Happy gameday! Per his Twitter account, here's what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is rocking on the way to the stadium: Daughtry "It's Not Over", The Cult "Lil Devil", The Dead Weather "Blue Blood Blues." Pretty cool, but we like it best when Coach is rolling with Pantera.
Anyway, on to the morning links…
-- Getting ready for a game against the Miami Dolphins that the New York Jets absolutely have to win (and then, they're STILL not automatically in the playoffs), Mark Sanchez apparently told his team to "Trust me as your quarterback." A little tough to do when the Sanchize posted a 73.8 passer rating in December (the third straight month in which he posted a rating under 80), but that's where things are. Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh believes that Sanchez has a very bright future, but what else is he going to say? It's Cavanaugh's job to get his charges ready for the big time. The time is now for Sanchez to come out from under the "he just wins ballgames" crap and put the team on his shoulders. [NJ.com]
-- Here's Jason Taylor's outgoing message to Dolphins fans. A very nice touch to the end of a Hall of Fame career. [CNBC]
-- Sunday night marks the 100th meeting between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, and very few of those matchups have been this important. It's a plus-one playoff for both franchises, and Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has a surprising amount of brio for a man whose defense has been collapsing all season. Dallas currently ranks 19th in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA metrics, and the last time they took on Eli Manning's team, Manning the Younger put up 400 passing yards in early December.
That hasn't stopped Rob from acting like brother Rex, though. "This is my first year with the Cowboys and I came here because this is the team, this is America's Team," Ryan said on Friday. "That's why I came here. I came to come to the best. I want to be the one that everybody wants to be a part of … They're going down there to watch me become a champion again," Ryan said of his family. "That's what they're there for, all of them. Hell, it's a costly endeavor, but I want them to be there when we win the East, and I'll probably steal a couple T-shirts and make sure they get them. Because that's what we're there for." Ummm … okay. [New York Daily News]
-- Is it meaningful that Jeff Fisher was spotted at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' team hotel on Saturday? The Bucs, losers of nine straight, are in Atlanta, preparing for their season finale against the Falcons. Now, it's true that Fisher's son is a walk-on safety for the Auburn Tigers, who beat Virginia at the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night. But could there be more than one interest addressed while Fisher's in the ATL? Quite possibly — it's common knowledge that Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is probably a goner, and Fisher will be the most prized coaching candidate of the offseason, Bill Cowher or not. [Tampa Bay Tribune]
(Update ... our podcast buddy Peter King reports that Fisher's presence in the Bucs' hotel was just a coincidence.)
-- The New Orleans Saints are upset that their defense won't send a representative to the Pro Bowl this season. A quick look at the game tape and the stats should alleviate any confusion, fellas. [Pro Football Weekly]
-- Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a wonderful column up on football clichés. I think Gene does an excellent job of keeping his head in the game and riding Uncle Mo all the way through. He played his own game, and at the end of the day, proved that all he does is just win ballgames. He really high-pointed this column, asserting that you have to leave it all on the field, and that stats are for losers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]