ESPN Radio Host Joins Danbury Radio Show to Preview 2023 NFL Season
The anticipation for the 2023-2024 NFL season is boiling over all around the country.
Here in the Greater Danbury, it's the same as always, a fractured hype. When you live in this region, you accept a few realities. One of which is we don't all root for the same teams. Danbury and the surrounding towns are bordered by New York State which means Patriots fans wait in traffic right next to Giants and Jets fans.
I've been trying to find a way to manage this issue on the I-95 Morning Show for fifteen years. What I know for sure is we have to talk about all of them on the Ethan, Lou & Large Dave show, but we have to do it efficiently. In the past, we've had local sports writers or mega fans help us digest the NFL, but this year we called a professional to help.
Jeff Thurn is a sports broadcast veteran who worked for my company (Townsquare Media) for a decade. Thurn is now an ESPN Radio national personality and an absolute whiz at covering the NFL. Jeff joined us on the Thursday (08/24/23) edition of the I-95 Morning show to give us a preview of what the NFL season might look like for the Jets, Giants and Pats.
Lou: I think the most exciting story-line is Aaron Rodgers and the NY Jets. Is this team going to be as good as they appear on paper?
Jeff Thurn:"You know it's always funny when you start to put together teams that involve the words Super Team. You go for a Hall of Famer, you bring in Dalvin Cook, you have a bunch of young talent and a defense that was super loaded a year ago and close to making the playoffs in 2022 however, usually these story-lines don't end with a trip to Disney World and the Super Bowl. So, I do have some trepidation that it's going to turnout that way and more so about who the competition is maybe more so than who the players are on that roster. I find myself, I've done so many preview shows on ESPN radio nationally over the last six months talking about this story that it's hard for me to believe that they, out the gate are able to be better than Miami, a team that is super loaded offensively and improved defensively, go out an get a better Defensive Coordinator in Vic Fangio. If Tua stays healthy a year ago Miami has a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs, even without Tua they gave the Bills all they could handle and then there is the Buffalo Bills who I think a lot of people are sleeping on because they haven't won a Super Bowl with Josh Allen. But all they've done with Josh Allen is win, win and win, it just hasn't been a Super Bowl win. So, I don't know if you're going to get three teams out of the AFC East to ultimately make the playoffs and if that is the case I'd put my money on Buffalo and Miami over New York. If they do get three teams I don't think it's going to be the Patriots, I think it's going to be the Jets but yeah, I have to see it before I believe it. Aaron Rodgers struggled some last year with the thumb injury and he had a really good defense in Green Bay so you can't beat the Lions to get into the playoffs in Lambeau. Is Aaron Rodgers maybe not the same Aaron Rodgers he was three years ago? That's a question I think a lot of people that have doubts with the Jets are wondering but listen we've seen him kind of take water and turn it into wine in the past and if I'm a Jets fan I've got to feel so much better that he's my quarterback this year going into the season instead of Zach Wilson with that loaded defense"
Dave: I'm a Jets fan and I did have lofty aspirations after watching the first few episodes of Hard Knock but I'm glad you brought me back down to Earth...
Jeff Thurn: "Well I think the Jets bring you back down to Earth quite often by themselves. You know, I'll tell you I actually feel the opposite after watching Hard Knocks because I didn't have the lofty expectations and then I watched that first episode and I' like damn man this is going to be fun! Aaron Rodgers has the whole team behind him, they love the guy, he's slinging it out there, he looks healthy, he looks happy and then I watched the second episode. Now, I'm feeling the same way Robert Saleh crushed the offensive line in that second episode but after watching Hard Knocks I did feel better about the Jets than I did before."
Lou: Culture is a buzz word we use a lot around sports and in broadcasting but if you look at the NFL historically it appears to be a real thing, it seems to plague certain organizations. Do you believe in the culture thing and how much do the Jets have to overcome here, can they?
