1. Raheem Morris, Buccaneers coach. There’s a strong perception by some members of media and fans that the Bucs “quit’’ on Morris in Sunday’s loss. When you’re considered the ultimate players’ coach, that’s a horrible sign. The Bucs already have picked up Morris’ contract option for 2012. But it’s tough to see them extending him if things continue going the way they are. Ask the Carolina Panthers how well it works when you let a coach go into a season as a lame duck. Morris bristles when there’s talk about him being on the hot seat. But guess what? He just might be on the hot seat if things don’t improve dramatically in a hurry.
2. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers quarterback. I still think he is an enormous talent. But the Bucs are running the risk of ruining him. Freeman already has thrown 13 interceptions, which is more than he threw all of last season. There’s no doubt Freeman deserves some of the blame. But I think he has been hurt by a supporting cast that has been more than disappointing, and the coaches haven’t put Freeman in positions where he can succeed.
3. Roddy White, Falcons receiver. I’m trying really hard to figure out how White has gone from being perhaps the best receiver in the league last season to a mistake machine this season. He had a pass go off his hands that turned into an interception and was called for two key penalties Sunday. When Julio Jones went down with an injury, the Falcons didn’t even look to White as their go-to guy. Instead, they went to Harry Douglas.
1. Marques Colston, Saints receiver. Colston was incredible on third downs Sunday. He caught four passes on third downs and turned each of them into a first down. He doesn’t get the full credit he deserves because the Saints have so many other weapons on offense and they use them all nicely. But there’s no question the Saints wouldn’t have won Sunday if they didn’t have Colston.
2. Will Smith and Shaun Rogers, Saints defensive linemen. They’re the two players who were the first to get to Michael Turner on the infamous fourth-down play that won the game in overtime for the Saints. Rogers hasn’t had a huge impact most of the season. But he seemed to get a good jump on the snap count and moved right into the hole where Turner was supposed to go.
3. Roman Harper, Saints safety. Yeah, I know people like to say Harper is a liability in coverage and there probably is some truth to that. But Harper is a strong safety, and they often are the weakest member of the secondary when it comes to coverage. He also dropped what should have been an easy interception against Atlanta. But hey, at least he was in the right place in coverage for once. Harper compensates for his shortcomings in other ways. He had a sack and was in on 10 tackles Sunday. Harper has a team-high 6.5 sacks. When’s the last time you saw a safety with 6.5 sacks through 10 games?