Time for the Saturday edition of the NFC South mailbag.
Anthony in Greensboro, N.C., writes: What do you think about the possibility of the Carolina Panthers signing Tony Dungy? He's a proven winner, respected by players, is conservative in his approach like Jerry Richardson would like. Your thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: I don’t know a better man or a better coach than Tony Dungy. But I doubt he’ll end up coaching the Panthers, or any other team. When Dungy walked away from the Colts, he said he did it because he wanted to do other things in his life besides coaching. Unlike a lot of people in this world, Dungy isn’t one to flip-flop. I think he’s done with coaching forever. Ironically, the Panthers made a run at Dungy back in 2002 when they ended up hiring John Fox. Dungy came to Charlotte for an interview, but I think he was pretty much ticketed for Indianapolis all along.
Jay in Oxford, Miss., writes: In the wake of the Falcons' win, a lot of people have been talking about Matt Ryan's home record. At the same time, I've been hearing for years that Atlanta is one of the latest-arriving crowds. Am I the only one who finds that anomalous?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, Atlanta is notorious for late-arriving crowds. It’s not uncommon to see a bunch of empty seats in the first quarter. But the fans do arrive and they do get very loud. I guess you could say the Atlanta fans are there when it matters most.
Brian in Oklahoma writes: As a Bucs fan I think the people of Tampa ought to be a ashamed of themselves when their team is 5-3 and actually playing good football! I mean why don’t they get and support their team? Sometimes the biggest advantage is having support from your community.
Pat Yasinskas: That’s a pretty harsh statement, but it is a hot topic in Tampa Bay. I thought the early wins might lead to sellouts, but that hasn’t come close to happening. I think there are several factors at work. I think there was a certain amount of disconnect when the Bucs unceremoniously cut Derrick Brooks and several veteran players and began a youth movement that led to an absolutely horrible 2009 season. It’s going to take time to get those fans back. The economy also is a huge factor. Florida has been hit harder than most places. I live here and have numerous friends who gave up their Bucs season tickets because they no longer could afford them. Finally, and I’ve touched on this many times in the past, anywhere in Florida is a tough market. Jacksonville and Miami don’t have an easy time selling tickets either. Florida is full of transplants from other parts of the country who would rather stay home and watch the team they grew up following on television.
Hank in Montana writes: A while ago you wrote about the possibility of John Fox joining Sean Payton’s staff if Gregg Williams is offered a head coaching job somewhere. This is something I have been speculating about (and hoping for) since last season. What do you think the chances are that Fox becomes a member of the Saints? Do you think there is any chance he joins Payton if Gregg Williams if still around?
Pat Yasinskas: It’s probably a long shot. Fox is probably going to have a chance to be a head coach somewhere and, obviously, he’d prefer that over stepping back to be a coordinator. If he somehow doesn’t get a head-coaching job and Williams does, I think Payton would try to hire Fox immediately. Payton and Fox are very close friends. If Williams stays, I doubt Fox would end up in New Orleans. There simply wouldn’t be room for him and, at the very least, he should have no trouble finding a coordinator job somewhere else.