Can 'Boys regroup? Jets talked too much?
Every week, the experts of FOX NFL Sunday will candidly reveal their observations and make their opinions known as they prepare for the top-rated pregame telecast — seen each Sunday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT. We'll share with you 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 the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets.
John Czarnecki: What were your impressions of the final play between the Cowboys and Redskins?
Howie Long: The way I looked at it was if Marion Barber just helps Alex Barron out and just chips at Brian Orakpo, they win the game.
Michael Strahan: I’ve been saying that every day. When you know a guy is having trouble blocking a guy, the coaches have to find a way to help him out in a key situation like that. It was just stupid that they didn’t have someone chipping that guy.
HL: I mean it just didn’t make sense that they allowed their weakest link on the backside to be left on an island like that. I don’t get it.
Czar: The Bears visit the Cowboys on Sunday. Can Dallas regroup and win?
Jimmy Johnson: Wade (Phillips) is really taking a beating on this. And I put it totally on Wade and I don’t put it on the players or even (offensive coordinator) Jason Garrett. His job is to find plays that will score. I mean, they don’t really have a play that will score a touchdown from 60 yards away with four seconds left. Just take a knee. Now, in this game, they are going to give the Bears a lot of trouble with their defense. They should really be able to harass Jay Cutler if DeMarcus Ware is healthy enough to play.
Czar: Another big game for the Jets with New England. Do you think Mark Sanchez can play a little better going against Tom Brady?
Terry Bradshaw: I made the comment to my neighbor is that Sanchez looked like a college quarterback. Set up real quick and throw the ball to one place. I think what the Jets did was gameplan it that way. I don’t think it was his fault. I have to assume they didn’t believe they could protect him. All they wanted out of him was to complete a 4-yard pass on third-and-3. The Jets did not give him a chance to play quarterback. They basically took him out of the offense. Plus, he looked too nervous and jittery back there.
HL: It’s like they were saying, "Just don’t screw it up." If I was looking at him as a defensive player, he looked real nervous and rattled. I mean, how could they have left their left guard on an island on a five-step drop? There were asking for a Haloti Ngata landing on their quarterback. The difference to me in the game was the two young quarterbacks and that Baltimore’s receiving corps is better.
TB: Plus, they have to live with a head coach mouthing off.
MS: The problem is when you have a show like “Hard Knocks” is that guys watch themselves on that show. That’s why I think they set themselves up for failure because they are trying to live up to a Hollywood image and not a real image. On one segment, Rex really talked up John Connor, calling him the Terminator. If I’m an inside linebacker, the way they were building up John Connor, I would want to hit him first, so when they went into the coaches room the next day they would be asking "What happened?”
HL: You know that Ray Lewis couldn’t wait to hit him.
MS: I just got back from New York; everybody is the Jets, the Jets, the Jets. And everybody has watched that show and got their hopes up. Football looks really sexy when they slow it down and put a deep, dark voice behind it. The reality sitting at home is that they sure didn’t look that way when it was time to play. For the Jets, you can fall into a trap like that. Now, one of the attitude players for the Jets was Kris Jenkins and now he’s out and talking about retiring. He was one of their strengths. Losing Kris takes away a lot of their attitude. I’m not saying they still won’t be a good defense, but he was cocky, arrogant and a Rex Ryan kind of guy. They lost some of their invincibility now before the season has really gotten started.
Czar: Basically, everyone is saying they shouldn’t have done “Hard Knocks."
TB: There really is not that much difference between the really good teams in the NFL. And when you give the other teams a little more incentive — I mean nobody can stand the Jets because of all the stuff that Rex Ryan has said. I don’t think their players are quite like him, but I do believe every team is going to raise it up a little bit more when they play them. They have created a monster for themselves and they will have to deal with this week in and week out and I don’t think they can deal with it.
Curt Menefee: One of the problems is that when teams looked at the Jets on “Hard Knocks” they really didn’t look at them as a football team. The way they won last year was by running the ball and playing great defense. So, you take out of the equation Alan Faneca at left guard and Thomas Jones at running back. They miss the leadership of Jones in the locker room and what he did on the field.
TB: Remember, last year when they started to brag on Sanchez as a quarterback? Well, when they gave him a chance he went down to New Orleans and threw three interceptions. A couple weeks later he threw five against the Bills and they seem to be saying that he’s not quite ready for prime time.
