NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Matt Ryan, Panthers, Cam Newton


  • Josina Anderson reports that the Buccaneers are questioning the intentions of the individual accusing WR Antonio Brown of obtaining a fake vaccination card, with one league source saying: “This whole thing is about getting paid. No evidence.”
  • NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy on the incident: “We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter.” (Ian Rapoport)
  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians declined to elaborate on WR Antonio Brown reportedly obtaining a fake vaccine card: “We did our due diligence. The league will do theirs. The statement said it all. I don’t think it’s a story. It has nothing to do with the Giants game.” (Greg Auman)


Falcons QB Matt Ryan points out that they have struggled over the last two weeks in all phases of their offense. 

“It’s been a tough five days offensively,” Ryan said, via ProFootballTalk. “It’s just across the board. We haven’t thrown the ball well enough. We haven’t run the ball well enough. I’ve got to be more accurate. We’ve all got to be more effective with what we’re asked to do in terms of the game plan. We got a nice little extra few days to take a deep dive into what we can do better moving forward. We certainly got to take advantage of that.”

Falcons HC Arthur Smith said that their offense feels “ugly right now” after starting off the season 4-4. 

“It feels ugly right now and in this moment,” Smith said, via ProFootballTalk. “You feel, obviously, pretty poor. When you go and get to 4-4, get a big win and then, obviously you guys have all watched the last two games. We’ve done it before. It’s continual improvement. You hope not to ride the roller coaster. We’ve got to fix things and we’re going to get them fixed and we’ll get them fixed in a hurry.”

Smith said there were unable to do “a lot of things” offensively in Week 11’s Thursday night game. 

There wasn’t a lot of things that we did well tonight offensively,” Smith said. “You don’t score points and you don’t take advantage when you do have the opportunity. … We didn’t do enough to put us in a chance to win at the end.”


Sunday’s matchup in Week 11 between the Panthers and Washington took on an extra layer of intrigue, as both QB Cam Newton and HC Ron Rivera will be returning to Charlotte. Rivera of course will be on the opposing sideline for the first time in over a decade, while Newton gets a rare chance to rewrite his ending with the team. Rivera had the opportunity to reflect on the time the two shared together with the team. 

“There are a lot of really cool moments. Everything from him being our first draft pick and the work that we put in to make him our first draft pick,” Rivera said via NFL Media’s Grant Gordon. “You really know he’s a good person. And that’s the thing that I really respected was just deal with the type of young man he is, but really got the chance to see his family life, his home life. And that’s something that I’ll always remember.

“And then there were some other things, you know, that went on from the time when he was in the car accident during the season, to the only time that, I don’t want to say I benched him, but the only time that I did was when I got him to finally admit that his foot really was hurt and then we put them on IR. My last year that was tough because he’s a competitor that he didn’t want to quit. But you know, we told him you have to because you’re hurt, I’ll always remember that.

“The thing I always remember too, is he hated to lose more than anybody I’ve ever been around. After the 2015 Super Bowl, you know, you don’t realize, you know, that they called him a sore loser. Well, he is because he wants to win. I mean, that’s who he is. I tried to deflect that just so people understand, the dude’s going to give you everything he has, which he did. And unfortunately, we didn’t win it.”

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