The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• “If you think back to all the New England teams that won Super Bowls, the trademark was vigilante leadership. It was Mike Vrabel, Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour. They did not have the most talented teams when they were winning Super Bowls early on — but if there were any issues or problems that came up in the locker room, they were policed on their own. It is such a key ingredient to winning football.”
• “If you listen to all the reports coming out of Dallas right now, you would think they just won the Super Bowl. Did people not watch what just happened at USC last year? (Former USC defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin was run out of there. It was the same story at the end of his tenure in Tampa Bay. The defense collapsed down the stretch. The guy is 70-some years old. He is done. … I didn’t think the defense was broken in Dallas. They are not addressing the real issues. This was just window dressing. You’ll see. Give it another year and watch what happens.”
• “A lot of good coaches have dropped down to college and are not coming back. I don’t think Nick Saban will ever return (to the NFL). It’s not just the big names. There are a lot of good, veteran assistants too. The resources are better. They’re building their own networks. The players are more open to coaching. When a lot of teams took away (the coaches’) NFL pensions, college became a lot more attractive. I hear it all the time. There’s a reason the quality of play has fallen in the NFL. I’m watching some of the coaching going on, and I’m just amazed how bad it is. This dive-option crap should not be working the way it is. It’s easy to stop. This league is all cyclical. (A Hall of Fame coach) once told me — remember what you are seeing now, because it will all come back. This stuff was around 20 years ago, and it got shut down. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again. … The NFL is and always will be a pocket-passing league. If you want to win, you better have a quarterback who can do it.”
• “Marc Trestman’s offenses were so complex that his players could not learn it. He’s a lawyer who overcooks the game. That is why he has not gotten back in the NFL. Your quarterback has got to be able to understand the offense. There are not many that can handle everything he puts on their plates.”
• “You are going to lose more than you win when you are trying to acquire free-agent talent in the NFL. When there is a market for players and you have to enter recruiting mode, there are a lot of factors that you cannot control. You can be as organized as (heck) and have the best credentials as a scout, but if you don’t have the network to tilt the field in your favor when it is even, you are going to lose more often than not. You can have the network and still not win. … For (Titans COO) Mike Reinfeldt to be let go from Tennessee for not signing Peyton Manning was (unjust).”
• “How is the Cleveland-Baltimore personnel tree doing? I look at all the guys who went to Baltimore and New England and how many of them have gotten jobs and what have they done with them? If you look at it personnel-wise, (former Browns GMs) Phil Savage and George Kokinis went down. (Former Chiefs GM) Scott Pioli went down. The next one about to go down is Terry McDonough in Jacksonville. Jason Licht has bounced around, for good reason. You look at the coaches. You have Eric Mangini. Jim Schwartz is struggling. Josh McDaniels only lasted a few years on his own. Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis have had a few opportunities. Maybe now you know why (Ravens assistant GM) Eric DeCosta does not interview (for GM jobs) when he can stay there and take over for Ozzie (Newsome). It’s smart. There’s Ozzie and one guy in New England (Bill Belichick), and he is the guy who gets it all done.”