NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


Sunday’s Super Bowl will feature two of the NFL’s best coordinators — Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles — dueling for the season’s ultimate award. Both have had long, proficient careers but both were passed over repeatedly for head coaching jobs this past cycle. As two of the more prominent Black coaches, they have also become the face of the NFL’s struggles for diverse hiring in the coaching ranks, which is not something either find ideal. 

“For me and Eric, it’s two good coaches,” Bowles said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “Whenever people on the outside — ownership, media, anyone else — when they start saying ‘coaches’ instead of ‘Black coaches,’ then things will start to get better. The fact that we have to be ‘Black coaches’ — we wake up Black, we know that, we look in the mirror every day — we’re coaches in our profession. In other professions, you don’t say, ‘Black flight attendant,’ you say, ‘flight attendant.’ The fact that we keep referring to Black coaches to begin with means there’s a big problem with everything.

“We’re two good coaches. We have a couple more in this game as well. We’re trying to do our jobs very well. The fact that it’s such a big deal about the head-coaching thing, it puts a big emphasis on it from the outside. Eric’s trying to win, I’m trying to win. The big deal is made from the outside. The change has also got to be made from the outside, because we can only do so much.”

  • Bowles said he never interviewed with the Lions after they decided to hire HC Dan Campbell before speaking with him: “They canceled the interview. I never got to interview. I think they didn’t feel like waiting. They had their mind made up.” (Pro Football Talk)
  • Bowles has coached with Campbell before and called him a good coach, saying there are no hard feelings.


  • The Falcons are hiring Dwaune Jones as their assistant director of college scouting. He was previously with the Ravens for the past four years. (Jason Butt)
  • The Falcons announced Monday that they’ve hired Chandler Henley as an assistant offensive line coach.


  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer says the Panthers were among the favorites to land veteran QB Matthew Stafford in a trade from the Lions by mid-day on Saturday, along with Washington, until the Rams upped their offer. 
  • NBC Sports’ Peter King notes that, while it wasn’t the deciding factor by any means, Stafford was much more keen on going to the Rams than he was other places, including the Panthers. 
  • Panthers DC Phil Snow said coaching the Senior Bowl was a major plus for Carolina’s coaching staff even though many of them have extensive, recent backgrounds in college football: “There’s probably 10 to 12 players like that, yeah, that we’ve known for a while. … It does [help]. But it’s also important for seeing how far they’ve come. Do they like football? Have they really improved since high school? And those types of things. So it’s still important to be around them, even if you knew them in high school.” (Breer)


  • The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan said team officials and Saints QB Drew Brees are on the same page about the veteran’s plans to retire this offseason and the only delay is so they can work out the details of an official retirement announcement fitting of Brees’ incredible tenure in New Orleans. That’s expected to come sometime after the Super Bowl. 
  • Duncan wouldn’t definitively rule out a trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson but adds the Saints don’t have quite the war chest of draft picks that some other teams have and they really need cheap contributors given how many players are due for second deals. 
  • Duncan expects the Saints to cut P Thomas Morstead and TE Jared Cook to save money this offseason, especially because the coaching staff likes P Blake Gillikin and TE Adam Trautman as in-house replacements. 
  • While the Saints would like to keep DT Sheldon Rankins, Duncan thinks it will make more sense for the two sides to split given Rankins can get better offers in free agency and New Orleans has cheaper replacements coming up behind him. 
  • Saints DE Trey Hendrickson doesn’t seem like a player the Saints would be able to keep after his breakout 13.5 sack season but Duncan wouldn’t put it past New Orleans to do something crazy to be able to keep him, potentially on some kind of tag. 
  • Duncan highlights Saints S Marcus Williams as a player New Orleans would like to keep but will probably let test the open market to see what their value is. 
  • Duncan mentions team officials were happy with how Saints WR Michael Thomas responded to his midseason discipline for fighting with a teammate and believe he’ll come back in 2021 healthy after ankle issues all season. He adds the team doesn’t see trading Thomas as an option. 
  • Duncan says to look for first-round OL Cesar Ruiz switching to center with Erik McCoy swapping to guard. Ruiz is more comfortable at center and McCoy is adept at both. 

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