"I am still chewing on last week. That's just the nature of this thing. It's not going to be just one performance to take that stench off of us.''
-- Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, after the Steelers skunked the Seahawks at home Sunday. The stench-filled game to which he referred was the resounding loss to Baltimore in Week 1.
"It's baffling to me. I don't have any answers.''
-- Miami coach Tony Sparano, after the Dolphins lost their second game in six days at Sun Life Stadium Sunday, this one to Houston.
"When Mike really needed them, they turned their back on him in my opinion. They could have been a big supporter and they let him go. I wasn't there so I don't know the organization's standpoint, but I thought they could have been more supportive and instead they severed ties with him.''
-- Former Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who drafted Michael Vick to play for the franchise in 2001, to Tim McManus of Philadelphia Sports Daily.
In 2008, after Vick lied to owner Arthur Blank, GM Rich McKay and commissioner Roger Goodell about his involvement in dogfighting, and was sitting in federal prison after being sentenced to 23 months plus three years' probation, and the Falcons were coming off a 4-12 disaster of a season in which the quarterbacks were Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich, and Vick was at least two seasons away from being prepared to resume his career, and a Minnesota judge had ruled Vick could keep $16.3 million of his $20 million bonus in his Atlanta contract while sitting in prison, and while Blank was exchanging letters in prison with Vick -- telling him he hoped he could turn around his life -- the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan to replace Vick at quarterback.
I think all of that just might have led to how the Falcons, in Reeves' eyes, "turned their back'' on Vick. Might.
"I spent a lot of time in those funky months, when I was painting fields and smelling awful ... and sitting down at lunch time with paint all over me, just thinking about how incredibly downtrodden my life was at this time, thinking that my life was supposed to be so much different from it was at this point.''
-- Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff, on my podcast with him this week, on beginning his NFL career as a Cleveland Browns groundskeeper in 1992.
What a difference two decades make.
I wrote something in SI's pro football preview issue that is coming to life in New England. Actually, it started coming to life long before I wrote that story about defenses morphing from one thing to another on a play-by-play basis, rendering the 3-4/4-3 discussion of what a team runs pretty much moot.
Last Monday, the supposedly 3-4 Patriots lined up on defense 77 times (73 official plays, four nullified by penalty) and this is how often they played a 3-4: zero times.
According to the film analysts at ProFootballFocus.com, who look at every one of a team's offensive and defensive snaps, these are the formations used by New England in the 38-24 victory over Miami (first number, of course, the linemen, second number the linebackers, third the defensive backs): 3-3-5 ( used 22 times), 4-2-5 (20 times), 4-3-4 (15 times), 3-2-6 (14 times), 2-3-6 (4 times), 5-4-2 (once), 6-3-2 (once).
It's wrong to say that Pats have abandoned the three-man front. Clearly, by running 22 nickel snaps with three linemen and five defensive backs, they haven't. But it's also clear that with the addition of bigger and penetrating defensive tackles, like Albert Haynesworth (and the versatile Shaun Ellis), Bill Belichick feels comfortable running the four-man lines much more. Half the game, basically, the Patriots lined up in a four-man front.
This isn't to say some teams aren't keeping with tradition. The Steelers played 3-4 on 48 of 66 snaps in the opener against Baltimore, for instance; Tampa Bay played a four-man line on 65 of 75 defensive lineups against Detroit. Just be careful of labeling any team exclusively one way.
In the fourth quarter eight days ago, Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown against Dallas.
In the seven other quarters this year, Burress has no receptions.
Talked to Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler the other day, and he mined this nugget about what happens to an athlete who scores two touchdowns in the first game of the season: "I went from 12 followers to 1,200 on Twitter, basically overnight.'' He was up to 2,067 followers just after midnight this morning @scottchandler84.
On the Acela moving south from Boston Friday morning, the man across the aisle was talking to his daughter (from the sound of it). "Honey, you can't take Elmo to school. You know that ... I promise. Yes, I promise ... Mommy will give you that with your lunch ... Right ... No, no. I'm on the train. I can't sing to you right now. Mommy will sing to you in the car. She sings nice.'' And so forth.
And I thought: I miss having kids running around the house with various minor phobias.
All from Jets wide receiver Derrick Mason, after the mini-tempest that flared Thursday night when the Belichick special aired on NFL Network.
The special profiled Belichick's 2009 season, when he allowed NFL Films cameras to follow him through the season. In one incident, Mason, then a Raven, ran by Belichick and said something to him (you can't quite make it out, but it was offensive to Belichick), causing the coach to say: "Oh, [bleep] you, Mason. Why don't we talk after the game, all right? Just shut the [bleep] up. Can you look at the scoreboard?''
That led to these Friday tweets from Mason (@deemason85):
"Just saw that belichick video things all u ppl are commenting about. He might As well called me boy! Lol total Disrespect.''
"Ppl I'm not the least bit upset with coach messiah excuse me I mean coach bb .. Lol I didn't remember the incident until today.''
He won't forget it for a long time. Neither will Coach Messiah.
"Just saw 10 deer cross the road. How magical! Going to Starbucks?''
-- @nprscottsimon, National Public Radio host Scott Simon, on Sunday morning.
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