NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Despite leading one of the NFL’s best offenses that is now headed to a Super Bowl, Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich received zero interview requests for teams looking to fill their head coaching vacancy this offseason. Leftwich might have been hurt by the perception that HC Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady do the real heavy lifting for Tampa Bay, but Arians tried to dispel that notion. 

“I can’t say enough about the job [Leftwich] has done,” Arians told Rich Eisen via JoeBucsFan.com. “I mean, it’s just remarkable.”

Arians said his role in the offense is pretty hands-off currently, and the main credit for calling the plays and helping Brady transition should go to Leftwich. 

“You know, Tom is such a great, great player, but having left that system after 20 years, and ours is lot different how we do things, Byron’s been the middle guy that’s just done all the work,” Arians said. “I mean, people give me way too much credit because I don’t do sh-t, really. He does it all. He calls the plays. I’m really upset he didn’t get a head-coaching interview. . . . Byron didn’t even get a call, and I think people give Tom Brady and Bruce Arians way too much credit and not enough credit for Byron Leftwich.”

  • Buccaneers S Jordan Whitehead has an injured labrum among other issues in his shoulder but is going to try and play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. (Ian Rapoport)
  • Dr. David Chao thinks the additional issues might be to Whitehead’s pectoral tendon and require surgery to repair after the season. 
  • Buccaneers GM Jason Licht says the team still has a plan long-term and isn’t completely maxed out on the present: “Tom is 43-years old and we have some other elder statesman but we have a young, young team…” (Rick Stroud)
  • Licht highlighted how much of a plus having Jacqueline Davidson running their salary cap has been. (Greg Auman)
  • The Buccaneers are bringing in DB Nate Brooks and LB Devante Bond for visits this week. (Aaron Wilson)

Falcons

  • Per Kelsey Conway of the team website, Falcons OC Dave Ragone says the things that stand out about his new boss, HC Arthur Smith, are “no ego” and his “authentic” approach. 
  • Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald notes Falcons QB Matt Ryan is essentially untradable this year due to his contract. 2022 is a different story, however. 

Panthers

Given how much of the offseason this year will likely remain virtual as the pandemic continues, the Panthers scored a major boon by being able to coach the Senior Bowl this week. Panthers HC Matt Rhule will get prized face-time with a host of prospects as his coaching staff conducts practices over the course of the week. Even a little interaction can go a long way. 

“There was a player last year, and I won’t say who, but was supposed to be drafted pretty highly,” Rhule said via Darin Gantt of the team’s website. “And I got in the elevator with him at the Combine, and I was like, by the end of that elevator ride, I was like, ‘There’s no way that guy will be a fit with us.'”

“We think we know these guys, and our scouts do a great job,” Rhule added. “But that’s only information from a third party. This is a chance for players to speak for themselves and say, ‘This is who I am. This is what my makeup is.’ Coaching them, being in meetings, just being in an elevator with them, you get a sense for the guys.

“We’re looking to find who’s tough, hard-working, and competitive, who’s smart, who loves the game. And who’s a good person. We spend six months a year together, so we want to be around people that we like and fit us.”

  • Rhule mentioned they moved on from DL coach Mike Phair because he “wasn’t the right fit” and have already conducted several interviews looking for a replacement. (David Newton)
  • Rhule intends on using an extensive gameplan in the Senior Bowl instead of “keeping it simple” in order to see how players respond: “You get a chance to see how they handle stress.” (Newton)

Saints

  • Per NFL Media’s Andrew Siciliano, Saints GM Mickey Loomis said they’re still waiting on a final announcement from QB Drew Brees before making their plans at the position in 2021: “I don’t think it’s a lot different from last year. We’ll wait for him.”
  • The Saints appear to be in dire straights financially with projections showing them tens of millions of dollars over the cap, but Loomis’ goal is still to compete in 2021: “We’ve got a great roster. I can’t foresee a circumstance where we’re not gonna … do everything we can to win — win now and compete for a championship.” (Mike Triplett)
  • Loomis did acknowledge the obvious challenges: “Look, for sure it’s gonna be challenging. And yet I don’t want to speculate as to how challenging it’s gonna be until we have a better understanding of what’s gonna be available – not just for this year, but even for the year after.”
  • One such situation will be with DE Trey Hendrickson, who Loomis would like for the Saints to be able to re-sign but isn’t sure if they’ll have the money to do so. (Nick Underhill)
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