Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. When it comes to Logan Mankins and his possible return to the Patriots, I think it would be a surprise if there is any resolution before a new collective bargaining agreement is struck. On big-ticket long-term extensions, most teams are going to wait until they know the rules and that might not be for a while. Still, I took Mankins' remarks this week as a sign that he'll once again hold a hard line whenever negotiations begin.
2. One of the things that stood out to me over the last month is how Twitter is reshaping media coverage of the NFL. All in the last month, Nick Mangold created news by responding to Wes Welker's "foot" news conference, NFL players questioned injured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the NFC championship game, Green Bay Packers players were fighting among themselves about players on injured reserve not being in the Super Bowl photo, and Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie had a heated exchange over the collective bargaining agreement that made headlines.
3. When I thought of what Jeff Fisher was all about in his 17-year tenure with the Oilers/Titans, one word came to mind: Solid. I see that organization taking a bit of a dip in the next few years without Fisher.
4. Some have wondered why Bill Belichick prefers to develop most of his coaches instead of hiring others who are more established and have been part of other programs. I think Belichick would point to what unfolded in Baltimore -- with quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn being let go and some speculating it was because of a clash with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron -- as one example of why he takes the approach he does.
5. I like this Super Bowl matchup between the Packers and Steelers. I'm picking the Packers because I think they will find a way to stop the run and then generate consistent pressure against a so-so Steelers offensive line that looks like it will be without impressive rookie center Maurkice Pouncey.
6. Former Bill Belichick assistants like Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel haven't had the desired success when branching out on their own as head coaches, but personnel executives Scott Pioli (Chiefs) and Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons) have. For those who like philosophical talk on what goes into building a team, with a Patriots twist, this NFL Network interview with Pioli and Dimitroff might be of interest.
7. Last year at this time, most draft analysts had either Ndamukung Suh and Gerald McCoy -- both defensive linemen -- projected to go with the top pick. Then things shifted later to quarterback Sam Bradford. I'm wondering if the same dynamic could be in play this year, because as Dimitroff said in the video clip above, it's hard to pass on the quarterback if things are close. Would Missouri's Blaine Gabbert be worth it for the Panthers at No. 1?
8. Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley has recorded at least one sack in his first six playoff games, proving that he's a big-game player. A second-round draft choice in 2007 -- 46th overall -- Woodley is a reminder that top pass rushers can be found after the first round. It would be interesting to revisit the Patriots' scouting notes on Woodley, as well as other teams, to gain a better understanding on why he might have slipped. Is it really because he is "only" 6-foot-2?
9. In a state of the organization address, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum outlined some of the team's top offseason priorities (detailed by Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com), and it sounds as if 2008 first-round draft choice Vernon Gholston has played his last game with the Jets. Gholston never panned out. I used to believe a first-round miss like that could set a team back for years, but no longer. The Packers are another example of this; they selected defensive lineman Justin Harrell in the 2007 first round and, in part because of injuries, it just hasn't worked out.
10. There aren't too many Patriots-specific angles to pursue with players and coaches from this year's Super Bowl teams, but I'm interested to hear any insight Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers might have from his one season in New England (2008). Also, it will be nice to catch up with Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who broke into the NFL with Pete Carroll and the Patriots in 1997.