Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The editors of the Atlanta Falcons’ and New Orleans Saints’ sites of the Fansided network were kind enough to take some time and break down the NFC South offseason thus far. We talked about each team, and give our takes on how the offseason has unfolded in the run up to the 2013 NFL Draft.
- Ronny Hurd – Blogging Dirty (BD)
- Chris Roling – Who Dat Dish (WDD)
- Leo Howell – The Pewter Plank (TPP)
In regards to the Buccaneers, how big of an impact do you believe Dashon Goldson will have on their pass defense?
BD: Dashon Goldson did receive a lot of money for a safety, but he certainly improves the Buccaneers pass defense. Goldson and a second year Mark Barron opposite of him, alone, should help a pass defense that ranked last in the league last year in opponent passing yards.
WDD: It’s almost hard to put into words what a difference the addition of Goldson makes for the Bucs’ secondary. Paired with second-year man Mark Barron, Tampa Bay could have the best one-two punch at safety in the NFL.
In regards to the pass defense, the difference will be night and day when compared to last season. Goldson is a Top 10 cover safety in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus and the difference he makes on each play will allow the Bucs to keep up with the high-flying aerial attacks of the division.
TPP: I have stated previously on Twitter that I think adding Goldson alone is enough to bring the pass defense up ten spots in the overall rankings. Adding Goldson to free safety, along with the shifting of Mark Barron to be the safety closer to the line of scrimmage, means the Buccaneers have two athletic, hard-hitting safeties in roles in which they are very comfortable and competent. The tutoring Goldson will provide Barron will also be key.
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As it pertains to the Saints, what one move stands out as most impactful? Is the loss of Jermon Bushrod more important than the addition of Keenan Lewis?
BD: The money that Jermon Bushrod received from the Chicago Bears makes him expandable for the New Orleans Saints, given their cap situation. The addition of Keenen Lewis will shore up a secondary that was ranked second to last, behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in opponent passing yards.
WDD: The loss of Jermon Bushrod has been blown out of proportion. Each year, Drew Brees makes various linemen into Pro-Bowlers thanks to his stunningly quick releases. It’s how the Saints’ passing attack operates—get rid of the ball as fast as possible, which in turn means his linemen don’t have to work for an extended period of time.
Now, that’s not to say Bushrod isn’t a quality player, but the Saints are in a position to land a nice talent in the draft who can start right away and have a similar output thanks to Brees.
On the other hand the addition of Keenan Lewis is absolutely huge. Rob Ryan’s scheme relies on big, physical corners (not to mention competent) to play at the line and Lewis more than fits the bill. Jabari Greer is way past his prime and too expensive, and Patrick Robinson was embarrassed routinely last year.
Bringing in a quality No. 1 corner like Lewis has also opened up the draft options in a big way.
TPP: I am not completely convinced that Lewis is going to be a top corner in the NFL, but I think he’s good enough. That said, I don’t think the loss of Bushrod is going to have a negative impact on the Saints, or at least not a very big one. Drew Brees makes the offense what it is, and the loss of an offensive tackle isn’t going to change that.
The Panthers made some moves despite being in less than ideal salary cap condition. Do you believe they have significantly upgraded their team this offseason?
BD: I do like what the Panthers did with signing Ted Ginn Jr. He will help immediately in the return game, but I expect the Panthers to use him as a receiver more then the San Francisco 49ers did. It should be interesting to see if he has grown as a receiver with his experience as a returner.
WDD: Nope. Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon aren’t going to see much time on offense, although the former will have a massive impact on special teams.
Defensively, Chase Blackburn won’t see the field. Mike Mitchell is an upgrade to the horrific rotation at safety. Again, the biggest move the Panthers made this offseason was being able to retain corner Capain Munnerlyn. With him in the slot, Josh Norman and the newly-acquired Drayton Florence on the outside, the pass defense can at least be respectable next year.
TPP: “Meh.” That’s really how to best describe the Panthers’ offseason. They didn’t have much to work with, and it shows. They’ll have to use the draft well if they want to see more than 6 or 7 wins in 2013.
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Which team do you believe has done the best this offseason in the NFC South? Which has done the worst? Why?
BD: Every team in the NFC South was fairly quiet. Each team made at least one relevant move in free agency and that was about it. However, I do like what the Falcons did with the additions of Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora. More than anything though, I like what they did with locking up Sam Baker and William Moore long-term. They also succeeded with convincing Tony Gonzalez to come back for another year.
WDD: Atlanta has done the best this offseason based on efficiently filling needs. Steven Jackson was a big get for the offense and a hole that could have ruined the team’s chances next year. Landing Osi Umenyiora to replace John Abraham was another huge move that not only saved money for the future, but kept the team on track for a Super Bowl.
If you had to pick a team that has done the worst this offseason, is simply has to be Carolina. It’s a bit unfair considering the horrendous cap situation, but the front office shouldn’t have put itself in this position in the first place. Bad decisions have layered in Carolina, and it has been another mediocre offseason for the franchise.
TPP: I feel like the Falcons and Buccaneers have tied for the “best” offseason thus far, as I believe the additions of Dashon Goldson and Tony Gonzalez will both be key for their respective teams in the upcoming season. The addition of Steven Jackson puts the Falcons slightly over the top for now (if I have to pick one winner), but the Buccaneers still have a potential Darrelle Revis trade to turn the tides.
The Panthers have had the worst offseason, but that’s to be expected. They are in a difficult spot financially, and really didn’t have any options this spring.