NFC South Report: Dungy coming back to Bucs?

Could Dungy be headed back to Tampa, either on the sideline or upstairs.

Tony Dungy would be a big help in any capacity in Tampa Bay.

It has been a few off weeks since my last weekly NFC South Report, which probably means I should stop referring to it as a weekly NFC South Report. Oops. But there’s a couple of interesting items floating around, starting in . . .

TAMPA: Is Tony Dungy returning to save the day?

I don’t know how much credence there is to this because it originated with a report from Chris Myers on FOX Sports Radio, and the last time I checked Myers is not a regular news-breaker. But he dropped Dungy’s name as a possible savior for the 0-5 Buccaneers. Dungy got his first head coaching job with Tampa Bay (he was hired and fired by then-general manager Rich McKay, although ownership pressure might’ve played a part in the second decision). Then he went to Indianapolis and won a Super Bowl.

Myers: “I did want to mention Tony Dungy’s name, and I don’t even know if Tony has been approached, has surfaced in Tampa as a possibility. The team is winless.  There is some concern about direction.  Dungy might be a guy whether he is brought in as a consultant or an executive or to coach with Raheem Morris. It is something that is out there that is being talked about.”

Something is “out there”? Well, if it wasn’t before, it is now.

This much we know. The Bucs stink. They’ve lost five straight games and haven’t even hinted that success is coming. As my pal Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times wrote, “Say what you will about the talent, and say what you want about his newness to the job, and say all you care to about how cheap the owners have become. It doesn’t matter. In the NFL, coaches are judged by the scoreboard, and when a team is 0-5 and has lost by an average of more than two touchdowns per game, a coach’s fingerprints are all over the disappointment. … Which, of course, leads the rest of us to a perfectly logical question: Raheem, is this a well-coached football team?”

Morris’s answer: “I think it’s a really well-coached football team.”

So far, all results are to the contrary. The Bucs certainly could do worse than to bring in Dungy as a consultant.

CAROLINA: Is John Fox on the way out?

I'm not sure when this photo was taken. Could be almost any time.

I'm not sure when this photo was taken. Could be almost any time.

Let me tell you something about football coaches. They talk to their friends just like everybody else.

Several years back when I worked in San Francisco, I broke the story that Bill Walsh was going to retire as San Francisco 49ers coach following the Super Bowl. How did I find out? He told two coaching friends, who told me. (And no, I’m not telling you who. But it wasn’t Mark Felt.) I bring this up because of a report Sunday that Carolina coach John Fox has told friends he expects to be fired after the season.

The Panthers defeated Washington Sunday, which put Fox in a better mood to handle questions about the report than if Carolina had lost again. His first response was a joke: “You mean my network?”

He then denied the report, telling the Charlotte Observer: “I think if I was talking to my friends I would probably tell them I expected to get a five-year contract. But I don’t think I’d be telling them that I’ll be getting fired at the end of the season.”

Sorry. In this case I believe the report. There’s no guarantee Fox gets fired but there’s reason to think tht he believes it’s coming.

NEW ORLEANS: Is there anything to panic about?

It's all been good for Drew Brees and the Saints.

It's all been good for Drew Brees and the Saints.

In short, no. The Saints are that good. Their division battles with the Falcons should be classics. But to what extent are people scrambling to find a flaw? Try this: The New Orleans Times-Picayuene noted that the Saints have never won the game following the bye week (0-4) under coach Sean Payton.

For the record, if the Saints (4-0) lose Sunday after having last week off, it won’t because they had last week off. It will be because they’re playing the New York Giants.

But Payton did change things up a bit. He gave the team five days off last week (from Wednesday on) instead of the usual four. During the bye week, quarterback Drew Brees said: “I’m sure you guys [media] are going to bring up next week that our record has not been very good the week after a bye. So we figured we would try something new. If you want to change the results, you’ve got to change the process a little bit.”

81 comments Add your comment

J Dub

October 13th, 2009
1:16 pm

J Dub

October 13th, 2009
1:18 pm

Can’t believe it Jeff!! Anyway, I couldn’t have been more impressed with what the Falcons did out in San Fran on Sunday. After the stinging loss to the Pats and the long bye week, Coach Smith and the troops made the statement that needed to be made! Hopefully it carries over into our divisional matchups.


October 13th, 2009
1:21 pm


October 13th, 2009
1:22 pm

Why is it an accomplishment to be first? To comment after a sports column? Dothey do this in the home and garden section too? Why does this make some people feel better about themselves?

