Stock Watch: NFC South

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
7:29
AM ET
FALLING

Rob Chudzinski, offensive coordinator, Panthers. At the end of last season, the Carolina Panthers were worried they were about to lose Chudzinski to a job as a head coach. General manager Marty Hurney, who does more worrying than anyone involved with the Panthers, even called around to reporters, asking what they were hearing about Chudzinski’s chances at various jobs. Nothing happened and Chudzinski stayed. The consensus was that Chudzinski was one more good season away from being a head coach. Well, if Sunday’s opener (10 yards rushing?) was any indication, Chudzinski might not be a head coach for a while.

[+] EnlargeSteve Spagnuolo
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireSteve Spagnuolo's defense gave up 464 yards against a Washington offense led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, Saints. He was brought in to rebuild the defense. That same defense got torn apart by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sunday. The Saints had the perfect setup -- a rookie quarterback coming into one of the loudest places in the league. They squandered their chance by not putting any pressure on Griffin and he eventually silenced the crowd.

Michael Turner, running back, Falcons. The Falcons weren’t lying when they said they would limit Turner’s carries this season. He had 11 for 32 yards on Sunday as the Falcons unveiled an offensive scheme that is geared more toward the pass. Still, I wouldn’t go dropping Turner from your fantasy team just yet. There will be games where the Falcons will need to establish the running game.

RISING

Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons. It looks like Dirk Koetter’s offense is a perfect fit for Ryan. He had three touchdown passes and threw for 299 yards. He even ran for a touchdown, which is something that hasn’t happened often in the past and won’t in the future. It’s very early in the season. But, at the moment, you have to include Turner in MVP conversations.

Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Buccaneers. There was a reason why the Bucs used the third overall draft pick on McCoy in 2010. We might have finally seen it Sunday. With McCoy healthy and anchoring the middle of the line, the Bucs shut down Carolina’s running game. The Bucs even got some pressure on Cam Newton and McCoy recorded a sack, just the fifth of his career and also came close to sacking Newton a couple of other times. If McCoy can stay healthy for an entire season, his draft status will be justified.

Bill Sheridan, defensive coordinator, Buccaneers. This guy got fired as coordinator with the New York Giants after one very disastrous season in 2009. But he’s getting a shot at redemption in Tampa Bay. Starting rookies Mark Barron and Lavonte David and playing other young players, Sheridan did a nice job of shutting down what was supposed to be a high-powered Carolina offense. Oh, by the way, the Bucs will play a road game against the Giants on Sunday.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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