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on August 19, 2014 at 10:28 AM, updated August 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM
NEW YORK -- CBS and the NFL Network are partnering this fall to broadcast Thursday Night Football, with Thursday night games from Weeks 2 through 8 simulcast on both networks before the NFL Network takes the reins for the games the rest of the season.
The NFL Network will carry two pregame shows (one at 6 p.m., the other at 7:30) before using the full CBS production team for the game broadcast, including lead announcers Jim Nantz and ex-Giants quarterback Phil Simms and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Every NFL team will play one Thursday night game, with the Giants visiting the Redskins on Sept. 25 and the Jetsplaying at the Patriots on Oct. 16. All games are scheduled to kick off at 8:25 p.m.
On Monday at CBS headquarters, the networks held a media day for the on-air talent for from both networks. We asked some of them what expectations they had for the Jets this season. What follows are some of the responses we got, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Phil Simms, CBS analyst, on Jets quarterback Geno Smith: "What I’ve seen, he’s definitely a different guy, handles himself differently, looks more confident throwing the ball, his decision-making. He looks more sure of what he’s doing. I think the whole offense, personnel-wise and thought-wise is gonna be better.”
Ex-Jets linebacker Bart Scott, The NFL Today: “They can be a better team this year, but they’re playing a brutal schedule. They’re playing some of the best quarterbacks this game has to offer. They have to get off to a fast start. Really, when you have a young team, you have to build that confidence early.”
Tony Gonzalez, The NFL Today: “I think [Geno’s] going to play well. He’s got some new toys in town with Eric Decker, Chris Johnson in the backfield—that’s probably going to be probably his best friend, just turning around and handing him the ball, and helping him create some good throws, good accuracy-type throws for him. I think they’re going to be pretty good. They’ve got one of the best defensive tackles, Muhammad Wilkerson. We played against him last year [when Gonzalez was with the Falcons], and he terrorized us, absolutely terrorized us; we couldn’t do anything, couldn’t block him. They’ve got the building blocks to go out there and have a more successful season than they did last year.”
Ex-Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, The NFL Today: "My thoughts are just like everybody else’s: They’ve got to get the secondary straightened out, and one of the reasons why Rex Ryan’s defenses are so difficult to play against is because he plays a lot of man coverage. But, as you saw Saturday night, and as you see the quarterbacks that they’re playing, the first eight games of the year—forget it. The front seven will be as good as anybody. But I don’t believe you’ve seen the full defensive backfield yet for the Jets. If you’re [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick, why would you even have a running back in the backfield? Just go out there with five wide receivers and say go cover them. It’s going to be tough.”
Steve Mariucci, NFL Network, on Michael Vick: "Not everybody has a veteran backup quarterback that’s been there, done that. They’re very lucky to have him. They’ll find a way to use him, I’m sure, outside of Geno getting hurt. Which will be fun for them. And why not?"
Greg Gumbel, CBS play-by-play voice: “Geno made all the mistakes that you would expect a [rookie] quarterback to make, and I don’t know that that’s so odd. Obviously, there are some quarterbacks who didn’t do that, but the fact is, a lot of them do. I’ve never been a believer that you can really tell what a football team is going to be like until about a month into the season. You never know how rookies are going to impact the team, you never know how free agents are going to impact the team.”
Marshall Faulk, NFL Network: “I really don’t really have any [expectations]. I really don’t know how to identify the team and what they’ve done. If you’re trying to help Rex out, then you keep your corners and you want to play good defense. They could come out and play good, or they could come out and play bad. Usually you could hang your hat on why a team is going to win or lose. I don’t know with the Jets.”
Michael Irvin, NFL Network: "Let’s give this kid [Geno Smith] a chance to develop. He finally has the receiver in Decker. When you want to get a receiver to help a young guy, you want to bring in a technician. Because he can help a young quarterback. You don’t want to go and bring in a Randy Moss, who, you can give him a play, but he’s going to stick his hand up, and go deep. You need a technician because he’s learning the technical parts of the game. Eric Decker is a technician. It makes a huge difference."
Rich Gannon, CBS analyst: “I think they’ve got a chance to be a good football team. Geno had a chance to play a lot as a rookie, get his feet wet. I think they’re going to be better around him."