Snap Judgments (cont.)
I'll say this much for new Bucs head coach Raheem Morris: He's got an infectious level of enthusiasm, and no shortage of self-confidence. Before he got the Bucs job at the age of 32, he interviewed for the Broncos job two weeks earlier. And if he does say so himself, he nailed the interview.
"I walked out of that interview, and I felt like Michael Jordan having just passed over (Cavs guard Craig) Ehlo and hit the jump shot at the top of the key,'' Morris said. "Walking out of there, I knew it wasn't going to take long [to be a head coach]. Now I didn't know it was going to be two weeks later, you know, but I got the feeling, 'Hey, this is what I want to do.''
Whenever Morris has seen embattled Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels this week at the annual meeting, he reminds himself that McDaniels' fate could have been his own. After all, the Bucs and Morris tried to trade for Jay Cutler, so he knows a little something about getting mixed up in the Cutler saga.
"Josh has his own issues right now,'' Morris said, laughing. "I'll let him deal with that. He's taking a lot of heat off me. I shook his hand the other day and I'm happy to see him. I'm just slipping around here incognito in this place. It's nice.''
Morris got the job in Tampa Bay in part because he has great relationships built with players in the Bucs locker room. That's something that ex-Bucs head coach Jon Gruden couldn't claim. But he was ready for my question Wednesday when I asked if there were any downside to being close to his players.
"There's a potential downside to anything,'' he said. "It's like too many Cheerios. Eat too many Cheerios, it's going to be bad for you. For me, we're in a relationship business. Who we kidding? I don't think I can go wrong having relationships with people.''
Is that true, about eating too many Cheerios?
49ers head coach Mike Singletary basically promised he won't be dropping trou at halftime of any of his games this season. Sounds like one preseason prediction that has 100 percent chance of coming true.
"The biggest thing I learned my first year was that at halftime, you have to be a little more careful with the things you do, that you're not always by yourself,'' Singletary said, pointing his sense of humor at himself. "That's the biggest thing I learned, and I learned that quickly.''
I don't know about you, but I can't listen to Singletary, with that deep, baritone voice of his, without feeling like I'm watching NFL Films. I think I could listen to the guy read a phone book. And even better, I loved what he said when I asked him about the pressure that's on new NFL head coaches to win now, thanks to all the first- and second-year success of so many new hires the past two seasons.
"It should be [a win-now league],'' he said. "It should be. If that's what it is, that's what it is. To me, I'm not thinking about hopefully they understand we don't have this, or hopefully they understand it takes time. I'm not there.
"I want to get there yesterday.''
Speaking of new Bay-area head coaches, I came away impressed from my first chance to talk with Raiders coach Tom Cable, although I would quibble with his sense of sports history. In discussing what it would mean to be the guy who returned the Raiders to relevance, Cable showed some selective memory.
"What would it mean? It'd be a thrill,'' he said. "But I can see it happening. I really can. It's just a matter of continuing the path that we're on. The team, they're ready for it. Football is ready for it. I think Oakland is ready for it.
"There's really three storied teams in the history of sports: the Celtics, Yankees, and Raiders, and the Raiders have been not very good for six years now. But I think it's time. I think the sports world is ready for the Raiders again.''
I'll give you the Celtics and Yankees. But the Raiders might just get a little competition from the Steelers, Cowboys, Packers and 49ers when it comes to claiming the title of most-storied NFL franchise.
I think everyone in my business is going to love covering Jets coach Rex Ryan, who churns out colorful quotes at the same rate Eric Mangini churns out bland ones. Asked about Brett Ratliff's chances to win the Jets' three-man (for now) quarterback competition, Ryan cited his 122.5 passer rating in last year's preseason, which led the AFC.
"People say, 'Well, it's against second or third teamers,' but that would be good against air. If he can do that here, he'll probably win the quarterback job.''
And for the record, I don't think it's a good sign for Kellen Clemens' chances in New York's QB race that when one reporter asked Ryan if it was important to let it be known that the Jets were Clemens' team now, Ryan responded: "It's not fair to say that it's his team, so to speak, because this is going to be competition. We've got to do what's best for this football team, and if that means Brett Ratliff is our guy, or Erik Ainge is our guy, we owe it to our football team to put the best guy out there.''
One more Ryan zinger is worth relaying, in response to a question asking him what qualities he's looking for in a quarterback: "We want a guy that's going to lead the league in wins. We don't care about leading it in passing yards, or any of this other stuff.''
Stay with me on this one, but the way I see it, the Jay Cutler saga is all Bernard Pollard's fault. If the Chiefs safety hadn't plowed into Tom Brady's left knee early in the Kansas City-New England Week 1 matchup, knocking Brady out with a season-ending injury, then there would have been no emergence of Matt Cassel.
If Cassel didn't take over and play well in Brady's absence, then there's no big push for anyone to trade for him this offseason. If there's no big push for anyone to trade for him this offseason, then Denver doesn't even consider trading you-know-who.
So don't blame Josh McDaniels. Blame Pollard.
Nobody has the Lions picking USC quarterback Mark Sanchez first overall, but coach Jim Schwartz still has done his due diligence, meeting with Sanchez at last month's scouting combine.
"The first thing I said to him is you look like that dude from Entourage,'' Schwartz said. "You guys [in the media] watch Entourage? And he said, 'Yeah he stole my look.' And then I saw a picture of Mark maybe a year or so ago, and I think it might have been the other way around.''
Quote of the day: From Panthers head coach John Fox, when asked if it was mind-boggling to him that Julius Peppers' $16.6 million franchise-tender cap number this season works out to $1 million-plus per game:
"I don't get into salaries. I don't know what Elton John makes or Bono makes. I'm sure they make pretty good numbers too.''
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