Sunday, January 3rd, 2016


“Teams are no longer afraid to play the Patriots.” – Rodney Harrison

“This may be a blessing. He may be rested up. His arm may be better than last year at this time.” – Tony Dungy on Peyton Manning missing the last few weeks

“The Steelers have been in this position before and went on to win the Super Bowl.” – Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward on the Steelers being the No. 6 seed

“They get all these bottom-feeder teams and they step up and they play well and they dance and they celebrate. Do it against the good teams.” – Harrison on the Texans

I will be stunned if Johnny Manziel plays another down for the Cleveland Browns.” – Peter King

STAMFORD, Conn. – January 3, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup that determined the NFC North championship between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., and was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, and NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward.

Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched weekly studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insiders Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on, and Peter King. Carolyn Manno reported from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on the Chargers-Broncos game.

Costas interviewed Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

Following are highlights from Football Night in America:


Florio on Giants head coach Tom Coughlin: “There’s a thought now that he may not resign, and if he is going to be moving on it would have to be through termination. It’s not determined yet, it will be determined on Monday. Also undecided is the future of general manager Jerry Reese, and whether or not he stays or goes will have an influence on who the next coach will be…Also, Sean Payton is believed to be interested in the Giants job if he leaves New Orleans.”

Dungy on Giants job: “If he is not back, that is a good job — great ownership, a franchise quarterback, and a poor division. That’s a formula for some quick success.”

Harrison on Giants defensive struggles: “It’s up to the general manager. He’s going to have to get some playmakers on the defensive side because they just don’t have it.”

Patrick: “They lost their identity on defense.”

Florio on Eagles head coach search: “Howie Roseman has regained his influence as executive VP of football operations after the termination of Chip Kelly. The next coach there will be somebody who can work with or maybe even for Howie Roseman. One of the names that has emerged is Adam Gase, the Bears’ offensive coordinator, who is expected to be chased by the Eagles, the Browns, and the Dolphins.”

King on Saints head coach Sean Payton: “In New Orleans on Monday, there will be a big meeting between the higher ups, including Sean Payton, the head coach of the team, and Mickey Loomis, the general manager of the team, to determine Sean Payton’s fate. I’m told that as of tonight even Sean Payton doesn’t know what the future holds for him in New Orleans.”

Florio on potential Indianapolis coaching/general manager changes: “It is expected that Chuck Pagano will not be returning as coach of the Colts. The real question though is what happens with general manager Ryan Grigson? It’s believed that his fate will be determined by who the next coach is. If the next head coach wants to control the football operations, then Grigson may be out. And a fascinating name to keep an eye on if and when the Colts are hiring a new coach, a guy they tried to hire back in 1998, Alabama coach Nick Saban.”

King on Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell: “Dan Campbell will not be retained…Chris Grier, a longtime scout for the Dolphins, will be named the Miami general manager…I’m told that they are not just going to go round up the usual suspects, that they may go outside the box.”

King on Browns front office changes: “Less than an hour ago, the Browns announced that head coach Mike Pettine will not be returning as the Browns coach. In fact, the Browns are already lining up interviews with potential replacements. I’m told that first up Tuesday will be former Bills coach Doug Marrone. General manager Ray Farmer was also fired earlier today.”

Florio on 49ers Jim Tomsula: “Jim Tomsula is expected to be released after only one season on the job. General manager Trent Baalke is believed to be safe and that will give him the ability to hire a head coach that he can work with moving forward in an effort to turn this team back into a contender.”

Florio on Titans coaching situation: “Mike Mularkey and his 18-39 career record as a head coach is likely to be sticking around.”

Florio on Titans ownership situation: “I’m told there’s a strong disagreement ongoing between the NFL and the Titans about the current ownership structure that could result in litigation between the team and the league. Chip Kelly had been linked to that Tennessee job. Right now, there may not be a seat for Chip Kelly in this hiring cycle.”

King on Detroit’s Jim Caldwell: “It is believed that head coach Jim Caldwell is going to be safe and that he will return thanks to a 6-2 second half of this season. The player leadership on this team really wants Caldwell back, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to whoever is named the new general manager. It will be his call.”


Dungy: “Now that Pittsburgh’s in, watch out.”

Ward on the Steelers winning Super Bowl XL while being the No. 6 seed, which is their position this year: “The Steelers have been in this position before and went on to win the Super Bowl. So they feel comfortable…Cincinnati does not want to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Patrick on Steelers wide receivers: “Pittsburgh could put together a 4×100 meter relay team that could qualify for the Olympics.”

Harrison on Ben Roethlisberger: “He’s the best quarterback in the AFC.”

Dungy: “The only problem I see with them is where is their running game coming from now?”