Anyway, I don’t think the Panthers are as bad as they have seemed. It wouldn’t surprise to see them end up 8-8. After all they still play the Bucs twice.

Something tells me...

October 13th, 2009
1:23 pm

…that the San Diego pre-season game was a very good indicator of what the Saints and Drew Brees will do to the Falcons when they meet BOTH times this year!

Winston Milton-Prescott III

October 13th, 2009
1:28 pm

6th!!!! Yes, awesome. This made my day!


October 13th, 2009
1:28 pm

Good column. How would you change things up to face Chicago? I’m assuming their defensive line will not stand up straight instead of a three-point stance, allowing BBMCD to get under t hem.


October 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

San-Fran coach certainly looked confused on sunday.


October 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

Heath, thank you for someone finally commenting about the absurdity of bragging about being the first to comment on a blog. It’s a wasted space of words, and it guarantees that the writer does not have even one intelligent thing to say.


October 13th, 2009
1:33 pm



Eric C.

October 13th, 2009
1:37 pm

Jeff, that was a great stat you gave us recently about the post-bye week game winning percentage of almost .600 for the whole league. Do you know what the winning percentage is for teams coming off a bye and playing on the ROAD as the Bears are this week? Just curious…

Ted Striker

October 13th, 2009
1:43 pm

I’m thinking the only way Dungy ends up in Tampa Bay is on vacation.

Hey J Dub

October 13th, 2009
1:44 pm

Again, why do people always say “first”…who cares you douchebag

Mitchell T.

October 13th, 2009
1:47 pm

Dang, just when the Bucs and Panthers start to decline, the Saints start to flourish. Can the Falcons get a break. In Smitty and Dimitroff I trust. Go Falcons.

Not Impressed

October 13th, 2009
1:48 pm

Again, the Falcons did not beat the Niners, the Niners beat themselves. The Falcons just happened to be on the field that day.

Now the Saints, its going to be a blood bath!

Saints 50

Falcons 3

***Matt Ryan intercepted 3 times and placed on IRL***


October 13th, 2009
1:49 pm

I am obsessed with the back-to-back streak. I figure on the downside we sweep the three games with TB and Carolina and lose both to the saints, that puts us three games over 500 and we need to go 3-4 against the rest of the field


October 13th, 2009
1:49 pm

Heath, Chuck–it’s obvious neither of you have ever been first on a blog. I suggest you try it; it takes your breath away. It is truly a dizzying experience analogous maybe to losing one’s virginity. Give it a try–being first on a blog, I mean.

old fan

October 13th, 2009
1:49 pm

Do you lack capacity to edit postings from readers? If not, I suggest you delete any and all “firsts”, etc. and any related items. They are a waste of reader time and, as noted above, only encourage such silliness. I hope the ajc has not sunk to the level of using such drivel as a way to encourage “readership.”

Not Impressed

October 13th, 2009
1:52 pm

The Saints were the best team in the NFC South last season. The won 8 games and lost 4 games by 4 or fewer points, and that’s with a horrible defense and missing their number 1 receiver and top tight end, who were banged up the whole season.

Now in comes the best defensive coordinator, Darien Sharper and other key pickups on defense, this team is so dangerous and that high powered offense will spend even more time on the field this season.

If they shredded the Eagles defense, they surely will have a field day on the Falcons death trap.


October 13th, 2009
1:53 pm


Kevrock/Smarty Jones

October 13th, 2009
1:55 pm

If Dungy comes back to Tampa good for them…they will still suck for a while. As for the Saints, their defense has not faced a star NFL caliber QB this year. They played the Lions w/ a Rookie QB, Eagles w/ a 2nd string QB, the Jets w/ a Rookie QB, the Bills w/ a college QB. Their defense is also giving up 295 yards per game. Not good. So let’s hope the G Men destroy them and show their defense for what it is….


October 13th, 2009
2:01 pm

Can you say “BILLY COWHER,” Panther boys and girls of North & South Carolina?

Can you say “MIKE VICK” as Buccaneers Franchise QB in 2010, playing for Head Coach “TONY DUNGY?”

Yeah, that’s right, Arthur Blank! You better win your Super Bowl in 2009 while you still can Hater!

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 13th, 2009
2:18 pm

On Dungy: Sounds like Chris Myers needed a topic, so he created one.

On Fox: Wouldn’t surprise me if he gets fired either. He’s been there a while so it’s just a matter of time.

On the Saints: The past doesn’t matter.

An Observation

October 13th, 2009
2:18 pm

Being a Falcons’ fan, I’ll definitely be cheering for the NY Giants on Sunday against the Saints. They (the Saints) need to be knocked off that pedestal real soon and who better to do it than the Giants and Eli Manning. GO GIANTS!!!!

