Chat Reel: Pat Kirwan and Pete Carroll
Experts see different outcomes Sunday
Posted: Friday January 28, 2000 04:33 PM
CNNSI.com host: Welcome to our Super Bowl chat with CNNSI.com's Pat Kirwan and former New England Patriots coach Pete Carroll. Thanks for joining us, guys!
Pat Kirwan: Glad to be here, let's talk about the Super Bowl, joined by my partner Pete Carroll.
Pete Carroll: Good to be here. What a great time for the NFL.
From Guest: Given that these teams originally met at midseason and have both improved since then, how do they compare since Week 8?
Pete Carroll: Well, they've both grown with their success, and they've had a tremendous amount of it. Their confidence is much higher, and I think they're both going to go in thinking they can win it.
Pat Kirwan: Both teams believe they can win, and with a short week they can't change too many things. They have to stick with what they've got -- they've got innovative offenses and defenses. I'm concerned with the TItans' loss of Marcus Robertson, though. The key in the first game was a lot of fumbles, though.
Pete Carroll: I think that something you've seen in Tennessee in the past few weeks is that when they've had to have it, they've played the style with which they won the Rams game earlier in the year. It's going to be interesting to see how it turns out.
From Guest: What do you think about the Cowboys' choice of Dave Campo as head coach? Also, who is the frontrunner for the offensive coordinator position?
Pete Carroll: I think it's a logical decision in that Jerry Jones wants to keep as much continuity as possible. Dave knows the style and the lay of the land there. They're going to make some adjustments on offense. If they hire Jack Reilly, then they can return a continuity that they had just a few years back.
Pat Kirwan: I'm happy they hired Dave Campo. I don't think he could get a job anywhere else. He deserves his chance there. They've got a bunch of older players, but they can make one more run.
Pete Carroll: In regards to that offense, the hottest in the league is that which came out of Ernie Zampese. The Rams on fire ... unfortunately, the Patriots weren't, but it's the same schemes. I think that Campo was a good choice.
Pat Kirwan: People are saying sarcastically that Dave's a Jerry "puppet." Dave can be a lot more effective right away working with Jerry because he knows him so well.
Pete Carroll: I agree ... you take a look at Chan Gailey's opportunity. He came in without that background and it didn't work out.
Pat Kirwan: Because of the older players on the team, there isn't that time for a young coach to get used to Jerry's system.
Pete Carroll: Trying to implement his own style and maintain continuity, it wasn't able to work out. This should work out, though, if the team has enough firepower left in them.
From Lou: Do you think the St. Louis Rams can win the Super Bowl if they are forced to play the same type of game they did against Tampa Bay?
Pete Carroll: If they play the same type of game they did against Tampa Bay, they won't win. The style they played with offensively was not characteristic of how they played all year. When you hear people talk about the patience it took to play Tampa, that just wasn't there. I think it threw the Rams out of their normal pattern. If you listen to their conversations going into the game, talking about how they had to be patient ... this is not a patient football team. If they feel the same kind of feeling they did against Tampa Bay, they won't be able to do it.
Pat Kirwan: I agree with Pete with what they have to do to win. If you go back to the VIkings game, I expect them to go out there with two wide receivers on the same side of the field and throw it down the field. The problem, though, is that if they want to run out the clock with a two-touchdown lead, they don't have a traditional running, off-tackle-type of game. They'll score a lot of points, though.
Pete Carroll: They won't be real worried about that. They like that situation. It does allow them to be vulnerable if a team is trying to come back against them. They've been able to come back all year, but that's not how they want to play this one.
From Guest: Do you think that Kurt Warner's rise will encourage the use of more Arena football quarterbacks?
Pat Kirwan: I think the NFL is always in pursuit of quarterback talent. To think they haven't looked at all of these quarterbacks in post-college play is a mistake. If you study NFL Europe, they've produced a lot of NFL QBs. They'll look in Europe and in Canada to find players ... Doug Flutie got better in Canada. Kurt Warner said he learned a lot about timing and his skills in the arena league. Plus, a lot of NFL owners own Arena teams so there will be a lot of people looking at the Arena league for the future.
From Carl: I have been a Pats fan for many years. I am ashamed of the way that team laid down on you. If I had my preference you should be the coach and a lot of those guys should be looking for jobs. Any plans for what you would like to do now?
