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What We Learned at NFC South Training Camps


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Jonathan Jones
 
Aug 23, 2019, 12:32 PM

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

• Holy protection issues, Batman! The Falcons offensive line looked like a sieve in their Week 2 preseason tilt with the Jets when New York sacked Matt Ryan five times and hit him many more. Would it surprise you that Gregg Williams was scheming a little more than most in the second week of the preseason? Of course not. Will the Falcons OL be this bad throughout the year? Surely not. But there has been concern about the right tackle position since rookie Kaleb McGary had heart surgery and will surely miss the start of the season. In his stead is Ty Sambrailo, who has done little to inspire confidence at the spot but is the Falcons’ only option. Atlanta reworked its offensive line this offseason and it’ll take some time for them to gel, but Ryan has to get better protecting immediately if he is to continue his MVP-caliber play from last season.

• For my money the Falcons have the top receiving group in the league. Julio Jones is the best in the world and will soon be paid like it. Calvin Ridley is primed for a big sophomore campaign that will see him take over the No. 2 position from Mohamed Sanu if he hasn’t already. It’s still difficult to fathom why the rest of the NFL let him fall to the Falcons at No. 26 overall in last year’s draft.

• The Curious Case of Vic Beasley continues. No one expects Beasley to be with the Falcons beyond this season after two consecutive down years and playing on a fifth-year option that you’d be hard-pressed to find another team to pay. Beasley has shown up a bit this preseason so far, and whether he’s auditioning for a long-term deal with the Falcons (that won’t come) or for a deal with another team (that surely will come next March), this is a big year for the former Clemson standout. His 15 1/2 sacks from 2016 are more than his other three seasons combined, and the Falcons have exercised every bit of patience with the pass rusher. We’ll see if he can get it back together for this contract year.

• Can Atlanta stay healthy? The Falcons suffered injury after injury last year, especially on the defensive side. Atlanta has contractually locked up its defensive core for years to come, and I’m excited to see what Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, Grady Jarrett, De’Vondre Campbell and Takk McKinley can do together as a healthy unit. — Jonathan Jones

 

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

• The Panthers changed from a base 4–3 to a 3–4 defense and let me tell you, way more was made of that this offseason than should have been. The team will be in nickel most of the time anyway, but enough former Panthers coaches are elsewhere that it was time to change some things up. A 3–4 also gets with where the current NFL is (or more specifically, what sort of defensive players are coming out of college now), and I have no doubts Luke Kuechly will continue his All-World play in the middle of the defense.

• It took Carolina almost a year but the Panthers have mostly figured out the safety position. Obviously they added Eric Reid and hoped they could get by at the other safety spot, but the Panthers learned early in camp that wouldn’t be the case. A reunion with Tre Boston probably should have happened in March but he’s back in Carolina now, and the weak link in the Panthers defense has been taken care of.

• I don’t play fantasy but I imagine the offensive firepower on this team must be a dream for fantasy players. Everything you’ve seen or heard about Curtis Samuel’s preseason is true. D.J. Moore had a solid camp in his own right, but seemingly every day Samuel was linking up for a 40-plus-yard pass from Cam Newton. I can’t tell who will be the leading receiver on the team between the two, but there’s no doubt in mind that Samuel will lead the team in explosive plays.

• Then there’s Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara should, in my eyes, have equal odds to hit the 1,000-rushing and 1,000-receiving marks this season. McCaffrey packed on more muscle in the offseason and I would expect him, if healthy, to play somewhere close to 99% of the competitive offensive snaps because the drop-off from him to the No. 2 running back (and the Panthers don’t know who that is just yet) is dramatic.

 

• So, can Newton stay healthy? Because none of this matters if not. The Panthers tried to upgrade the backup quarterback position by drafting Will Grier to compete with Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke for the No. 2 spot. The results have, so far, been disappointing, and that was highlight in an exhibition full of lowlights against the Bills last week. If Newton’s throwing shoulder is finally right and can make it through a 17-week season plus postseason, the Panthers absolutely have the talent and coaching to get back to the playoffs. But if this last surgery didn’t fix the issue and the arm strength wanes midway through the year like it did last season—or if his foot, which he injured in the team’s third exhibition game against the Patriots, proves to be a real issue—the Panthers don’t have a good option to keep them afloat into the winter. — JJ

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

• New Orleans has a vision for TE Jared Cook, and the team is really excited about him. So long as Latavius Murray stays healthy and can come close to filling the void left by Mark Ingram, the Saints are good at the skill spots. A deep sleeper to watch: Undrafted free agent WR Emmanuel Butler.

• Marshon Lattimore—who had an uneven camp last summer, leading to a little bit of a sophomore slump—has bounced back. And the Saints are cautiously optimistic in what they are seeing from Eli Apple, which should make all the difference for a defense that is loaded with talent.

