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

Atlanta Falcons

• Falcons QB Matt Ryan is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Just four years ago Ryan was the NFL MVP and led the Falcons to the Super Bowl. So most would agree he is a very talented passer. But the best in the NFC South? A division with Tom Brady and Drew Brees? According to Ryan, he thinks he is.

“Currently, yeah, I’ll go with myself,” Ryan told Pardon My Take Podcast recently.

However, Ryan isn’t the only one who thinks he is the best in the NFC South. The Pro Football Talk duo of Mike Florio and Chris Simms ranked Ryan the seventh best quarterback in the NFL and had Brees and Brady ranked 15th and 16th, respectively.

The good news is that the answer will come on the field this season as the three quarterbacks will face each other twice this season. And only one team can come out as NFC South champs.

Ex-Bucs coach Raheem Morris
Ex-Bucs coach Raheem Morris – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Former Bucs head coach and current Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris recently participated in the Quarterback Coaching Summit designed to help minority coaches get ahead in their careers. Morris had some strong words of support for the organization, particularly owner Arthur Blank.

“We talked about some of the injustices and how our organization handles things differently,” Morris told AJC.com’s  D. Orlando Ledbetter. “Just starting right from the top with Arthur Blank going to Dan Quinn and how it’s a different vibe in Atlanta. For whatever reason, it just is. It’s because of the owner, it’s because of the head coach and it’s because of the pride of the people of Atlanta have always instilled in Arthur. He didn’t just start thinking about social injustices when the crisis happened that made everybody in the world break out and start to protest. He was ahead of the game. He was one of the people who led that charge right from the beginning from what he’s started to do in the city of Atlanta.”

• Back-to-back 7-9 seasons aren’t the worst thing in the world for a football team, but it rarely gets a team in the playoffs. The name of the game is the postseason, and being stagnant doesn’t sit well with billionaire owners. That is the case with Blank, who retained Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after the last two mediocre seasons. Blank made it clear he wants to see improvement in 2020 and Dimitroff understands the expectations.

“I believe that we are in a really good spot,” Dimitroff told the team’s website recently. “Of course . . . there are high expectations coming into this season. Everyone knows that. No one is shying away from that. Dan and myself included.”

You can watch the entire interview with Quinn here.

Carolina Panthers

Former Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton was released by Carolina earlier this year as the team decided to go with free agent Teddy Bridgewater as his successor. Newton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots over the weekend and soon posted a farewell video for his fans.

• With Newton now a Patriot, and Bridgewater now firmly entrenched as the starter for Carolina, the big question is how will Bridgewater perform in new head coach Matt Rhule’s offense. Some have questioned Bridgewater’s arm strength, but new head coach Matt Rhule doesn’t see that being a problem at all.

“Teddy, for us, is exactly what we want,” Rhule told Joe Person of TheAthletic.com. “I think this offense in general, when you look at in New Orleans, that iteration of it, where [offensive coordinator] Joe [Brady] first learned it, is not necessarily a vertical, down-the-field passing game as much as it is a catch-and-run, underneath, match-up type passing game.

QB Teddy Bridgewater – Photo by: Getty Images
QB Teddy Bridgewater – Photo by: Getty Images

“You obviously have to be able to throw the ball downfield. Teddy’s got a great arm. I can remember he threw what I would call a launch route 48 yards down the right sideline to the 12-yard line against somebody. So he certainly has the arm strength to do it.”

• With the social justice reform wave going on around the country currently, expect to see a much larger number of players take a knee during the national anthem in 2020. But it might not just be players who are kneeling.

“I would consider anything as we move forward,” Rhule said last week on a conference call. “I’m supportive of the cause. I’m supportive of the movement. I’m supportive of social justice. I think for every person, coach or player, that will be a very personal decision. I think it has to be made at the right time and the right reason for everybody.”

New Orleans Saints

• No one can say for sure what a 2020 COVID-19 NFL season will look like yet, or even if there will be a season. But the NFL is making plans and part of that is to block off the first several rows of seats near the field for games this year. The Saints have begun reaching out to their season ticket holders who have those seats and working on things that can be done to accommodate them losing their spots.

Photo by: Getty Image

“Based on the NFL meeting today, it will be mandated that stadiums cover the first eight rows in the stadiums,” Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel said last week. “This covering is being done for health and safety of players, staff, employees, fans and broadcasters. We are already in the process of working with and reaching out to our season ticket holders making it a priority to accommodate and relocate them. We will also offer them a number of options for the 2020 season including a refund or credit and it will not impact their season ticket holder status moving forward.”

• Staying safe in 2020 will be the big focus by the NFL, but how will that happen? Saints Malcom Jenkins says it will have to be a trust system in place and followed by everyone involved.

