Behind Enemy Lines is a look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every week. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?

Atlanta Falcons

• The Falcons have had a rash of players placed on the COVID-19 reserve list this season, and added another on Tuesday with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell being placed on the list. Treadwell joins free-agent prize pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. who was added on Sunday. Other players this season who have seen their name on the list include defensive end John Cominsky and linebacker Edmond Robinson among others, and even a member of their staff last month in a move that prompted a brief shutdown of the facility.

Falcons DE Dante Fowler

Falcons DE Dante Fowler Jr. – Photo by: USA Today

• The Falcons have a match-up with their division rival Saints this weekend, and are hoping to have one of their best offensive weapons back in the lineup. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley resumed running this week and is recovering from a sprained ankle suffered in Week 8.

While the Falcons are hoping for the best, head coach Raheem Morris told reporters on Tuesday it is still too early to know when Ridley might be able to go.

“We should have a better feel for him on Wednesday, getting him in here, getting him into individual drills, getting him into a little bit of team work and see how he goes, talking him through it and just seeing where he’s at little by little, step by step in order to get him to Sunday and see if we can get him going,” Morris said.

Ridley is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions, and leads the Falcons with 657 yards receiving and six touchdown catches.

• Former first-round pick defensive end Takk McKinley was waived by the Falcons last week after making disparaging remarks about the team on social media and voicing his displeasure that he wasn’t traded last month. McKinley was claimed off of waivers by the Bengals, but was released due to a failed physical. Reports say the 49ers plan to make a claim on McKinley. The Browns and Raiders are also reportedly interested in signing him, but the 49ers have priority.

Carolina Panthers

• When Bucs linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul took Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater down late in Sunday’s game, the Panthers organization and fans all held their breath, flashing back to Bridgewater’s gruesome injury when he played in Minnesota. Fortunately for all involved, an MRI on Monday came back showing no major damage, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

QB Teddy Bridgewater

QB Teddy Bridgewater – Photo by: USA Today

According to reports, it is a low-grade MCL sprain and Bridgewater is listed as day-to-day.

• With Bridgewater’s status for this week unknown, the Panthers signed Tommy Stevens to their practice squad. Stevens was drafted in the seventh round by the Saints last April and was listed as a tight end on the Saints’ practice squad.

• Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey can’t seem to win with injuries this season, and according to Adam Schefter, the star running back may miss multiple weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 9.

New Orleans Saints

• Will the Bucs be able to overtake the Saints for the NFC South title? The path might have gotten easier this week, after it was revealed that quarterback Drew Brees has at least five fractured ribs and a collapsed lung following a sack against the 49ers on Sunday. The Saints have sent his scans to other doctors to get second opinions to determine if he should be placed on injured reserve, which means he would miss a minimum of three games. It was also determined that three of the fractures occurred in the Saints victory over the Bucs two weeks ago.

Saints QB Draw Brees

Saints QB Draw Brees – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

So who lines up under center in Brees’ absence? Head coach Sean Payton isn’t letting the cat out of the bag just yet. And it is likely both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will see time at quarterback until Brees is healthy enough to return.

“The plan we’ll have up and in place for our team this week, obviously to include Jameis (Winston) and Taysom (Hill), will be the best plan we feel like helps us win,” Payton said on Monday. “And those guys, man, they’ve been fantastic. They’ll be all-in.”

QB coach Joe Lombardi talked about the situation the Saints face.

“You never want to lose Drew, and I don’t know exactly what his condition is other than that he’s sore,” Lombardi said. “But we’re very confident in both those guys (Winston and Hill). They’re both smart, hard-working. They understand what we’re trying to do. And I think regardless of what happens, we feel pretty confident going forward.”

• Winston took over for Brees on Sunday and went 6-of-10 for 63 yards. Winston spoke to NOLA.com and talked about getting his first significant playing time since last season when he was the Bucs starter.

“I was very comfortable,” Winston said. “I was excited that I had a marvelous opportunity. I knew that my main job was to go and do what Drew would do — protect the football and try to lead us down there and score.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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BUC-ASS-BOB
8 months ago

Looks like Staints will be turning ball over and experience the woes that use to be a Season killing events for the Bucs, Good news Bucs just need to win and Jameis will hand them 1 st place nfc south on platter.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BUC-ASS-BOB
8 months ago

Hope the Bucs win and the Saints lose, but I wouldn’t count on Sean Peyton running Arian’s risky offense anytime soon. Also, didn’t Brady throw 5 interceptions and fumble twice in two losses to the “Staints” defense this year? Just checking.

Last edited 8 months ago by BigSombrero
Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Yeah Payton is going to ask JW to do what Brees does instead lol. Which is read what the defense is in pre-snap. Make the audible at the line if needed. Then post snap, go through ALL of his progressions, If nobody is open, either throw it away or check it down to the RB. Methodically move the ball down field. Put up TD’s and not FG’s. And most importantly….PROTECT THE BALL at all times! So JW is going to do all that? Yeah good luck lol. All I can say is, I’ve got my popcorn ready!

