NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Monday's Patriots-Texans game and discuss news from around the league.
Lombardi looked ahead to Monday's big showdown between the Patriots and Texans and said that the team that will have the advantage is the one that can set the pace.
“I think this is going to be a fascinating game for both sides,” Lombardi said. “Both teams are the No. 1 and the No. 2 in the NFL in terms of scoring points in the first quarter and second quarter. Both teams are in a rush to establish the lead. Both teams like to play from in front. I think it’s going to be who starts fastest and who plays with a tempo and creates it and can get off the field. When you watch Houston, Houston is about winning every down. They get yards and positive yards. … I think New England’s objective is to try to get the lead, play from in front. Force the Texans to try to have to block and pass protect and go from there and utilize their physicality in terms of their defense to try to put pressure on [Matt] Schaub. … I think the one who can set the pace is going to be one who has the best advantage.”
Lombardi said the Patriots have to watch out for defensive end J.J. Watt. He notes that Watt is especially dangerous tipping passes.
“He’s a physical force,” Lombardi said. “You have to know where he is all the time. He knows the protection is always being slid to him. He understands that. I think you have to allow him, to make sure he doesn’t beat you, you’re going to double him. I think you've got to make sure you’re careful if you are throwing the football to make sure that you get it over him. He has 15½ passes broken up, 16½ sacks, that’s over 30 opportunities to create turnovers. That’s really rare in an NFL defensive lineman.”
Lombardi complimented the Texans offense but didn’t classify Schaub as an elite quarterback.
“No, but I think the offense is elite,” Lombardi said. “I think Gary Kubiak does a great job of understanding who they are on offense. Part of what I was talking about establishing the lead is critical, because they’re a run team early, they’re play-action pass team. They take shots. I wouldn’t be shocked if the first play of the game was a shot up the field. They’re going to try to make big chunks of yards. They know they need to run the ball with Arian Foster but they’re going to throw it up the field. This offense fits Schaub perfectly. ... He’s smart. He’s accurate. Does he have a gun? No. Is he the most elite athlete? No. But he’s a very productive player and they utilize him within the system extremely well.”
These teams very well could meet again in the playoffs, and Lombardi said Monday’s game will help the teams in planning for that potential playoff matchup.
“I think it will mean a lot,” Lombardi said. “Both teams will know how each one wants to play them. I think that’s going to be the chess match in the first quarter and then both teams, if they meet again in the playoffs, will have an adjustment to what they did. I think it will come down to the matchup of the players. This is a game where coaching is going to be very good on both sides of the ball. … As we get into the playoffs … is [Rob Gronkowski] back? How do they matchup to Gronkowski in the playoffs? Who they going to handle on [Aaron] Hernandez? What safety can cover him? … And conversely, how New England handles Andre Johnson, how they handle Owen Daniels. I think all of those things are going to play into effect.”
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On worrying about the gun culture as a team executive: “You have to know about the players and you have to understand the culture. … You'd better make sure you do as much reading and as much understanding to learn how you’re dealing with them. I think you really have to live in the footsteps of the person before you get them in your building and understand who they are.”
On the Jets' quarterback situation and Rex Ryan naming Mark Sanchez starter: “He had no choice. Look, Mark Sanchez is due $8.25 millon guaranteed. He gets paid it whether the Jets cut him or not. I think his cap hit is $17 million. … I mean, Rex had no real options. This is the quarterback that they made a decision to go with and I think they have to."
On this Sunday's Ravens-Redskins game: “I want to see how [Robert Griffin III] handles it. I think Baltimore is a little bit tougher than people think. I think Baltimore will bounce back this week. I think it will be a good game. RGIII threw for 167 yards last week, I think he’s going to have to throw the ball better in this game to beat the Ravens. I think the Ravens will make plays in the passing game. The Redskins defense kind of got off the hook last week, especially considering they were able to get the Giants off the field in the fourth quarter.”
On Chargers QB Philip Rivers: “I think Philip Rivers is like the boxer that’s been hit too much. Anytime a quarterback gets hit too much, it’s not good for him. I think it affects him. I think he’s seeing things and is reacting to things. I think pressure has gotten to him. … I think he’s been hit way too much. It’s going to take a rehabilitation project to get him back. He’s not nearly the elite player that he once was.”