• Add the above to Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, and this should be a top-five secondary, with potential to be the best in the league. Another plus? New Orleans is one of the few teams in the NFL with true depth at defensive back. Rookies Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Saquan Hampton have shined early.

• Second-round pick Erik McCoy—viewed by the Saints as a first-round talent (and they weren’t the only ones thinking that)—is going to replace Max Unger at center, probably from Day 1. He's been solid since the pads went on. That said, the Saints want to develop some depth along the offensive line.

• On defense, if there’s a roster question, it might be depth at linebacker. The staff has actually been pretty pleased with its DT spot, even with Sheldon Rankins shelved (the hope is they get him back in the first month of the season). Cuts are going to be tough there. — Albert Breer

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

• The WR group has a chance to be really good. Mike Evans has focused on his conditioning, so he can maintain his level in a downfield-focused offense, and that showed in training camp. Chris Godwin’s a really good fit for Bruce Arians’s scheme. And Breshad Perriman has been a nice surprise on the offense.

• The staff has worked hard to restore RB Ronald Jones’s confidence, and RBs coach Todd McNair, who has been out of football since 2010, has been key there. Jones has had a good camp as a result. Last year, once Jones lost his confidence, the whole season got away from him.

Likewise, CBs Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis (who also have underachieved some) have turned in promising summers. The team spent two top-100 picks on CBs (Sean Bunting, Jamel Dean), and it sure looks that might've lit a fire under Hargreaves and Davis.

• Fourth-year DE Carl Nassib is suddenly an important piece in Todd Bowles’s new scheme, with uncertainty remaining on if/when Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be ready. Last year’s Hard Knocks starhas steadily improved since the Bucs claimed him off waivers.

• As is the case with a whole bunch of teams, offensive line is an area to watch for Tampa, particularly with how Arians likes to run his offense. The Buccaneers feel good about their starters, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them work the waiver wire this month to find more depth. — AB

 

 

 

https://sports.yahoo.com/learned-nfc-south-training-camps-163214554.html

 

 

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The Saints still confuse me. That offense is only two players: Thomas and Kamara. Yet they still produce. I know Payton is a genius, but sooner or later, teams are going to look at the talent on the field, not the coach on the sideline. I also think that defense is primed for regression. They aren't that talented. 

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2 minutes ago, vel said:

The Saints still confuse me. That offense is only two players: Thomas and Kamara. Yet they still produce. I know Payton is a genius, but sooner or later, teams are going to look at the talent on the field, not the coach on the sideline. I also think that defense is primed for regression. They aren't that talented. 

It’s like Matt Ryan said. You know what’s coming. Can’t ****in stop it. People can say Michael Thomas isn’t worth his contracts but in that offense, his production says otherwise. Sooner or later someone is gonna figure out how to stop it until then I would milk it until someone stops it. Eventually Kamara and Thomas will be taken out of the gameplan and someone else is going to have to step up

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7 minutes ago, vel said:

The Saints still confuse me. That offense is only two players: Thomas and Kamara. Yet they still produce. I know Payton is a genius, but sooner or later, teams are going to look at the talent on the field, not the coach on the sideline. I also think that defense is primed for regression. They aren't that talented. 

 

Sean Payton is an offensive mastermind

 

 

...........except for the later part of the NFCCG last season

 

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Just now, ya_boi_j said:

It’s like Matt Ryan said. You know what’s coming. Can’t ****in stop it. People can say Michael Thomas isn’t worth his contracts but in that offense, his production says otherwise. Sooner or later someone is gonna figure out how to stop it until then I would milk it until someone stops it. Eventually Kamara and Thomas will be taken out of the gameplan and someone else is going to have to step up

That's the thing, it was figured out. Horizontal bracket Thomas because he isn't running deep and force Kamara to chip or block out of the backfield. Neither of those guys are playing beyond ten yards. That's a significant portion of their offense. The Cowboys did it and the Rams did it. Teams are still overthinking themselves and expecting peak Saints offenses. It's not that any more. 

They are milking it though, rightfully so. But once teams get out of their head and actually look at what they are doing, they'll struggle. 

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3 minutes ago, vel said:

That's the thing, it was figured out. Horizontal bracket Thomas because he isn't running deep and force Kamara to chip or block out of the backfield. Neither of those guys are playing beyond ten yards. That's a significant portion of their offense. The Cowboys did it and the Rams did it. Teams are still overthinking themselves and expecting peak Saints offenses. It's not that any more. 

They are milking it though, rightfully so. But once teams get out of their head and actually look at what they are doing, they'll struggle. 

