Tonight’s preseason game between the Patriots and Eagles at Gillette Stadium will be broadcast on ESPN, with Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Jon Gruden (analysis) and Lisa Salters (sideline) on the call.
In advance of the game, Tirico was a guest on sports radio WEEI on Monday morning, chatting with the “Dennis & Callahan” program.
Some soundbites from Tirico (audio here):
On how much he expects to see top players from both teams tonight: “For Philadelphia, a lot, into the third quarter. For the Pats, I’d say some guys some -- most of the biggest names, I wouldn’t see much of, if at all [overall].”
On the Patriots playing three preseason games in 10 days: “This schedule stinks. I think the whole preseason structure is bad. I think it’s time the league changed it. We need to go to two preseason games, and do more of what the Patriots did two weeks ago against New Orleans [with joint practices before a preseason game] or they’re going to do against Tampa [this week]. I’d put them in the stadiums and cut the prices by 50-60 percent and give access to fans that can’t get here all year. You could have somebody on the PA system saying, ‘Now we’re going to do 7-on-7 drills ... this is what this drill does.’ Watch your team come together, watch two good teams, and you might have seen Brady and Brees on the field for 60 or 70 snaps, as opposed to [a preseason game]. The product the NFL gives its fans in the preseason is not the product you have during the year.”
On the Patriots not having big issues compared to other NFL teams: “No drama. How many national stories, even beyond ESPN, have you seen about the Patriots? Very little. That’s fine [for Bill Belichick]. What are the stories? Defense needs to be better. And the depth of the number of people that played in the back end, if they are all healthy are they better? Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower -- let’s see them again and can they make a big impact on the defense, and help make the back end better? You mention the O-line, I want to see when you bring back the veterans in terms of receivers -- and they added Brandon Lloyd -- do we have a better receiving corps that will make this team even tougher to stop offensively? Those are problems teams like to have. The Patriots don’t have the big issues the others have, and that’s why most people think this will be a 12-, 13-, 14-win team and we’ll see you in January.”
On the Jets and the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow quarterback pairing: “I don’t think they are going to be as atrocious as they have been in the first two preseason games, but I don’t think this is going to work out great. I think just the vibe of having another viable option at quarterback will put more heat on Sanchez. But more importantly, the right tackle [Wayne Hunter] is bad. The receiving corps is significantly worse. And have we seen enough from their running back [Shonn Greene] to prove on a week-in and week-out basis that he can be a 25- to 30-carry guy. That’s what they said they’re going to be. I think with what they’ve lost -- including changes at offensive line coach [and] offensive coordinator -- I think as constructed they’re just not as good. So seven, maybe eight wins.”