"The lockout's weird, man. I was in New Orleans yesterday visiting the Saints. I'm looking around, and their strength coach [Dan Dalrymple] is there, just looking for somebody to coach, somebody to start lifting. Weird.''
-- Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, to me on Friday, after a visit to the Saints' camp in Louisiana.
Which leads me to this rejoinder:
"Yeah, it's tough. Our strength coach moved the StairMaster four inches to the left today. He's going to polish all the machines tomorrow.''
-- Sean Payton, on Gruden's observation about the activities of the coaching staff.
"The stat guys are idiots. I mean it very strongly.''
-- CBS analyst Phil Simms, to The Big Lead.
Simms was asked about a stat I had in this column recently, quoting Mel Kiper saying Blaine Gabbert had completed 44 percent of his throws on third down at Missouri last fall, while Andrew Luck was 71 percent on third down at Stanford. The inference being, of course, that not only was Luck a better prospect but also, seemingly, better on the most important down, which some might take to mean he's a better clutch player. If you're 27 percentage points better on third down, it's a brick in the wall (to me, anyway) that you're a better quarterback than the much-lesser guy on third down. A brick in the wall, I might add -- not incontrovertible proof.
This, apparently, made Simms go volcanic for some reason. I'll leave the emphasis the way The Big Lead wrote it for the rest of Simms' quote about third-down efficiency for quarterbacks: "That means nothing. I could not care less. My face gets red thinking about that stat. WHO CARES! Well get him out of there on third down! Keep him in on first and second down! You're not drafting his college coach or his college team. You're drafting Blaine Gabbert. These numbers ... why do I need numbers? ... Believe what your eye tells you. I have never looked at one quarterback ever on tape through all the years and then when it's done, I have never even thought, 'What were his numbers?' I never have. It has never even crossed my mind.''
Wow. The anger. What makes a man go off on statistics?
"If he's not a top 10 player [in this draft], then I quit.''
-- Simms, on Ryan Mallett, the Arkansas quarterback, to Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan, on Sirius NFL Radio's "Moving the Chains.''
I might want to put a latte on that one right there.
A gem from Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson, the longtime Bengal authority:
If the Bengals don't pick a quarterback with the fourth overall pick in the April 28 draft, common wisdom says, "They could wait to pick a quarterback with their high second-round choice, or trade up from their slot in the second round to get the quarterback of their choice late in the first round.''
One problem with that. Hobson checked the Cincinnati draft history recently and found the Bengals have traded up two times in 43 previous drafts. That's correct -- two trade-ups in 43 years.
Last year, there were 23 trades made to move up in the draft. San Diego made more in a weekend, three, than the Bengals have made in their history.
In other words, if you're making up your mock draft this week, and you want to give the Bengals a quarterback, it might be a good idea to do it in the first round.
Boomer Esiason turned 50 yesterday. Did you know how big a hockey person he is? For his birthday, he sat in his 12th-row-behind-the-visitors-bench seats at Game 3 of the Caps-Rangers series at Madison Square Garden (I bet you a latte he booed Ovechkin on the Cap star's second-period goal), and last night he played for his Long Island recreation hockey team, the Wasps, against the Flying Squirrels.
Just a quick one this week, from the Acela Quiet Car. Had a trip from New York to Boston the other day, and was whispering (truly) to the man in the seat next to me. After about three minutes of that, a man directly behind us said, "Excuse me. Sorry, but no conversations on the Quiet Car.''
That's not entirely true. Very quiet conversations like the one we were having are allowed. But this Quiet Car was so quiet that people across the aisle and diagonally in front of us were giving us looks, and I realized how much we were stretching the bounds of quietude. So we shut up, got up and resumed our conversation in the café car.
That is one quiet Quiet Car.
"I missed the first two calls from #Alabama DT Marcell Dareus for a phone interview and he called back a 3rd time. That's one fine young man.''
--@MaryKayCabot, Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Saturday at 4:55 p.m.
"Best. Shooter. Ever."
--@AaronRodgers12, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, minutes after Ray Allen's three-point bomb near the end of the game lifted the Celtics to an 87-85 victory over the Knicks in the opener of their playoff series Sunday night.
Ryan Getzlaf leads Ducks past Stars 3-2 in Game 2
Pavel Datsyuk's late goal leads Red Wings to Game 1 win over Bruins