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

Atlanta Falcons

• The effects of the blockbuster trade of former star wide receiver Julio Jones to the Titans is still being talked about. New Falcons head coach Arthur Smith commented this week on the trade, sharing his thoughts with Cris Collinsworth on his podcast.

“We knew the issue with the cap and then obviously the cap went down this year, coming off the bizarre year with the pandemic, the cap actually shrunk,” Smith said. “So we knew there were going to be some big decisions we would have to make coming up. The way everything worked out, we feel pretty good. We feel like it was a win-win. With the salary cap, and Julio going to Tennessee and us right now being able to solve our short-term issue with the cap.”

The Falcons received a 2022 second-round draft pick from Tennessee in the trade, and saved the $15.3 million in salary crop space with the deal.

• The Falcons announced that safety Richie Grant has signed his four-year rookie deal with the team leaving just first-round tight end Kyle Pitts as the only 2021 draft pick unsigned.

Grant, the 40th overall pick last April, had 290 tackles, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack. five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and one interception return for a touchdown in four seasons with UCF and will be counted on as part of a revamped Atlanta secondary.

• The NFL wants teams to get to an 85 percent vaccination rate as a goal and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, while not revealing his team’s percentage, appears happy with the direction it is heading.

“All we try to do is provide the information so guys can make their own personal choices and make everything available for them to educate themselves. Again, these are all personal choices,” Smith said, while also adding he is “very comfortable with where we’re at.”

Carolina Panthers

• Most teams shoot for one joint practice with another opponent during the preseason, but in the case of the Panthers, they will scrimmage with two teams during training camp.

Carolina will travel to Indianapolis to practice against the Colts on August 12 and 13 before they play a preseason game on August 15. Then, after returning, they plan to host the Ravens for two days prior to their preseason matchup on August 21.

Panthers HC Matt Rhule

Panthers HC Matt Rhule – Photo by: USA Today

• Count star Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey as someone who has been impressed with new quarterback Sam Darnold since the former Jets first rounder joined the team in a trade this spring.

“I think I’ve seen him grow in a lot of ways,” McCaffrey told ESPN. “He’s a guy that approaches each day the exact same and continues to strive to get better. But when you make a statement Day One like Sam did, I think it’s tough — you just expect that from here on out. So somebody like him, every single day, he comes always trying to get better. As a leader, he’ll text guys late at night, asking about plays, giving us what he sees on certain plays. And you can just tell he’s dialed in.

“So every day, every throw, as a leader, as a player, just kind of developing in the offense and learning the playbook and getting everything down, he’s just been very consistent. SoI think when you stack a bunch of consistent days on top of each other, that will ultimately create a lot of growth. And that’s what he’s done.”

• The reshuffling of the Panthers front office continued this weeks with a number of moves.

Carolina announced the promotion of Pat Stewart to vice president of player personnel and also hired Cole Spencer as director of college scouting  who comes over from the Washington Football Team. Internally, E.J. Barthel was moved to a pro scouting role from his previous position as a coaching assistant and Jeff Morrow was also promoted to a senior personnel executive from his prior scouting role according to the team’s website.

New Orleans Saints

• The Saints surprised many in April when they selected rookie quarterback Ian Book out of Notre Dame in the fourth round.  Despite the scrutiny from some fans and national media, the former Irish standout is loving his time in New Orleans and trying his best to learn from the veterans as he faces the challenge of making the team.

“It’s been great,” Book said following Saints minicamp. “It’s been a dream come true to be out here and I’m just adapting and trying to be a sponge as much as I can and, on the weekends, seeing the town a little bit and just adapting to this new city. Really love it and, actually, the food down here is great, the team’s great, coaches’ been great — it’s just everything I’ve wanted.”

Saints QBs Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston

Saints QBs Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston – Photo by: USA Today

Book spoke highly of the quarterback room he is now a part of.

“I don’t know about one specific moment — every day, though, just even just the quarterback group with Jameis and Taysom and Trevor,” Book said. “Just I’ve grown up, seen all of them play before. And just to be in the room with them, it’s a special group of guys that are really helping me learn.”

• ESPN’s Marcus Spears is a Jameis Winston believer.

Spears said recently he thinks the Saints will be a playoff team with Winston, the Bucs former No. 1 pick in 2015, under center.

“I expect the Saints to make the playoffs, and I expect him not to turn the ball over a lot.”

Spears think the year observing Drew Brees will pay dividends for Winston in 2021.

“He just needed to digest the game without having to play it,” Spears said. “When you get taken first overall and have to play right away, you’re learning on the fly and never get to sit back and learn the game the right way.”

