CBS play-by-play man Ian Eagle talks with The Post’s Justin Terranova about the surprising Jets-Patriots showdown, Bill Belichick behind the scenes and NFL protests.
Q: How much credit does Todd Bowles deserve for just getting the Jets to this point?
A: What struck me is: I think he’s doing everything his way. The last couple of years, while he was feeling his way through the job, maybe there were some concessions behind the scenes and he may have taken the pedal off the metal last year. I don’t think that’s been the case this year. These guys have definitely responded to his bedside manner. I don’t know if too many people predicted the Jets would be a feel-good story at this point of season. They’ve created an us-against-the-world mentality. They don’t do it publicly. Bowles doesn’t bring that narrative out to the public, but I think he has the message clear to his team behind the scenes.
Q: Do you think Jets fans are starting to believe in this team?
A: It’s a bit of a conundrum for them. There’s a portion of the fan base that wanted to see this team get the No. 1 pick, get a potential franchise quarterback, and then there’s the other side that wants to see competitive football and their team play hard. From the players’ and coaches’ perspective it’s irrelevant. That’s why the idea of tanking in the NFL is hard to take seriously.
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Q: Do you think this Patriots team is at the same level as ones of recent vintage?
A: They are more vulnerable than they’ve been in previous years based on defensive lapses. That doesn’t mean they won’t correct them, but their personnel on that side of the ball is probably not quite as talented as it’s been. They’ve made up for it with creative schemes, coaching and if you look at their body of work they are always much better Week 17 than they are in Week 3.
Q: How are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in production meetings?
A: Bill can be a great conversationalist, but it’s based on certain topics: the opponent, history of the game, officiating. You can have deep discussions with Coach Belichick along those lines. When it comes specifically to his team, not so much. Brady, I find very open and honest in our sit-downs. He is one of the best in the NFL in the production meetings. The goal is to cut through the veneer and get some genuine insight. He provides that.
Q: How have you handled the protests?
A: My philosophy has been to report the news. If there’s something newsworthy, I feel obligated to report it. I don’t want it to get in the way of game coverage, but if I see something that stands out, I am not going to shy away from it. CBS Sports has given us license to use our journalistic instincts.