NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints


New Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles‘ first stint as a head coach with the Jets did not go great. He was fired after four seasons with a 24-40 record. His biggest issue appeared to be the lack of a quarterback, though, and that won’t be an issue with Tom Brady still in Tampa for another season. That should give Bowles’ leadership and defensive acumen the ability to really shine.  

“The game plan we had for the [2020] Super Bowl that our defensive staff put together was a masterpiece,” former Bucs DT Steve McLendon said on FanSided’s The Matt Lombardo Show podcast. “Todd Bowles walked in one day and told us ‘this game shouldn’t be close,’ that’s all I kept saying leading up to that game. Todd had something for the defensive line, he had something for the linebackers, the secondary, it was like the whole defense was working one accord. From the moment he shared that game plan that first week before the Super Bowl, it felt like that was one of the greatest game plans you could ever put together.”


Falcons’ new LB Rashaan Evans said that he felt “at home” coming to Atlanta and was glad to join LB Lorenzo Carter and reuinte with QB Marcus Mariota

“When I went into the building, it felt like I was at home,” Evans said, via Scott Bair of the team’s official site. “There were so many faces I recognized, even guys I’ve never played with, but I know from playing in football all these years. Over the course of time, I’ve met guys like Lorenzo Carter and some of the new signees. I’ve played with Marcus [Mariota]. Seeing them makes you want to be there. That was the biggest thing for me.”

Evans feels that he grew “through adversity” while with the Tennessee Titans and picked up an “extra tool” with his game. 

“That’s what makes it so exciting,” Evans said. “When you go through adversity, it gives you that extra tool, maybe some thicker armor that you need to handle the new success coming to you in the near future. That’s what God prepared me for. I think everything happens for a reason, even up to right now and joining the Falcons, some great coaches and amazing fans. I think everything’s coming together like it’s supposed to.”

  • Falcons’ recently signed WR Damiere Byrd said he didn’t join a “rebuild” process in Atlanta and is eager to compete: “I’m not here to rebuild anything, I’m preparing to compete.” (Josh Kendall)


A lot has changed in the past two years with the Saints, with QB Drew Brees and now HC Sean Payton gone. New Orleans held things together last year but execs from other teams think they’ll have a harder time of that in 2022. 

“I think they fall hard,” an evaluator said via the Athletic’s Mike Sando. “Sean had a good run and maybe said, ‘Hey, if I’m going to have to reshuffle the whole deck, maybe I do it at a new team. I think they are a 100% reshuffle. They could be banking on going 5-2 with Jameis [Winston], but it was 5-2 with Payton and now you have Armstead leaving, Malcolm Jenkins retiring, Cam Jordan is no kid, Demario Davis is one of the oldest inside linebackers — I don’t see them getting better.”

  • Another executive thought the Saints may have been willing to trade a first in 2023 because they think they’ll recoup a pick by trading Payton if/when he comes back out of retirement. 
  • A third said it’s obvious the team still thinks it can compete, especially with how watered down the NFC has become: “They clearly have a plan in mind that none of us knows.”
  • The Saints had a virtual meeting with Washington State CB Jaylen Watson. (Justin Melo)

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