Around the NFC South

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
7:45
AM ET
Time for a look at the top Friday morning headlines from around the division.

Mark Bradley wonders if Atlanta coach Mike Smith, quarterback Matt Ryan and general manager Thomas Dimitroff still are the right guys for the job. That’s become a legitimate question, despite four straight winning seasons by a franchise that never had back-to-back winning seasons before this trio came together. The fact that the Falcons have not won a playoff game in this tenure is suddenly getting noticed by everyone. You can bet owner Arthur Blank is painfully aware of the postseason failings and the pressure on Smith, Ryan and Dimitroff has been turned up. I still think the Falcons have the right coach, quarterback and general manager. But Ryan, Smith and Dimitroff better learn from some of their recent mistakes and make the right tweaks. If they don’t and the playoff woes continue, their seats are going to get very hot.

It seems as though things remain quiet on the Drew Brees contract front. But the New Orleans quarterback isn’t sitting still. He’s doing interviews on parenting.

LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers is scheduled to have his pre-draft visit with the Panthers on March 8. Generally, I say don’t read too much into these visits or who teams interview at the combine and the college all-star games. But I won’t say that here. Brockers is a very real possibility for a team that’s seeking to improve its defense. Cornerback, receiver, offensive tackle and linebacker also can be considered areas of need and the Panthers could go in any number of directions with their first-round pick. But, even with Ron Edwards returning from injury, defensive tackle still seems to be the team’s top need.

Stephen Holder does a thorough job in breaking down the situation with Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber. At some point in the next few weeks, someone is going to have to make a big decision on Barber’s future. First off, Barber, who is about to turn 37, has to decide if he wants to continue playing. If he does, the Bucs have to decide if they want to bring him back for another season as they begin a new era with coach Greg Schiano.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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