NFL opening weekend is here and hopefully you're able to take advantage of free previews of NFL RedZone or NFL Sunday Ticket this weekend.
All fans whose television providers carry the NFL RedZone channel will receive the channel free on Kickoff Sunday. Comcast, Dish Network, Cox, Charter, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-Verse are among the operators offering the NFL Network-produced NFL RedZone channel. If you're on DirecTV, you get RedZone as well as a free afternoon of the NFL Sunday Ticket, meaning you can see every single game this weekend.
This was week was another round of conference calls as the media outlets prepped for opening week, and gave their thoughts on the upcoming season. Last week we featured some thoughts from the ESPN Monday Night Football crew on the Patriots/Jets rivalry.
On Wednesday afternoon, CBS conducted their media conference call, featuring Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Dan Dierdorf, among others. The final question for the panel was once again about the Patriots and Jets and their Week 5 matchup, which will be carried by the network.
Nantz said that the game would be an "absolutely vicious battled based on what happened last year." Dierdorf chimed in with a more general observation, and in his mind, worry about the Patriots. If you recall, he called the debacle in Detroit during the third week of the preseason, and came away from that game wondering about the Patriots' offensive line.
Said Dierdorf, "I think when the Patriots have real problems its that periodically their offensive line has had difficulty protecting Tom Brady." He went on to say, "They got manhandled by the front of Detroit and that was not a case of game planning or not game planning, we all know the problems they had in the playoffs last year, up front, and to me, that’s the thing I’m going to zero in on in that game and can they keep the Jets defense off Tom Brady." He concluded by saying "I think the Patriots offensive line right now is a large question mark."
That's an interesting observation because, for the most part, you really don't hear many worries expressed about the offensive line and their ability to protect Tom Brady. They've had bad games on occasion, but in general, this is one of the top units in the NFL.
Then it was Simms' turn. He called the rivalry "awesome" and noted that the Jets make every game a rivalry week with their negative comments about the opponents each week in the paper and their predictions of victory.
Simms touched on some of the changes made by the two teams, and said that he thinks "Albert Haynesworth has a chance to have a tremendous impact on their football team." He wasn't so certain about some of the other outside rushers that the Patriots had picked up and whether they would be enough.
He then touched on the strategy and back-and-forth between the two clubs. "I look forward to doing it for the personality of the teams, and really more importantly, just the X’s and O’s of it, the strategy is so important, and especially I think, how the Jets are able to switch up and play different strategies against football teams, which we saw with the Patriots last year, - blitzed them the first time, and basically did not blitz them the second - and not blitzing them really confused them," he said.
If that sounds familiar, Ron Jaworski had come to the same conclusion and expressed in last week's ESPN conference call.
ESPN had a second call this week, featuring their studio crew of Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and newcomer Jerry Rice. They were asked about this week's Patriots-Dolphins game, and after talking about how teams like the Jets were able to get pressure on Tom Brady, Jackson said the following:
"So I'm going to put it on Cameron Wake and [Channing] Crowder and all those guys up front if Miami wants to pull the upset against New England – it's a simple matter of knocking Tom Brady down and knocking him down a lot. If you do that, everything about New England's offense changes."
Of course, Channing Crowder was released by the Dolphins back in July and subsequently retired. Maybe Tom "They Hate Their Coach" Jackson was still in lockout mode then.