Share On Socials

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 [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
EricNV
EricNV
11 months ago

Jameis won’t turn the ball over a lot? Maybe when pigs fly. Maybe.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  EricNV
11 months ago

We’ll see. When he did play briefly last season, I thought he looked almost robotic. He’s clearly put effort into reducing his improvisational tendencies as a player, but I’m not sure that’s actually good for him or his team. If he reduces turnovers, but as a result takes a lot more sacks and also significantly reduces the notable positive plays he makes, then how good is he then? Maybe better overall than he was before, but not by much. At that point, he’s basically Teddy Bridgewater – good enough to play, but not good enough to help a good team… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
11 months ago

Anyone who’s being honest will say that they think Jameis CAN be successful long term as a starting QB in this league. The path for him is simple – reduce turnovers. Had he put up the production of 2019 with the turnovers even just of years prior – when he averaged 14.5 INTs per year for his first four seasons – without reducing them at all, then he’d have easily been a top 10 QB in the league that year. Whether or not he makes it happen this year with a weak WR/TE core outside of Michael Thomas and with… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  toofamiliar17
11 months ago

I share your frustrations about the vax. I had mine ASAP and have had no lingering affects except for wanting to sleep upside down in my closet in the daytime.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  drdneast
11 months ago

Just kidding of course. Stupid not to get vaxed. If that offends anyone, tough.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  drdneast
11 months ago

Yea, it’s definitely a problem. But almost more frustrating is the swaths of anti-vaxxers who don’t understand why OTHER people care so much whether or not they get vaccinated. It’s a personal choice that directly affects others. So of COURSE they care, the same way they care whether or not your kid is vaccinated against the measles and polio when they send their child to school, the same way they care whether or not you get loaded before getting behind the wheel of your car. When our actions directly impact others, it is plenty reasonable for those other people to… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  toofamiliar17
10 months ago

Simply control what you can control. Stay in your bubble if you choose, but get your nose out of my life and personal choices. I had the shots, but I sure believe in a person’s rights to take the very limited risk and refrain.

PissedOffBuc1988
PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  toofamiliar17
11 months ago

It’s not the same thing what so ever. Drinking and driving is illegal. Last time I checked, not getting the covid vaccine is not against the law. It’s a personal choice, just like you have the choice to get vaccinated the people who don’t are entitled to the same right. But you’re free to use whatever you need to in order to make things fit your narrative.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Did you have to try really hard to completely miss my point, or did it just come naturally to you?

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Very simply – two things do not have to be identical in details and contexts for them to be reasonably comparable. Of course choosing not to get the vaccine isn’t illegal, as drinking and driving is. Thank you for your brilliant, insightful contribution there. The sole basis for my comparison, my ONLY point, is that both are choices that have the potential to affect the well being of others, and that it is because of that potential that people care what choices other individuals make in these matters. I don’t remotely expect everyone in the world to agree with me,… Read more »

Dave
Dave
Reply to  toofamiliar17
10 months ago

Sorry, but I think this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen you post. Just because your post is long, articulate, and well worded, doesn’t mean it’s right. Nor does it mean that someone is wrong, because they dare to differ from your intelligent, well thought out opinion. Your analogy for starters, is horrible. But more importantly, everyone has a right to do what’s in their own best interest. To say it blows your mind, why people would dare consider not getting an emergency use vaccine, that was completely rushed, and has only been in use for a half… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Dave
bucballer
bucballer
11 months ago

I want to see just how good Saints r without Drew. I just don’t believe the QB will have the same success as Brees did. We’re talking a HOF QB. Saints have talent, but if they r banking on Winston at QB it’s 50-50 chance he produces. Could throw for 3500 yards with 25 picks or he could just shit the bed…

scubog
scubog
11 months ago

This is a football site folks! I should have known the mention of a the NFL’s goal would ignite the grandstanding. First off; I had both shots. It was my choice. Sadly, once again, everything is made political. People who choose not to get the COVID vaccine or any other of the common ones most of us had as kids, is their choice or their own parent’s choice. Not mine. Seems to me, if a person has the vaccine he/she/they is protected from those who didn’t and from those who realize that mask is not the barrier some would like… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  scubog
11 months ago

The science is that there are three different vaccines. They each have different success rates at preventing Covid in those who receive them – 95% (Pfizer), 94% (Moderna), and 66% (J&J). These are the facts. Additionally, there are still vulnerable people, including a few I personally know and love, who should not necessarily reserve the vaccine yet. I know several women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, I have a child who is under the age to receive the vaccine, and my father in law (who is a 63 year old diabetic, which makes him very high-risk) can’t take vaccines because… Read more »

fredster
fredster
11 months ago

Good article. Not lots of stuff to report on in late June. As far as Winston goes, I do believe he will be successful and beat out Hill. Hill doesn’t not have the tools to be a starter or consistent starter in NFL. He’s what Peyton used him for, a “gadget” guy. Back up in a pinch if run game and defense play great? Sure and he did that ok last year. He won’t ever be quality starter or lead a team to playoffs/Super Bowl. I’ll say this too. I love me some Tom Brady. We don’t sniff super bowl… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by fredster
toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  fredster
11 months ago

I think this is pretty level-headed stuff. With the Saints QB situation – yea, I think it’s unlikely that Winston is ever good enough to lead a team to a championship. But I think it’s flat out outside of Hill’s ability to do so. If Winston’s odds are, say, 5%, I think Hill is at 1%, or something like that. With Winston, you simply need him to make fewer negative plays. Because on the positive side of the ledger, he’s already shown the ability to be genuinely elite. Whereas with Hill, he lacks the basic requisite skill set to be… Read more »