Week 3 of the NFL Preseason may just be an indication of how the entire season will finish up in the NFC South.
The New Orleans Saints had a commanding victory, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squeaked one out with a game-winning field goal and both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers struggled to find any offense at all.
Panthers QB Cam Newton suffered a foot injury and while x-rays have come back negative, seeing him in a walking boot has to put quite a bit of fear into the hearts of Carolina fans!
Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers started their second day of joint practices under dark and ominous skies. After several runs back and forth, indoor then out, fans and media were eventually sent indoor permanently due to lightning in the area. As both squads moved into their routine drills, several things stood out.
The Dolphins quarterback battle continued. Josh Rosen took the majority of the snaps with the first team, while Ryan Fitzpatrick worked the day with the second team. Both seemed to have their struggles as the Dolphins continue to try to fill in some serious holes on that offensive line.
New Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy isn’t happy with his old team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave his number, 93, away. And to not just some random rookie, but to Ndamukong Suh, his replacement. McCoy didn’t take it well.
“As far as signing him, organizations have to do what they have to do when you let a player of my caliber go, so I understand that,” McCoy said. “But as far as giving away my number, in the history of the Bucs, they have a ring of honor, and all of the greatest players in the organization usually get their numbers retired.”
“Them giving the number away, that’s their prerogative, but the respect they showed. It would be different if it was a guy who signed four or five years. This is a one-year deal … I mean, it may seem like it’s just a number, but it’s bigger than that. It’s respect, and that was a big part of the separation between me and Tampa, period, was the respect they showed to me all offseason, it just wasn’t there.”
As we prepare for the new 2019 NFL season, 8 teams have new head coaches, with 6 of them being first-time head coaches.: Cardinals, Bengals, Browns, Packers, Dolphins, Broncos.
The Jets and Bucs have hired coaches with previous head coaching experience.
As we prepare for mini camps, voluntary and mandatory, the media is in full force with its cycle of praise and criticism, almost seemly setting some up for instant success or in other cases instance failure.
This leaves many fans questioning how their favorite teams could make such a questionable hire.
This week I’ll be looking at the AFC and NFC South and how they did with their drafts. I’ll ask 3 questions about each team. Did they address their biggest need? Who will have the biggest impact? What could 2019 look like?
Let’s start with the Indianapolis Colts. After having a pretty strong offensive line, quarterback Andrew Luck, and Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron, the Colts focused on defense. 7 of their 10 picks were defensive.
Who could have the biggest impact? Former Michigan State safety Khari Willis. He worked hard and was an impact player. I think he’ll fit in nicely. 2019 for the Colts? If their defense lives up to its potential, it could be tough sledding for the rest of the AFC South.
This season an unprecedented eight NFL teams will have new head coaches. And for six of these coaches, it will be their first time running the whole show.
Bruce Arians has stepped out of the booth and back onto the field in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have floundered recently and Jameis Winston hasn’t grown or flourished the way we expected him to when he was drafted in 2015. Perhaps promoting former NFL QB turned offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be the first step in turning Winston around.
But the seven other coaches have their work cut out for them. Let’s take a look at these “rookies” and, maybe the biggest key to their success, who will be under center as they take the field.
On an OurTurf podcast earlier this year, I spoke with my fellow reporters about what coaching job I felt would be a good situation to get into. Dayna and I agreed: Tampa Bay.
There are no sky-high expectations because they finished last in their division. They have a decent group of players that they can work with. Players such as two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, linebacker Lavonte David, and a pretty solid defensive corps with players such as defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
There’s a lot of good groundwork that can be built upon, that new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can take advantage of. Granted, McCoy could be leaving Tampa Bay, however, that would give them about $13 million in cap room, should they do that. That would also allow their 2018 1st round pick, DT Vita Vea a good chance to shine, even though last season he was hampered by injury.