Quote of the Week I
"over-RATED! over-RATED! over-RATED!''
Quote of the Week II
"So much for being rusty.''
Quote of the Week III
"I didn't know who the heck I was as a football coach. What transformed for me, before getting to USC -- between New England and SC -- was really, I had an epiphany of what was most important to me as a football coach. In that process of putting those thoughts together, it kind of just solidified a mentality and an approach that now has been put in practice for 10 years.
"I feel like I'm bringing a very, very clear message to our football team when we get in our meeting room. When we start this thing off, they're going to know where I'm coming from, because I know where I'm coming from ... The whole challenge here is to get the whole organization on the same page, everybody understands where we're coming from, what we're all about, where we're going, what we're doing. I didn't know that then. I didn't know it. And I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that I [was] coaching an NFL club and I didn't have my act together.''
Quote of the Week IV
"A number I think would be interesting would be eight. And no, that's not the amount of touchdown passes Green Bay gave up against Arizona . That's the number of touchdown passes we gave up all season. And the biggest reason for that is Darrelle Revis.''
Quote of the Week V
"Am I worried about him getting a reputation for dropping the football? No. Because let's be honest -- he's earned it.''
The Fine Fifteen
The top three teams are pretty close, and I am becoming a believer in the Jets ... because if you can't run well against them, and if you can't make big plays, then what exactly can you do? I don't have a great conviction on any of them being the best. But I thought the Vikings played the best 60 minutes of the weekend, so they're on top headed into championship Sunday.
1. Minnesota (13-4). Showdown at the Superdome Corral. Favre-Brees. Thirteen years ago this week, Brett Favre won his Super Bowl at the Superdome. He'll have slightly fewer fans on his side Sunday night.
2. Indianapolis (15-2). Maybe we can throw Joe Montana into the argument, but in my 25 years covering the NFL I've not seen a quarterback handle the clock inside of two minutes better than Manning. At the end of the first half Saturday night, you saw Manning motion to the sideline, and to coach Jim Caldwell, to let him run one more play with seven seconds to go before attempting the field goal.
3. New Orleans (14-3). What I liked about the Saints on Saturday: After the first snap of the game, the Saints allowed 289 total yards to a team that scored 51 points last week. That's the kind of defensive effort that will be vital Sunday night in NFC title game.
4. New York Jets (11-7). "We all know everyone wants to see Favre and Manning in the Super Bowl,'' Bart Scott told me in the tunnel after the game, "but we're the party-crashers. Watch out.'' By the way, if the Rams had picked Mark Sanchez and left the Jets quarterback-less in the draft last year, I am sure Rex Ryan would have been on the first plane to Mississippi to convince Favre to play. I'm curious about what Favre would have done. I think he would have balked at first and insisted on staying retired. But then? Who knows? From the looks of Favre yesterday, it might not have been a bad outcome.
5. San Diego (13-4). If the Chargers and Jets played again, I think the Jets would win again. I am stunned at how the Chargers couldn't run worth a darn and never pressed the envelope with downfield throws. This game is a strike against a lot of the players we all thought were big-time, none more than Nate Kaeding and Philip Rivers.
6. Dallas (12-6). I thought the Dallas defensive front would be too much for Favre. Turns out the Minnesota defensive front was too much for the Cowboys, and would have been even if Flozell Adams didn't go down with a first-half injury. Ray Edwards and Jared Allen outplayed DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
7. Arizona (11-7). No question in my mind: Since the start of the 2008 season, Ken Whisenhunt has done the best job of any head coach in pro football.
8. Baltimore (10-8). If Ozzie Newsome doesn't restock the receiver position, and Joe Flacco doesn't stay healthy, 2010 will be Groundhog Day for the Ravens. Just not enough offensive firepower to play with the big boys.
9. Green Bay (11-6). The team's not broken, Ted Thompson. Massage it, don't do surgery.
10. Philadelphia (11-6). Only a matter of time before trusted personnel man Howie Roseman is named GM, replacing Tom Heckert.
11. New England (10-7). Dean Pees: jump or pushed?
12. Pittsburgh (9-7). Too bad they couldn't have convinced Bobby April to come and fix special teams.
13. Carolina (8-8). I still say what I've said for three weeks: John Fox is most likely to coach out his contract, then be one of the lead dogs in the coaching market next offseason.
14. Cincinnati (10-7). Good to see Mike Brown step up and sign defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to a new deal -- though with Buffalo having no interest in Zimmer as a head coach and Washington hiring Jim Haslett to be defensive coordinator, I'm not sure Zimmer had many options.
15. Houston (9-7). I like Gary Kubiak being given another year.
NFL Truth & Rumors