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Peter King on D&H: The Brett Favre situation, and Bill Belichick’s phenomenal season

10.29.10 at 1:54 pm ET
By
Peter King

Peter King

Peter King of SI.com and NBC Sports joined the Dale & Holley Show on Friday to discuss the state of the NFL, including the league-changing impact of special teams this year, the struggles of the Cowboys, Saints and Broncos, as well as the looming contract situation with Peyton Manning and the Colts.

He also rebutted the suggestion that the Vikings have been looking for an opportunity to turn over the offense to Tavaris Jackson. King said that the only thing that might keep Brett Favre away from Monday’s game against the Patriots would be his health, and that “unequivocally,” Vikings coach Brad Childress is not looking for a chance to move away from Favre.

King also praised the coaching job being done by the Patriots in getting a number of young players — primarily rookies — to be effective contributors on both sides of the ball. He suggested that, to this point, Tom Brady and Manning would be his MVPs.

A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to it, click here.

On the league this week:

What’s interesting is that Randy Moss comes back to town for you guys and that’s hardly the story. … It just seems this week, as so many weeks have [been] in the past, it’s all Favre, all the time.

You’ve got something special you’re working on for Monday…

I really don’t. I’m actually doing a story for the magazine for the story next week about special teams and their impact on the first half of this season. It just seems every week, there are two or three plays, I think special teams have been a huge impact. And it’s one of those things that you barely ever, ever think about in the offseason. When’s the last time someone called your show in May and said, ‘I wonder who the Patriots gunner is going to be.’ Ask the San Diego Chargers if they care. They have lost four games this year, lost, because of special teams.

What’s your guess: will Favre play on Monday, and if not, is it because of health or because Brad Childress doesn’t want him as a quarterback?

My guess is yes, and the answer to the second question is absolutely not. I’ll tell you sort of what I know. Here’s exactly what’s going on. You can take what I’m about to say to the bank. Brad Childress has not made a decision yet about what he’s going to do. Starting here in a little while, when the Minnesota Vikings take the practice field in Eden Prairie, Minn., he is going to judge Brett Favre’s readiness based on about an hour and 15 minutes of practice today and then how he comes back from that tomorrow in the walk-through – how nimble he is today and whether he’s OK in the walk-through. That, and only that, is what is going to be used to judge whether Brett Favre plays [Monday] against the Patriots.

There have been stories written overnight and a lot of things have been said publicly that I’ve heard. But I think I know what’s going on with this story well, and what’s going on is that if Favre looks good in practice, moves around and can basically prepare himself in the eyes of Brad Childress, he definitely will play on Monday. And if he can’t, he won’t. I have looked into this week whether Brad Childress would be using this as an excuse to transition away from Brett Favre and towards Tavaris Jackson, because he quite frankly is unhappy with a lot of the decisions that Favre have been making in games, and everybody knows that.

I have been told that the answer is absolutely, unequivocally not. This is going to be a decision based solely on how he looks in practice and whether he’s healthy enough to play.

Childress ripped Favre’s decision-making: what did you think about those comments?

First of all, I was a little surprised by them because usually in the heat of the moment, after a game in which you don’t play well, you probably want to take a deep breath and say, ‘We didn’t play well, give the other team credit, blah, blah, blah,’ instead of singling out your quarterback, which is what he did. Having said that, I also know that this was not a one-time deal. This has happened a few times this year where Childress saw Favre go against the grain. And I think he was just tired of it. Should he have just swallowed it? He probably should have.

But I think he wanted to make a point. In addition to being upset with steam coming out of his ears, I think he wanted to make a point, that no man is above being criticized. I do think that it took Favre by surprise and that Favre was unhappy about it. But I heard Bill Parcells say things about Phil Simms back in the ‘80s that weren’t completely complimentary. I’m not sure we have to take it as World War III, but clearly there’s been a conflict.

Where does the NFL investigation into the Favre/Jen Sterger matter stand?

That’s a really good question. I’m told, yesterday anyway, that Sterger hasn’t decided with finality whether she’s going to talk with the league, and that the league is at the end of its rope. Either talk or don’t talk, but the fact that they have strung it out for so long, I think the league wants to put this matter to bed. Fairly soon, in fact.

If they haven’t said, I think they’re going to say it in the coming days, maybe even in the coming day, They’ll say we need a decision from you or else we’re going to close the investigation. That’s my gut feeling about what’s going on with it.

Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden… There are lots of talented coaches are on TV. Will any of them end up in Dallas?

My feeling is that the most logical guy is John Fox. But I also think Jerry Jones would be interested in Bill Cowher. He’d certainly pay Bill Cowher, I think. And he’d be interested in Jon Gruden, at least to talk to him.

