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?
• The Falcons won their first game of the season last Sunday after firing Dan Quinn earlier in the week, beating the Vikings, 40-28. Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was named interim coach to replace Quinn and while likely not a strong candidate to get the job full time, starting 1-0 beats the alternative.
Morris talked about the win following the game.
“It was about being aggressive, and our offense absolutely stayed aggressive,” Morris said. “They stayed on it. We were able to make some decisions to go for it on fourth down. They absolutely capitalized on a few of them. I really believe they just went out there and closed out the game as opposed to waiting to let it end. We wanted to go out and finish today and did a nice job of that.”
Morris’ name hasn’t been seriously linked to any head coaching jobs since since being fired following a 4-12, 2011 season with the Buccaneers and was asked about that this week.
“People always ask that question, but anytime you’re doing anything in the National Football League, you’re one of the 32 best at whatever you do,” Morris said. “It’s just a privilege to be in this league, and it’s a privilege I won’t ever take for granted. And I’ll make the most of every single opportunity that we do get, whether it be a position coach, whether it be a coordinator, whether it be a head coach. Whatever those situations are, you just take advantage of them.”
The 1-5 Falcons will take on the 2-3 Lions at home on Sunday and will give Morris another chance to turn around Atlanta’s fortunes and maybe prove to the league he is a viable head coaching candidate either in the ATL or somewhere else.
• In roster moves, the Falcons added defensive end Pita Taumoepenu and defensive back Shyheim Carter to their 16-man practice squad, the team said on Tuesday. Veteran safety J.J. Wilcox was released by Atlanta, and linebacker James Burgess was signed by the Green Bay Packers.
• The Panthers are giving star running back Christian McCaffrey a little more time to recover from an ankle injury suffered in their Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers. NFL Network reported McCaffery isn’t expected to play this Sunday against the Saints, but could be available for their following game, a Thursday night match-up with the Falcons.
A big bright spot for the Panthers has been the play of running back Mike Davis, who has 272 yards on the ground and 32 receptions for 209 yards since becoming the starter. The Panthers have gone 3-1 without McCaffrey, casting doubt on the need for teams to sign running backs to huge deals.
• Carolina’s young and inexperienced secondary took another hit this week with an injury to safety Juston Burris.
Burris was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday with a rib injury suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Bears. To replace Burris the Panthers signed Sean Chandler off the Giants practice squad.
• Prior to Sunday’s loss to Chicago, Carolina announced that they placed rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He has six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble this season.
New Orleans Saints
• “Oh when the Saints, go matching in.”
Finally Saints fans will get to actually march back into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this week and see their football team. The mayor of New Orleans and city officials will reportedly allow 3,000 fans this weekend, up to 6,000 fans at both of the Saints’ November home games, and up to 15,000 fans at both of the Saints’ December home games.
This comes a a couple weeks after the team explored the option of playing at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
• The Saints have designated linebacker Kiko Alonso and running back Ty Montgomery to return to practice. Alonso is working his way back from an ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs last season while Montgomery is recovering from an earlier hamstring injury.
• New Orleans found out last week that their hosting of the 2024 Super Bowl will be pushed back one year to 2025.
The reason is that the NFL has decided to move to a 17-game season, and that would push the Super Bowl back a week, and in 2024 it could create issues and competition with Mardi Gras, the huge annual party event which is on February 13 in 2024.
The Saints had a bye week last week and will take on the Panthers this Sunday in New Orleans. Tight end Jared Cook spoke to the media and discussed his former teammate, Teddy Bridgewater, who is now under center for the Panthers.
“Teddy’s positivity and energy he brings to practice and work everyday’s unmatched,” Cook said. “Always positive, always on to the next play, always happy man. I think what Teddy went through in Minnesota, it was unfortunate and terrible. But I think it also made Teddy an even better person, just from his outlook on life and positive activity. Because once he stepped into the huddle, a lot of times he brought that positivity with him. No matter what was going on through those five games last year, when Teddy stepped in the huddle it was all business, and he just had a sense that everything was going be okay. Even though everybody around us was panicking, the whole world was worried about what was going to happen without Drew (Brees), when Teddy stepped in there, it was just such a positive vibe, and it was just all, everything was going up.
“That’s who Teddy is and I think his past experiences have helped him become that type of leader to where, just trust in me, things will be alright. I think he definitely has the arm and physical and mental attributes to continue to do that and keep playing well. He definitely deserves it.”