Let’s take a look at the top Thursday morning headlines from around the division:
D. Orlando Ledbetter reflects on the comment the elder Jim Mora once made about Michael Vick being a "coach killer." Vick’s inconsistency led to Dan Reeves and the younger Jim Mora getting fired in Atlanta. With Vick turning the ball over a lot, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid suddenly appears to be on the hot seat. I get the argument. But there also have been some times throughout his career when Vick has made coaches look good.
Daniel Cox writes that the Falcons are tuning out talk about them being the best team in the NFL. That’s a smart approach. It doesn’t really matter who is the best team in October. It matters who’s at the top of their game in December and January.
Ron Rivera still is the coach, but I think it’s fair to speculate because everything appears to be in chaos with the Panthers. Charlie Campbell speculates that Mike Holmgren might be a good fit as a coach in Carolina, if Rivera goes. Makes some sense. Holmgren has developed quarterbacks and the Panthers need to get Cam Newton playing to his potential. But owner Jerry Richardson might not go that route. The only time he hired a recycled head coach was when he brought in George Seifert and that was a disaster.
After his firing as general manager Monday, Marty Hurney said the Panthers needed more guys to step up and be leaders. Newton said he’s taking that as a challenge to be more of a leader. If that works, that comment could end up being Hurney’s final significant contribution to the Panthers.
Charlotte city leaders, who are expected to be asked for help with Bank of America Stadium renovations, toured MetLife Stadium, to get a look at a state-of-the art facility. The Panthers haven’t officially asked for government help yet, but city officials seem to expect that’s coming. The best way to get tax payers to go along with this willingly might be for the Panthers to put a better product on the field.
Cornerback Tracy Porter spent the last four years with the Saints before joining Denver as a free agent. Porter said there are no hard feelings and playing the Saints doesn’t make the game special for him. But Porter admitted it will be weird lining up against his teammates.
It took until Wednesday, but defensive end Cameron Jordan finally got credit for a sack and a forced fumble in Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay. Linebacker Will Herring initially got the credit. But the NFL office reviewed film of the play and gave the credit to Jordan.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Rick Stroud writes that the pass defense needs to improve. That’s pretty obvious after Drew Brees tore up the Bucs last week. The Bucs have some talent in the secondary, but they’ve had some trouble with miscommunications. It might also help if the Bucs start generating more of a pass rush than they did Sunday, when Brees wasn’t pressured at all.
Speaking of the Tampa Bay pass rush, Dory LeBlanc has her five keys for Thursday night’s game with the Vikings and one of them is for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Michael Bennett to be more active. If any of Tampa Bay’s defensive linemen have a chance to put consistent pressure on Christian Ponder, it’s these two. They have to get more pressure on Ponder than they did on Brees.