patriots, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Is that drafting or coaching?
Well, it always comes down to drafting and then being on the field with good players. You see players like Sidney Rice, Marques Colston, Pierrece Garcon, the wide receivers, and why are they so good? Well, because they are playing with bona fide Hall of Fame quarterbacks. When you put those guys with some of these other quarterbacks: Trent Edwards, David Garrard, Jason Campbell, and they are just going to be buried on the bench. So it does help that they are playing with great quarterbacks. And you see some of these defensive backs that were playing yesterday for the Indianapolis Colts, it helps when you have a great pass rush. It’s like having a great quarterback; if you are a defensive back and you have Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis running around the corner putting pressure on quarterbacks, obviously your job is going to be a little bit easier. But I think it really comes down to the quarterback, and even Rex Ryan said yesterday, “I know he tore up our defense, I know all that.” And everyone was saying, “Well, what about your offense.” And he said, “Well, Peyton Manning tore up our offense too by putting points on the board in such a frenetic pace and completing so many passes and moving the ball down the field, that our offense really never got a chance to catch its wind in the second half. So I think it really has more to do with the players that they are playing with, and I think that’s the kind of impact that Tom Brady has had on some of his young players too. Look at Julian Edelman, for instance.
I know a few minutes ago I said we need to set aside all this pregame analysis, and I know we have two weeks to figure this out. But on the morning after the conference championships, give us your 30-second thumbnail sketch on what we are going to see in Miami in two weeks.
Well, I think Indianapolis clearly is favored. I don’t know what the number is…
Four? Well, it should be more than that. I think Indianapolis’ defense is clearly better than the New Orleans defense, Indianapolis should be able to move right down the field on them. Indianapolis should also be able to contain the New Orleans offense. You know, yesterday was not a great performance by any stretch of the imagination by the New Orleans Saints. I thought it was a great second half, in particular, by the Indianapolis Colts. So, I like Indianapolis and I like them to score at least 30 points in the Super Bowl.
If the Colts win the Super Bowl, which argument holds more water: 19-0 or resting your players?
Well, if they win it then I guess resting your players to win the Super Bowl makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? But all of us who have ever played the game found the fact that they took the decision to kind of throw away their season to be the wrong one, at least that’s how I feel about it. I know Shannon felt that way; Bill Cowher I think took the side of Bill Polian.
But to me, I appreciate what the Patriots tried to do a few years back. You go for it, you play hard and you try to establish a legacy. Because if I ask you, with the exception of the Patriots because you guys are Patriots fans and you cover him, what is the one team that comes to mind? The 1972 Miami Dolphins because they were undefeated. The other ones, you don’t know their records. Alright, the Ravens won it in 2000, the Bears won it in the 80’s, the Steelers won all those in the 70’s, the 90’s for the Cowboys, but do you know the team’s records? No, you don’t. So that is why the Miami Dolphins are separate from everyone else.
This probably gives us the best chance for the best game with the Saints and the Colts, and the only better story would have been if this game were played in the Superdome instead of Miami with Peyton Manning growing up there.
I would’ve liked to see Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, because I still think Minnesota is the best team in the NFC. And when you watch the game yesterday, even though they lost the game, I could make a real good argument as to why they were better than the New Orleans Saints, although the turnovers are the great equalizer. But yeah, you know, you are right. This is going to be Manning playing against his dad’s old team and playing down there in Miami where they won their Super Bowl a few years back against the Bears. Should be a wild scene because you know those people in New Orleans, they like to party.
How conflicted must Archie Manning be? His kid versus his town. The only tougher choice would be Peyton vs. Eli.
Well, I have to tell you something, there is no doubt who Archie is rooting for: he is rooting for his son. And what a proud papa he must be. Two Super Bowl wins already by his two sons, two Super Bowl MVPs by his two sons, and now he’s getting ready to go to a third one. The first family of football just keeps getting better.
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