How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch

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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas


Fox John Fox, coach, Panthers. This time, there are no lightning rods around Fox. He’s got a 0-3 team and the blame all falls on the coach. His seat is getting very hot and fans again are starting the rumblings for Bill Cowher.

In the past, Fox has used coordinators or injuries as scapegoats. That’s not going to fly this time around. If the Panthers don’t turn things around immediately, Fox’s days will be numbered.

Turner Michael Turner, running back, Falcons. Is “The Burner’’ burned out? He was held to 56 yards (on 15 carries) by the Patriots. For the season, Turner is averaging 3.5 yards a carry. That’s a full yard less than he averaged last season.

You have to start worrying if the Falcons might have gone to the well too often last season when they gave Turner 376 carries.

Leftwich Byron Leftwich, quarterback, Buccaneers. Leftwich’s stint as a starter didn’t even last three full games. He got pulled during the game against the Giants and Josh Johnson has been selected to start against the Redskins.

Leftwich has been dropped to No. 3 with rookie Josh Freeman moving up to the backup role. The problems went way beyond Leftwich. He took the fall for the entire offense and you probably won’t see Leftwich back on the field again as the Bucs go with youth.


Williams Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator, Saints. He was hired to bring a legitimate defense to New Orleans. Mission accomplished. When Sunday’s game was close and on the line, the New Orleans defense kept forcing Buffalo to punt.

That kind of thing just didn’t happen for New Orleans last year. But Williams’ aggressive approach has brought pressure for quarterbacks and turnovers. With an offense that already was good, continued improvement by the defense could make the Saints scary.

Thomas Pierre Thomas, running back, Saints. Turns out Thomas had the flu in the days leading into Sunday’s game. He also was coming back from a knee injury. None of that mattered.

With Mike Bell out with a knee injury, Thomas gave the Saints a very consistent running game.

Jahri Evans, guard, Saints. We’ll make it a sweep for the Saints because they were the only victorious NFC South team this week. Evans Evans doesn’t get a lot of attention, but this guy quietly has developed into one of the league’s best guards and he’s the anchor of what’s become a very good offensive line.

That unit hasn’t missed a beat with left tackle Jammal Brown out with an injury and Evans and fellow guard Carl Nicks are big parts of the reason the Saints suddenly are able to run the ball with some consistency.