Collinsworth on Bengals facing Steelers in the playoffs: “If the Bengals are ever going to get this off their back, they’re going to have to do it one-on-one, head-to-head, bring it on, and let’s see what you got.”

King: “Andy Dalton is very optimistic that he’s going to be playing next weekend in the playoffs. Marvin Lewis is not as optimistic…I’d call him cautiously optimistic.”


Harrison: “Teams are no longer afraid to play the Patriots…Their offensive line is just getting physically beat up.”

Dungy on if you can fix the offensive line struggles in a week or two: “I don’t think so. I’m concerned. And not only am I concerned, their coach is concerned. They only threw five passes in the first half. He’s worried about protecting Tom Brady.”

Harrison: “I’m very worried about the Patriots…they need Julian Edelman back. I’ve said this before, I think he’s more important than Rob Gronkowski to that offense.”


Dungy on Peyton Manning: “I think he’ll be in the lineup whenever they play two weeks from now…This may be a blessing. He may be rested up. His arm may be better than last year at this time.”

Harrison: “I’m always going to fear Peyton more (than Brock Osweiler)…He’s always a threat.”


Dungy: “I thought the offensive coaches did a great job today neutralizing Arizona’s blitzes with bootlegs and moving Russell Wilson around.”

Harrison on teams facing Seattle in the playoffs: “Seattle is a very dangerous team because, as I talked about, the experience, the quarterback, and the coaching staff. And they don’t have any pressure on them. Carolina has all of the pressure on them right now.”


Dungy: “I like Houston. I like their defense, and now with J.J. Watt back – I got to see him play on both sides and his hand is okay – they’re going to be tough to beat with that defense.”

Patrick: “It doesn’t matter who is quarterback.”

Harrison: “They get all these bottom-feeder teams and they step up and they play well and they dance and they celebrate. Do it against the good teams.”


Harrison on next week’s playoff matchup vs. Texans: “One thing about the Houston Texans, they apply a lot of pressure up front. But Kansas City has that offensive line that is good enough to block J.J. Watt. They (Chiefs) have the threat with the tight end. They can go down the field, and Alex Smith is a legitimate threat with his legs. He makes a lot of plays.”


Dungy on if today’s loss is good for the team: “If they face the Seahawks again in the playoffs, at least they won’t be overconfident.” (laughter)


Dungy: “They had breakdowns in every situation.”

Harrison: “You expect this defense to be able to get off the field on third down, and they couldn’t get off the field. Also, we’ve seen this as a common theme, dropped passes by their best players.”


King on Johnny Manziel: “More trouble for Johnny Manziel. He’s supposed to be in the NFL’s concussion protocol but he didn’t show up this morning at team headquarters as required by team rules. The Browns couldn’t get ahold of him during the day. I will be stunned if Johnny Manziel plays another down for the Cleveland Browns.”

Patrick: “You almost get the feeling he doesn’t want to play another down for them.”

Harrison: “He’s doing this to get cut.”

Dungy: “Waste of talent.”


Dungy on team’s offensive struggles: “Everybody is playing them the same. They are boxing everybody inside, playing one-on-one on the outside. They don’t fear the outside passing game since Jordy Nelson’s not there.”


Ward on Mike Zimmer’s defensive approach to tonight’s game: “The Vikings tonight, they have to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers the same way the Cardinals did last week. The Vikings can’t afford to let Aaron Rodgers scramble around and make plays like they did in the first meeting.”

Harrison on Vikings playing Seahawks with a win tonight: “I don’t want to play Seattle, point blank, period.”


On past concerns about possibly never becoming a head coach, after spending decades as an assistant coach: “It crossed my mind several times. I went on interviews with other teams and thought I was going to get the job, but for whatever reason, I did not. The good thing is that I think I fell into the right job. I think I was really lucky actually.”

On being a “coach’s kid” (Zimmer’s father, NFL veteran Bill Zimmer, served as his high school football and wrestling coach. Zimmer’s son Adam currently serves as the Vikings’ linebackers coach): “It makes a difference. I had a lot of opportunities to be on the sideline with my dad. When I won the Super Bowl with the Cowboys, my son held my cord. I actually tried to talk him out of coaching. He’s got a degree in finance, so I said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He said, ‘Dad, I just couldn’t see myself sitting in an office all day.”

On the Vikings’ challenges when facing the Packers over the last decade: “I haven’t talked to the team that much about beating the Packers. I’ve just talked about getting better each week. One thing I did talk to them about all year long is the ‘four learns of football.’ Learn how to compete, learn how to win, learn how to handle winning, and learn how to be a champion. I think we’re at the fourth step now.”