Pete Carroll: I have a lot of plans. I don't think the team laid down, but I don't think we played as well as we could. Lots of plans. I hope to keep in touch with what's going on in the NFL.
From Guest: Do you think Tampa exposed the Rams' vulnerability to the pass rush?
Pete Carroll: This scheme of offense is not one, in my opinion, that features just setting up their style to stop a pass rush. They're going to use their multiple protection schemes, but basically they're going to run their offense. It's such an explosive style of offense that they're going to run it and it's not going to be a problem for them. I don't think that Tampa exposed them, because there's been people trying to get at them all year, but the lack of explosive plays on the offense were offset by the pass rush.
Pat Kirwan: In studying St. Louis, one of the glaring things is that they've been sacked 33 times this season, but 15 of those came in in their three losses. When they have trouble with protection, they have trouble winning. They do overcome turnovers, though. They've had games with 4-5 turnovers but they won because of their scoring power. When they have trouble protecting Warner, they have problems with the game -- like the earlier Titans game. Fred Miller struggled in the first game with Jevon Kearse. This time they'll have a tight end or fullback Robert Holcombe helping out Miller.
Pete Carroll: A factor that has really helped Kearse, and one that helps the speed rushers, is the home-field crowd roaring. People didn't talk about it, but Kearse got off before the offensive line did ... it's a subtle thing, but it helps. When you're in your home crowd, the noise can really help on those third downs.
Pat Kirwan: There's more of a neutral crowd here.
Pete Carroll: The big speed rushers can really cash in on that, but it won't work to Kearse's advantage as much as it did at home.
From Guest: This was a year that the big teams fell and the little guys came on strong -- is this the future of the NFL or will the Packers, Cowboys and Broncos rise again?
Pat Kirwan: I think this typifies where the NFL is going in the future. Free agency has changed the talent pool. However, teams that finished lower but accumulated high draft picks and drafted well are doing well ... like the Bills in the early '80s. Free agency and the salary cap makes it difficult for teams to protect what they've got.
Pete Carroll: To add to that, if you look back to the year that that Patriots and Packers were in the Super Bowl, and now both are 8-8 teams, I think it'll be interesting to watch the cycle. Denver has fallen into that cycle and Dallas, too, because of the cap. Many of the key players have been retained, but the support players who are so critical to the foundation of the team, you're really seeing the losses in that area because of the salary cap.
Pat Kirwan: If you decide to keep players like the Cowboys with the Big Three, in a short time 25% of their cap went to those three players. If all of those players are healthy, it's a good value, but if they're hurt (like Michael Irvin), you'll have a problem finding an adequate replacement. The cap is still a new thing, but it's tough to see the long-term ramifications of those cap moves.
Pete Carroll: And you also need to realize that when you have tremendous success, your middle-range players become more obvious to the rest of the league and their numbers go up.
Pat Kirwan: When players get into their 30s, it's tough to manage the cap and the roster.
Pete Carroll: You lose the middle of your squad as well. They're valuable players, but their numbers jump, and that first big contract can send players one right after the other. That's happened to a number of teams that have fallen off.
Pat Kirwan: I agree with Pete. Let me cite an example: The Vikings made their run last year. They had a young player named Jason Fisk, who the Titans knew about. The Vikings couldn't afford to keep him, so Tennessee picked him up and he's starting in the Super Bowl.
Pete Carroll: The other side a lot of owners would like to say, the younger players aren't ready to play for the most part, so there's a real dilemma. When you have big-time players capturing a big part of your cap, and you have to play inexperienced players also, it rarely works out to be a championship-style team.
From Todd: How do you feel the St. Louis defense will fare with the mobility of Steve McNair?
Pat Kirwan: Everybody who's played Tennessee knows that McNair is a mobile quarterback who can run. NFL defenses haven't been built to stop the quarterback as a runner. He can break tackles and is a physical runner. The St. Louis defense, especially guys like London Fletcher, will be called upon to stop Steve.
Pete Carroll: I think that the element of the running quarterback can never be talked about enough, when you think about the advantage that it gives an offense. McNair's averaged over six yards a carry in college and the pros and nobody's solved the problem because it's a problem that can't be solved. When a play starts as a pass play, the defense defends the pass play. Then the quarterback can turn it into a running play. All of the routes change and you get a second shot at the play. It's an element that you can design your defense to deal with, but the only way to really do it is lessen your approach to the pass rush. That's not a great way to win a football game, though. It takes you out of your normal manner of playing. It's such an obvious factor in the game and McNair knows how to do it -- he learned it at a young age. It makes this team a very difficult team to deal with. It may be the factor to cause Rams to not have a chance to win this game.