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
eaustinyoung
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

EXACTLY. Winston’s problem was never physical, it was cerebral. He doesn’t have the mental edge to win consistently. Brees lacked physical attributes but his mind is razor sharp.

Spitfire
8 months ago

Every time Winston mentions protecting the ball I cringe. I always hoped he would overcome that but every time he udders those stupid words it just sounds so dumb.

Spitfire
Reply to  Spitfire
8 months ago

I hope he throws another 30 INTs in his remaining games he may play in this year. Although honestly the Wildcard spot is looking really nice right now vs. the NFC East… I can’t lie…

BigSombrero
Reply to  Spitfire
8 months ago

I wouldn’t be hoping to face the Giants, who could still win the division. They seem to have Brady’s number.

Last edited 8 months ago by BigSombrero
Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

They have his number. Interesting. I could have sworn we beat the Giants. Must have read it wrong

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

Brady is 5-3 against the Giants over his career lol.

Last edited 8 months ago by eaustinyoung
BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Brady’s greatest team of all time was the undefeated squad with Moss and Welker. Brady was in his prime. He was defeated by the Giants in the Super Bowl.

Then they did it again.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

Why do you think that game was chosen by NFL brass to be nationally televised?

Also, the a Bucs barely won that game and it’s created more questions than answers in the aftermath.

But I digress. I’m excited to see which team shows up for prime time the next two weeks.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Almost every NFC East game is nationally televised simply because they own the biggest markets.

BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Not really. Giants had 2 appearances. No skins this year on MNF or SNF. Also, the big market argument is lame. The Jets aren’t on TV all the time nationally.

Buc76
8 months ago

I wouldn’t be so sure about Winston. History has shown over and over when quarterbacks leave here they always do better. Sean Payton calls the plays unlike here where Winston and Brady both have Byron Leftwich who is a subpar play caller. I bet Winston does a lot better than he did here

BigSombrero
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Exactly. Winston may be lots of things, but a competitor with a strong arm is amongst them. He may actually be able to use Sanders as a deep threat in a way Brees couldn’t. Also, he has prototypical possession receiver Michael Thomas. Plus, I expect him to dump it off to Kamara like Brees does. Kamara is having an MVP season.

Before Winston was in BA’s offense, he typically had less than 1 turnover per game on average for his first 4 years. I expect him to revert to the mean.

Last edited 8 months ago by BigSombrero
eaustinyoung
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

What about when he had Todd Monken and Lovie Smith? Or Dirk Koetter? He sucked those years too.

BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

That’s just plain dumb. Those coaches haven’t won anything after leaving Tampa, unless you include pink slips.

twspin
8 months ago

Bucs fans are quick to blame all of our woes on Jameis.Just like they did on McCoy..on and on. We choose a scapegoat and rally around that. But I would not put nails in Jameis coffin just yet. I like his chances of still becoming a very good QB in the NFl. Sitting for half a season may have been just what he needed. Payton is arguably on par with or even a better coach than Arians. Ever hear of past Buc Qb’s like Dilfer, Willians, Young..all who went on the win Superbowls?. Jameis may yet have the last laugh.… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  twspin
8 months ago

I agree about Winston not being fully at blame, but that’s because he’s healthy, proven and 26.

Gerald McCoy was a different story. Dont confuse the two players stories.

McCoy had multiple injuries, including and especially his biceps. He couldn’t tackle anymore. He had “aligator arms” as RBs ran by/through him. His great “get off” was of zero use in the end and he was a liability in the run defense. Also, his poor example in the locker room of smiling while cashing checks had to go. Losing shouldn’t make anyone smile.

BigSombrero
8 months ago

I just rewatched the EPIC game from 2019 vs LA at LA. It was one of the great franchise wins and Godwin really lead the way. Also, Mike Evans had 89 yards and a long touchdown where he did (an AB?) impersonation as he scored. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zojtY_7AA00 Will Brady shoot it out with the Rams like Winston did last season? We should all hope so, because if Winston gets in a passing battle with Atlanta and puts up 450/3TDs while Brady gets stuffed on MNF in prime time, there will be a developed theme of Bruce Arians offense and the Brady/Bucs… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

If you’re such a Jameis Winston fan and for some reason are hoping Tom Brady fails, why don’t you just become a Colts and Saints fan?

BigSombrero
Reply to  scubog
8 months ago

I was always disappointed Warrick Dunn didn’t win a Super Bowl in Tampa. I still enjoyed watching him play after he left, although I never became a Falcons fan. If you disliked him once he left, that’s your prerogative. I feel the same about Winston who got a raw deal with a poor coaching carousel, poor OL play, poor RB, historically bad defense, and kicker after kicker who were cursed. In spite of that, he played better than any QB in franchise history. Sure, Winston was immature and got into trouble one time as a Buc. Of course his trouble… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

I liked him too Big-S, wore # 3 and often defended his actions and sporadic play just as I have for every one of the QB’s before him.

