Every week, the experts of "FOX NFL Sunday" reveal their observations and opinions 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.
Article continues below ...
This week, Czar probes the "FOX NFL Sunday" crew on the Jets’ tripping incident, the Patriots and the Giants-Eagles matchup.
Czar: OK, how big of a deal is this sideline tactic — get up as close as you can in the coaching box — that the Jets and their strength coach, Sal Alosi, were accused of doing?
Jimmy Johnson: Well, I have to think that someone on the coaching staff instructed those inactive players to stand together like that. But they were legal standing inside the coaching box.
Michael Strahan: I agree with Jimmy 100 percent because you never see guys lined up like that on the sidelines and exactly at the point where they think they are going to drive the player out of bounds attempting to cover the kick.
JJ: They looked like they were in the Army standing at attention.
Terry Bradshaw: I bet a lot of teams do this. They even mentioned that New England does the same thing. Teams always want to point the finger at the Patriots.
JJ: This is orchestrated, but it is legal. The only thing illegal was Alosi sticking his knee out and tripping the Miami player.
Curt Menefee: I don’t think everybody gives a big deal about this. I mean, outside of a few writers, who is saying it’s a problem?
JJ: One remedy would be moving the coaching box back. If you are a gunner, you have to stay on the field. You have to be agile enough and quick enough to go inside or outside and beat them. Don’t get knocked out of bounds. I do know some special teams coaches tell their guys to run out of bounds or run through those guys standing out of bounds.
MS: I’ve seen that part and I think that’s why they came up with the rule that you have to try to get back onto the field at a certain point.
TB: I can’t think that this strength coach thought of this all on his own.
JJ: Until they legislate against this, what teams are doing, having their guys standing there in the coaching box, is legal.
Czar: The Patriots look so good. I mean, they look Super Bowl ready right now. Are they peaking too soon?
JJ: I’ve heard that conversation or statement before and I ask what are you supposed to do? Sit down your starters so you won’t play near as good? I thought you always continually tried to get better.
MS: They peaked? How do you know? Just because they are beating everybody by such wide margins? Maybe they will get better. Maybe they haven’t peaked.
JJ: They didn’t peak a month ago when Cleveland beat them.
Czar: The Saints travel to Baltimore. Who wins this game?
JJ: I think the Ravens will be exposed in this game.
MS: Did you see how the Texans just marched the ball down the field on Baltimore?
JJ: Matt Schaub looked like he was Terry Bradshaw there for a couple of series.
TB: That game was indicative of who the Houston Texans are. They are just good enough to lose by a touchdown.
JJ: Andre Johnson looked great again and then Schaub throws the pick in overtime, game over.
TB: I like my Saints in this game. They need to keep pace with the Falcons.
Czar: One of the surprise teams right now is Jacksonville and they have a showdown game with the Colts.
JJ: There were a lot of people saying this was going to be Jack Del Rio’s last year down there.
TB: Are you picking Jacksonville to beat the Colts?
JJ: That’s not one of our games to pick, Terry.
Howie Long: That could be Jimmy’s wild-card game.
JJ: David Garrard is playing so much better than what I anticipated because he has been very inconsistent over the years. That has been the biggest change this year. Plus, Maurice Jones-Drew, he helps any quarterback. Garrard is playing a lot better.
Czar: Showdown game in the NFC East: Eagles at the Giants. Does the winner take the East?
TB: Yes, the winner of this game owns the division. And Philadelphia will win this game. The Giants can’t play any better than they did in the first game, and they lost that one by 10 points.
MS: Why can’t they play any better?
TB: Because they already peaked (laughs). I just don’t think Eli can outgun Michael Vick right now, plus he lost Steve Smith, his favorite receiver, for the season.
MS: Now, I think some of Eli’s interceptions (league-high 19) have come off of receivers’ hands. Sometimes, it looks like some of the receivers aren’t attacking the ball like they should.
TB: And some of his throws are late.
MS: And that’s allowing defensive backs to close on his passes.
TB: And he needs to set his feet. I don’t think he can get away with just using his arm on some of those throws. He needs to be on balance. On one of his interceptions against the Vikings the other night, his feet were going down the middle while his shoulders and everything were going to the left.
HL: There was a play recently with Peyton Manning where he was waiting, waiting to throw the ball, and his setup was exactly how you described Eli’s. His lower body and his upper body didn’t match up.
TB: Exactly. Now, speaking of interceptions, I was looking at the Sam Bradford’s interception against the Saints last Sunday and I will say that was a poorly designed pass play. The idea was right, but the receiver went too far inside. That receiver (Brandon Gibson) did a bad job, basically leading the throw into the safety. He should have been spread out wider. But Bradford still shouldn’t have thrown it to him, or he should have gunned it right away, but to the receiver’s outside shoulder.