Hitting the NFC South hot spots

Let’s hit some Christmas morning hot spots around the NFC South.

Scott in Lansing, Mich., says that I should wait until Matt Ryan wins his first career playoff before I declare him a better quarterback than Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees.

Pat Yasinskas: I think my opinion and the parameters for it were totally clear. All I said is that I believe, in the first 14 games of this season, Ryan has been slightly better than Brees. I didn’t say he’s had a better career or anything close to that. In fact, I said, if I were coaching an NFC South all-star team, Brees would be my quarterback. There’s no doubt he’s had a better career than Ryan has so far. But that particular point was limited specifically to what Brees and Ryan have done this season.

Russell in Denver, N.C., says I appear to be jumping on the anti-Jimmy Clausen bandwagon with everyone else. Russell says Clausen may not be the answer, but he hasn’t been given a fair shot.

Pat Yasinskas: Wow, generally, Carolina fans tell me that I’ve gone too easy on Clausen and they like to point at the rookie quarterback as the root of all evil. Maybe I was a little more harsh on Clausen than usual in my wrap-up of Thursday night’s loss to the Steelers. But, overall, I agree with Russell. Clausen hasn’t been given a fair shot at all. The offense is in total disarray and coach John Fox has gone out of his way to make things tough on Clausen -- making him spend much of training camp behind Hunter Cantwell, who didn’t even make the team, and yanking the rookie several times. Bottom line on this, my opinion on Clausen hasn’t really changed because I don’t really have an opinion on Clausen. I don’t think you can judge much on him this season because he’s been put in an impossible situation. I’d at least like to see the kid get a look in a real offense and with a coach who isn’t trying to make a statement by setting him up for failure.

Ricky in Los Angeles asks if Tampa Bay’s rash of injuries are just bad luck or if the strength and conditioning staff deserves some blame.

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t think there is any big conspiracy theory behind this one. Football is a tough game, injuries happen and the Bucs have been hit pretty hard by them. Simple as that.

Tom in Baltimore writes: Think about the quarterbacks in the NFC South if the Panthers draft Andrew Luck with the first pick -- Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman and Andrew Luck. That would be ridiculous.

Pat Yasinskas: I do think about that possibility quite often. If Luck enters the draft, the Panthers almost have to take him. If he’s anywhere close to the hype, that would give the NFC South four franchise quarterbacks. Could make my job fun for a very long time. Ryan and Freeman are probably going to be going strong for at least another decade and Luck would be in the same age bracket. Brees is older than the rest, but it looks like he has quite a few good years left in him.