Pat Kirwan: In taking some of his big runs off the reel, the Titans' receivers and tight ends block very well down field. When McNair gets into his dimension and runs, his receivers are in position.
Pete Carroll: It's good coaching and guys being real competitive about their game.
Pat Kirwan: When you look at his 51-yard run to the 1 in the AFC Championship Game, the entire Jacksonville secondary is blocked.
Pete Carroll: I'm sure the coaches have built it into their style of play. They take advantage of some great opportunities to lay the guys downfield, and that's what Steve McNair's all about. It's a low-risk play. You don't have to put the ball in the air to get yards.
Pat Kirwan: If you add his rushing yards to his running yards, he's averaging more than 200 yards a game.
Pete Carroll: How many running backs in this league have average six yards a carry? This guy has. He's not flash -- he's a big, tough, resourceful runner. It doesn't matter how the ball moves down the field ... it's whether it does or not.
Pat Kirwan: If I were a Tennessee Titans fan, I wouldn't be too concerned with his lack of passing yards.
Pete Carroll: As for the Rams, I don't think anyone will match up well against him. They do have good speed and they have the recoverability. They're not a slow group, but the advantage goes to the running quarterback.
From Guest: Could you comment on this Bill Belichick, Jets/Patriots disaster?
Pete Carroll: I think this has been a very difficult time for the Patriots, this process. All of the things that have come out of the announcement weeks ago, there's been a lot of negativity that don't make this a rosy decision for the fans in New England. They've pointed out Bill's track record ... he's had one winning season in six years. Couple that with the publicity, plus that they have to give up draft picks. The guys who are looking forward to this are few, but it doesn't diminish the fact that he's a good football coach. It's created a circus atmosphere, though, but he'll put it behind him for the football team. I think that the media isn't going to let it go, though. They're going to use it as ammunition for their columns.
From Guest: Will the winter weather this week hurt Atlanta's chances of getting Super Bowls in the future?
Pat Kirwan: I think they're in trouble for getting another one. First off, the networks look really bad when sending those guys out there. Marv Levy looked really cold out there.
Pete Carroll: Marv always looks cold.
Pat Kirwan: Warm climates is what it's all about.
Pete Carroll: I think that this is really a shame.
Pat Kirwan: If it does snow and people can't get in, it will be a problem.
Pete Carroll: In the preparation process for the players and coaches ... it was a mistake, not having a contingency. I don't know how it will affect them in the future, but it's got to be somewhat negative. It does change your preparation. Considering you're going to be playing indoors at the end of the week.
Pat Kirwan: The disciples of the 49ers West Coast package -- Shanahan, Holmgren, Seifert -- they all installed their packages two weeks ahead of time because of the distractions. Now with the one week and the cold weather, it will affect preparation. Especially the Rams, because they have a complex passing scheme to go over. It will affect St. Louis more than the TItans.
Pete Carroll: The other side of it is that there's no question that this is going to affect the Rams' preparation more. They're going to want to practice their passing and the wind's going to affect that. Also, it affects you mentally ... you don't have as crisp a practice as you'd like to have. It's too bad for the ballgame. I don't think you'll notice a difference, but it's not the way you'd like the build up to be.
From Guest: You hear a lot of talk from the Buffalo fans and media that Wade Phillips isn't the motivator a team needs to succeed. You play them twice a year ... what's your take on Wade?
Pete Carroll: I think Wade has a style that has proven to be successful. They've put together a very good team up there. I really like their style in general and I've played them quite a bit. They play a hard-nosed offense, they work the clock real well. The defense has always been very solid. That's a tribute to the head coach. Wade will appear as a subtle type of guy, but he's got a great defensive style.
Pat Kirwan: Really, Wade -- whether you like it or not -- changed quarterbacks and had the game won had it not been for a controversial call. Otherwise, he might be here this week.
Pete Carroll: They were in position to be as close as they could have gotten. I would have loved to see Flutie win that game. As it turned it, they were positioned and it could have happened, but unfortunately for them it didn't.
From Guest: What's your feeling about that pass that was ruled incomplete toward the end of the Rams-Bucs game?
