NFC South Stock Watch


1. The “hot’’ coordinators in the NFC South. New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olson all got outcoached badly in their openers. These are guys whose names come up in conversations when you talk about potential head coaches. If they keep coaching this way, they’ll stay as assistants.

2. Tampa Bay’s pass rush. The Bucs have known for a couple years they needed to get better on the defensive line. That’s why they drafted tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in the first two rounds in 2010 and ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers this year. It didn’t make a bit of difference Sunday. The Bucs didn’t record a sack and allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

3. New Orleans coach Sean Payton. There was a time when there was no room to question Payton’s play calling. But fans started doing it after his decision to run rookie Mark Ingram and take the ball out of Drew Brees' hands on the final play of Thursday night’s loss to Green Bay. New Orleans fans are passionate and they’ve been spoiled by success the past couple of seasons. If the Saints get off to a slow start, they’ll start questioning Payton’s decision to move his family to Dallas.


1. Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. Who’s making a huge mistake now? Not Hurney. Although fans and some members of the media said Hurney was asking for catastrophic results if he drafted Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick, that suddenly is looking like a very smart move. Yeah, Hurney also drafted Jimmy Clausen and Armanti Edwards. But if Newton’s record-setting debut is any indication of the future, he’s going to make things a lot brighter for Hurney and the entire organization.

2. The possibility of a Week 4 local television blackout in Tampa Bay. That’s the "Monday Night Football" game against the Indianapolis Colts. Once upon a time, it was thought the presence of Peyton Manning would guarantee a sellout at Raymond James Stadium. Now, Manning’s hurt. Speaking of hurting, the Bucs’ performance in the opener isn’t going to help sell many tickets.

3. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank. Could he have known about or prevented Michael Vick's downfall in Atlanta? It’s possible. But that’s the past and Vick and Blank made their peace long ago. That will make things a lot smoother Sunday night when Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles come to Atlanta. Blank kept in touch with Vick while he was in prison and told commissioner Roger Goodell he believed the quarterback deserved another shot in the NFL. The game between the Eagles and Falcons might bring back memories, but it’s not a grudge match.