Patriots Safety Devin McCourty joined Glenn, Lou, and Christian, and talked about covering the Steelers Wide Receivers, and how he's helping the players who are in the AFC Championship for the first time prepare.
ProFootball Talk's Mike Florio told Glenn, Lou, and Christian that the Patriots have a quiet confidence that they can outscore the Steelers, since they've proven they have the ability.
Holley and Keefe check in with NFL Network's Heath Evans for some final thoughts on the Houston win and to look ahead at the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about Isaiah Thomas' flagrant foul against the Heat, and also discuss why it's time for the Celtics to address their biggest need.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the "Dale and Holley Show" discuss the latest news on the injury that has kept Isaiah Thomas off the court and how valuable it is for Marcus Smart to stay in control.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of 'The Dale and Holley Show' talk about last night's disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.
Mut, Rob, and John are talking about some of the Hall of Fame candidates who gained or lost support within the last year. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both gained support, while Curt Schilling lost a chunk of votes he had gotten last year.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are in after it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They also talk about some notable candidates who weren't elected this year like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
Rob Bradford is joined by Jackie Bradley Jr. to discuss race in baseball and in Boston, along with the importance of Martin Luther King Day. The Red Sox outfielder also dives into how he never really felt comfortable in a major league clubhouse until last year, the approach he's taking heading into 2017, and why he's not playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Ken, Rear and Ty talk all things Bruins as they come off a 4-0 shutout win in Florida and head to Carolina later today. Did that victory save Claude's job? The boys get into Don Sweeney's recent comments on Claude's job and what the future holds for the black and gold.
Hour two of Saturday Skate as Ken Laird and Rear Admiral kick around the perception of backup goalie Anton Khudobin, B's coach Claude Julien, and possible trade target Gabriel Landeskog.
"D-Wood" Joins the show to talk Brady vs. Rodgers and predicts a Patriots-Packers Super Bowl.
Hour 4. Bill Belichick holds his Friday press conference while Mut and Kirk try and play a game. Mut has a big announcement. Gerry calls in from the Inauguration on his crystal-clear cell phone.
Hour 3. Ben Volin shares a stat about Trump that will blow your mind. Mut wouldn't answer any questions about Trump's alleged sexual assaults.
Old Friend Tim Benz joins OMF, and while they regale tales of dysfunction, Benz manages to predict that the Patriots will win Sunday.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian enjoy the festivities ahead of the Inauguration, and give their predictions for Patriots-Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian love how Bill Belichick reacts to the plethora of stupid questions he receives from the Media during his Press Conferences.
Dale, Michael and Rich Keefe spend the day discussing the AFC Championship.
We close out the work week with the best sound clips of the day.
We check in with hall of famer Michael Irvin to find out what happened to his Dallas Cowboys and look at the remaining playoff match-ups.
Kirk Minihane brings Chad Finn back to the show to talk about the Charlotte Wilder story about the relationship between the Pats and Trump. Chad defends Charlotte for some of the story and her previous articles, Kirk still has problems with what he thinks is lazy reporting. Kirk and Chad also talk about whether a third sports station in Boston would be viable and if Curt Schilling will ever make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kirk Minihane has a loud and very confrontational argument with media personality John Ziegler about the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky. Kirk believes him to be guilty, John believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sandusky is innocent. Yes, it may be an old case, but you all remember it and this episode may change your mind about some of the things you previously thought with regards to Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.
Kirk Minihane wants to sit down with both sports editors at the major newspapers in Boston. Only Boston Herald sports editor Sean Leahy took Kirk up on the invitation to join the show. What you will hear is a great conversation between two people who are very interested in the newspaper business and how that business has changed over the years and what the future holds for newspapers. Kirk and Sean talk about the ongoing and longstanding rivalry between the Herald and Globe.
Uncle Buck, George from S**t Pats Fans Say, and Jerry Thornton talk about the Patriots history in the AFC Championship game, the big wins, the bad losses, and what it will take for the Pats to win another AFC Championship game.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis wrap up the K&C week after a Friday show with Kirk, Mut and Ben Volin in studio.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap the Thursday K&C show featuring Jon Meterparel back in the saddle.
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