Jeff Thurn: "Yeah, I think some of that is with regards to when you start to have adversity as the season goes on more so than maybe how you start a season. I think we see it so often in sports where if you have a winning culture consistently you rely on that as you face adversity. Then. if you're in a two game or three game losing streak and then you turn around and win three or four in a row because you trust the process. So I think with the Jets, Aaron Rodgers is going to bring a lot of that winning culture to that locker room. It's not going to be something where you just flip the switch, we've lost two in a row but Aaron Rodgers is here and all the sudden we have a winning culture. To go back to the Hard Knocks point, Robert Saleh was talking about that in the first one, he said everyone thinks we're the same old Jets in a sense because we haven't proven anything and until we do, we're not going to be able to get rid of those images of us. So yeah I think as you face adversity, if you have a winning culture it's easier to get out of it but at some point all of those places that have a winning culture had to start from something and that's a good way to start a winning culture by going and getting a first ballot Hall of Famer that prior to last year won back-t-back MVP's in 2020 and 2021. And, I think those young guys on the team, I think a lot of times if you have the same vets that have been through a lot of losing are sort of used to the same old losing ways, it becomes a problem. But there's a lot of young players on that team including that wide receiver core that are like, listen we're really good and we're ready to show everybody that it's not the same old Jets."
Lou: What about the Giants? I don't know what to make of them off of last year, what do you make of them?
Jeff Thurn: "I think in New York when you talk about all the love that the Jets are getting, I think people forget that the Giants not only made the playoffs but they beat Minnesota in the first round. I think a couple of things are working in the Giants favor to have success again this year. First of all, they had the success last year, they have the confidence, I love their Head Coach in Brian Daboll. I also think that Saquon Barkley isn't going to have to do as much this year. I think their wide receiver core continues to get better. Daniel Jones looked like a different quarterback a year ago and I think from a Saquon Barkley perspective he's still going to be wanting a different contract at the end of the year so there's still motivation there. He didn't get a dump truck of cash dumped on his front lawn, he got some money when they did that one-year deal instead of the franchise tag but listen he still has a long-term deal in his mind and his future. So I like the Giants to be consistent again we go back to that division though, I don't think we're going to see three teams that are going to make the playoffs from the NFC East. Dallas is, on paper probably as good as any team in the NFC, we all saw the Eagles make it all the way to the Super Bowl a year ago. Statistically, nobody has won in the NFC East two times in a row in twenty years and it's really tough to make it back to the Super Bowl when you were there the year before. So, I think the Giants are going to be very solid. They may end up winning 10 games and end up missing the playoffs, maybe that's just how the NFC stacks out. But I think this year you're going to see a lot of consistency from a year ago and that has to be encouraging to Giants fans.?
Lou: Just because it's the Patriots, would it surprise anyone if they went out and won this ridiculously good division?
Jeff Thurn: "I think it would surprise me. I don't know we are to the point now where they're sort of treading in the waters of mediocrity and I don't feel sorry for the Patriots because it feels like when the Patriots fans don't win a Super Bowl after winning so many that they feel like Oh my God, whoa is us! Listen man, they had the best run ever over a fifteen to twenty year period. I know amnesia becomes a part of the conversation but I think in that organization it feels like we're very close to the end for Bill Belichick. Brady is already gone, they are trying to do as much as they can at Offensive Coordinator to help out their young QB in Mac Jones but I just don't look at Mac Jones and go man, he can carry a team like Aaron Rodgers, Mac Jones can carry a team like Tua, Mac Jones can carry a team like Josh Allen. I'd be very concerned this year if I'm a Patriots fan, I feel like they'll be in the top half of the draft next year. I'm not saying they're going to have a four win season but I just don't feel like it's going to be all roses and rainbows in New England, I think it's going to be a tough one this year"
What I heard:
- Pats will suck
- Jets are in too tough a division to be a winner
- Giants will be solid
Something I was surprised to hear:
- Hearing Tua's name in the same sentence as Josh Allen did not feel right, I don't think Tua is good enough to carry that team or any team.
- The Cowboys are not as good as any team in the NFC
But we can debate those points another time, thankfully Jeff has agreed to come back.
Check out the uncut, full interview with ESPN's Jeff Thurne below.
Jeff will join us each Monday during the NFL Regular Season at 9:20 EST to recap the pro football weekend.