NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Matt Rhule, Saints

Buccaneers

  • According to CBS Sports analyst and former agent Joel Corry, Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis is a strong franchise tag candidate this offseason. He projects the tag to be $17.287 million. 
  • Corry doesn’t think WR Chris Godwin is a serious option to be tagged given his ACL injury and the fact he’s coming off a tag already. 
  • Buccaneers’ assistant HC Harold Goodwin noted that he worked with GM Jason Licht to prepare for the absence of HC Bruce Arians: “I just stayed out the way. I just controlled the team meeting.” (Rick Stroud)
  • Goodwin said WR Mike Evans would be a game-day decision: “Cross our fingers, hopefully, he will be out there.” (Stroud)
  • Goodwin also mentioned that WR Antonio Brown “tweaked” his ankle in practice but could still possibly play this week as a game-time decision. (Greg Auman)

Panthers

Panthers HC Matt Rhule appears set to get another year in Carolina, according to PFN’s Tony Pauline.

Pauline indicates that while Rhule will likely get another year to lead the team, there could be a number of moves revamping the assistant coaching staff.

We already saw Joe Brady get dumped about three weeks ago. I would expect more coaches to be fired at the end of the season. But as many people say, unless he gets his quarterback, it’s probably going to be the same thing in 2022 for the Panthers because obviously, the Sam Darnold trade has not panned out.

Some outside of the Panthers organization have been critical of HC Matt Rhule this season, with one anonymous personnel official telling The Athletic that the on-field product simply isn’t working in Carolina.

“The proof’s in the pudding,” said the veteran personnel official, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. “The product on the field is bad. (Rhule) can say toughness in his mind, but they’re not oozing toughness on the field. They’re soft. They’re a really soft football team. I don’t see the defense stopping anybody where it’s a 14-13 score. That’s tough football.”

  • Sources tell Person that Panthers owner David Tepper is unhappy and embarrassed after he outbid the Giants for Rhule a few years ago.
  • A Panthers source characterized the team’s regression in Rhule’s second season as “a clusterfuck” and several other sources believe the same attributes that made Rhule a successful college coach are undermining him in the NFL.
  • Rhule reportedly has a tendency to micromanage and there’s a feeling that he keeps too many of his former college players, which may have affected the team’s locker room.
  • During the college coaching cycle, Rhule’s name was linked to some notable jobs as a potential option. Person reports that several of the big schools reached out to gauge his interest.

Saints

Despite missing over 20 players due to Covid, Saints GM Mickey Loomis said he was told by the NFL that there was virtually no way that the team’s game would get cancelled or postponed.

When you have 18 active players and four of your practice squad players test positive for COVID, it’s just too much to overcome, frankly,” Loomis said, via The Athletic. “It wasn’t fair to the players. It wasn’t fair to our coaching staff, and certainly not the fans. It was a tough week, but it’s behind us now.

QB Taysom Hill, who tested positive, said it was tough for him to watch his teammates from home.

I was talking to my wife during the game that this is so abnormal for me in the NFL, this was the fifth game I missed this season not being able to play,” Hill said. “It was a tough deal where you want to be available and you want to help your team and it is one of those things where you are stuck at the house watching the game. It’s nice to be back and (I’m) excited for these next few weeks.

Hill said that he’s noticed great things from rookie QB Ian Book, and wished he was available to help him more on the sidelines.

Ian has been a great rookie. He’s been fun to have around. He came in here with the right mindset, wanting and willing to work hard and all those things, so when this happened and he was getting this opportunity, I was excited for him,” Hill said. “The thing that was most disappointing … was that I wasn’t able to be there on the sideline, to talk him through different things, what they were doing, whatever that conversation would have been on the sideline. I think there’s a comfort level from training camp to now. We’ve been together a long time. I was disappointed I wasn’t here for him that way.

Hill is still dealing with a host of minor injuries, something that the week off didn’t do much to alleviate.

I would have said the answer was yes in some weeks,” Hill said. “Now there are some weeks you get banged up over the others. I would say by week 17, everyone’s dealing with something, but I would say physically, my body has gotten used to the bumps, bruises and the banging, what’s asked of me on game day. Honestly, I felt fine. The issues between my finger and foot, those are issues I’ll have to deal with the rest of the season, so physically I felt fine last week and I wouldn’t say that there’s any noticeable difference from last week to this week.

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