Peter King speaks with Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians and recaps the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl LV victory in this week’s Super Bowl edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Buccaneers defense coordinator Todd Bowles and tight end Rob Gronkowski, discusses the status of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and hands out his Super Bowl LV awards.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which will provide extensive coverage of Super Bowl LV, 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 Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Super Bowl LV.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
SUPER BOWL LV
King on Super Bowl LV: “There has never been a year like this one, and never a Super Bowl like this one, and not just because of one of the great quarterback pairings of the 55 Super Bowls ever played. Actually, everything surrounding the game was America in this crazy time – good and bad.”
King on the Buccaneers victory: “The Bucs, as it turned out, rode the wings of Brady to an unexpected world championship, running up an 8-0 record since Dec. 1. Those who’ve been around Brady wouldn’t be shocked. By the time the calendar turns to December, his voracious practice habits rub off on his mates, and things that were rough and ugly in Week 3 look pretty impressive by the playoffs.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians to King on Tom Brady: “That [first] day we talked, Tom said he knew we had the talent. I just told him, ‘You gotta get them to believe.’ He did. And it came to fruition.”
Arians on the trophy celebration and Tom Brady: “I wanted my wife to have some time with him. She’d never met Tom. Just that kind of year. You know, the virus. It’s been tough to build a close team in times like this. They couldn’t eat together. Gronk still doesn’t know everybody’s name. So when we got on stage, I just let my wife have the moment with Tom. That was precious to me.”
Arians on the make-up of the team: “Mike Evans is the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever met. He’s told us to use some of his money if we need to…keep the team together! And Gronk – never once all season did he ever say a word about getting the ball more, even though he might get one pass, two passes in games. He just blocks his ass off, and when I’d say to him, ‘You okay?’ he’d say, ‘I’m good, coach. I’m good.’”
Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski to King: “Playing with Tom, you just learn if you want to win championships, you can’t care about your numbers. If you’re good, numbers will come. If you’ve got great players, maybe they’ll get the numbers. Who cares? I’ve had no problems all year how I’ve been used. I love blocking. Blocking’s just as important as catching the ball at my position.”
King: “Think of the timeline: When Brady agreed with the Bucs on March 18, he told GM Jason Licht (mind you, this was very early in the pandemic, so no one knew how restrictive life was going to be), We’ve only got so many hours before opening day, and every hour counts for us. Brady actually had figured out the number of hours – maybe 4,300, or close to that – which amazed Licht. But then he pushed to trade for Gronkowski (April 21), supported the signing of (Leonard) Fournette when the Jags cut him (Sept. 6) and was wholly behind the Antonio Brown reclamation project (signed Oct. 27)…Four touchdowns scored in Super Bowl LV: Gronk, Gronk, Brown, Fournette.”
King on Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles: “Bowles’ defensive game plan was smart, surprising and magnificent. It was the game plan of Bowles’ life, in the last game of his eighth season as coordinator or head coach. After getting taken to the woodshed by the speed and tenacity and the KC offense in Week 12 and by the never-ending will and skill of Mahomes, Bowles adjusted in four ways.”
Bowles to King on his defense: “My guys were pissed off. The biggest thing they do is read and they got TV all the time. Nobody picked us and gave us a chance to win. They were really pissed off about that. Combine that with the things we missed the first game against them, they really wanted to prove something tonight on the biggest stage against the best team.”
King on Bowles: “Bowles is what keeps the D together. What a performance by his group (even with the KC line in tatters) in holding Reid/Mahomes without a touchdown. Who does that?”
Arians on being the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl: “I ain’t that old, dude! That pisses me off! I feel great. I sure as hell am back next year.”
UPDATES ON 11
King on Eagles QB Carson Wentz: “After Wentz’s landing spot (Indianapolis and Chicago are the most likely trade partners), the biggest issue to me is compensation…The problem with divining proper trade value, of course, is figuring out what Wentz is right now. He played poorly in 2020 in Philadelphia, did not respond well to coaching, had a mental divorce with coach Doug Pederson, and will need both his head and arm fixed with a new team.”
King on Wentz: “The Eagles save $850,000 by abandoning Wentz, at 28. Further translation: The Eagles 20 months ago were so sold on Wentz as their QB of the future that they signed him to a four-year, $128-million contract. And now they’re throwing him overboard. Shouldn’t that scare the crap out of Chicago GM Ryan Pace and Indy GM Chris Ballard? It sure would scare me, that this centerpiece of the franchise fell off the cliff so precipitously that the team that knows him best thinks he’s very likely not salvageable.”
