Payton, Smith soaring in approval ratings

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

I took a trip over to SportsNation to get a look at the weekly NFL Coach Approval Ratings and was mildly surprised to see that Carolina’s John Fox has climbed out of the basement -- barely -- after the Week 2 games.

Fox was on the bottom last week and the Panthers lost again. His rating (19 percent) isn’t soaring yet, but there were five guys below him at the moment I looked at the voting. Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris was one spot ahead of Fox at 22 percent.

By the way, the Bill Cowher rumors are flying again. I said it before and I'll say it again: I don't see Cowher landing in Carolina even if the Panthers continue to lose and Fox is ousted. Just because Cowher went to North Carolina State and has a house in the Raleigh area doesn't mean he'll end up in Charlotte, which is more than a two-hour drive. Besides, if Cowher is going to coach, my guess is it will be in a bigger market.

Also, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson is a pretty sharp guy and he likes to learn from past mistakes. He hired a big-name, Super Bowl-winning coach once before. That guy's name was George Seifert and he ran the Panthers into the ground. If Richardson's going to make a move (and Fox has to lose a lot more games for that to happen), my guess is he would go with a fast-rising coordinator.

On the other end of the spectrum of approval ratings, New Orleans’ Sean Payton suddenly is a darling. He ranks second only to San Francisco’s Mike Singletary and has a 95 percent rating. Atlanta’s Mike Smith is tied for third at 94 percent. Just curious: Where in the world are the 6 percent who think Smith isn’t doing a good job? I’m guessing Bobby Petrino and Jim Mora must be doing some clicking.

Speaking of clicking, you can cast your vote or just view the approval ratings here.