In life, there are only three sure things: death, taxes, and changes. In football, change is a part of the game’s prerequisite and the NFC South is seeing some big changes in 2020. Nothing stays the same; Not your offensive lineman, not your defensive run stoppers, and for most teams, not your quarterback. Every now and then there are rare exceptions. A Peyton Manning, a Drew Brees, and before this year, the AFC beast known as Tom Brady. But if 2020 has taught us anything, we have to be prepared and embrace change and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the NFC South.
The Atlanta Falcons are going through a major overhaul in the NFC South. They’ve cut Devonta Freeman, leaving Romarius “Ito” Smith as the de facto starter, unless they draft a running back. Desmond Trufant is no longer a staple of the defense. You can also take away Vic Beasley, he signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. Matt Ryan has Hall of Fame numbers, but can you compete in the NFC South? Since their 28-3 debacle against the New England Patriots, the Falcons have fallen off the map. They finished strong last year at 7-9, saving Dan Quinn’s job. The question is, do the Falcons rise again, or continue their descent in an ultra-competitive South?
The Carolina Panthers are the epitome of change. A brand new coach in Matt Rhule, the former Baylor Bears head coach, has taken the place of long-respected coach Ron Rivera. A new owner in Dave Tepper, who doesn’t mince his words on his team or his quarterback preference. Trai Turner is no longer in the mix on the offensive line. The security blanket once known as Greg Olsen is heading west to Seattle. James Bradberry has gone North to become a Giant, Mario Addison and Vernon Butler are now Buffalo Bills, and Cam Newton, also known as Superman, is leaving the building. If one were to view his Instagram post on how he feels about the situation, it would be easy to assess that he feels betrayed by the Panthers organization.
Almost 10 years strong at the helm, Cam Newton is getting a dose of the reality of what it feels like to be an injured quarterback recuperating in the ever-changing NFL. Kyle Allen picked up where Newton left off. Due to Cam Newton’s injury, Kyle Allen threw for 3300 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also threw for 16 interceptions. Now, long awaiting his turn for a second chance, Teddy Bridgewater regains a starting position in the Bank of America Stadium. Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter for New Orleans in relief of Drew Brees last year. Teddy has been waiting for this moment and wants to seize on the opportunity while it’s still available. The quarterback market this year is insane. Also, Gerald McCoy is no longer a Panther. After making his career as a Buccaneer, his short stint with the division rival Panthers is over. He’s now a Cowboy.
New Orleans Saints
Overall, the New Orleans Saints have stayed put. Being the class of the division three years in a row, the Saints have very little to prove in the NFC South. Other than the fact that they can’t make it through the playoffs without some type of headache or controversy, the Saints have been the class of the division.
Re-signing Drew Brees was mandatory, and at $25 million a year for two years, it’s a good deal. Taysom Hill will play a bigger role in the offense this year, and Alvin Kamara can no longer claim that he was playing on one leg. He is healthy and looking to have a bounce-back year in 2020. The Saints re-signed their defensive tackle David Onyemata to a three-year deal and kept a key piece of their defense away from the rest of the NFL. The Saints realize that it is now or never. This team is long in the tooth, and their playoff run is coming to an end.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Change is inevitable. Just ask Jameis Winston. The five your starter is now on the outside looking in not only from the organization but at the NFL as a whole. Carl Nassib is now a Las Vegas Raider. At three years for $25 million, the once cut Cleveland Brown has found a new home in the Deathstar. Jason Pierre-Paul will be back for at least two more years to wreak havoc on defense, and we all are patiently waiting for a decision on Ndamukong Suh. Number one against the rush all year last year, the core of an ever-improving defense needs to stay intact for the success of the team, and its newest acquisition:
Tom Brady, what can you say about this man that hasn’t already been said? A leader, a field general, a winner. Regardless of how some might feel about the 26-year-old quarterback who threw for 5109 yards (and 30 interceptions), Brady is an upgrade. His experience and playoff record alone makes any argument a moot point. 20 years strong, what else can you say about the living breathing G.O.A.T.? One would think that after nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl titles, a quarterback of his caliber wouldn’t have anything to prove.
Plenty Left To Prove
An ever-burning fire to succeed, and a chip on his shoulder to prove who really created those championships in Foxborough is all the motivation that Brady needs to keep his competitive adrenaline running. Expect Chris Godwin to get a nice financial compensation and a lot of slant routes for his #12, because Brady is going to need it. Unless you forgot, or assume that he is passed his prime.
Tom Brady likes to win, and the Super Bowl is in Raymond James Stadium this year, which leaves nothing but incentives for this team, and the organization to succeed. Expect some changes in how you see and perceive the NFC South because nothing has stayed the same. The South now has two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and two champions, trying to play in Raymond James for the final game of their respective careers in February. Change is among us, it is time for us all to adapt.