NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Sunday’s Patriots-Colts game and discuss news from around the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
Cornerback Aqib Talib  joins the Patriots this week and Lombardi said he can make an immediate impact on the struggling secondary.
‘I think he can make a significant impact on the outside,’ Lombardi said. ‘This week against the Colts, it’s a little different game because the Colts have a couple of those receivers who have quickness and vertical speed in [Donnie] Avery  and T.Y. Hilton so they’re not really the matchup for Talib. But certainly I think he can help on outside. What it will allow the Patriots to do is, if you really break down Patriots tape, the middle of the defense — the ‘backers, the safeties — this is where they’re getting killed more than anything. ‘¦ Get more speed on the field at linebacker, try to create some more situations where there is more depth in the zone drops, something that didn’t happen last week.’
The Patriots play the Colts and Andrew Luck  on Sunday. Lombardi said the Colts aren’t a playoff contender yet because their defense hasn’t played a full, four-quarter game.
‘[Luck] been able to control the ball, and I think [interim coach] Bruce Arians has done a wonderful job of implementing the Pittsburgh Steeler offense,’ Lombardi said. ‘I think the whole offense is tailored exactly after the Steelers when you watch them closely on tape. They’ve been able to play what I call ‘Little League  games,’ their defense has only played seven innings, they only have to play like 26 minutes in a game. And so they’ve never played a full nine-inning Major League Baseball  game defensively. This week, they’re going to have to play nine innings and then we’ll find out if they’re a playoff team. ‘¦ They’re a year away from me looking at them like a legitimate playoff team, but don’t underestimate Andrew Luck.’
Lombardi pointed out some of Luck’s abilities and cautioned that the Patriots need to stop him from moving in the pocket this Sunday.
‘He’s only completing slightly over 55 percent of his passes, he’s taken a pounding, but one thing about Luck, he gets back up,’ Lombardi said. ‘It doesn’t affect him whatsoever, he keeps looking down the field to take a shot down the field and that’s where he’s been so effective. ‘¦ I don’t know if he has [a weakness]. His mental ability and his mental toughness to me carries over for any slight deficiencies he might have in the game. ‘¦ His movement in the pocket is really what makes him so effective. The Patriots have to do a good job of controlling him in the pocket and not allowing him to move. Not because they’re afraid he’s going to run. ‘¦ What he typically likes to do, like Big Ben [Roethlisberger] is move in the pocket and then make plays up the field. I think Patriots have to do a really good job of protecting him, keeping him in the pocket, and forcing him to hold that ball.’
The Jets are 3-6 and New York fans are not happy, and neither is Jets owner Woody Johnson . Lombardi said the problem with the Jets is their lack of talent.
‘I think today they’re going to have the greatest practice in the history of practices,’ Lombardi joked. ‘I think it’s really hard for the Jets. You know, people call for [Tim] Tebow. The Jets have a talent issue. ‘¦ Thomas Jones  being replaced by Shonn Greene, that’s a loss for the Jets. You look anywhere across the board, whether its Damien Woody at right tackle being replaced at by Austin Howard, that’s a loss for the Jets ‘¦ Really, the Jets have not improved as a team. ‘¦ It’s a talent issue for the Jets. I never understood why we were covering them as much as we did at the NFL Network because they have a talent issue. Really, they’re not a good football team this year.
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On Sunday’s Steelers-Ravens game: ‘I think those are great matchups just because of the fact that the toughness of both teams comes out. The teams are both missing some key components of their offense or defense on both sides. I’m not sure how good Baltimore is. ‘¦ The Pittsburgh team that I saw earlier in the season has improved. But now Byron Leftwich  comes in, who is very deliberate with the football. But for whatever reason, the Steelers in that locker room really believe that Leftwich can handle that job. They really have complete faith in him. I’m not really sure where they get that faith from, from watching Leftwich play. ‘¦ I think this is always going to be a really good game to watch. I think it will come down to the final series of the game, like they always do.
On coach Chuck Pagano’s influence on the Colts while he receives treatment for cancer: ‘That has helped them. Chuck is an emotional man and he’s a great leader and the players have responded to him.’
On the Jets mouthing off about Tim Tebow  in the media this week: ‘I think teams adopt the personality of their head coach. I don’t see why anybody is surprised that you see this because the head coach shoots from the hip at every press conference. So the team sees him do it, so I’m sure they feel they can do it.’