Every week, the experts of FOX NFL Sunday will candidly reveal their observations and make their opinions known as they prepare for football’s top-rated pregame telecast — seen each Sunday at noon ET/9 a.m. PT. We’ll share some of the highlights from Curt, Terry, Howie, Jimmy and Michael grabbed from their weekly conference call with insider John Czarnecki.
This week, Czar probes the FOX NFL Sunday crew on Brett Favre, Michael Vick and the New England Patriots.
Czar: If Vikings lose to the Packers this Sunday, is it time for them to look toward next season and possibly bench Brett Favre, ending his streak?
Jimmy Johnson: First of all, I could care less about any player’s streak. I said they should have sat him three weeks ago. But their mentality is that they have pushed all their chips to the middle of the table, so they aren’t going to sit anybody until they are mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. Brad Childress is fighting for his job as well as Brett wanting to keep his streak alive. He will play to the very end. When I said they should have sat him before, that didn’t mean I was giving up on the season. I just thought they should see if Tarvaris Jackson could be a more consistent quarterback. Now, I know that Favre has had his special days, he will always have some of those, but he will also have some of his bad days. I have said on numerous occasions his bad days outnumber his good days right now.
Howie Long: Sometimes for Brett that can be within the same game.
JJ: This doesn’t mean that I don’t think Brett isn’t one of the greatest players to ever play the game. I respect him. What I don’t like is in the ultimate team game, people glorifying individual records.
Michael Strahan: Jimmy is absolutely right. Yes, Favre is one of the greatest players to ever play the game. And Howie is also one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Terry is one of the greatest to ever play quarterback. But when it goes, it sometimes goes quick. And at some point, you’re past where you should be playing. I think that’s where Brett is right now in my opinion.
JJ: The thing is that individual players find it really hard to admit that.
MS: And that’s exactly what I am saying. It’s very hard for a player to admit it.
HL: For Brett, it’s almost like he needs to have it beaten out of him emotionally and physically. This year for him, these games are definitely doing that to him.
Czar: Everyone is the league is still talking about Michael Vick’s performance Monday night. His first half was simply sensational. Your thoughts?
HL: In NFL history, there may have been better passing performances. But the way that Vick went about playing that game, factoring in everything, he was very good the way he carved up the Redskins in the first 16 minutes of that game. It wasn’t just his throwing, and he seemed to hit every big play. It’s just that the way he gets it done is way beyond how other quarterbacks get it done. In a league of great athletes, he’s different athletically, which is saying something about his talent and ability.
JJ: I am sure, also, that the Eagles will find a way to keep Vick next season when his contract expires. Now, it’s going to cost them some money, but I think it’s the smart thing to do. The Eagles have always been very good financially in handling their team payroll. They manage it pretty well; one of the best teams in the league in that regard.
MS: The Eagles took a big chance on Michael when he came back into the league and some might think he should give them some kind of discount on his next contract.
JJ: They can sign him to a long-term contract and be able to work something out.
HL: The best thing about him staying in Philadelphia for Michael is all that young talent around him. Receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are in their third and second years, respectively. The running back, LeSean McCoy, is also in his second year.
JJ: It really makes sense for him to stay there. He loves his supporting cast and you can tell that he has a great relationship with his coaches, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. I would be shocked if they weren’t able to sign him to a long-term contract.
Czar: So what do you guys expect from Sunday night’s matchup, Giants and Eagles?
JJ: I do believe the Giants will give Vick some problems. They will give Vick some negative plays.
MS: The Giants are faster, quicker and more athletic up front, for example, than what the Redskins are.
HL: At times during that game, it looked like a bunch of nose guards were chasing Vick. Outside of Brian Orakpo and maybe Andre Carter, the Redskins don’t have a lot of great pass rushers.
MS: The last time that I played him, I can remember that we talked about not being scared of him. What I mean is that a lot of teams are so fearful of his ability to run, that some defenders simply stand and watch him, thinking that if he comes their way, they are going to be able to corral him. Well, it’s impossible to do that. The most effective way against him is that everybody has to be aggressive and everybody has to rush to try to get him. That way, he’s going to run into somebody on defense because there are only so many lanes for him to attack. But if you all stay spread out and kind of wait for him to make that first move, that’s what he really wants to be able to do. And very few players are going to be able to tackle him in open space. The other key is to never allow him to roll to his left. Always make him roll to his right.
HL: Vick is inevitably going to get hit like he did in the first Washington game. That’s why it’s good that the Eagles have someone like Kevin Kolb in the bullpen in case something happens to Vick. I mean, Vick plays so wide open and I don’t care how fast you are, he will get hit. It’s just a question of when and how big the hit is.
JJ: I think another type of off-the-field incident with Vick, I could see the league being somewhat more forgiving. I mean unless it’s really bad, I don’t think he would be automatically suspended for the rest of his career.
Curt Menefee: I agree with Jimmy. For instance, if he got a DUI, he would get suspended like everybody else and miss four games. He has two years of being clean, and that should put him back on the same page with every other player in the league as far as discipline goes.
JJ: In another year, he should have a clean slate just like everybody else coming into the league. Another footnote on that with the league and former coach Tony Dungy counseling him and supporting him, that should help him. He is good for the league and I see them cutting him a break.
Czar: It sure looked like the Patriots and Tom Brady, in particular, were fired up to put a big number on the Steelers last Sunday night.
MS: Brady wasn’t screaming at them. That was more motivation on his part, like he was telling his teammates, "Come on, let’s go. Let’s take advantage of everything in this game." He was just fired up about winning the game.
HL: I think that Tom was a little upset about someone had said that the Patriots were more of a cerebral team than a physical team. That was a very impressive performance, especially after their loss in Cleveland the week before.