Around the NFC South

Since we had a lot on the Saints on Saturday -- and I’ll be coming back with more on their playoff loss to San Francisco later Sunday -- let’s take a quick break from New Orleans and look at what’s going on around the rest of the NFC South.

The Atlanta Falcons plan to talk to Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and former Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter about their vacant position at offensive coordinator. Either of these guys would be a good fit. Clements has been a hot name around the league because Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have had so much success in recent years. Jacksonville didn’t have a lot of offensive success in 2011, but Koetter is viewed as one of the league’s better coordinators. This is going to be a huge hire for the Falcons. They have to get a guy that can figure out how to get their very talented offense to achieve.

The Panthers reportedly have hired Steve Wilks as their secondary coach. Makes sense on several levels. Wilks is a Charlotte native and he worked with head coach Ron Rivera in San Diego. Wilks will replace Ron Meeks, who was not retained after three seasons in Carolina.

Scott Fowler compares the rookie season of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton to some of the best rookie seasons in NFL history. He concludes Newton had the best rookie season ever, ahead of some really big names. I can’t say I disagree with my friend and former co-worker.

While reflecting on the season and looking ahead to 2012, Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons will be looking for some “battling souls." In other words, he thinks his team needs to get tougher. I think that’s especially true on defense, where the Falcons have some good talent, but lack a real identity.

Gary Shelton writes that it’s not a good sign that Wade Phillips and Jeff Fisher wouldn’t interview with the Buccaneers for their job as head coach. There’s some truth in that and you have to at least wonder if they were scared off by a team that hasn’t spent a lot of money on free agents in recent years. But Phillips’ situation was unique because the Texans went out of their way to make it attractive for him to stay in Houston. As far as Fisher, a lot of people thought he was the best coach available, but I don’t think the Bucs ever had that opinion and weren’t really chasing him. I know a lot of people are starting to laugh at the Bucs’ coaching search. But I think there’s something to be said for being thorough. They’re not rushing into anything. They’re looking for the best fit for their organization. If they figure out who that guy is, then their process will look good.