NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

2019 is a crucial year of Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. He’s entering the final year of his contract, which is unique for a lot of quarterbacks, let alone former No. 1 overall picks. The Buccaneers poor record since drafting Winston absolutely plays a role, and that likely needs to improve to help Winston’s chances of staying in Tampa long term. 

“All my life I’ve been a winner. And this is the year,” Winston said via Yahoo Sports’ Kimberley Martin. “This is the year that I can put a stake in the ground and move forward.”

Touchdowns and yards haven’t been an issue for Winston, but the 25-year-old passer has struggled with decision-making and turnovers at times. The Buccaneers hired HC Bruce Arians in large part for his reputation with quarterbacks, however, the coaching staff has been adamant Winston doesn’t need fixing, just some small tweaks. 

“This is not a situation where we all have to put our heads together and fix Jameis. This kid don’t need fixing,” OC Byron Leftwich said. “I think I can help him play better football. That’s all I’m trying to do. I don’t think he’s ever played bad football. That’s the misconception.”

Falcons

  • Falcons WR Julio Jones confirmed his agent Jimmy Sexton is in Atlanta, but had no further updates, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure.
  • Jones is working on a contract extension with the Falcons. 

Panthers

Panthers third-round QB Will Grier has not had the best of preseason starts so far. The rookie out of West Virginia has completed only 19 of 45 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown and two bad interceptions.

“Will is trying so hard,” Rivera said via Max Henson of the official team website. “He’s a young guy that wants to learn and wants to go out there and do things the right way. He’s just got to relax in my opinion. From what I see, I just think he presses sometimes.”

Grier said he is having issues adjusting to the speed of the pass rush in the NFL. He was known as an aggressive downfield thrower at West Virginia but hasn’t had the time or the windows so far in the NFL. 

“I feel relaxed and comfortable out there. It’s more so … the rush is coming and sometimes I see something that’s about to come open, but I can’t hang onto the ball that long,” Grier said. “I have to learn to take the underneath stuff, take what they give me. I’m not going to be able to sit back there and hold the ball. That clock has got to get faster. What (Rivera’s) really getting at there is I see things and want to make plays all the time instead of just throwing it underneath the sticks and letting guys make plays.”

Saints

Saints HC Sean Payton has a well-documented affinity for QB Taysom Hill. The Saints have deployed the athletic veteran everywhere from special teams to trick plays to even specialized offensive packages, where he’ll either line up on the field alongside QB Drew Brees or replace him to run a read-option.

Payton has said he believes Hill could be the successor to Brees one day and went so far as to compare Hill to another former athletic BYU quarterback: Hall of Famer Steve Young.

“If you look back at Steve’s career, people don’t remember the time before he came to the NFL, you have a very athletic player that, I think, advanced when he got to San Francisco,” Payton said via Nathan Brown of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He always had great ability with his legs, so you’re trying to create visions for players, and that’s no different than how you’d evaluate how we see Teddy Bridgewater progressing and what we think he can be. That’s the business we’re in.”

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