NFC South: John Madden
But we’ve got an opportunity to, at least temporarily, change that, so let’s put the spotlight on Carolina’s offensive line. The Panthers are this week’s winners of the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award. Named after Hall of Fame coach John Madden, the award is intended to recognize an offensive line that gives its quarterback strong protection and contributes to the team’s overall success.
Carolina’s offensive line did that in Sunday’s 35-27 victory over New Orleans. The Panthers had 219 yards rushing and quarterback Cam Newton was sacked just once and hit only twice.
“When you can beat a team like New Orleans, with a balanced offense of run and pass, you know you have a good offensive line,’’ Madden said.
Carolina’s offensive line consists of tackles Jordan Gross and Byron Bell, guards Amini Silatolu and Geoff Hangartner and center Ryan Kalil. But the Panthers could face a challenge Thursday night when they host the New York Giants. Bell is dealing with an ankle injury and might not be able to play. If he can’t, the Panthers will have to turn to either Bruce Campbell or Garry Williams.
With right tackle Zach Strief returning to the starting lineup after an injury, the Saints bounced back from a rough performance against St. Louis to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The offensive line played a big role as quarterback Drew Brees was not sacked. He was sacked six times the previous week.
But Strief teamed with guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, left tackle Jermon Bushrod and center Brian de la Puente to turn in what Hall of Fame coach John Madden called the best performance by an offensive line this past weekend.
The Saints also were able to move the ball on the ground. They finished with 195 rushing yards.
“When a team finds a great balance between the run and pass, you start giving out credit, and that usually starts with the offensive line,” Madden said.
The league announced Tuesday that McKay will serve as chairman of the NFL’s competition committee. McKay’s been on the committee since 1994, when he was the general manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and started serving as co-chairman in 1998. But this latest move is a step up for McKay, who had been co-chairman with Jeff Fisher since 2001. With Fisher leaving the Tennessee Titans and no longer coaching, McKay is now a one-man show at the top of this committee.
McKay became Atlanta’s team president in 2008 when the Falcons hired general manager Thomas Dimitroff. A lot of people think McKay’s role was narrowed strictly to running the team’s business operations. But that’s never really been the true story.
While Dimitroff handles the traditional roles of a general manager, McKay has continued to help with salary-cap management and is sometimes turned to for advice on football matters. He also is the point man for the new open-air stadium owner Arthur Blank wants built in downtown Atlanta.
McKay also has been Atlanta’s main liaison to the league, and that now has been underscored with his role as chairman. He should help give the Falcons some clout when it comes to proposed rule changes and similar matters.
For the record, McKay is the only NFC South representative on the competition committee. The other members are Stephen Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), John Mara (New York Giants), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Bill Polian (Indianapolis Colts) and Rick Smith (Houston Texans).
There also is a coaches’ subcommittee to the competition committee and there is one NFC South figure there. That’s New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton. The other members of the subcommittee are John Madden, John Harbaugh (Ravens), Mike Holmgren (Cleveland Browns), Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles), Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis Rams), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers) and Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals).
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Just finished a bunch of meetings and catching up on the news of the day. The quickest way to do it is to give you a quick glimpse of the headlines.
Former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn continues to help families in the Tampa Bay area. Dunn helped a family get settled into a new home in Dade City on Monday.
The New Orleans contingent met with NFL officials at the league meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Monday and will make its official bid for the 2013 Super Bowl on Tuesday. New Orleans hasn't hosted a Super Bowl since 2002 and I'm thinking the new lease with the Superdome makes the city the favorite for this game.
My thoughts on Jon Gruden joining the Monday Night Football crew? Great move. Gruden's entertaining and charismatic enough to grow into something along the lines of John Madden, if he stays with broadcasting. But I think Gruden's one of those guys who could get bored after a year or two in the booth and probably will end up coaching again at some point.
Michael Vick will work as a construction laborer for $10 an hour when he's released from federal prison later this week. Vick's going to spend the next two months on home confinement in Virginia, but will be allowed to go to work each day. Commissioner Roger Goodell likely won't make a decision a potential reinstatement for Vick until he finishes the home confinement.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden reached a couple of milestones with Sunday's victory.
Gruden got his 100th career victory. At 45 years and 105 days, Gruden is the third-youngest coach in the modern era (since 1966) to reach 100 wins. John Madden (41 years and 232 days) was the youngest and Bill Cowher (44 years and 208 days) is second.
Gruden also became the first coach in NFC South history to have back-to-back winning seasons.
Gruden, who previously coached in Oakland, already became Tampa Bay's all-time winningest coach, surpassing Tony Dungy earlier this season.