NFC South: Jay Gruden
But, as we wait for tonight’s playoff game, let’s take a look at some headlines from around the NFC South.
Jay Gruden reportedly could be headed for Carolina’s coaching staff. Gruden, the younger brother of former NFL coach Jon Gruden, has been coaching in the United Football League. He previously worked on his brother’s staff in Tampa Bay and as a coach in the Arena Football League.
D. Orlando Ledbetter has a list of things that could go right for the Falcons tonight and a list of things that could go wrong.
Jason Wilde has his keys to the game from a Green Bay point of view.
Steve Reed reports the Panthers are expected to retain defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, although he likely will become a position coach.
Charlie Campbell has his first mock draft and it follows logic on the NFC South picks. He has the Panthers taking defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the No. 1 overall pick. He has the Bucs taking defensive end Adrian Clayborn, which would fill a huge need. He has New Orleans taking offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and the Falcons settling for a cornerback after a run on defensive ends, which looks to be their top position of need.
Mike Triplett has a detailed analysis of the contract issues the Saints face this offseason.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The whirlwind weekend continues for the Buccaneers. About midway through the AFC Championship Game, the Bucs sent out an e-mail announcing six assistant coaches will not be retained by new head coach Raheem Morris.
Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir, defensive quality control coach Johnny Cox, defensive quality control coach Ejiro Evero, offensive assistant coach Jay Gruden (brother of fired head coach Jon Gruden), strength and conditioning coach Mike Morris and assistant offensive line coach George Yarno have been fired.
Raheem Morris will continue working on his staff while at the Senior Bowl over the next few days. Filling the offensive coordinator spot will be a key move for Morris, whose background is on defense. The Bucs likely will make a run at Denver quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who started as a Tampa Bay quality control assistant with Morris in 2002.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
A little update to Thursday's item when Carolina coach John Fox jokingly laughed when asked if he would donate 10 percent of next year's salary if Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin leaves for the University of Tennessee, which he reportedly will after the season.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden took it a step further and jokingly offered Fox up for a job with the Volunteers.
"I'm trying to get Fox to go down there and coach the secondary, personally," said Gruden, who is a close friend with Fox and shares the same agent. "I wouldn't mind seeing that. That's the latest rumor I heard, is that Fox was going with Monte to coach the DBs. I think it's a big-time deal. And I think Steve Smith is going to be a G.A. and teach the young receivers. I wouldn't mind seeing that. There's a lot of rumors and speculation."
Gruden then went on to heap more praise on Smith, who he called "Freddy Kreuger" on Thursday.
"My brother (Bucs assistant Jay Gruden) makes a tape every week, we look for explosive plays and he sends me splash plays -- if you ever just watch the highlight tape of Steve Smith it's unbelievable," Gruden said. It's unfair, really, some of the catches that he makes. He's great. You have him covered, he's just a phenomenal player. What he did in Green Bay last week with the game on the line -- two plays that are just [great] against great defenders. The ball is thrown up in the air. It's a credit to him. He's really something."