Warrick Dunn, was and still is, easy to admire and had no such maturity issues on or off the field. While I wished #28 well when he departed for Atlanta, I turned my loyalties to Michael Pittman. You, on the other hand, seem to secretly, or maybe not so secretly, hope TB12 shows his age.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

You Winston apologists are absurd.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Also, Evans’ celebration was Lebron James. Evans has been a basketball guy his whole life.

BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Thanks. Always been a Michael Jordan guy, but you probably could’ve guessed that since I didn’t know the routine.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Yeah sure, let’s compare the top 3 Rams pass defense versus the bottom 2 ranked Falcons pass defense. If Brady has a less than elite day, he’d join every other QB that’s faced the Rams pass defense this season. And if Jameis goes off, he’d also join every other QB that’s faced the Falcons pass defense this year. It’s just mind numbing to me that 10 games into the season, and you’re still looking for ways to say Brady hasn’t been great. You are the troll of all trolls. On pace for an 11-5 record. 66%, 4400 yards, 42 total… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

Everyone knows it? Here’s what I know…

Bucs have 6 games left before the playoffs start. Anything less than a Super Bowl victory will be a massive disappointment. That’s because this team will be blown up after this season and a rebuild will be underway.

Ka-Boom!

CrackerBall
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

It’s too bad we can’t blow up a certain unpopular poster here… Ka-Boom!

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Correct. Everyone knows it. Or maybe I should rephrase. Everyone who doesn’t have a clear bias against Brady knows it. Stats don’t lie. Even at 43, on a new team, with a new coaching staff, new teammates, with no OTA’s, a shortened training camp, and no preseason games, Brady is still putting up wins and stats that JW is humanly incapable of. That’s what I know

Blowing it up next year? Interesting. I could have sworn that Brady was here for 2 years. Hmm. Seems like I’m misreading everything these days

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

Brady will be here. But Godwin, Suh, Barrett, Nunez-Roches, Jensen, Antonio Brown, Gonk, Brate, and of course Donovan Smith are less likely to re-sign as the Cap will be 25 million lower.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Ohh how cute. You picked one of the only TWO games Jameis had all year where he played great, efficient, low TO football(less than 2 TO’s), in a winning effort. The Lions game being the other. Jameis in 16 games last year had all of 3 games with 3+ TD’s and 1 or less TO’s. Brady already has 4 through 10 games. And in 16 games last season, JW had exactly ONE game with no TO’s. Brady already has 6 TO free games through 10. But sure, let’s pick one of JW’s only 2 great games last year lol

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
8 months ago

I guess we’ll see how he does when the chips are down in the big spots to come. Same goes for Winston.

I’ve got my popcorn ready!

SufferingSince76
8 months ago

Jameis proved who he is in his 5 years with the Bucs. Too inconsistent and turnover prone to be reliable week to week.

BigSombrero
Reply to  SufferingSince76
8 months ago

With a good defense, a great coach, a stable kicking game, and talent at RB I am interested to see if it was the Bucs or JabooWins.

eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Winston had the #8 offensive line last year. Sacked 47 times. He has the #5 offensive line in New Orleans. He was sacked twice in half a game last week against a practice squad defense.

Dave
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Lol. Oh we heard all off-season that Brady is an old washed up statue, and the old man was going to killed behind this OLine. I had a good laugh at that many times. And he we are in week 10, and Brady is on pace to be sacked a whopping 22 times(or 25 less times than Jameis did last year. With essentially the exact same OLine as last year lol)

CrackerBall
8 months ago

Brees out, Winston in… and playoffs out. If Brees misses significant time, Taysom Hill should be their choice. After seeing Winston twice a year, since 2015, they should know what they have in Winston. Yet… they still signed him.

A cheap one year tryout for easily the most frustrating QB in recent memory.

Schadenfreude

Last edited 8 months ago by CrackerBall
BigSombrero
Reply to  CrackerBall
8 months ago

Schadenfreude? Aint that the truth!

Thats how Bucs fans will feel if Peyton wins with Winston like he did with Bridgewater. I would hazard a guess that Sean Peyton is a better coach than Lovie, Dirk, and BA, but you seem to be the expert on how foolish they were to sign him.

CrackerBall
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Looks like Taysom Hill, and not Jameis Winston, gets the start against ATL
comment image?itemid=12400026

Last edited 8 months ago by CrackerBall
CrackerBall
Reply to  BigSombrero
8 months ago

Despite your snarky “expert” comment, I will continue to maintain my position regarding Jameis. He’s had many many chances here (*too many in my opinion) to fulfill his destiny and lofty Draft position – and outside of some gaudy garbage-time numbers, he has done nothing but disappoint (both on and off the field). If Sean Peyton can make something out of him, good for him, but I personally wouldn’t hold my breath.
comment image

You, on the other hand, may feel free to do so.

Roladin
8 months ago

Per NFL.com:
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Saints are expected to start Taysom Hill on Sunday after giving him all the starter reps in practice this week, per a source informed of the situation.