Behind Enemy Lines is a weekly look at Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes every Tuesday. Let’s spy on the Bucs’ division rivals, shall we?
• The Falcons are still in the process of finding a new head coach to replace Dan Quinn and a general manager to succeed Thomas Dimitroff. The coaching search carousel added Todd Bowles as the team announced on Tuesday they had conducted an interview with Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator. Bowles, who coached the Jets prior to joining Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay, is also expected to, or has already, interviewed with Detroit and also with Philadelphia.
Atlanta has also completed virtual interviews with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris, Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Recently fired Eagles head coach Doug Pederson could also be a candidate for the Falcons’ opening although no interview has been scheduled.
• Speaking of Quinn, the former Gators, Seahawks and Falcons coach has landed a new job as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, who fired Mike Nolan immediately after the season.
• Atlanta has narrowed its general manager search down to three names according to AJC.com. Rams director of college scouting Brady Holmes along with former Houston general manager Rick Smith and Saints assistant general managerTerry Fontenot are the three top candidates to replace Dimitroff.
• The Panthers have interviewed 15 people to fill their vacant general manager job vacated when owner David Tepper fired Marty Hurney late in the 2020 season. The Panthers team website indicated a decision would be coming soon.
The latest names to be interviewed were Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer and Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan. Both were interviewed on Monday.
Two names have come up again and will be interviewed for a second time, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, indicating they may be the front-runners for the opening.
The #Panthers are interviewing #Titans Director of Player Personnel Monti Ossenfort and #49ers VP of Player Personnel Adam Peters a second time for their GM opening, source said. They could add additional candidates for similar, second round interviews as their search ramps up.
• It took a while, but the Senior Bowl, which is the annual college player pre-draft showcase, has finally found two coaching staffs willing to take on the job. Matt Rhule and his Panthers staff will take one team, while the Dolphins coaching staff has also agreed to coach the other later this month in Mobile, Alabama. The East-West Shrine Game, held annually since 1932, has been canceled due to COVID-19 precautions, but it appears the Senior Bowl is still a go.
• Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady could be one-and-done in Carolina, as he met with the Jets this week to interview for their head coaching position to replace the fired Adam Gase. Brady had previous meetings with the Chargers, Texans, and Falcons.
• Carolina’s Rhule has already said that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be evaluated like the entire roster following a solid statistical year, but one that disappointed in the win column season in Charlotte. Ian Rapoport reported last weekend that recently released Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins was visiting the Panthers last Monday. Haskins, who was selected 15th overall in 2019, has reportedly also generated some interest from some other teams as well.
• Besides possibly losing Brady, the Panthers have reportedly already lost assistant offensive line coach Marcus Satterfield, who will become the offensive coordinator at South Carolina. Satterfield came to Carolina after coaching with Rhule at Baylor for two seasons.
New Orleans Saints
• The match-up between the two best quarterbacks in NFL history – statistically anyway – will happen on Sunday evening in front of a national audience. This week Saints quarterback Drew Brees said facing Tom Brady in the playoffs was pretty much destined to happen.
“Yeah, don’t take it for granted,” Brees said following his team’s win over the Bears last Sunday. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. And listen, the minute that he signed with the Bucs and came in the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with, that was going to be a team that had playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us. So, I guess it was inevitable.”
The two teams faced off against each other twice this season with the Saints and Brees getting the best of Brady in the regular season match-ups. The game will showcase the two oldest quarterbacks in the league and with a combined age of 85 (Brady is 43 while Brees turns 42 on January 15), will feature the oldest quarterback match-up in NFL history. Brady had some fun this week with a tweet in regards to their age.
• New Orleans is taking no chances with struggling kicker Will Lutz and has signed former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh to its practice squad. Walsh gives the Saints insurance in case of injury to Lutz along with any possible COVID-19 issues that might pop up.
• A number of teams have expressed an interest in possibly hiring Saints assistant G.M. of player personnel Terry Fontenot, who has interviews with multiple teams, including twice with the Broncos. Fontenot reportedly interviewed with the Jaguars this week for their vacant general manager position.
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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