Sports Illustrated NFL insider Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to talk about Sunday’s Patriots-Texans AFC playoff game and other news from around the league.
King said the key for the Texans to avoid a repeat of the Dec. 10 shellacking at the hands of the Patriots is to limit Tom Brady‘s opportunities.
“The only way I see it being close is if Houston really limits the number of possessions by the Patriots, which I think is going to be hard anyway,” King said. “And even if they do that, part of me thinks that Brady with eight possessions is still going to be able to put up enough points on the board. If I’m Houston, I’m playing the four-corners offense that Dean Smith used to play at North Carolina. You’ve got to slow the game down. You’ve got to play the way the Giants played the Bills in the Super Bowl 21 years ago.
“I would also make this point, that I think one of the things during the course of the year that has really become noticeable: No matter who’s on the field for New England — whether they have [Rob] Gronkowski, whether they don’t; whether [Aaron] Hernandez is healthy or not — they’re still running fast and running a lot of plays. I was amazed when I looked this up this week: The New England Patriots ran 13 more plays a game in 2012 than in 2010. They ran 205 more plays this year than they did just two years ago.
“It’s just another instance of Bill Belichick learning as he gets older as a coach. You’re never finished learning in this business, because once you think you are, some new Chip Kelly or some new defensive guy comes in there and makes your job a lot more difficult. Hats off to the Patriots for basically advancing the ball down the field really in a schematic sense.”
King said he expects Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, known for being reliant on the blitz, to avoid being as predictable as he has in the past.
“I think he’ll change up from the first game they played,” King said. “One of the things I think they’ll emphasize, a change in this game I think is going to be a healthy Brooks Reed, assuming that he is. And Connor Barwin coming as well as J.J. Watt and occasionally Whitney Mercilus.
“I think that one of the things you have to look at if you are the Houston Texans is you’ve got to make sure that your linebackers are going to be cognizant of the intermediate stuff. And they’ve just got to clog the field. To me, when you play Tom Brady, I couldn’t agree more: I think blitzes — I’m not saying they’re fruitless, because you have to do everything. But I think you’ve got to clog the middle of the field against him because he loves doing so many things with a guy like Gronkowski. I’m not sure about this, but I heard Connor Barwin on the radio saying yesterday he’s never played Gronkowski before. So, there’s a newness to this. There’s going to be a feeling-out early that’s going to be an interesting thing in an X’s and O’s sense to watch.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On how Peyton Manning will handle the frigid temperatures in Denver for the Broncos-Ravens game: “It’s going to be very cold for this game. It’s going to be 19 degrees, 30 percent chance of snow. This is going to be a different game for Peyton Manning than ones he’s played in the playoffs before. But if you look at his history, he’s also come up small at home, in the dome. The game against San Diego a few years ago, a playoff game where the Colts lost. He has not always played great in or outside. I would be really surprised if that played any factor int his game on Saturday.”
On if Colin Kaepernick gives the 49ers a better chance to win than Alex Smith: “I’m not sure that you could convince me or convince any real football person, really, if Alex Smith would give them a better chance to beat the Green Bay Packers tomorrow night. That’s because I think that Colin Kapernick is going to be able to run around better and evade Clay Matthews and the occasional blitzing from the secondary — which they’re going to get from [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers. He’ll be able to avoid that and make plays. So, I won’t be one of the ones who would second-guess [Jim] Harbaugh, but I’m sure a lot of people will.”
On the pressure on the Falcons to avoid another playoff upset: “Matt Ryan and Mike Smith are the two guys who, it looks to me, enter this weekend with kind of an anvil in their shoulder pads, at least for Ryan. It obviously is something that not only have not played well, their last two playoff games have been terrible, have been embarrassing. Right now I think it’s incumbent on them to come out and at the very least with Seattle have a fight to the finish. Seattle might win the game, but they’ve got to show up and play really well.”
On Bill Parcells’ chances of getting into the Hall of Fame this year: “Obviously, I backed Parcells, I’ve spoken up for him, I’ve written about it. I think it was shortsighted and not smart on our part that we don’t have a guy who gets four teams to the playoffs, two teams to Super Bowls and wins two Super Bowls, that we don’t put him in the Hall of Fame. But again, I’m one of now 46 [voters]. … Other people feel strongly about other guys. All I can do is state my case. … The one thing that I think you have to remember that’s very important is that there’s 15 guys on that list. I looked at it when it came out this morning. I support 12 of those people on that list. If they came up, if they were in the final five, any of 12, I’d vote for them. … There are more qualified candidates than we can put in. Period. We can only vote for five every year. We can only induct five modern-era candidates every year out of the 15. So there are going to be quite a few every single year that get left behind. That’s just the way the committee works. You can rail against it, fight against it, but unless the bylaws ever get changed, I’m not sure that anything’s ever going to be done about that.”
