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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?

Atlanta Falcons

• Speculation has run rampant all offseason that the Falcons could move on from some players as they rebuild under a new head coach and general manager. One of those players whose future is in question was quarterback Matt Ryan. This week reports came out that Ryan will be with Atlanta in 2021.


One of the biggest reasons, besides new coach Arthur Smith’s offense that fits Ryan’s strengths, is the over $45 million in dead cap money it would cost Atlanta if Ryan were to be traded in 2021.

• Atlanta continued to round out its coaching staff over the last week under Smith. Chandler Henley was hired as the assistant offensive line coach the team announced Monday. Atlanta also announced that T.J. Yates, who worked as assistant quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2020, will join Arthur Smith’s staff in the same capacity.

Arthur Blank and Rich McKay

Arthur Blank and Rich McKay – Photo by: USA Today

• As the coaching staff hires are rounded out, so have the open positions in the front office as well.

New general manager Terry Fontenot has hired Kyle Smith as Atlanta’s new vice president of player personnel and Dwuane Jones as assistant director of college scouting.

“We are thrilled he is joining our team,” Fontenot said. “I also wanted to acknowledge and appreciate our current staff who has shown flexibility and adaptability as we continue to make this transition within our organization. They have continued to focus on our goals as a team and we look forward to growing together.

“Dwaune has an incredible drive and knowledge of our game fueled by his extensive experience in the field as a scout. Like Kyle Smith, he is passionate about his craft and is a tireless worker who has a great appreciation for the process from A-to-Z. He is a great man with an exceptional family, and we are excited they are joining the Falcons family.”

Carolina Panthers

• The Panthers are clearly in the market for a new quarterback to replace Teddy Bridgewater. And while they may still end up with Bridgewater under center in 2021, it won’t be for a lack of looking for his replacement.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers were hot on the Matthew Stafford trail before he was eventually traded to the Rams. Carolina reportedly offered up this year’s No. 8 pick in the draft to acquire Stafford from the Lions.

Don’t be surprised to see the Panthers inquire about Houston’s Deshaun Watson who has requested a trade from the Texans, and if that doesn’t materialize the draft is an option as well.

Last week Rhule talked about what he is looking for in a quarterback.

Panthers HC Matt Rhule

Panthers HC Matt Rhule – Photo by: USA Today

“Just in general, I think you want someone who’s elitely intelligent. I think you want someone who’s a tremendous leader,” the Charlotte Observer reported. “I think you want someone who’s accurate. I think you want someone who has arm talent to make all the throws. And I think you want someone who has a history of making plays in crucial situations, that’s just very urgent.”

• The front office shake-up in Carolina continued this week with front office executives Bryan Porter and Mark Carrier let go by the team. Porter served as director of football operations and Carrier was executive director of football staff. Carrier was a former standout wide receiver for the Buccaneers from 1987 to 1992.

New Orleans Saints

• The Saints could now still lose assistant head coach Ryan Nielsen after all. LSU wanted Nielsen as its defensive coordinator last month but language in Nielsen’s contract kept the Tigers away. But a new suitor has come calling and the Saints may not be able to block the move. The Packers, who fired their defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, following last week’s loss to the Buccaneers have targeted Nielsen to succeed Pettine in the same capacity.

• Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn left New Orleans to join Dan Campbell’s staff in Detroit as its defensive coordinator last week, but the Saints have found their replacement, according to reports.


Richard was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks from 2015-2017 and the defensive backs coach for the Cowboys in 2018 and 2019 before sitting last year out.

• While most assume Drew Brees will be in a television booth next football season, the Saints said they are still awaiting a final decision from their future Hall of Famer.

“I don’t think it’s a lot different from last year,” GM Mickey Loomis said. “We’ll wait for him. We’ve got a lot of other planning to do. There’s more unknowns right now than there are knowns in the sense that we don’t yet know what the cap’s going to be.”

Loomis also noted despite a serious cap crunch, the Saints won’t be in a rebuild mode in 2021.

“We’ve got a great roster, and I can’t foresee a circumstance where we’re not going to say, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to win, win now and compete for a championship,’” Loomis said.

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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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Spitfire
7 months ago

Like always, I hope all these moves make all three of them worse and that they all crash and burn.

drdneast
Reply to  Spitfire
7 months ago

I concur. To bad the Packers don’t play in the South, we would get our wish.

Spitfire
7 months ago

P.S. Pewter Report: If you heard Dwight Smiths interview on WDAE this morning, you might wanna reconsider him as your guest on Sat. He went off about how all Super Bowls are decided by whatever Vegas wants, even our Super Bowl. About how nobody wants to talk to him about his family and stuff any other time than around the Super Bowl. His logic about our Super Bowl was if the Saints beat us twice in 2002, why didn’t the Raiders just do what the Saints did (like it’s that easy to just do what another team does with different… Read more »

gcolerick
Reply to  Spitfire
7 months ago

I heard that interview and could not believe the crap coming out of Smith’s mouth. It was so bizzare I had to wonder if he was high or maybe he just suffered one to many concussions from his playing days.

drdneast
Reply to  Spitfire
7 months ago

Smith sounds like he is working on a lawsuit for CTE against the NFL.

Dave
7 months ago

Interesting listening to GMFB this morning. Sean Payton was one of the guests. And Kay Adams asked him who was going to be his QB in 2021, and he said that, based on what he saw in 2020, Jameis is his QB, and not Taysom Hill. God I hope this happens. Just imagine a packed(or mostly packed) Ray Jay next year, to see Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints. Man would that game be fun to see. Brady and the team around him that was good enough… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
surferdudes
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Unless they make a mega trade like for D.Watson, Winston might be their best option.

thewbacca
Reply to  surferdudes
7 months ago

Would love to see Winston at RayJay with his Great Value broke AF discount roster.

drdneast
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

I wouldn’t put much stock in anything Payton has to say.

cobraboy
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Fact is the Saints cannot afford any current high-end QB in the team-changing carousel.
He’ll be slummin’ with Jameis Winston since who else wants the guy?
Winston may be the lowest-paid starting QB in the NFL in 2021.

Buc76
7 months ago

We are heading back to a time when the AINTS put the bags back on their heads. If we win this game we are 2-0 in the Superbowl topping them again. The Falcons are 0-2 (garbage). The Panthers 0-2 are garbage. Who is this guy Rhule?. He sucks. Glad to have him because he’ll be a doormat for the next few years until he’s fired. That owner Tepper is an idiot for hiring this guy but that works out well for us.

drdneast
7 months ago

Wow, what do you do when you make a major blunder on the offensive side of the ball while coaching a game in the conference final and lose it? You fire the DC who fielded a top ten defense.. It’s good to see scapegoats are still alive and well in the NFL.

cobraboy
7 months ago

$95 million over the cap, and the Saints say “dat nuttin’, we goin’ fer it all in 2020.”

Good luck, Boudreaux…

plopes808
7 months ago

It’s definitely our time to take control of the division for years to come. All 3 of the other teams are in shambles and it will only get worse for them. We need a QB of the future to sit behind Brady the next 2-3 years then take over. Plug a few more holes on the roster and we will be hard to beat for a long time with this young roster we got.

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