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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Looking at NFC South assistants on rise

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Our next installment of Power Rankings, which runs on Tuesday, will be on up-and-coming assistant coaches.

Our guidelines are that assistants cannot be former head coaches, although interim head coaches are allowed. That eliminates New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey because they have been head coaches.

But I’m looking around the NFC South and seeing some potential rising stars. I’ll fill out my ballot a bit later, but I’m eying Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Greg Olson, Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.

There will be some other assistants around the league at the top of my ballot, but I’m thinking Olson will be my top NFC South candidate. He’s done a great job developing quarterback Josh Freeman and got a lot out of an incredibly young offense last season. If Olson can do that again, I think you’ll hear his name in connection with some head-coaching jobs.

Chudzinski is a bit of a reach as he enters his first season as Carolina's offensive coordinator with after serving as San Diego’s tight ends coach. But the guy has a stellar reputation around the league. He also is walking into a situation where he’s got a talented offensive line and good running backs. If he can develop Cam Newton or Jimmy Clausen and get any semblance of a passing game, he could shoot up the charts in a hurry.

Carmichael is largely an unknown to the general public. That’s because Sean Payton calls the plays and Carmichael is a guy who likes to stay out of the spotlight. But he has to be doing something right because New Orleans’ offense continually churns out yards and points. Carmichael also was with Drew Brees back in his San Diego days and a recommendation from the quarterback would carry some weight.