The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• "The Chargers should have been 6-1 at worst with their schedule. It's the back half that is tough. When you look at their weak division and see they are sinking at 2-5, it's not very encouraging. I would never have given the St. Louis Rams a chance in hell to beat San Diego and they blew them out of the water. (The demise) of the Chargers has been one of the biggest shockers."
• "Lovie (Smith) misused his challenges again. If he would have challenged the QB sneak where (Jay) Cutler extended the ball across the goal line before it was knocked out, we could be talking about a different ball game. I understand he did not want to use two (challenges) in a row, but he should have. I still have to put the fault on the offensive line. Cutler is getting hit every play. He's locking onto Johnny Knox and trying to move the ball down the field instead of dinking and dunking it when all they needed was a field goal to tie it. Cutler tried to put (Redskins CB) DeAngelo Hall in the Hall of Fame."
• "That was a train wreck (for Denver vs.) Oakland. Do you think they miss Mike Nolan now? If you remember last year, it was the defense who was carrying them. The Broncos had no answer for (the Raiders') running game. The ability to assemble a solid coaching staff and manage it is one of the most difficult jobs of being a head coach. Why do you Bill Belichick has hired so many young coaches? He is looking for clean slates to teach his way."
• "(Rookie CB) Walter Thurmond is struggling in Seattle. They should have PUP-ed him. Why risk playing a good cornerback if he is not healthy? He is a good player when he is right."
• "Is there any hotter name in coaching right now than Harbaugh (John and Jim)? Maybe you could say Buddy (Ryan)'s kids have it working right now. There is a lot to be said about coming up a coach's son."
• "Look at all the injuries the Eagles have had — (C Jamaal) Jackson, (Kevin) Kolb, (Michael) Vick, (OLT Jason) Peters, (DT Brodrick) Bunkley, (Asante) Samuel — they have had so many key players hurt I can't keep up with them, but they adapt well to what they have and coach what they have."
• "I think the (NFL) owners realize that this is not the time in this world to have a work stoppage, and if they had a work stoppage, I think there is a percentage of fans that would not come back. And when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, it's really a fan-driven profession from the television ratings to marketing to putting butts in the seats. I get enough comments from family and friends — my (family) has been tailgating at games for 15-plus years. They are one of the first 10 people in the parking lot — they have a strip of grass where they sit. There are maybe eight groups that always tailgate there. Five of those groups are saying they are out if they have a stoppage. We're talking about die-hards now. So you can imagine how the fringe (fans) will feel. Now, the West Coast might be a little different than the Midwest. The league could lose fans in Oakland at a faster rate than they do in Green Bay. (The Packers) will always sell out, but (ownership) needs to get that agreement figured out."
• "How many teams have owners that will do what it takes to win? I would guess there are 12-14. Oakland and Seattle have owners who will do what it takes. The Jets definitely have a very supportive ownership group. Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York (Giants) — I think they are all right there around 12. They are fiscally conservative but they will spend. Carolina is iffy to no. Buffalo is a no. Arizona is a no — it let (Karlos) Dansby, (Antrel) Rolle and (Anquan) Boldin leave because of money. You don't have to spend endlessly to win, but you can only go so far in handcuffs."