HL: The Faneca loss isn’t as big to that team as the Thomas Jones loss. Everything in that game was field position and who could make the big play. And Baltimore made more plays. And Baltimore simply has better personnel at quarterback, receivers and running back right now.
TB: Sanchez’s passing clock was short and shorter. You know what he had? He had 20 cups of coffee before the game.
HL: I tell you Sanchez is a hard guy not to like, though. He’s trying. He’s working hard, but they have put a lot of pressure on him.
MS: He just needs to get more comfortable. Maybe it just takes time for him to feel comfortable. One amazing thing about the Jets is that Revis Island is open for business. He wasn’t even in camp and the Ravens didn’t even come after him.
HL: He’s one of those special players who can be locked in a closet for six weeks and come out and play very well. I was amazed at his conditioning.
TB: I thought the Ravens coaches did a great job of setting their formations like they knew where the pressure would be coming from. I do think that the Jets have a good chance of going 0-2.
Czar: Any thoughts on the Giants going against the Colts?
MS: Well, the Giants’ second half was better than the first half last Sunday. The young receivers really played well for the Giants. Defensively, they stood up and made some plays in the second half, so it was a confidence booster. They are going against a team that can score a lot of points and coming off a big loss. I think the Giants will be competitive in this game. Justin Tuck gave a pregame speech and I think they have some leaders like Keith Bullock.
HL: I think the NFC East is going to be a lot better than some people think. If the Redskins can keep Donovan (McNabb) upright, they are going to be competitive. I think Jim Haslett has done a good job with this 3-4 defense. The only thing to me is I think it’s a shame what they are doing to Albert Haynesworth. He looks good to me. He is totally miscast in their defensive system. To see him in a catch and read stance, on the nose is not taking advantage of what he can do.
MS: Do think they are really doing this because he has said he doesn’t want to play there?
HL: They are trying to get him with the program. They have been talking about his conditioning. He looks like he’s in really good shape to me. He looks lean. He’s probably 25 pounds lighter than a year ago. I mean, when he hits a gap he’s still a very disruptive player. He played hard. He ran to the ball real hard. He didn’t look winded, either. I guarantee you if they lined him up on the ball side of the center; he’s going to create a fumble every other game. What they are doing to him is like playing Revis in a zone defense.
Czar: After one week it looks like that Donovan trade backfired on Philadelphia.
MS: I’m sure Donovan feels good right now after one week, but I’m pretty sure he’s not feeling like they are the best team.
CM: He feels good about his day, though. He won, Philadelphia lost and Kevin Kolb is hurt and already there is a quarterback controversy in Philly. I mean, his team won.
TB: I think that Andy Reid is kind of stuck with Kolb this year. I know Andy well enough is that the last thing he wants is controversy with his quarterback. He does not want that. Also, I wouldn’t play Kolb this week because of the concussion, but if Mike Vick goes out and plays lights out this week, oh, boy. Then Andy really does have a dilemma on his hands and I know he doesn’t want that.
HL: In a perfect world, trading Donovan was a move to Kolb. I think the Eagles were thinking that Donovan is 33 and he’s missed some games due to injury over the last couple of seasons and also the organization is going young on the field. What we saw from Kolb last year was pretty good. But it also allowed the Eagles to incorporate Vick into the offense a lot more because they couldn’t do that with Donovan there. You couldn’t sit Donovan for 15 snaps in a game. Now, they are in a situation where Vick knows he’s back, and the locker room knows he’s back. And like Vick has said, his clock is ticking. He’s 30. And he did miss some easy throws. If he plays really well against Detroit, they run the risk of losing their locker room if they don’t stick with him. Because the players know who the guy should be.
MS: Remember, Howie, coaches usually held on to the reasoning that a player couldn’t lose his job to injury. But if you don’t play the guy that all the players think should be in there, you’re going to lose your locker room 100 percent of the time.
Czar: So you’re saying if Vick really plays well and the Eagles beat Detroit, they should stick with Vick as their quarterback?
HL: I think you have to.
TB: But I think you also have to realize that it is so much easier to play well off the bench like Vick did last week.
JJ: I’m pulling for Vick. He’s an exciting player and I want to watch him play. I’m not too sure that they would take him out of the lineup. He does have a decent winning percentage (38-29-1) as a starter.
HL: The key is that Vick has regained his burst and he knows it. He wants to be the guy and he said after the game that if it’s not there, he wants to be someplace else.