ONE GIANT LETDOWN
"Why on God's green earth is Jalen Hurts not in the game?"
"This is sickening."
"You play to win the game, point blank period. J.J. Watt said it best the other day outside of how it [affects] us, this just disrespectful to the game"
-- New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton was beside himself watching Sunday Night Football, when the Philadelphia Eagles had pulled quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld during the third quarter. Had the Eagles beaten the Washington Football Team, this would have given the 6-10 Giants the NFC East division and thus a slot in the playoffs.
"I think the Eagles just hate us more than Washington. That's the only thing that could make sense right?"
-- New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate believed that this was, in fact, an effort to spite the Giants out of a playoff spot.
"Can someone make it make sense to me, what's going on…?"
-- New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley took to Twitter in search of answers about this game, to which Golden Tate replied, "Not integrity." (NFL.com)
"Obviously, players have asked me throughout the day and I just can't express that, the one thing to keep in mind with this season is we had a lot of people opt into this season, OK? Coaches, players, that includes family members, as well. So, to look at a group of grown men who I ask to give me effort on a day-in, day-out basis and to empty the tank and then I can look them in the eye and assure them I'm always going to do everything I can to put them at a competitive advantage and play them in a position of strength. To me, you don't ever want to disrespect those players and their effort, disrespect the game.
"The sacrifices that they made to come into work every day and test before coming in, to sit in meetings spaced out, to wear masks, to have shields over those masks, to go through extensive protocols, to travel in unconventional ways, to get text messages 6:30 in the morning telling them, 'practice is going to be canceled, we have to do a virtual day,' to tell them, 'please don't have your family over for Thanksgiving,' 'please avoid Christmas gatherings,' 'we know it's your wife's birthday, let's make sure we put that one off to the offseason.'
"There's a number of sacrifices that have been made by all the players and coaches in this league. There's a number of sacrifices that come along, as well, with the family members and the people connected to them. To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success for the NFL, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win. We will never do that as long as I'm the head coach of the New York Giants."
-- New York Giants head coach Joe Judge let his true feelings fly about the Eagles' in-game decision-making, citing the effort all members of his organization put in by opting into this particular season of NFL football. Judge did note that the Giants had "16 opportunities" to control their fate this season and make the playoffs on their own merit. (NFL.com)
IT'S NOT ABOUT SIZE, IT'S ABOUT HOW YOU USE IT
"Just to all the young kids out there that's not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing because I'm not the biggest. I've been doubted a lot just because of my size, and really it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big. If you put your mind to it, you can do it, and just keep believing in God, and you'll get where you want to be."
-- An excerpt from Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith's Heisman Trophy acceptance speech, giving hope to all the youth that may not be the biggest on their football teams. (Bama Central)
NOT YOUR AVERAGE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
"We don't see them as a 7-9 team, we see them as a 4-1 team because every time Alex Smith has played, they went 4-1 and had a plus-three turnover margin. It's a different team when Alex is playing and we know that. We're playing that 4-1 team, not that 7-9 team."
-- Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is taking his team's wild-card round matchup against the Washington Football Team seriously, considering the difference in record when quarterback Alex Smith is at the helm. (Buccaneers.com)
PUTTING THE NBA'S DISNEY BUBBLE TO SHAME
"I brought up the idea of testing 50,000 people and quarantining them in a hotel and having the most safest Superdome known to man, scientifically. Bus them, they've tested every day, and you've got a COVID-free facility."
-- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton jokingly (I think?) floated the idea of turning the Superdome into a bubble of 50,000 fans prior to the playoffs in order to create home-field advantage. (Luke Johnson, New Orleans Advocate via Twitter)
JUST ANOTHER COLOR IN THE RAINBOW
"I think they're still the same Browns teams I play every year. I think they're nameless gray faces. They have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don't know. The Browns is the Browns."
-- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn't seem particularly phased by facing off against the division-rival Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round. (Tom Withers, AP via Twitter)
UNDER THE HOOD
"How cool he was. I really thought it was like, 'Oh my goodness, he's going to be that principal you never want to see in the hallways.' … But he's a guy you just want to have a drink with. I bet he'd be so dope at a bar. He has stories out the wazoo."
-- New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton revealed that the most surprising thing to him about head coach Bill Belichick was simply how cool he was. (The Greg Hill Show, WEEI)
A 7-SEED HAS TECHNICALLY NEVER WON BEFORE
"I feel like for me there's never no pressure. Like coach said, when you're the 7 seed, everybody expects you to fail. That's the mindset. Everybody's sharing that: you failed. Crazy that everybody said that the Bills was going to win. Everybody's counting us out, so we just go in there and just be us. We don't have to do nothing more, we don't have to do nothing less. Just be us, control what we can control and that is playing great fundamental football and hopefully we can come out with a victory. But pressure? Nah. We don't have any pressure on us."
-- Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard and the rest of the team are playing the "nobody believes in us" card heading into this week's playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. This was Leonard's response when asked if there's pressure on the Colts this week. (WXIN Indianapolis)
A BULLISH BEARS TEAM
"I think we definitely need to open it up a little bit. As far as staying aggressive, I like going for it on fourth down. That's just a mindset, but I think, more importantly, we've got to score more touchdowns in the red zone. ...
"Our special-teams unit is doing incredible, and we gotta keep that going. But we gotta help our team and put our defense in better positions by finishing with touchdowns. That just makes you a better offense and better team, so I think that's the main improvement we want to see this week."
-- Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky knows that, to beat the Saints, he and the Bears offense would need to change things up and take more risks on offense. In Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers, only seven of Trubisky's 42 passes traveled deeper than 10 yards downfield (per NFL Next Gen Stats). (Chicago Sun-Times)
SPREADING HIS WINGS
"I'm definitely trying to erase that narrative. That's No. 1 on my mind, for sure."
-- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is hoping to win his first playoff game in the NFL, eliminating the narrative that he can't win in the postseason in the process. (Daniel Oyefusi, Baltimore Sun via Twitter)
"I'm going to try to be an extension of Kevin. You guys know my background with him. I understand situational football, so that part won't change, but I'm going to try to do exactly what Kevin would want in those situations."
-- Cleveland Browns acting head coach Mike Priefer will be filling in for Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be on the sidelines for the upcoming wild-card game. Priefer will try to emulate Stefanski the best he can.
"I'll keep it short and sweet, I promise."
-- Priefer on the pregame speech. (NFL.com)
THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL MEDIA
MAKE MC HAMMER PROUD THIS WEEKEND
Think this team is staying loose?
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) January 7, 2021
-- The Buffalo Bills break it down to the iconic "U Can't Touch This" at practice.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Even Adam Thielen's son is hitting the Griddy 😂 @Vikings
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 5, 2021
-- Even Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Theilen's son is doing The Griddy at home.