FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 1st, 2021
PETER KING SHARES INSIGHTS ON 17-GAME NFL SCHEDULE AND SPEAKS WITH FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PROSPECT QB ZACH WILSON FROM BYU IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN
“The 17-game schedule is highly likely in 2021. No surprise there…The best game of 2021, Aaron Rodgers versus Patrick Mahomes, is on track.” – King on NFL’s potential 17-game schedule and Green Bay-Kansas City 17th game matchup
“Wilson is the 2021 version of Joe Burrow…Wilson’s skill-set is ideal for the quick-thinking and quick-throwing West Coast scheme.” – King Zach Wilson’s draft prospects
“There’s days I’ll just sit back and be like, ‘Wow – where has this last year taken me?’ It’s crazy how quickly my life has changed.” – Wilson to King on potentially being a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 1, 2021 – Peter King shares insights on a potential 17-game NFL schedule for the 2021 season and speaks with top draft prospect and former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young about Wilson and discusses the status of quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which provides extensive NFL coverage, includes PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss offseason storylines.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
NFL 17-GAME SCHEDULE
King: “The 17-game schedule is highly likely in 2021. No surprise there. TV partners and NFL schedulers are working under the assumption that the 17-game schedule (the way was paved for it last March when players approved a new CBA) will debut in 2021.”
King on how a 17th game would impact the schedule: “The league calendar gets pushed back one week, with a likely Feb. 13 Super Bowl in Los Angeles. No extra bye – 17 games in 18 weekends.”
King on the scheduling formula if a 17th game is added: “When the NFL was choosing options, the formula that prevailed was AFC versus NFC, cross-conference matchup from two years ago, 2021 matchup based on 2020 standings…Here’s an example: The four AFC West teams played the four NFC North teams in 2019. In 2020, Kansas City finished in first place in the AFC West, Green Bay first in the NFC North. So in 2021, it’s AFC West against NFC North, and 1-versus-1 from ‘20 becomes Green Bay versus Kansas City.”
King on Green Bay-Kansas City as an added 17th game: “The best game of 2021, Aaron Rodgers versus Patrick Mahomes, is on track. Really, only one game in 2021 would rival Green Bay-Kansas City. That’s Tampa Bay at New England, with Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro.”
King’s best added games in a 17-game schedule after Green Bay-Kansas City:
- Pittsburgh vs. Seattle. Last two meetings have ended 39-30 and 28-26, Seattle. Ben (maybe) dueling Russ (maybe) for the last time (maybe) is sumptuous.
- Baltimore vs. L.A. Rams. In 2019, the high-flying Ravens put up 45 on the Rams. Matthew Stafford will have something to say about that now.
- Tampa Bay vs. Indianapolis. Tom Brady versus the team that chose Philip Rivers over him in 2020.
King: “Hearing it’s most likely to be AFC hosting all 16 newly invented games in 2021. Then NFC teams hosting in 2022. If that’s how it goes, it’s the fairest way. Competitive equity is the key. You don’t want three NFC East teams playing eight at home and the fourth playing nine at home.”
King on BYU QB Zach Wilson: “Wilson is the 2021 version of Joe Burrow. Remember: Burrow was a likely day-three draft pick before his 2019 season at LSU, then blew up and went first overall in 2020. Wilson, entering last season, was not even a sure draftee this year. Of course, he won the starting job. And now, after his golden autumn (74 percent passing, 11.0 yards per attempt, 33-3 TD-to-pick ratio), Wilson might be the second pick in the draft.”
Wilson to King being considered a top draft prospect: “There’s days I’ll just sit back and be like, ‘Wow – where has this last year taken me?’ It’s crazy how quickly my life has changed.”
King on Wilson’s career at BYU: “Wilson, a developing 6-2 ½-inch, 210-pound hard thrower with good movement in the pocket, earned the starting job in October of his freshman year, 2018. But in 2019, dogged by labrum and hand injuries, Wilson struggled, and after the season, then-passing game coordinator/QB coach Aaron Roderick told him there’d be a competition for the starting job in 2020.”
Wilson on the 2020 QB competition at BYU: “That was a tough time for me. It was frustrating because [I] was the starter before. I had to block out what people were saying about me. That adversity was something preparing me for that next level because there’s gonna be ups and downs in the NFL, and now I think I’m better prepared for them.”
