Sports Illustrated's Peter King made his weekly Mut & Merloni appearance on Friday to talk about the Patriots-Colts game and other NFL news.
The Colts are 6-3 despite having a high number of new players this season, including a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck.
"It's startling. It just really, really is amazing what they've done in a short period of time," King said. "And it just goes to show you, if you have a good quarterback in the NFL -- and make no mistake about it, you'll see it Sunday, Luck is pretty good -- you're going to be competitive regardless of the other warts you have on your roster."
King said Luck has made it a point to get a lot of receivers involved and not allow opposing defenses to detect patterns in the Colts offense. That has allowed some less-heralded players to contribute. King mentioned one such player to watch Sunday.
Said King: "They're going to be without [starting tight end] Coby Fleener Sunday. But you watch this young kid, this tight end from Clemson, Dwayne Allen. He will have an impact on this game, either blocking or catching. He is one heck of a player. He might be better than Fleener."
The Jets provided plenty of headlines this week, from unnamed players blasting backup quarterback Tim Tebow, to Rex Ryan calling out the anonymous voices, to owner Woody Johnson denying it was his idea to acquire Tebow. King said offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the former Dolphins head coach, has culpability for the Tebow controversy.
"There's a lot of blame to go around in that," King said. "To Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum for thinking that he's just going to be able to slide onto the team and be a good, helpful entity to help them win. But I put the most blame for all of this on Tony Sparano. When Tebow was signed, the Jets said very clearly that, 'We're going to have a package of plays, he's going to do a lot of different things, we're not going to tell you what it is, come to the game, you'll find out.' And almost since the start of the season, we've been looking at it like he's got the emperor's clothes on. No one has been able to say what exactly does this guy do. Why did the Jets sign him? Why don't they have stuff for him to do? How can a guy who threw an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and ran for all these touchdowns late in the game to beat teams like the Jets last year, why is he invisible?
"I blame the guy who is there to design the offense. Tony Sparano should have figured out early and often that if he doesn't get the ball to Tim Tebow, then it's going to be a cause celebre. And New York is different from Miami, it just is. So, I really blame the play-calling for a lot of this. Because I truly believe that if Tim Tebow had played 125 offensive snaps by now, or like 10-12 snaps a game, he would have done enough so that people would say, 'Ah, that's why they got Tebow. He ran for four touchdowns, he threw for this, he did this, he ran this fake punt back, whatever.' But the Jets I think just simply have not followed through with what they did when they traded for him in the first place."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On the injury to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "I talked to a thoracic surgeon -- that's the guy who would do internal surgery in the area of the ribs and the sternum. He told me what's so dangerous about this situation that Roethlisberger is in, he said if it was any rib other than the first rib -- which is the top rib on your ribcage -- he said that rib is attached to the breastbone and to the spine. If that becomes dislodged, not only -- as people have said -- could it threaten your heart, your aorta, he said, 'I think the bigger threat is to your nerves in your right shoulder and right arm. If he plays before that's healed and those nerves are severed, then there's a chance he's going to lose feeling in his arm.' And I believe that if you can't feel anything in your arm, you can't play football. So, I think this is more than a two-week thing. I think this might be six or eight weeks. This could well be Ben Roethlisberger's season, if this thoracic specialist I talked to is correct."
On 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who was treated this week for heart condition: "On the surface, you would say, 'Go home, you idiot.' But Harbaugh's a nut. He is the Pete Rose of coaches -- he's not going to be denied. It will be interesting to see how much he is there today. I hear he is there today. I'm assuming he's going to be coaching Monday night, but I guess that remains to be seen."