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 . . .
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.
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 FoxSports.com 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.
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.”