NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints


The Buccaneers are bringing back all 11 of their defensive starters from their Super Bowl-winning team in 2020, so it stands to reason that the defense should be a strength of the team again in 2021. Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles isn’t taking anything for granted, though. 

“It’s great to have familiarity in your defense, and with these guys coming back, obviously we can grow even further,” he said via the Athletic’s Greg Auman. “We really haven’t scratched the surface yet. We play well at times, but if we can put it all together, it’ll be special. You don’t ever carry last season into this season. It starts over, regardless of whether you have all 22 guys back or not. We’re not defending anything. We’re trying to earn another one. We’re not being hunted. We’re still hunting. That’s the mindset we have to go into it with.”

Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich was mentioned by many people as a potential head coaching candidate this past hiring cycle but he received no interview requests. Leftwich said he’s not worried about that in 2021 and is instead focusing on his current team. 

“I’m not going to be that guy this year,” he said. “I’m telling you guys now, I’m not going to be answering that question all year. I’m happy to be here with the group of guys I work with. I am not trying to leave this group. I enjoy working with this group of men. It’s an excellent group of men that come to work every day. As a coach, you beg and wish you could coach guys like this. I’m in no rush to leave this group of men.”

  • Despite reaching a settlement in a civil case accusing him of sexual assault, the NFL investigation into former Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown is still open, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • NFL Media’s James Palmer mentions the Buccaneers have thought about taking a quarterback to develop and giving him the benefit of working with QB Tom Brady, QB coach Clyde Christensen and HC Bruce Arians for as long as they’re around.


Falcons’ recently signed WR/RB/KR Cordarrelle Patterson is open to lining up at any position in OC Dave Ragone‘s offense. 

“Honestly man, it don’t matter where they put me on the football field,” Patterson said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I just go out and try to make a play for my team. If they want me at running back, receiver, quarterback, tight end or whatever. Just put me out there, and when my name is called, I just go out there and make a play. That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life.”

Patterson admitted that he would’ve liked a heavier workload at running back last season with the Bears and hopes next season goes well for him at the position. 

“Last year didn’t go as planned at running back. Hopefully, this year will go better,” Patterson said.


Saints HC Sean Payton said that the cornerback position is something they must address prior to the start of the regular season. 

“Corner is an area that we have to address here between now and the start of the season and I think we’ll be able to find that. We lost some good players that we knew we might have to get our [cap] numbers below,” said Payton, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.

Saints QB Taysom Hill said that there haven’t been any changes to the Saints’ approach after Drew Brees retirement. 

“The approach is still the same though,” Payton said, via Luke Johnson of “We’ve got a good core group of young, talented players that have won a lot of games and have experienced that taste of the postseason. I think you build your team around that. Is there an elevated level of excitement? I think it’s the same. As a coach, you owe it to that roster to work hard and put them in the best position to have success.”

Payton praised Jameis Winston‘s intelligence and presence in the Saints’ locker room since his addition last offseason. 

“You learn about a person — his personality, his intelligence, how he is in the locker room, how he interacts with his teammates, all those things,” Payton said. “It was a good process. Watching him come in, obviously he’s got a tremendous skill set and he’s someone that I think did a good job with his teammates.”

Hill added that his “mindset is different” with Brees gone, comparing to when the recently retired quarterback missed games due to an injury last season. 

“I think the mindset is different: Hey, Drew went down; you’re called on to step in and do everything you can to not mess it up as a back up,” Hill said. “That was my mindset. I think the mindset shifts when you become the guy. Last year, it was always a means to an end. Hey, when is Drew going to be healthy and when is he going to be ready, because your time is then over. So I think it’s a different mindset and something I’m looking forward to.”

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