The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity:
• "(Broncos COO) Joe Ellis does not know what he does not know (about) running a football team. What he needs is a proven football man who can run the daily operations. That is not John Elway. Elway is a figurehead. They need someone who can come in and stabilize the football operations fast — someone who brings instant credibility and respect at all levels. Fans might like Elway, and the owner might like Elway, and the players might like to have him around. But look at that division. You've got Al Davis, (Chargers GM) A.J. Smith and (Chiefs GM) Scott Pioli in place. I knew John's father, Jack, and he was great guy, but he coached and scouted all his life. He was a grinder. (John) is going to be in for a rude awakening. It reminds me a lot of when (Dan) Marino was tinkering with Miami. Wait until (Elway) finds out how much time it requires."
• "The problem with (Cardinals RB) Beanie Wells (coming out of Ohio State) was his competitiveness, and I don't think that has changed in the NFL. Has he done anything special with the Cardinals? The talent was never a question — it was the want-to."
• "The Redskins would have been better off with Jason Campbell. Everyone wanted to rail (against) the Eagles for letting Donovan McNabb go. The reasons they let him go are becoming very clear now. It was addition by subtraction for the Eagles."
• "Who have the Jets beaten? They have a helluva record, but who have they really beaten? They have not beaten anyone. The Patriots showed how vulnerable they are against the big play."
• "The Saints are the defending world champs and no one is talking about them. They are one game out of first place. They control their own destiny. They only have one conference loss and Atlanta is still on the schedule."
• "San Diego gets lucky sometimes. With (Matt) Cassel out, they can win the division. The coaches that have done a great job are the Raiders'. (Tom) Cable was dead and buried a month ago. Oakland is undefeated in its own division. … I don't know that anyone could handle Al Davis. What you need is a containment strategy."
• "When you look at the Patriots' offense, what really stands out is how smart they are. The receivers run precise routes at the right lengths and know exactly where they are on the field. The line works very well together. The quarterback is one of the smartest in the game. Even their young tight ends — they are rough around the edges, but they are football players. … How many coaches could start that many rookies and have success?"
• "(Jaguars DT) Terrance Knighton has really developed into a solid player. If you look at that line with (DE Jeremy) Mincey and (Austen) Lane, it's not the most talented group, but they get after it and they are fun to watch."
• "You have to understand odds to be a good head coach. You have to come into every game prepared and know what you are up against. When does it make sense to attempt a field goal? You have to research the field. You need to know the conditions. You need to understand situational football and have more than just a gut feel for why things will work. You'd be surprised how unprepared some coaches are coming into games."
• "The owners need to find a way to get the labor situation resolved fast. If it's not done sooner, I don't know that Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden will find jobs. You're talking about some of the best football coaches in the National Football League. They clearly want back in and are good for the game, but there is not a place for them, not with the uncertainty. They are not coming cheap. … You know what suffers — it's the product on the field."