If Tony Dungy agrees to come back to Tampa (and I don’t believe that he will), I hope he’ll be getting some serious big time cash because he’ll need the additional money for stress relief counseling. The Bucs are awful!!!!


October 13th, 2009
2:19 pm

Old fan–a one-word entry e.g., “first,” in a blog would hardly slow one down in his efforts to get to the really good stuff on these blogs, unless one moves his lips when he reads, covertly sounding out each word on the page/screen. Lighten up, old boy; to help you do that, spend the afternoon looking up inter alia “irony,” “droll,” “mordant” and “sardonic” as a start. Note: “inter alia” takes italics, but I am unable to get them here.

Numb Nutz

October 13th, 2009
2:22 pm

And that idiot Winston Milton mumbo-jumbo III is not even the first to have his own ridiculous name!

Not Impressed

October 13th, 2009
2:24 pm

Kevrock/Smarty Jones

The Falcons have beaten:

Chad Pennington

Jake Delhomme

Shaun Hill


DESTROYED by a struggling Tom Brady

So that’s your argument about the Saints? The Falcons only have 2 games where they scored in the 20s and the Saints lead the NFL. They don’t need a great defense to win, with that potent offense, yet their defense is still rated higher than the Falcons.

AZ Jacket

October 13th, 2009
2:27 pm

Coach Smith, based on what I am hearing today the Falcons should not play the Saints. Lets not play the game because we know the Saints are the best in the NFL and there is no reason to get our players hurt…wait…the wind has changed….Drew B. was sacked by NYG…catastrophic knee injury and he is out for the year….idiots..the Eagles are the only team the Saints have beat..when the run the table you can talk about how great they are..remember..they are still the Saints.

"Chef" Tim Dix

October 13th, 2009
2:27 pm

Should Dungy even consider anything with the Bucs: Ticket-taker, parking attendant, anything…He should be the immediate front runner for the next Nobel Peace Prize.

AZ Jacket

October 13th, 2009
2:30 pm

Not Impressed, those games are in the past….adjustments are made every week…this team is showing improvement.


October 13th, 2009
2:36 pm

“Should Dungy even consider anything with the Bucs: Ticket-taker, parking attendant, anything…He should be the immediate front runner for the next Nobel Peace Prize.”

Now that is funny stuff! Bet Schultz would vote for him..but that’s like taking candy from a baby.


October 13th, 2009
2:39 pm

I wish Mark Richt would listen to Drew Brees in that last line…

Eric C.

October 13th, 2009
2:50 pm

Not Impressed – Saints played Detroit, Philly without Donovan McNabb, Buffalo, and NYJ with rookie QB…that schedule hardly suggests NO is a championship team…just wait until NYG gets there.

F-105 Thunderchief

October 13th, 2009
3:01 pm

Tony Dungy to replace Willie Martinez!

Stat Checker

October 13th, 2009
3:04 pm



Opponents record: 9-10

Wins vs Divisional Leaders: 1

Record of teams defeated: 6-8

Falcons offensive scoring: 25.5

Yards per game: 346.5

Falcons Defense: 15.8

Yards per game: 355.8

Yards difference: -8.3

Scoring difference: 9.7

Falcons record: 3-1


Opponents record: 8-11

Wins vs Divisional Leaders: 2

Offensive scoring: 36.0

Yards per game: 414.3

Defensive scoring: 16.5

Yards per game: 295.3

Yards difference: +119.0

Scoring difference: 19.5

Saints record: 4-0


October 13th, 2009
3:22 pm

“Dungy has “no interest” in returning to the Bucs
Posted by Mike Florio on October 13, 2009 12:23 PM ET
On Monday, FOX’s Chris Myers reported that the Buccaneers could be contemplating an effort to hire former coach Tony Dungy to help turn around a ship that is quickly sinking toward an 0-16 record.

On Tuesday, Dungy said he’s not interested.

Said Dungy, in a statement released by NBC Sports: “I have had no contact with the Bucs and have no interest in doing anything other than what I am doing” on NBC’s Football Night In America.

“I love working for NBC Sports and my goal right now is to get better at my new job,” Dungy said.”


October 13th, 2009
3:25 pm

To all of you pudlickers who spew that Mike Vick revenge crap:

Bring him on! He’s lost a step, and what little bit he learned while in ATL, he forgot in prison. Now, he’s trying to re-learn how to be an NFL QB….fat chance of that, he wasn’t known for his intelligence before.