But Fox, who has been working with a very strong-willed and very influential general manager in Marty Hurney in Carolina – I don’t mean that critically – I think Fox is used to dealing with that. I’m not sure Jerry wants a star coach. I’m not saying he wouldn’t hire one of those other guys, but I think Jerry is most concerned with getting a guy to come in and be a discipline guy on his time. I think that has become very, very clear.

He’s not going to deal with another thing like Wade Phillips. Anybody can look at this and say, on a Monday night, where you absolutely had to have the game, how in the world can your defense come out and play like that. You allowed two 100-yard receivers. You allowed the Giants to run for 200 yards. It’s supposed to be one of the best defenses in football. So for me, I would guess that Fox will get a long look there at the end of the year.

Is Tony Romo done for the year?

Yes. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. When he’s healthy, they’re 4-10. If he’s relatively healthy and the quarterback play is awful and the doctors tell the Cowboys that he can’t hurt himself any more by playing and he’s fully healthy, then they’d be inclined to play him. But I don’t think, from what I hear about this injury, that it would be a very smart move by them.

Is New Orleans in trouble?

I talked to Sean Payton at length this morning. I think they’re very worried. It’s the first time I’ve heard him say something like, ‘The way we’re going now, we’re a 7-9, 9-7, 8-8 team. We’ve got to play better.’ I think the thing people are concerned about with them, especially because I doubt they’ll have Reggie Bush this weekend. So another weekend without Reggie Bush, without Pierre Thomas.

I did a lot of Saints games last year towards the end of the year. I just know that at the end of the year, Pierre Thomas was one of their five most important players. He was a vital guy for them. And now, he’s been a total non-factor for them this year. You need to have someone other than a Julius Jones who is walking in off the street and trying to learn all the little things. They’ve made a bunch of mistakes in the passing game where running backs are either running the wrong way or don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

Pat Bowlen does not have a reputation for impatience. Since a 6-0 start, his head coach hasn’t been very good. Is it possible that Josh McDaniels has issues?

They’re 4-13 since then. You’re right. I think the loss to Oakland, giving up 59 points, 38 in the first quarter and a half, was an absolute debacle, the worst loss any team in the NFL has suffered this year. My feeling is, first of all, I would be surprised if he fires him. But if they play two or three more times this year the way they played on Sunday, I then wouldn’t be surprised. If you ask me if I think Josh is going to survive it, I think the answer is yes. But they’ve got to play better, or else he won’t survive.

Since Tom Brady got his deal, why didn’t Peyton Manning get his?

I think because Don Yee, who does the Brady contract, does not go to agent conventions and hold up contracts and say, ‘Look and see what I got, everybody, come on other quarterbacks, come on and I’m going to represent you.’

That’s not what Tom Brady has been about in New England. He’s been paid handsomely. He hasn’t been paid like Peyton Manning. I think Manning’s whole deal, is that Tom Congdon, who represents Manning, believes that he should be, far and away, the highest-paid player in football. For most of his career, he has been. I think the Colts are unwilling to pay him $23-25 million a year voluntarily, unless they’re forced to do that, unless at some point, it’s a very hard thing to explain, but they feel like to get him long term would be better than to continually franchise him. Peyton Manning doesn’t have to like his situation, but I just don’t think the Colts will do something voluntarily until they feel like they’re forced to.

Think he’s lost anything?

I don’t. Not from what I’ve seen. I have tremendous respect for Ron Jaworski. But keep in mind, he’s playing with so many different players this year than he has in the past. I hate to be boring, but I think, pick one, it’s either him or Tom Brady for MVP through the first half of the season. That can change the rest of the way, but I don’t see how you can look at this game and not think those are the two most valuable players in the league. Manning especially, because of everything he’s had to go through this year, with all the changes they’ve made.

With the 5-1 start for the Patriots, what do you think of them?

I think that Bill Belichick and the coaching staff have done not a good job but a great job in getting young players to play at the NFL level quickly. This might be his best coaching job in that regard.

If you think about it, Brandon Tate, where’d he come from? He’s been a huge factor now in the first six games. The two rookie tight ends, huge factors. All those guys on defense, [Brandon] Spikes and [Jermaine] Cunningham most notably. This team has gotten young players to play better than anyone thought most of them would play in the first half of their rookie seasons – in the case of Tate, the first half of his first season because he was on IR last season.

I think that is the biggest thing, plus the fact that Brady has played like Brady. Vince Wilfork is having a dominating year. He will be on my NFL Mid-Season All-Pro team.

They’ve just done a terrific job in so many ways. I think this is a very admirable team to follow right now just because of how well they have plugged holes. They have done it so quickly.

To say that Bill Belichick has done something better than he has at any point in his previous coaching year, this might be a comparable coaching job for him and his staff to the 2001 job when all is said and done, but let’s see how the season goes.

Read More: Bill Belichick, brad childress, Brett Favre, jennifer sterger
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