“We kinda end up being on this trust system,” Jenkins said. “The honor system, where we just have to kind of hope that people are social distancing and things like that. And that puts all of us at risk. Not only us as players and who’s in the building, but when you go home to your families. I have parents who I don’t want to get sick.

“Until we get to the point where we have protocols in place and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it, we have to understand that football is a nonessential business and so we don’t need to do it. So the risk, you know, has to be really eliminated before we, before I would feel comfortable with going back.”

• The Saints are adding two former players to their team Hall of Fame it was announced last week.

Saints head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees
Saints head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

Offensive tackle Jahri Evans, who played for the Saints from 2006 to 2015, and safety Roman Harper, who played for the Saints from 2006 to 2013, will both enter the Saints Hall of Fame in 2020.

“These two gentlemen are part of a draft class that completely changed the culture and began really the pillars of a Super Bowl run,” said Saints coach Sean Payton.

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 [email protected]
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Spitfire

The more I watch or read about Simms and Florio the more I realize they don’t know s**t about s**t. One is a nobody armchair analyst and the other is a 4th rate wanna be QB that only ever got picked because of his Dad. Ryan has only ever been above avg. But hey, rank him as high as you want, they are ties for the easiest team for us to beat in the division along with the Panthers so it’s all good.

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danielob

Yeah, Gruden absolutely did not want Simms, I can remember in training camp when Simms was coming back from his spleen injury ( and kudos for Simms playing through the injury and getting the win) and Gruden was critiqueing him, I thought he looked good, Gruden knew that he could not follow through with his throws because his stomach muscles weren’t healed yet, shows what I knew. Simms never liked Gruden, called him a 5’6″ Napolean yelling behind him in training camp.

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Spitfire

I liked Simms as a person and I rooted like Hell for him because our QB situation was garbage back then with Gradkowski and all that, but he was never gonna pull it off. I remember players making fun of the sound he made when they ruptured his damn spleen and was pissed because any of those prima donnas out there would have done the same, no matter how tough they wanna try to act like. My main issue with taking anything Simms and Florio day seriously is that all they do is pick things to say or proclaim that… Read more »

Dave

Even though I disagree with Simms whole heartedly on the ranking of Brady, Brees, and Ryan. I typically like Simms. I think he’s really knowledgeable, and is generally on the money with most things he says. Like he does his homework. He has a ton of inside knowledge with most organizations around the league. Florio, that’s a different story. I think the guy is a clown. He’s nothing more than an armchair know it all, scout wannabe. I can’t stand the guy. But I totally agree with you on Ryan. You take away that clear outlier in 2016, the guy… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Dave
Spitfire

Yeah, I’ve actually liked Simms too in all honesty. He was never as good as his Dad which made him have to work and study harder which probably made him a better student of the game. I just don’t like the way they try to out do each other with outrageous claims so they can be mentioned and argue about it, cause that’s all it is most of the time.

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Dave

I completely agree with you. But in my opinion, it honestly seems like it’s Florio that does that more. He’s always trying to be louder, and constantly talks over Simms. All of Simms hot takes are football related. Which I’m fine with because I feel like he’s very plugged in. He’s got a ton of sources throughout the league. The only hot takes Florio ever has are about how there shouldn’t be a season because of covid, or bashing any person or business in the world that doesn’t go public to announce that they support BLM. Attacking Brees, all the… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Dave
awwdembucs

Poster board material. Go Bucs

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BigSombrero

Florio and Simms aren’t the only ones to think Ryan is the best QB in the division. When you go to NFL Gamepass and watch the games from last year, it is clear Brady is 3rd best in the NFCS. I watched the Bengals game and the Chiefs game this weekend. When Brady wasn’t overthrowing wide open targets, he was under throwing them or getting sacked. His TDs in the Chiefs game came on gimmick plays, not decisive lasers.

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Dave

No they are. Out of anyone that’s not biased anyways. You don’t count, since you’re clearly biased, and would rate anyone with a pulse ahead of Brady

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Last edited 11 days ago by Dave
BigSombrero

You’re clearly biased that the Bucs have the greatest QB in the league. You’re just wrong. Brady isn’t the same as he was 10 years ago.

If the Bucs start off 1-3, is the season in jeopardy?

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Dave

That’s not biased, it’s called stats. Stats don’t lie. Nor does 1 season make a career. Take away last year, and his previous 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and 20 years, have all been elite. You’re just a biased hater, so you’re going to hang onto the only statistical evidence you can possibly use to support your Brady sucks theory. Which is, his 2019 season wasn’t elite. Woopdee doo, he had 1 non elite year in the last 15. I’d have a bad year too if my line played like crap, my RB was 2 yards and… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Dave
Spitfire

You’re so full of garbage I can smell you through this damn phone. Keep on hatin Dude, in two years you can hate on our new QB and HC too and on and on it goes.

