CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan and talked about the Patriots' dominant win over the Jets, what the Jets have to do going forward, and more news from around the NFL.
Esiason looked at the Patriots' performance over the last few games and said he thought they could be a Super Bowl contender, but he noted that they will have to prove it down the stretch.
“I see their last five games,” Esiason said. “Look who they beat. They beat the Jets twice, I think they beat the Bills, the Colts. They haven’t beaten many great teams but they’ve taken care of business. Meaning, they’ve done it on defense and special teams, they scored with those two units. The offense seems to be unstoppable, they’re running the ball exceptionally well.
"They go to Miami this week. Miami will give them a game. It’s a division game, it’s a road game. And then comes the real test Monday night against Houston. And we’ll find out pretty quickly in back-to-back weeks against Houston and San Francisco whether or not this team truly is a championship team. I’d say it is because they have the quarterback to do it. I wouldn’t place them in front of Houston and Denver just yet.”
Esiason addressed the Jets’ poor performance Thursday and said he was stunned New York played that way.
“I actually had to do that game and I just wanted to poke my eyes out," Esiason said. "It was unbelievable. It was unbearable, actually, to do a game like that because they are professional football players even though in that second quarter it didn’t look like it. When you have a bombastic coach who was really trying to put this franchise on the landscape over the last four years and they get beat like that, it’s a heavy dose of humble pie.”
Even if the Jets were to dump coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, Esiason said it wouldn’t be easy to reorganize the team.
“It’s hard, it’s really hard to do,” Esiason said, adding: “The problems with their salary cap moving forward. Who they’ve given money to: Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes, David Harris, a number of these guys have big, bloated guaranteed contracts for the year to come. Even if they get rid of their general manager and head coach, the next group of guys that comes in here has really got a major problem on their hands with long-term salaries. … Right now, it looks as bad as it’s been for a long time with Mike Tannenbaum here and Rex Ryan here and they have some major problems to address this offseason. But first they have to take care of business. They have to try to somehow get to 4-1 in these last five and at least feel a little bit better about themselves.”
Esiason doesn’t think that Sanchez is the option going forward for the Jets.
"He’s a reclamation project for anybody who comes in here," Esiason said. "I don’t know how Rex and Mike stay here with him as quarterback. It just doesn’t seem like it can work right now. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. … Under the current set of circumstances, it doesn’t look like he is the long-term future for the New York Jets.”
Esiason said that despite the public embarrassment that was Thursday’s performance by the Jets, it doesn’t mean Ryan will automatically be dismissed.
“If it looks as if the team has given up on him,” Esiason said, adding: "I think the owner has to make a decision on whether or not he can move forward with the same kind of atmosphere on this football team.”
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On Jim Harbaugh’s decision to start Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith: “I was against it. I think Alex Smith was 19-5, completing 70 percent of his passes this year. I understand why Jim did what he did. I think most San Francisco 49er fans were frustrated with Alex Smith. That his game didn’t have range down the field, there weren’t a lot of explosive plays. ... And then all of a sudden comes along this young, great kid who has got a terrific arm. He’s athletic. He’s big. He’s tall. He can move around in the pocket. He looks, to me, like its effortless when he throws the ball down the field.”
On whether the Falcons, after a shaky win Sunday, are a fraudulent team: “I wouldn’t say it’s fraudulent, every game is a tough game. … When you’re playing in your division, all these games are difficult. I think Tampa is one of the teams that is on the rise. They’ve got a good nucleus of young players. Yesterday, they couldn’t seal the deal against Atlanta in their building. I think Atlanta is the real deal. I don’t think they’re as good as San Francisco. I think that Green Bay and the Giants can give them a run for their money. … They might lose another game here or there, but they’re not going to lose home-field advantage.”
On whether having a high-profile backup QB drives the starter to play harder: “I think every quarterback, unless you’re a super-elite quarterback in the league like Tom Brady, needs that. To be comfortable with your performance under the current set of circumstances, you’re fooling yourself, you’re fooling your team.”