The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• "You want to know why the Saints have struggled? (Saints C) Olin Kreutz was just barely hanging on. Is (Bears C Roberto) Garza better than Kreutz would have been this year? The answer is yes. Kreutz can't get to the second level anymore or run-block, and that's what made him great. Not having (Jonathan) Goodwin is really hurting the Saints right now. For some reason, Jahri Evans is not playing as well. The new offensive line is hurting the Saints right now. Zach Strief is hurt. Charles Brown is awful. Carl Nicks is the only guy playing strong on the line right now."
• "Defensively, what's hurting the Saints is the play of the middle linebacker. Jonathan Vilma has been beat up. He's not playing the same. And the cornerbacks are struggling. Patrick Robinson was a first-round pick. He's playing like a free agent. He's not getting it done. (Tracy) Porter can't stay healthy. The back seven is vulnerable."
• "I'm not sure (Falcons MLB Sean) Weatherspoon will ever get it done. Can he run fast? Yes. But he's out of position so much. He is reactionary — he does not anticipate anything."
• "You can blame Jon Gruden for running the horse too hard. You remember when Cadillac Williams came into the league? I haven't seen anyone run like that since Earl Campbell. He ran so hard, but coaches have got to protect players from themselves sometimes. (Williams) has not been the same since his first year. He wasn't big enough to run the way he does."
• "If you watch the Niners closely this year, you will see the offense is not sophisticated. Who did Jim Harbaugh learn from? Bo Schembechler. Bo was his biggest idol. He loves Bo, and he's playing Bo-type football and loving it. Run the football, keep the game simple for the quarterback and play great defense. He's gone back to the 1970s. He's playing Lombardi-Shula-type football."
• "(Vikings head coach) Leslie Frazier is pretty calm on the sideline, but that is just Leslie. You have to be who you are. When you try to be something you are not, players see through it. … I'll be very honest — if you want to know why the Vikings are where they are right now — I think you have to look at the control the last coach (Brad Childress) had on the 53(-man roster). He cut (Buccaneers OLT) Donald Penn and (Bengals C) Kyle Cook. He cut Mewelde Moore and said he wasn't good enough — he's played pretty well in Pittsburgh the last four years. He traded Sage Rosenfels. Do they need Donovan McNabb this year if Sage is still there? I don't think so. I think it would have been a much smoother transition for everyone. The way (Childress) handled Randy Moss was another thing. They still haven't recovered from what he did to the roster. Having coaches who do not know anything about personnel in charge of the roster is a problem. They are too short-sighted."
• "I have not been impressed at all with the job (Dolphins offensive coorinator) Brian Daboll is doing. He does not understand matchups at all. Darrelle Revis is the best cover cornerback in football. I would recommend not throwing the ball his way. Who is going to stand in the middle of the ring and go toe-to-toe with Muhammad Ali or throw punches with Mike Tyson? Were there many basketball players that would say — 'hey coach, I got Michael Jordan one-on-one, I don't need any help.' Are you kidding me? (Daboll) is setting his players up to fail. This game is not nearly as difficult as a lot of young coaches and coordinators make it out to be."
• "(Giants DE Jason) Pierre-Paul has really come along well. He is playing better this year. I have been pleasantly surprised. The defensive line coach there (Robert Nunn) is underrated."