King on Wilson’s offseason training last Spring: “On many weekends late last spring and early summer, with his football future very much in doubt…Wilson would be road-tripping to see his quarterback tutor, John Beck, in southern California… On these weekends, Wilson stayed for two workouts with Beck at Golden West College in Huntington Beach…Wilson worked DoorDash many Saturday nights in California (and sometimes back in Utah), for gas and expense money.”
Wilson on listening to Steve Young’s audiobook: “Steve not cashing his [49ers] checks. It’s so cool his mentality of, ‘I haven’t earned it yet.’ He’s always hungry for more and some people just feel like they’ve arrived. He was just not like that at all. That was such a cool lesson for me to learn. Even if I am fortunate enough to go early in the draft and make it to a good team, I haven’t done anything yet. You have to keep working for it.”
Steve Young to King on Wilson enjoying his book: “Nobody knows how much grit you have till you have to have it. So you’ve got to fight for a job. Say you get benched. Look at you; don’t look at anyone else. Most often, victimization takes over, but it never does any good to play the victim. Work on yourself. Work on your game. You better have that level of grit to fight for a job and to fight to win a game, because in this game, you’re going to be tested over and over again.”
BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick on Wilson’s mind for the game: “We can talk after a 12-play drive, and he’ll just take me through it – every play, in order, everything he saw, why he made every decision, what he was trying to do to the defense. His recall – I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Wilson on his game preparation: “I don’t know, I try to understand every little detail. I don’t know where it comes from. I guess it’s the passion I have for the game.”
King on Wilson and Joe Burrow: “Wilson said he studied every one of Joe Burrow’s games from his 2019 LSU season ‘three or four times.’ Wilson has the same kind of pocket-movement ability as Burrow, staying cool while figuring the best location from which to throw the most accurate ball.”
King on Wilson’s draft prospects: “Wilson’s skill-set is ideal for the quick-thinking and quick-throwing West Coast scheme, making the Jets (and new coordinator Mike LaFleur) at number two an intriguing option. Carolina, at eight with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, could be a strong candidate too.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Deshaun Watson: “Because off-season programs are very likely off because of the pandemic again this year, it’s not essential that Watson gets moved soon; the first real milepost would be April 29, the first day of the 2021 NFL Draft. That is eight weeks away. I wouldn’t expect much action in the next month. I’d expect Caserio to stand firm for the next few weeks.”
King on reported trade destinations for Russell Wilson: “New Orleans makes a lot of sense; Sean Payton is a coach any quarterback would want to play for, and Payton and Wilson hit it off when Payton coached Wilson in the Pro Bowl three years ago…Dallas has offensive weaponry and still has the makings of a solid offensive line.”
King on Wilson to the Bears: “I think there are three things at play: Chicago tight end Jimmy Graham is a good friend of Wilson’s, and he’s told him good things about the team and the city. Wilson loves the sporting zeal of the city, the love for the Cubs, the love for the Bears, and might look at it like, Chicago hasn’t had a lot of great quarterbacks, and I could be one. Maybe I could be the missing piece, and how crazy would Chicago go if the Bears ever got great again? And I think he loves the city.”
King on Irv Cross: “I think the football world owes a debt to Irv Cross, who died Sunday at 81. After playing corner in the league for nine years, he coached for one, then became a trailblazing CBS NFL analyst. In 1975, he was part of the four-person NFL Today pregame team, the first Black broadcaster to co-host a football studio show. Every Sunday afternoon for 15 years, Cross was the calming analyst on the best studio show in sports. He influenced scores of future broadcasters.”
NBC Sports Medicine Analyst Mike Ryan to King on how Tiger Woods’ injury compares to Alex Smith’s: “This is in my opinion worse than Alex Smith’s. Tiger suffered a ‘crush’ injury, not the kind of twisting injury with force Smith suffered…From an orthopedic review, Tiger’s is a far more complicated scenario.”
Ryan on complicating factors from Woods’ accident: “One of the complicating factors is the time Tiger was in the car before being removed. I remember watching the Dak Prescott injury last year, and within a minute of him going down, [Dallas head athletic trainer] Jim Maurer was on the field, putting sterile gauze over the bone open wound where Dak’s bone had protruded through the skin. We don’t know how long Tiger was in the car before being removed, and what if anything might have come into contact with his multiple open wounds. Infection is such a major factor in cases like this.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.