Shurmur and Spags have friendly rivalry
Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo go back a long way.
Both started their NFL coaching careers in Philadelphia under Andy Reid. Shurmur started as a tight ends coach and Spagnuolo was a defensive assistant. They rose through the ranks and eventually were head coaches: Shurmur in Cleveland and Spagnuolo in St. Louis. They're close friends, but they'll put personal feelings aside when the Eagles (2-3) host the Giants (3-2) on Monday night.
''We talk a lot,'' Shurmur said. ''Our wives are very close. We pull for one another and then it just so happens we're competing against one another this week.''
Shurmur was Spagnuolo's offensive coordinator with the Rams in 2009-10 before he got the head coaching job with the Browns in 2011.
''It was a fun couple of years when we were together,'' Shurmur said. ''Learned a lot of football. I think we learned a lot of football together. I wish I would have known some of the things I learned in the last five years that would have helped me do a better job for him then when we worked together.''
Shurmur was 9-23 in his two seasons in Cleveland. He returned to Philadelphia in 2013 on Chip Kelly's staff. Spagnuolo was New York's defensive coordinator when the Giants beat the previously unbeaten Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. He was 10-38 in three seasons coaching the Rams from 2009-11 and worked as an assistant in New Orleans and Baltimore before returning to the Giants this season.
''I got a lot of respect for him,'' Shurmur said. ''He's been very, very successful, very detailed coach, and you can see his fingerprints all over the defense now.''
AS THE WORLD TURNS: After Mike Nugent's 42-yard field goal deflected off the left upright and went through in overtime, giving the Bengals a 27-24 win over Seattle last Sunday, Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter to explain the carom.
''Today's (at)Bengals winning OT field goal was likely enabled by a 1/3-in deflection to the right, caused by Earth's Rotation,'' the astrophysicist explained.
Uh, OK. When asked about the scientific explanation that kept the Bengals unbeaten, they were at a loss for words.
''I think the Earth rotates all the time, doesn't it?'' quarterback Andy Dalton said. ''Mike made it and that's all that matters.''
Asked if he takes the planet's spin into account on his deep passes, Dalton smiled and said, ''Yeah, I've got to adjust for that.''
SEEING YELLOW: Bills coach Rex Ryan's decision to distribute wristbands to his players with the words ''Yes Sir!'' written on them proved successful in reducing penalties in a 14-13 win over the Tennessee Titans last week.
A week after being flagged 17 times for 135 yards in a 24-10 loss to the New York Giants, Buffalo was penalized just seven times for 62 yards against the Titans. The big issues for Ryan were personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties the Bills - including one against him - were attracting for retaliating against opponents and arguing with officials.
''Yes Sir!'' was a reminder for everyone to walk away and accept the call.
''It wasn't done just to be a gimmick,'' Ryan said. ''The `Yes Sir!' thing, it's bigger than us individually, and we don't want to let each other down.''
During practice, Ryan also had the entire team do pushups whenever a player committed a penalty. And yet, the Bills got off to a rocky start last weekend. Tennessee's Bishop Sankey muffed the opening kickoff, leaving the Titans set to start on their 2. The play, however, was negated after Buffalo's Marcus Easley was flagged for offside.
Ryan joked his wristband snapped after Easley's penalty.
HANDS OFF!: Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes hasn't quite picked up where he left off with his breakthrough 2014 season. The biggest reason? Flags.
Rhodes has fared relatively well in coverage, but his physical style has gotten him in plenty of trouble with the officials on the field. He's tied with teammate and defensive end Everson Griffen for the most accepted penalties per game in the NFL, with seven each for an average of 1.75 per game. In Minnesota's last game at Denver, Rhodes was flagged for defensive pass interference twice and once for a horse-collar tackle that also drew him a $17,363 fine.
So when the Vikings returned from their bye week for practice on Monday, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray playfully made Rhodes put on a pair of boxing gloves during the portion of the workout reporters were allowed to watch.
''Now you can't grab!'' Gray yelled.
Rhodes took the gag in stride, but there was clearly a purpose to it.
''We want to laugh and joke with him, let me know it's not a thing that coach is insulting you on or anything like that,'' teammate Captain Munnerlyn said. ''We're just trying to get you better.''
TOUGH GUY TALE: In the wake of Dan Campbell's promotion to interim coach of the Miami Dolphins, a story began circulating that exemplified his toughness as a player.
According to the tale, Campbell showed no pain when his appendix burst while he was flying to training camp when with the Dallas Cowboys. Not quite true, he says.
''It didn't burst, no. It sounds like my gut fell out,'' he said. ''I did have the surgery. It was bothering me, and it's a long story. There are some funny bits and pieces to it that I won't get into. But it did not rupture.''
Campbell laughed when asked if it's also untrue he performed the surgery himself.
AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi, Dave Campbell and Barry Wilner, and Sports Writers Joe Kay, Steven Wine and John Wawrow contributed to this notebook.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL