By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
In 2018, the NFC South produced one playoff team and three others who woefully under-performed vs expectations.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints took a 13-3 record into the post-season and lost in what many fans still call an egregious error by the officials.
The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers both finished with 7-9 records, which was definitely not what most pundits predicted when the season began.
And finally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a dismal 5-11, are still struggling to live up to the promise that drafting quarterback Jameis Winston showed back in 2015.
Will this year see a shake-up in the rankings? Let’s see how they look so far…
Saints 19 – Chargers 17
While QB Brees took the night off, backup Taysom Hill really showed well. He went 11/15 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 55 yards. They trailed 17-3 at half-time and Hill clearly felt it was up to him to give the team some spark, get something going, and he did not disappoint. And let’s not forget the defense who held the Chargers scoreless in the second half.
Does this mean Brees should just retire now and hand the team over to Hill? Don’t get crazy! It’s still just the preseason!
Next up: at the New York Jets, Saturday Aug. 24 at 7:30pm
Here’s your daily reminder:
No one smokes a third team preseason defense like Taysom Hill.
— Tate Marks (@TateM704) August 20, 2019
Jets 22 – Falcons 10
In a game where both teams played their starting QB’s, neither Matt Ryan nor Sam Darnold managed to actually put points on the board. And that’s kind of the point, right? Ryan played nearly all of the first quarter but a couple dropped passes in the end zone left him without a TD.
Running Back Ito Smith looked good, taking a pass to the house on the 28 yard run. News from training camp this week indicates he may become more involved in the offense as they have him working with the punt returners today. His speed could be an asset to that unit.
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) August 19, 2019
Next up: host Washington on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 pm
Bills 27 – Panthers 14
Without QB Cam Newton under center for the second straight week, one thing is clear: the Panther offense lacks “spark.” I know, you’re going to tell me “spark” is overrated, but this wasn’t even fun to watch. Buffalo clearly had their way with them, both on offense and defense, including a pick six from corner back Kevin Johnson.
Ultimately, some of the young guys on Ron Rivera’s squad need to step up and show out. He’s given them two weeks to show something and so far, they haven’t performed. One cannot but help wonder who will make the effort to land a spot on the 53-man roster in week 3.
Next up: travel to Foxborough and Gillette Stadium to face New England Patriots on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 pm
Buccaneers 16 – Dolphins 13
After holding joint practices leading up to the game, the Buccaneers and new head coach Bruce Arians were ready to go. In a close game, they seemed pretty evenly matched – at least as far as the second and third string is concerned. And we finally got to see a “no pass interference” call (or non call?) overturned after review. That was pretty cool.
While many teams are facing dilemmas regarding their kickers, Tampa Bay rookie Matt Gay had two field goals, including a 48-yarder with six seconds to play to take the lead.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 17, 2019
Next up: travel to Cleveland for game with Browns on Friday Aug. 23 at 7:30 pm
Talk NFC South with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8