How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
11:00
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Gregg Williams, Saints defensive coordinator: Remember early in the season when the Saints were playing good defense and the common assumption was Williams could parlay that into a head-coaching job next season? Well, forget about it.

The Saints haven’t been playing great defense for a long time. Some of that’s because of injuries. But you have to wonder if the rest of the league has started to figure out how to attack Williams’ scheme.

2. Drew Brees, Saints quarterback: It’s tough to say Brees’ stock is falling, but it is. It’s been at an extremely high level all season, and while he is far from dropping off the charts, he is out of the MVP race.

His numbers haven’t been all that bad in two losses. But this is an offense that needs to score more than 17 points.

3. Garrett Hartley, Saints kicker: He missed a field goal that would have prevented an embarrassing loss to the Buccaneers. It wasn’t a long one and Hartley said the snap and the hold were perfect.

Only recently, the Saints made the decision to go with Hartley over veteran John Carney, who has joined the team as a kicking consultant. Carney can’t come back to the Saints as a player this year. He better start doing some serious consulting with Hartley.

[+] EnlargeJosh Freeman
AP Photo/Bill FeigJosh Freeman led the Buccaneers in their win over New Orleans.
Rising

1. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay quarterback: The kid has won his last two starts and looked good doing it. Pretty impressive for a 21-year-old to go into the Superdome and beat Brees.

Freeman just might save Raheem Morris’ job and he’s at least giving Tampa Bay fans a glimpse of light down what has been a very dark tunnel.

2. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers running back: DeAngelo who? With starting running back DeAngelo Williams out with an injury, Stewart has taken on a bigger role in the Carolina offense and ran wild against the Giants. We’ve always known Stewart was pretty good, but he suddenly is showing he can be great.

3. Matt Moore, Panthers quarterback:. He went into the last game in Giants Stadium and threw three touchdown passes. It’s premature to say he’s a franchise quarterback, but he sure has shown he’s a functional one.

If John Fox stays in Carolina, all the Panthers need is a functional quarterback in his system. Well, that and some receivers to go with Steve Smith.

We're going to give a special honorable mention to Atlanta defensive end Kroy Biermann, who had to kick off after Michael Koenen and Matt Bryant were hurt. Biermann doesn't look anything like a kicker, but he did a decent job.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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