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ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes – Week 2


ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL action. Some excerpts:

Are the Patriots still the AFC East favorites?

Johnson: “Instead of wrapping up the division in November, they will do it in December. Matt Cassel comes in at quarterback. Things don’t change much. They’ll still get the football to the playmakers and that’s the key. And the defense will play; they are still intact.”

Jackson: “To think they can go to the Super Bowl without Tom Brady, I believe is a fallacy. … This offense was built for Tom Brady -- tailor-made for him to make 95% of the decisions and now they have that personnel with a guy who hasn’t played since high school.”

Ditka: “This kid didn’t fall off the wagon. Cassel can throw the football.”

Carter: “They have the recipe to beat all these other teams.”

Who is Matt Cassel?

Countdown offered a detailed Greg Garber profile of Matt Cassel, who will start his first game in almost nine years this weekend. The piece included footage of the Little League World Series from 14 years ago when Cassel started at first base for Northridge (Calif.). Other highlights: video from Cassel’s prep football career at Chatsworth High School where he started his freshman year at outside linebacker before eventually leading the team as a junior to the Los Angeles City Championship; interviews with Chatsworth coach Bill Coan, USC head coach Pete Carroll, then-USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow and Cassel’s former Patriots teammate Doug Flutie. The piece chronicled how Cassel was a back-up at USC behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and after a successful workout at USC’s Pro Day, Cassell was eventually picked by the Patriots, No. 230 overall in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Are the Patriots a Super Bowl contender with Matt Cassel?

Jackson: “This was tailor-made to No. 12. Now you have to ask Matt Cassel to do those things. … If they win the Super Bowl without Tom Brady, I’ll bet Boom’s (Chris Berman) job on it.”

Berman (in response): “Don’t do that yet. … (jokingly) Alright, I’m about ready to go.”

Johnson: “I think they can get to the playoffs and anything can happen at that point and time.”

Carter: “They’ve already caught lightening in a bottle with Brady. That’s not going to happen again, but offensively they are a lot better off (than they were in 2001).”

On Vince Young situation in Tennessee

Carter: “This is beyond money, title and all that. This mother’s crying out for help for her son. His mental health is critical at this point, and he needs to sit.”

Jackson: “I don’t think anybody knows how long this is going to take, but his teammates now are looking at him, and looking to see how he faces adversity in the future. And, let’s say Kerry Collins plays well for a month. That’s going to be the first bit of adversity.”

Johnson: “Everybody handles things totally different. … When he comes back, he has to take that team and show those players, ‘I’m with you 100 percent.’”

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber:

About his relationship with Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia …

Owens: “I think there may have been a little jealousy, as the fact that sometimes I took a little bit of the limelight off them. You got 60 odd thousand people -- however many the Linc holds -- you got the whole stadium in there (chanting), ‘TO, TO, TO, TO.’ He (McNabb) was supposed to be the guy. I think there’s a lot of things that Donovan has been confronted with since being in Philly. … Over all those years, he’s had a chip on his shoulder. And for them to kind of shift the love, so to speak, to me it was almost like I was ‘the man’ in the city. … I wasn’t trying to come in there and steal anybody’s limelight. I was happy at the fact that I could share it. We could have done some great things.”

Which NFL head coach is on the hottest seat after week 1 – Lane Kiffin, Scott Linehan or Marvin Lewis?

Jackson: “Lane Kiffin with the owner being Al Davis – it’s an electric chair with a big lighter underneath it. It’s hotter than hot.”

Carter: “I think Linehan is the only coach who wants his job. The other two don’t want it. Marvin Lewis, all his power taken away, and who wants to work for Al Davis?”

“Ditka’s Doghouse”

Countdown debuted its newest segment with Mike Ditka selecting Oakland Raiders cornerback D’Angelo Hall for the personal fouls charged against him and his difficulty in covering Broncos receiver Eddie Royal in week 1


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