So, bring him on….the carnival comes to town.


October 13th, 2009
4:03 pm

hahaha mike vick franchise bucs qb? I’ll take that! That means OUR BIRDS will have 5-6 years of GUARANTEED SUCCESS since mike vick IS AN AWFUL QB, HAS LOST A STEP, and is an OVERRATE PIECE OF S–T


October 13th, 2009
4:04 pm

One day the Vick supporters will wake up and ask what happend they surely have nothing else to do but support a criminal who has really displayed his abilities in Philly which is sit on the sideline.

Get It Right

October 13th, 2009
4:05 pm

Adding to Hillbilly Deluxe:

On Limbaugh: Schultz couldn’t make anything else up, so he didn’t mention him


October 13th, 2009
4:34 pm

NFC South
1 – Saints
1.5 – Falcons

I really hate to do that because it is contrary to everything I want to happen. But as it happens, I think the Saints have a more fully developed D and it will be the telling difference in the games this year.

But then again, any Falcons/Saints game is just as dependent on crowd noise, blind zebras and the bounce of a funny shaped little pigskin ball.

What a year.

Paul From Milton

October 13th, 2009
4:42 pm

Well, at least we know the Saints fans can talk a lot. But I’ve heard it all before and there is nothing new here. Move along now.

The Anti-Vick

October 13th, 2009
5:10 pm

I hear Fox is building a huge, multi-million dollar house in Charlotte on Quail Hollow golf course. Not sure he will still be employed by Kitties by the time it’s finished. Maybe Peppers can give him a loan – owes him for taking their money with not much to show for it.


The Anti-Vick

October 13th, 2009
5:50 pm

No Pro Bowls

No MVP Finalist Votes

No Playoff Wins

No Conference Championship Appearances

No Top 5 Jersey sales

No 38 Victories for Franchise

Choke 1 & done in the playoffs


The Anti-Vick

October 13th, 2009
6:01 pm


Tampa (2002, 2005, 2007)

Carolina (2003, 2008)

New Orleans (2006, 2009)

Atlanta (2004)


Hopefully the new decade will have a division title that doesn’t include the Mike Vick legacy



October 13th, 2009
6:50 pm

Let Tampa do it’s thing. They have to rebuild after living off pretty much the same talent for all those years. Let’s face it. Players get old and in the NFL they sometimes get old quickly. The team should have done a better job in this past draft reloading. They could have drafted defense early and gotten some studs who’ll be playing in the league for many years to come. Instead they drafted a project QB knowing darn well that the upcoming draft is going to be very QB friendly with McCoy, Bradford and a few others coming out.

Even if Dungy was the coach right now or brought in, this team wouldn’t be anything but a rebuilding team who’ll get crushed by the Falcons, Saints and maybe even the Panthers if they decide to play to their abilities.

The Grinch

October 13th, 2009
7:05 pm

The Saints have more experience and talent on D (they’ve had it for a while; their former coach just sucked). The Falcons D is rebuilding. It may be another year before we sweep them again, but we should get a split this year.

Mike Vick was a moron/loser who ran a 4.3 40. Now he’s a moron/loser who runs a 4.5 40. Anyone who dedicates 60 hours a week on this blog (you know who you are) to worshiping a type of person you can find in any inner city pick-up football game (or prison yard, for that matter) just because you’re both a similar degree of trash needs to back away from the pipe and quit wasting our tax money. Get a hero who’s done something more than just spread herpes both in and out of prison.

The Grinch

October 13th, 2009
7:41 pm

I also think Rush Limbaugh would make a great owner, because I agree with his statements about slavery being a good merit and the NFL is run by the Cripts & Bloods.

Also, the reason I know about Vick’s prison activities is because I swallowed his herpes.


October 13th, 2009
7:59 pm

Dear Jeff – Love your sense of sports humor and look forward to the columns.

That said, i was surprised by the Limbaugh piece – your right to publish of course as free speech, of course – and was extremely disappointed in you when I saw that multiple sports writers were picking up the same thing. You’re too independent a thinker for a lynching posse.

so a rhetorical question for you. Should we judge your humor as fact (does that make you nervous?) or as the humor it is, with a subtle message inside that is often 180 degrees from what is actually said or written?

come on, jeff… You’re too good of a writer for that.

And why isn’t Limbaugh afforded the same rhetorical devices?

Should we judge your words as you judged him?


"Mr. Falcon"

October 13th, 2009
8:04 pm

Who cares? What about the Falcons Jeff. Lets Go Falcons!!!!!!!!