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey to King on his injuries this season: “I don’t like to think that any past years are the reason for anything. I think when you look around different players in the league who have experienced injury, some of them will have season-ending injuries in the first game and play 15 more years. So, some of that noise, ‘Well it’s because they’re giving him too many carries.’ – I look at a guy like Emmett Smith, who played double-digit years and in his 10th year and all that, he was an animal.”
King on Texans DE J.J. Watt: “I am just trying to read some tea leaves here. Watt is 32, tortured by losing, has to feel like he’s on the NFL’s sinking ship, sees quarterback Deshaun Watson desperate to get on one of the lifeboats from the sinking ship, knows if Watson goes he’s on the last-place team in the division in one of the last years of his…I mean, add it up. Why would Watt want to stay?”
King on what the Rams have paid for QBs Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford since 2016: “The combined cost – four first-round picks, two second-round picks, two third-round picks, and $22.2 million in dead money on Goff’s contract this year – is enormous. So enormous that you could argue adroitly that no head coach in the NFL enters the 2021 season with more pressure on him than (Sean) McVay.”
NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills to King on this season: “I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that we can keep ourselves safe and still carry on some semblance of our normal lives. Many times, we hear about what I call the two extremes. We hear people who say, ‘There’s no way we can do anything. We need to sort of hunker down until this is over.’ And another group of people who say, ‘This is a hoax and there’s nothing to it.’ There is a middle ground. I think that’s what we’ve tried to find.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on his modern-era Hall of Fame ballot: “On the vote to cut the finalists from 15 to 10, I voted for Peyton Manning, John Lynch, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Tony Boselli, Zach Thomas, Alan Faneca, Richard Seymour, Calvin Johnson and Sam Mills. (I voted to eliminate Leroy Butler, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, Ronde Barber, Jared Allen.) On the cut from 10 to five, I voted for Manning, Woodson, Johnson, Lynch and Matthews.”
King on Jets QB Sam Darnold: “This is my best guess on the next move on the offseason QB chessboard: Sam Darnold to the loser of the Wentzstakes, Chicago or Indy.”
King on the offseason: “I think one of the storylines to follow this offseason will be the NFL Players Association’s push to reduce off-season programs, again…The coaches will fervently disagree, but it’s not the coaches who ultimately decide the work rules. If the pandemic persists into the spring, and it looks like it will, I think the owners will olive-branch another quiet offseason to the players. Permanently? That’s another story.”
King on former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson: “I think the most amazing thing about the first 38 NFL days of 2021 is how quickly Doug Pederson fell off the face of the earth…Not interviewed for any of the NFL coaching vacancies. Not heard from since. That is one strange story.”
KING’S SUPER BOWL LV AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay, & Tom Brady, Tampa Bay.
King on Gronkowski: “Gronk, named one of the top 100 football players of all time a year ago, walked out of retirement in April and had an underwhelming offensive season…till Sunday night.”
Gronkowski to King: “It’s championships. Those are the meaningful things to me now.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Shaq Barrett, Tampa Bay, & Devin White, Tampa Bay.
King on Barrett: “Barrett led a marauding Tampa Bay defense in making Mahomes’ life miserable in the same place he riddled the Bucs for 461 passing yards just 10 weeks earlier.”
Special Teams Player of the Week: Harrison Butker, Kansas City.
King: “You know it’s going to be a crummy day for the KC offense when the kicker’s better than Patrick Mahomes. And Butker was.”
Coach of the Week: Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Tampa Bay.
King: “I looked up with four minutes to go in the game and saw the two men who destroyed the Bucs in Week 12, Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes, got destroyed by Bowles’ defense this time.”
Goat of the Week: Poise, Kansas City.
King: “I can’t give it to one player. Many are contenders. Punter Tommy Townsend choked in the first half with high-schoolish 29- and 27-yard shank jobs. Tyrann Mathieu totally lost his cool after a ticky-tack pass-interference call and an unsportsmanlike-conduct, in the span of seven killer first-half seconds. Patrick Mahomes was running for his life most of the time, but he didn’t make many winning plays either. Eleven penalties for 120 yards. Three-of-13 on third downs. This was a defending Super Bowl champion, 16-2 on the season headed into the Super Bowl? Sure didn’t look like it.”
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.
- com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss the Conference Championship games and look ahead to Super Bowl LV.
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.