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Dave

Just doing what he does best. Trolling

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BigSombrero

Lol. Brady doesn’t need me to troll him, he did that to himself. Can the Patriots win with Cam? What happens to Toms legacy if the Pats make the playoffs but Tampa doesn’t?

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Dave

Pats have ZERO shot at winning a SB. ZERO

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SufferingSince76

I think Simms does know what he’s talking about. He studies the QB position and I think he’s pretty accurate for the most part. Florio is a whiny baby who does his best to get any and everyone in trouble. Gruden has never liked rookie QBs because he doesn’t want to develop them. Simms had some good and bad games. Injuries were a big problem for him and the ruptured spleen did him in in Tampa.

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buccaneerNW

Hahahahaha… The NFL is planning to cover the first 8 rows of stadium seating? Is this a joke? There is no way they’re going to be able to responsibly put any fans in the stands. It’s crazy. COVID is blowing up, and it’s not likely to be better in 2 months unless the entire country reverses course on their adherence to measures suggested by the public health experts.

If there is actually a season, it most likely will be played with no fans in the stands.

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Dave

Positive results paired with daily declining deaths, is just that. Positive results. And speak for yourself. In MA where I live, today for the first day we reported no new deaths. We’re #1 in the US in lowest transmission rate. It’s almost non existent here. So if we can do it, so can’t the south and west. Once the south and west get control of this and curve the new cases, it’ll pretty much be nonexistent in the US. 2 months ago the south and the west had almost no cases, and NY, NJ, and MA were getting killed with… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Dave
BigSombrero

I thought the curve flattened in April Dave???? Stupid is as stupid does.

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Dave

If anyone would know stupid, its you. Do you know what “flattenening the curve” means? Because apparently you don’t. Yes the curve was flattened in April. Because it’s been since mid April that daily deaths have been going down every day in the US. Let me remind you, of what flattening the curve means. The government and state officials recommend masks, social distancing, stay at home orders, closures, and slow reopenings, in order to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. Which 98% of the US has succeeded in. And Seeing as deaths have dropped dramatically now for 2+… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Dave
fredster

Nothing against Simms, but I very rarely agree with anything he says. Florio is not much better imho. Anyone thinks Ryan is better than the GOAT is On crack, Lol.

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BigSombrero

All time better? No, of course not. Better in 2020 if there is a season? Definitely possible.

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fredster

Yeah I don’t agree or think Ryan is better than Brady any year….

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Dave

It’s because he’s not. See, for all the biased Brady haters, they have basically no statistical proof in the last 20 years that any QB is better. So anytime that door opens, even an inch, to try and throw a stat out there to say “look at the stats, he wasn’t good last year. So all these QB’s are better, based off LAST YEAR.” Lol. Brady haters were just waiting for a season like last year, so they can say “well how can anyone say he’s better than so and so. Look at Brady’s stats last year.” Basically ignoring the… Read more »

BigSombrero

As usual, the chorus of name callers offer no proof that Ryan isn’t the best QB in the division. Statistically, he is in elite company in nfl history. He’s top 10 in many passing categories.

There are 6 NFC teams that can make the playoffs. Seattle, San Fran, Arizona, Minnesota, Green Bay, Dallas, Philly, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa are front runners. Carolina, Detroit, Chicago, LA Rams, NY Giants and Washington seem to be long shots.

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Last edited 10 days ago by BigSombrero
Dave

No we did actually. Scroll up and read the stats that I posted. Nothing About Matt Ryan is elite. One fluke season doesn’t make someone elite. But when you’re dealing with a biased Brady hating troll, NOTHING anyone can say is going to make a single shred of difference. To you, when comparing a player to Brady, the other player is ALWAYS the better player, because you’re biased. Anyone that’s been on this site for the last 3 months knows it. Every single stat humanly possible for both Brees and Brady have been better than Ryan the past 5 years,… Read more »

BigSombrero

Last year Matt Ryan had a better QBR, a better QB rating, more yards, more TDs, more yards per game, and more INT’s than Tom Brady in only 15 games.

Ryan was better than Brady and Brees last year. This year may be different, but I’ll take the younger guy in the system he knows compared to Brady in a totally new environment with all new pieces everywhere.

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Dave

Its ONE year. ONE. The level to which you troll is just comical at this point. I even said you’d bring up last year. Because that’s all the biased Brady haters have. They have no statistical proof in the last 20 years, outside of last year. Well congratulations. You win that one. For one season of his entire mediocre existence, Matt Ryan was better than Tom Brady. Good god dude. You should read everything you write. Because It’s laughably ridiculous

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