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Yasinskas: Nfc South Players Rising And Falling


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Stock Watch: NFC South

Dec 4 8:29 AM ET

By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

RISING

William Moore, safety, Falcons. Moore had two interceptions in the victory against New Orleans. Very quietly, he and Thomas DeCoud have turned into one of the league’s better safety tandems.

Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina. This guy has taken a lot of heat for the Panthers’ dismal season, but his performance at Kansas City on Sunday was solid. He threw three touchdown passes, gained 78 yards on the ground and made no major mistakes. Suddenly, the Panthers are looking a lot like they did last year. They’re a team with a decent quarterback and a capable offense, but they have no defense.

Robert McClain and Christopher Owens, cornerbacks, Falcons. When Asante Samuel had to exit with a shoulder injury early in the New Orleans game, McClain moved into his spot and Owens became the nickel back, but Atlanta’s defense didn’t fall apart. McClain finished with seven tackles and was credited with two passes defended. Owens had three tackles and defended two passes.

FALLING

Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints. All season long, I’ve been saying Brees has to be better than ever to carry a team that’s got a bad defense and is dealing with all sorts of distractions. Brees was worse than ever Thursday night, throwing five interceptions against Atlanta. Brees has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games. That’s about seven too many for a team that has no margin for error.

Doug Martin, running back, Buccaneers. He’s been limited to 56 and 50 rushing yards in his last two games. Is Martin hitting the “rookie wall’’? Maybe, but I think the defenses of Denver and Atlanta had a lot more to do with keeping Martin quiet.

Brandon LaFell, wide receiver, Panthers. He dropped a sure touchdown pass that changed the complexion of the game in the loss to Kansas City.

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Man our secondary this year has been such a great surprise.

I am ashamed to say that when Grimes went down, I just basically threw in the towel for this season.

No shame in that. This board had a collective panic attack when Grimes went down (myself included). I never would have thought we'd go 11-1 without him. Long live Nolan!

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Man our secondary this year has been such a great surprise.

I am ashamed to say that when Grimes went down, I just basically threw in the towel for this season.

Don't be most of the people that I talked to didn't even see us making the playoffs without Grimes apparently. I'm so glad that we have a coordinator that knows what he is doing cool.png

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Don't be most of the people that I talked to didn't even see us making the playoffs without Grimes apparently. I'm so glad that we have a coordinator that knows what he is doing cool.png

It might be a blessing in disguise (though, I do feel for Grimes- not only is the Achilles an horrible injury, but he probably lost millions with the injury), as I think McClain probably has much more of a future with the Falcons than does Grimes.

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It might be a blessing in disguise (though, I do feel for Grimes- not only is the Achilles an horrible injury, but he probably lost millions with the injury), as I think McClain probably has much more of a future with the Falcons than does Grimes.

True I do wish Grimes nothing but the best and I hope he doesn't lose to much because of the injury. I do admit sometimes I wonder about the what ifs about Grimes and this defense. But as you said this is pretty much a blessing in disguise. Does it pretty much seal his fate with the Falcons, I believe so.

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Chris Owens was very impressive in the Saints game.

From an AJC blog article on the Saints game:

Owens Redemption

113012_falcons_15.JPG

Owens Good Game (AJC)

It didn’t come in a playoff game, but Christopher Owens had a night to remember. Long known (unfairly) as the main scapegoat to the Debacle in the Dome destruction vs. the Packers in the 2010/11 playoffs, Owens had a big night subbing in for Asante Samuel after the first play of the game. Owens had several nice passes defensed, including an especially athletic one in the endzone that would have otherwise gone for a TD. It was great to finally see Owens play up to his potential that most fans remember back when he took over at the end of 2009. Seeing Owens and Robert McClain doing so well under Mike Nolan’s defense has alleviated some worries at cornerback going forward the next several years.

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Man our secondary this year has been such a great surprise.

I am ashamed to say that when Grimes went down, I just basically threw in the towel for this season.

The Defensive Secondary has played much better this season than I expected also since losing Grimes. However, the improved play by the DBs might bite the Falcons somewhat after this season. Next year, William Moore will be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA), and his value and future cost to sign has risen considerably. Chris Owens will also be an UFA next season, and his future value is starting to increase. Dunta Robinson is playing much better this season, but his scheduled cap-hit significantly escalates to $10.4 million next season. I don't see how Atlanta can afford that kind of cap-hit from Dunta next year, but his play is making another possible contract restructuring more improbable. Grimes was tagged, and will become an UFA next year. McClain was signed for one year only, and will become a FA next year, but thankfully he will be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) rather than an UFA. Dom Franks is also a UFA next season, but I think Atlanta should just let him walk.

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From an AJC blog article on the Saints game:

Owens Redemption

113012_falcons_15.JPG

Owens Good Game (AJC)

It didn’t come in a playoff game, but Christopher Owens had a night to remember. Long known (unfairly) as the main scapegoat to the Debacle in the Dome destruction vs. the Packers in the 2010/11 playoffs, Owens had a big night subbing in for Asante Samuel after the first play of the game. Owens had several nice passes defensed, including an especially athletic one in the endzone that would have otherwise gone for a TD. It was great to finally see Owens play up to his potential that most fans remember back when he took over at the end of 2009. Seeing Owens and Robert McClain doing so well under Mike Nolan’s defense has alleviated some worries at cornerback going forward the next several years.

I can remember as little as 10 months ago when a fair % of the board wanted CO23 under a bus all i can say is what a difference Mike Nolan and our DB coach have made to all our DB's.Also it justifies TD taking him as a 3rd rounder also just needed a better coach.

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I think McClain stayed in the Nickle and Owens took over on the outside.

I think Owens plays outside corner much better than at inside nickle-back corner. At the end of the 2009 season, Owens was doing a good job at outside CB. When the Falcons acquired Dunta Robinson in 2010, they moved Owens to NB, where he struggled mightily. However, McClain has showed that he can definitely play the NB position. Therefore, it made sense when Assante left the game, to play Owens in his spot at outside CB, but still keep McClain playing the NB position.

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