How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch

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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas


Delhomme 1. Jake Delhomme, quarterback, Panthers. It’s over. Sad to say because Delhomme’s done a lot for this franchise through the years and there might not be a nicer guy in the NFL. But he’s not getting the job done and Carolina’s season is quickly spinning out of control.

John Fox is scrambling for his job and that means he’ll probably turn to Matt Moore or A.J. Feeley (like either of those guys will make any difference). But Carolina clearly has to do something drastic and that means benching Delhomme.

2. Brent Grimes, Chris Houston and Chevis Jackson, cornerbacks, Falcons. We’ve known since the preseason that this was a problem spot for the Falcons. They brought in veteran Brian Williams and he briefly stabilized things. But Williams is gone for the season with an injury.

It’s time for the kids to stand on their own feet, but against the Cowboys they just kept stumbling and other teams are watching the film. Think Sean Payton might have a few ideas on how he can exploit these guys Monday night?

Abraham 3. John Abraham, defensive end, Falcons. The effort is still there, so I’m not saying Abraham’s pulling a Julius Peppers. But maybe age is catching up to a guy who’s been an elite pass-rusher throughout his career.

Abraham’s not showing up very much and that leaves the Falcons without very much of a pass rush. That’s another reason why the cornerbacks are struggling.


Brees 1. Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints. Brees’ stock has been at an all-time high pretty much all season, so it’s hard to make a case that it got stronger. But that’s exactly what happened Sunday against the Dolphins. Brees added to his lore in a new way.

He started off terribly, throwing three interceptions as the Saints fell behind by 21 points. Then, he rallied his team to victory. That’s the mark of a true leader. That’s the mark of an elite quarterback. All further proof that Brees deserves to be at or very near the top in discussions of elite quarterbacks.

Sharper 2. Darren Sharper, safety, Saints. Another week, another interception return for a touchdown. It seems like this guy makes big plays every week. Has there been a better free-agent pickup than Sharper anywhere this season? I don’t think so.

At this point, Sharper has to be a strong candidate for the defensive player of the year award. Heck, he’s producing more offense than Tampa Bay’s offense.

Freeman 3. Josh Freeman, quarterback, Buccaneers. We’re not saying his stock is soaring because of anything he did in his brief debut in London. We’re just saying it’s obvious the Bucs are ready to hand things off to their first-round draft pick.

Maybe the change can provide some sort of spark for a team that has nothing positive going for it. But don’t expect this kid to come right in and be a miracle-worker right from the start. He’s got a lousy team around him.