On former Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff saying Friday that the team never practiced Tim Tebow in the wildcat: “There are things that happened during the course of this year that you could just tell that this staff was not together and there was a disagreement right from the start on a lot of things, but none bigger than Tebow. When you look at the Jets’ season and how it crashed and burned, it’s a perfect illustration why. They trade for Tebow, and then they don’t follow through with the plans from September on. I think Westhoff provided a little window into the Jets’ soul. And it just proves what a dysfunctional family they were in 2012.
“I’m sure it makes every Patriots fan deliriously happy that they’re bringing Rex Ryan and a fractured coaching staff back. I don’t know how going forward right from now with like their eighth choice for general manager — they’ve gone past the B and C list, they’re on the F list. The Jets are totally screwed up right now.”
We get deep in to some quarterback discussion with ESPN analyst/former NFL starter Trent Dilfer.
Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday
Former Patriot Heath Evans, now with the NFL Network, joins Dale, Holley and Thornton every Monday for a thorough analysis of the Patriots and the NFL. This week we break down the shutout of Houston, and look ahead to the Bills.
Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.
Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy
Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.
Rob Bradford is joined by former Red Sox, and current Cubs, catcher David Ross, who admits to joining teammates Jon Lester, John Lackey and many members of the Chicago front office in at least contemplating the idea of a Red Sox vs. Cubs World Series. Ross also compares his retirement tour to David Ortiz's, reveals stories of clubhouse celebrations, while suggesting that Lester is pitching better than ever.
Dale, Michael and Jerry speak with Sox slugger David Ortiz in his final regular season week of his career. We touch on the 2016 Sox heading into the playoffs, retirement, memories and Jose Fernandez.
Joe and Tim talked to the Sox catcher, who caught 23 strikeouts from Sox pitchers in the extra-inning win in Tampa Bay.
Joey Mac joins Ken Laird on his Saturday show to discuss the David Backes addition and Loui Eriksson departure in NHL free agency
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Gary Tanguay walked out on the show for the second time in three months this morning. Here is the management approved version of today's events.
Kirk flipped out at Curtis and Fred Couples cried.
In hour three Tomase, Callahan and Minihane discuss Trump's comments this morning on Fox and Friends as well as Big Papi's farewell weekend at Fenway.
Glenn, Lou and Christian joke around with audio from a grab-bag of topics, including David Ortiz driving for Lyft, Rex Ryan joining the Buffalo media conference call, and Jim Mora coming back with another great rant.
Red Sox President of Baseball Ops. Dave Dombrowski checks in with Glenn, Lou and Christian to talk about what the playoff roster might look like, and to give the latest update on Pablo Sandoval.
Tom E. Curran joins Glenn, Lou and Christian to talk about Jimmy Garoppolo & Jacoby Brissett, and talk about what he say from a day of practice and press conferences down at Gillette.
We get deep in to some quarterback discussion with ESPN analyst/former NFL starter Trent Dilfer.
Gold Jerry, it's gold! Big Papi borrows a line from our pal Jerry Thornton and the Late Night crowd loves it.
Inspired by the debates last night we look at four sports debates between two conflicting parties.
Kirk Minihane sits down with the Boston Globes Sports Media Columnist, Chad Finn. Kirk and Chad talk about the long and storied feud between WEEI and the Boston Globe and the ongoing ratings war between WEEI and the Hub.
Kirk and Gerry talk about how the show is going since the departure of John Dennis, how the fill-in hosts have been doing so far, and what they are looking for in a third host.
Kirk Minihane loves TV and movies, he sits down with TV critic and author of the new book "TV (The Book)" Alan Sepinwall to discuss the best TV shows of all-time and which show should be number 1. Kirk and Alan disagree on which show is the best of all-time and they both have compelling arguments. Kirk and Alan talk about "Cheers" being one of the most underrated and forgotten TV shows of all-time.
K&C producers Ken Laird & Chris Curtis are joined by WEEI intern and Recap Show host Lucy Burdge to discuss another explosive Gary Tanguay appearance on the program that featured Tango's second walkout.
Rob Bradford is joined by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe to discuss some of the issues that popped up in the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees Tuesday night. Both Rob and Alex agree winning the division is a forgone conclusion for the Sox, but the storylines surrounding Drew Pomeranz, Henry Owens, Sandy Leon and David Price all warranted discussion heading into another crack at winning the AL East
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