Sometimes a division is so bad that it can’t help but get better. How can it possibly get any worse? It could get worse if a city loses a team without a replacement waiting in the wings, but that usually only happens in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Will the NFC South have a city put in a bid for this honor? Will they have a team with a winning record this season? We can only wait and see.
Asinine Analysis continues its critical summary of the good moves, bad moves and hopeful moves for each and every team this offseason, leading into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Our last stop: the NFC South
The Good: The Atlanta Falcons may have lost the Rex Ryan Sweepstakes, but they found a head coach that can help them develop that inept defense into an evil empire in former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
It’s a logical approach. The Matt Ryan Connection featuring Julio Jones and Roddy White is as strong as ever, and should get a boost underneath with the signing of Jacob Tamme. Devonta Freeman’s training wheels are off, so we should see much more of him in the backfield now that Steven Jackson is out of the picture. Hotlanta is going to get hot again.
The Bad: How much power is Dan Quinn going to have in the draft selection? And how much help will a pile of rookies really offer a defense that finished dead last in total yards, yards per game, passing defense, and really far down in the rushing defense stats? A team can’t replace an entire defense and hope to be better than that… can it?
The Hopeful: Hopefully the Falcons can grab up Alvin Dupree in the first round, and then the best possible cornerbacks in the next two rounds. I know I just mentioned all those embarrassing passing defense stats. But an explosive defensive end can make sure the quarterback doesn’t have all day to throw the ball, helping as much as the quickest defensive back in the secondary. Just look at the Houston Texans.
The Good: Because someone had to win the AFC South division, the Carolina Panthers almost took the booby prize for tying the worst record for a divisional winner. Luckily, the Panthers eked out a tie to go 7-8-1 last season. Thumbs up, guys.
That may not seem very positive, but the Panthers were developing a rookie wide receiver, trying to replace a Pro Bowl defensive end and figuring out who should run the ball besides Cam Newton. I think the Panthers will have things straight this season.
The Bad: I don’t know what it is about the Panthers, but I just can’t expect much from the team. I feel like, one day, Cam Newton is going to try to run and everything above his waist is going to lunge twenty yards ahead of his legs in the most horrific hit in football.
Then there’s the issue of the the rest of the NFC. If it was just the South, the Panthers would have no problem, but those pesky playoff games are always against a team not in the NFC South.
The Hopeful: Hopefully Kelvin Benjamin is as good as we saw last year. Hopefully Cam Newton stays healthy all season. Hopefully a good offensive lineman like Andrus Peat is still available when the Panthers throw in their pick at #25. Hopefully fans in Charlotte stick with NASCAR so that I can get cheap tickets to a game this season.
New Orleans Saints
The Good: I’m sorry guys, but I don’t know how to put this: there isn’t much good coming into New Orleans. Pierre Thomas has been replaced by Buffalo heartbreaker C.J. Spiller. Marques Colston must be about 50 years old. Jimmy Graham is gone. Head coach Sean Payton looks defeated on the sidelines.
The only good news is that the NFC South is so bad that the Saints just maybe be able to pull off a divisional title. And Rob Ryan can continue with his quest to find the perfect Po’ boy so that he won’t have to deal with Southern pizza.
The Bad: How does a team trade away arguably the best pass-catching tight end in the game? If the Saints were going to get, say, half the first round in the draft, then I would be okay with this, but the second to last pick and a center? Are you guys really that scared of the Panthers’ defense?
The Hopeful: With middle and back-end draft picks in the first round, the Saints could fill up one of their many defensive holes and one of their offensive holes at the same time. I’m sure Rob Ryan would love a solid pass-rusher under the age of 30. Then maybe pick up a big wide receiver to replace Jimmy Graham.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Good: That pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium is awesome. The parking situation is even better, although that could be because no one bothers going to home games except fans of opposing teams.
Seriously, I went to a game against the Eagles and saw more green and black on the plane ride home than a St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was cheaper to get tickets and fly down to Florida than to get tickets to an Eagles’ home game? That speaks volumes about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bad: The Tampa Bay Bucs were the worst team in the worst division of the NFL last year, and the only thing they did to change that was get rid of Josh McCown just to show head coach Lovie Smith who the boss is.
If this team thinks the draft can solve all of their problems, they have a rude awakening waiting for them for the next three seasons.
The Hopeful: If nothing else, Tampa Bay Bucs fans have to be hoping that the team revamps those uniforms again. A digital read-out doesn’t make a uniform look new. Digital read-outs have been around since I got my first digital watch 30 years ago, and it was more about necessity than style. That should be the focus of the Bucs in this draft: necessity, not style.
What does this mean? Maybe trading away that #1 draft pick, instead of picking up Jameis Winston like everyone expects, is the way to go. That’s right, I said it. Mike Glennon’s got this.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.