NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Falcons

Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank was surprisingly not ready to commit to QB Matt Ryan moving forward and plans to leave it up to the next regime. 

“I love Matt, much like I love Dan and I love Thomas,” Blank said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Matt has been a franchise leader for us. A great quarterback. One of the leading quarterbacks in the last 13 years in the NFL. So, I hope he’s going to be a part of our plans going forward, but that will be a decision that I won’t make. Matt has the ability to play at a high level even at this age, whether if that is going to continue or not, I’m not sure, I appreciate his willingness to consider doing that and the level that he’s played for us, for 13 years, which has been incredible. So, I will….we’ll have to see. That’s going to have been a decision, at the end of the day, part of it will be up to the player, and part of it will be up to the (new) coaching staff. Whether or not Matt can keep himself together and God willing, he’ll be able to do that and play at the level he’s capable of playing at.”

  • NFL Media’s Steve Wyche says the way Blank talked about Ryan caught his attention and suggested perhaps that the 35-year-old quarterback has seriously considered or is considering retirement. 

Saints

Fights happen in NFL locker rooms, particularly in training camp, but it’s incumbent upon the players involved and the team leaders to make sure it doesn’t become toxic to the team culture. To that end, the Saints suspended WR Michael Thomas for Monday night’s game and QB Drew Brees and others have talked with the receiver to ensure the punch he threw at a teammate doesn’t have lingering effects. 

“I’ve spoken with Mike,” Brees said via Luke Johnson of NOLA.com. “Mike and I talk a lot, both personally in the locker room, by text message — we’re always communicating. So at the end of the day, Mike has been part of this team, he’s going to be a big part of this team moving forward. We had an incident and Sean addressed it and many of the leaders have spoken with Mike as well. We’re going to be all good.”

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan writes Thomas’ suspension had less to do with the punch and more of how he talked back to coaches afterward, including HC Sean Payton, and refused counsel, representing a larger problem. The team wanted to make a point and send a public message. 
  • Duncan adds that while Thomas’ competitiveness is what gives him his edge and sets him apart, it often crosses the line into boorish or churlish behavior that grates on teammates and other members of the organization. 
  • Thomas has yelled at team trainers for not taping his ankles properly and accused an administrative staffer of going through his mail. His unpredictable and aloof nature has alienated members of the team’s PR staff and one person close to Thomas asked Payton to address it with him during camp: “What makes him great is also what makes him difficult. Michael can be his own worst enemy at times.”
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