Pete Carroll: I thought that was a terrible call, to talk specifically about guys catching the football to touch the ground. If a guy has control, the ball can still touch the ground, but if they guy maintains control of it and it never moves, he has it. Tony Dungy could be in this game today. I think it was one of the bad calls. It wasn't a challenge call, it came from the booth.
Pat Kirwan: Tony has had his fair share of controversial calls this year. I think it's unfortunate that Tampa Bay's last-ditch shot was taken down from the booth. That was a catch. Not one of the officials on the field thought it was a non-catch. It was up to the "eye in the sky" that thought it wasn't a catch.
Pete Carroll: If the ball touches the ground, and there is a loss of control, that's one thing.
Pat Kirwan: The rest of the national audience probably agreed with the officials on the field that it was a catch.
Pete Carroll: If it touches the ground and he didn't lose control, it shouldn't be a factor. I don't know how Jerry Stevens would respond to what I'm saying, but I don't know how he could come out of the booth and make such a mistake.
Pat Kirwan: When a ball is caught and the receiver is face down headed to the ground, it's almost impossible for the ball not to hit the ground. If you look at that interpretation, all of these great catches throughout the years weren't catches.
Pete Carroll: It's just an interpretation that the ball touches the ground. If you take the words literally, you're not playing the game. I think that it may have been a factor.
CNNSI.com host: Two more questions....
From Guest: Pete and Pat, do you feel this trend towards more versatile quarterbacks will make the dropback passer like Drew Bledsoe obsolete?
Pete Carroll: I don't think so. I don't think it'll make them obsolete because there aren't enough mobile quarterbacks to go around. I love the way Doug Flutie plays football, and I know a lot of people don't, but I think it's tremendous. Hopefully there will be a nice diversity in the league of running quarterbacks and dropback passers.
Pat Kirwan: I'm with Pete, if you've got great classic, dropback quarterbacks, you know what to do with them. There are a lot more athletic quarterbacks out there, as seen in last year's draft. A quarterback with escapability is a great asset, especially with the changing offensive lines. Also, I don't think mobile, scrambling quarterbacks get hurt more often than a standard dropback quarterbacks.
Pete Carroll: I don't believe that's true at all that a mobile quarterback gets hurt more. Those guys who know how to run have been running all their lives, and they know how to avoid the hit.
Pat Kirwan: In fact, it's more of a problem with the changing offensive lines that could get quarterbacks hurt more than the difference between standing in the pocket or scrambling.
Pete Carroll: If you have a guy who doesn't know how to avoid getting hit, he won't last very long. I don't think injuries are a factor.
From Guest: Can you guys give us some straight-up predictions for Sunday?
Pete Carroll: I'm really looking forward to this game. I think that Tennessee has a chance to play the style that they've been playing the last month or so. They play a nasty defense, and that's been overlooked in their style. The way they pressure and play their coverage has created some big plays. They've taken some people out of the style of their offense. I think they're going to be able to do that again. It's a factor that's hard to put your finger on, but their defense could be the deciding factor in this game. If they can get to Kurt Warner and knock that football around, I think that they're going to be able to pull it together and do it.
Pat Kirwan: I see the Rams winning the game. Last week's game was a good wake-up call for them. They were too overconfident after that Vikings game. They were talking a lot about how no one could stop them and they were humbled. They scored 33 points per game and had 47% conversion on third downs. Their defense is very underrated. They can stop Eddie George and the running game. However, I do have a golden parachute: If it comes down to a field goal, I may have to go with Pete on that one.
Pete Carroll: I think that the Rams allowed themselves to get knocked out of their game plan last week. The patience was a factor. I think they're going to respond and come back and be wide open in this game. I think the formula that Jeff Fisher is playing right now is some really nasty defense and to let Steve hang onto it and do his running; that's an element that no one wants to deal with. They've had some big wins over some big teams. Their offense just needs to keep on plugging and do what they can with defense and special teams. If the Rams can explode with their throwing game, that's how they might win. There will be plenty of opportunities, and that's what the Titans will have to deal with.
Pat Kirwan: That being said, I'll save a Rams hat for you, Pete, if things go my way by halftime.
CNNSI.com host: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us today.
Pat Kirwan: It's our pleasure. It's great being here.
Pete Carroll: This was fun. Hope to come back sometime.
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