1. I think in the wake of Jon Gruden sitting with quarterbacks and working out quarterbacks and examining their mental and physical games, this has been the common question: If Gruden is so good with young quarterbacks, why didn't he ever develop a great one himself?
In his second year as Raider coach in 1999, he got the kind of quarterback he felt was best to win with immediately, Rich Gannon. Early in his Buc tenure, he duplicated that with Brad Johnson. Two veteran quarterbacks, both of whom Gruden used to take those teams deep into the playoffs; he won a Super Bowl, obviously, with Johnson. So that became the way he thought best to win big. Later in his Tampa term, it stopped working, and he suffered for it. Gruden's not going to be one of the patient guys who says, "Let's take our lumps with the young kids.'' He's going to be a win-now guy.
I also think Gruden likes to be known as the fixer, the guy who wins quicker than the other coaches. He fixed the Raiders, then got the Bucs a championship Tony Dungy never got. Gruden's not going to be the guy who you want coaching your team for 12 years, but he's going to be the guy who takes over a pretty good team, gives it shock therapy and a sense of urgency, and has a chance to win quickly.
2. I think, pretty soon, we're going to have to start covering Tom Zbikowski the boxer. He's 4-0 after wiping the canvas with another sap Saturday night.
3. I think I'm amazed at the attention my "redhead quarterback factor'' got in Sports Illustrated this week. I knew things had careened pretty much out of control Saturday morning when one of my favorite radio programs, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me'' on NPR, had a chiding reference to it.
Just to be clear: The coach I discussed this with never said he wouldn't take a red-headed quarterback. He never said he didn't like red-headed quarterbacks. What he did was wonder aloud if it could be a factor. As silly as it seems, he wondered ... the same way he wondered about every other personal and mental and football factor in the guy's life. Some of the factors were quickly dismissed, some were discussed for a long time. The point was, NFL teams consider everything, some of it downright silly. But that doesn't stop them from considering everything.
4. I think this is one very good reason I follow what Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders says, and learn from him: His analysis of every offensive snap in the NFL last season revealed that the Patriots ran plays with two tight ends or more on the field 57 percent of the time last season ... and no other team in football was over 40 percent.
5. I think nothing will really matter with the solidarity of the players -- including the reported interloping law firm with players who "want a seat at the negotiating table'' -- until the specter of missing paychecks becomes real. But I will say this: There are some players, right now, with big offseason workout bonuses who are very angry, and they want their money, and if need be, they're going to be suing someone for it.
6. I think I wouldn't worry too much about the financial health of Roger Goodell. One of his VPs, Paul Hicks, said the other day that he saw one of Goodell's pay stubs in the wake of the commissioner saying he was reducing his salary to $1 for the year until the lockout got solved. "He got a deposit in his bank account of four cents. That's gross,'' said Hicks. He meant gross salary, not, "Boy, that's gross.'' I'll be interested to see the story two months after the settlement, when we find out whether Goodell made $1 for eight or nine months' work, and whether he gets a bonus to make up for it.
7. I think for those of you making plans to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, you should know this: It's on, whether there's a Hall of Fame game or not, and whether there's a labor deal or not. It'd be a muted celebration, I'd imagine, and I can't imagine a way the league and Hall would be able to remove the wet blanket from the day in Canton.
8. I think the biggest question about Judge Susan Nelson issuing an injunction this week -- which I presume she will do -- to kayo the owners' lockout of the players is whether she'll order the league year to start immediately. Will she open the doors and start the league year and order free agency to begin? Or will she issue a stay and say the league can't begin until the appeals court issues a ruling in the case?
Obviously, if free agency begins and teams don't know if there's going to be a salary cap this year, there won't be the willy-nilly spending of some other free-agency periods. And the union could load up with charges of collusion if very good players aren't pursued in the free market. In short, it could exacerbate the situation, not help get closer to a settlement. "I think that is one of the factors that the court is going to seriously look at in determining whether to issue a stay or not,'' said league VP Ray Anderson. "The chaos of starting and stopping free agency is a real risk.''
9. I think this is your last chance to make your Tuesday morning in Boston fun. I'm co-hosting a Lockout Breakfast with New England tackle and player rep Matt Light to benefit his charity, the Matt Light Foundation (mattlightfoundation.org). I have been involved with this charity for a couple years now. It's a good one. He takes severely at-risk high-school boys camping and volunteering and working during the summer to try to get their lives back on track. Light is gathering NFLPA exec Pete Kendall, Broncos player rep Russ Hochstein, plaintiff-in-the-Brady-case Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork and Brian Hoyer to discuss the lockout, free agency and whatever the folks in the audience want to know. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston and I will be along to preview the draft and generally be nettlesome. Would love to see you there. I think you'll love hearing from Pete Kendall, who is encyclopedic about the dispute.
One more thing: We'll have a great, and quite applicable, prize to auction off: autographed Pro Bowl jerseys of three of the named plaintiffs in the case -- Brady, Manning, Brees -- with the front page of the real honest-to-goodness lawsuit the players filed, all in a frame. Now if that's not some one-of-a-kind, only-in-America auction item, I don't know what is. If Light doesn't get his minimum bid Tuesday morning -- $7,500 -- you out there in MMQB land may get a chance to buy it next week. Stay tuned.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. This has to be the sportswriting lead of the week, from New York Daily News baseball writer Andy Martino after watching the Astros and the Mets cavort in the cold and drizzle of CitiField last Tuesday: "Blah blah blah blah rain blah blah blah Niese blah blah Astros blah blah Mets got spanked. Blah blah, 6-1. We really don't know what else to tell you about this one. But we will try: It was cold and wet at Citi Field and the Mets flatlined for one minute shy of three hours against one of the worst teams in baseball. Actually, now the Mets (5-12) are worse than Houston -- and the rest of the National League -- as they slipped below the Astros (6-11). Could there be a less stimulating April ballgame than the one between these sorry opponents? The only appropriate word is blah.''
b. Mets Fever! Catch it!
c. Bruins-Canadiens has to mean more to the players in the game than Yankees-Red Sox mean to those players.
d. All is forgiven, Dice-K. Well, most is. Last two starts: 15 innings, two hits.
e. What have you been eating, Jed Lowrie?
f. Someone obviously woke up Albert Pujols.
g. We'll all know the story of Sam Fuld if he keeps playing at the top of the Tampa Bay batting order the way he's played since Manny left.
h. Coffeenerdness: I'm not saying my brother-in-law makes a really dark dark-roast cup of coffee or anything, but after Easter dinner Sunday, I felt like I had my caffeine intake for 11 days.
i. Beernerdness: It's not fashionable, I'm sure. And it's not going to win me any points with the beer nerds. But I had a couple of Lone Star longnecks the other night, and that's an underrated everyday beer.
j. The Office had a couple of good moments the other night. Number one: Dwight hitting the crickets button on his sound machine when Erin and Gabe had their public breakup at the final edition of the Dundies. The Dundies is impossible to make unfunny, but this show almost was. What happened to the Bushiest Beaver Award? And the Fine Work Award? Stanley certainly deserved that again.
k. Thanks to Bill Curry and Joel Carpenter of Sullivan & Worcester LLP for doing so much to make the Lockout Breakfast happen, by the way. Good people.
l. Please see 12 Angry Men. You won't regret it.
m. Holy cow! That Blackhawks-Canucks series is amazing. A penalty shot for Chicago to tie it in the third? And an overtime goal to send the series to game seven? After Vancouver led the series 3-0? Nothing like the NHL playoffs.
SI Now Live Friday December 6, 2013
SI Now: "Lenny Cooke" documentary details a fallen prospect