It’s a unique situation. Since I’ve been watching football I can’t recall a situation like that where it’s literally a 3 man offense. The kicker is that the rest of the players numbers are **** near identical. It’s not a situation I’d like to be in when it comes to incentives and my next contract but I guess those other guys are just settling

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19 minutes ago, vel said:

The Saints still confuse me. That offense is only two players: Thomas and Kamara. Yet they still produce. I know Payton is a genius, but sooner or later, teams are going to look at the talent on the field, not the coach on the sideline. I also think that defense is primed for regression. They aren't that talented. 

After that Cowboys game teams really slowed them down.

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9 minutes ago, vel said:

That's the thing, it was figured out. Horizontal bracket Thomas because he isn't running deep and force Kamara to chip or block out of the backfield. Neither of those guys are playing beyond ten yards. That's a significant portion of their offense. The Cowboys did it and the Rams did it. Teams are still overthinking themselves and expecting peak Saints offenses. It's not that any more. 

They are milking it though, rightfully so. But once teams get out of their head and actually look at what they are doing, they'll struggle. 

 

I think it's teams still respecting Brees like he was in his prime. Not too many teams are willing to force him to beat them on intermediate to deeper passes with his arm.

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1 minute ago, ya_boi_j said:

It’s a unique situation. Since I’ve been watching football I can’t recall a situation like that where it’s literally a 3 man offense. The kicker is that the rest of the players numbers are **** near identical. It’s not a situation I’d like to be in when it comes to incentives and my next contract but I guess those other guys are just settling

Yep. Coat tailing for a SB. But I agree, I've never seen such a limited talent offense exceed expectations so much. Like literally, the ball was either forced to Thomas or a dump off to Kamara before anything else and teams just refused to play it like that. The only players who averaged more than 2 targets a game was Watson and Smith. 

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2 minutes ago, DawnOfThemBirds said:

 

I think it's teams still respecting Brees like he was in his prime. Not too many teams are willing to force him to beat them on intermediate to deeper passes with his arm.

Because teams were scared to look stupid. Could you imagine the backlash of Brees just airing it out on you because you're playing the short stuff? Except that's exactly what they should have been doing. Too much respect for a 40 year old. 

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Like Vel said the Rams did a great job against the Saints and not sure why it took so long for a team to do that and one with an average defense at that.

I remember watching it and saying " wow they are making Kamara block, a lot, or just flat out hitting him with a LB before going out on his route."

I hope they regress this year, but a constant for them is that Oline which helps a lot.

Edited by jeffro2000
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2 minutes ago, vel said:

Yep. Coat tailing for a SB. But I agree, I've never seen such a limited talent offense exceed expectations so much. Like literally, the ball was either forced to Thomas or a dump off to Kamara before anything else and teams just refused to play it like that. The only players who averaged more than 2 targets a game was Watson and Smith. 

It’s the THREAT of Drew Brees that scares DC’s. Just like it was the threat of turner even tho he wasn’t the same turner as 2008-2011 in 20012. Quinn will Play them aggressive as Manuel played them very passive. I doubt Thomas has a big game against tru in either game this year. What we’ll Probably see us a lot of bunch formations against us to freak our man coverage but quinn teaches a good banjo coverage. And kazee will be the difference maker in banjo coverage. Poole would get demolished against bunch coverage. 

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6 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

If you slip up and don’t respect it you get this over your head

 

Ehh that's busted coverage. You see Peters trying to call for the help over top. He's playing a trail technique to cut off any short routes. If the safety got over like he was supposed to, that's a pick. 

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Just now, DawnOfThemBirds said:

 

True, but it's starting to become more of a risk worth taking as Brees ages.

 

He will still get some defenses, but the better ones that have talent could play that game.

I suspect the ypg average drops severely this season unless they get other guys involved who can make sugar out of ****. 

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7 minutes ago, jeffro2000 said:

Like Vel said the Rams did a great job against the Saints and not sure why it took so long for a team to do that and one with an average defense at that.

I remember watching it and saying " wow they are making Kamara block, a lot, or just flat out hitting him with a LB before going out on his route."

I hope they regress this year, but a constant for them is that Oline which helps a lot.

Man they even had Suh chipping him to slow him down out of the backfield. It was that clear they knew how much Brees dumped off. Make him find other guys. 

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Just now, vel said:

Ehh that's busted coverage. You see Peters trying to call for the help over top. He's playing a trail technique to cut off any short routes. If the safety got over like he was supposed to, that's a pick. 

Which is my point, this can eventually happen when you misplay it. 

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22 minutes ago, ya_boi_j said:

I honestly haven’t watched a single game nor been on the board during the game so I wouldn’t know

Well he got a sack last week with his bullrush and there was definitely a thread... I know because I missed it and saw it here. The gf always tries to distract me when the birds are playing. 

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Just now, droopy1592 said:

Well he got a sack last week with his bullrush and there was definitely a thread... I know because I missed it and saw it here. The gf always tries to distract me when the birds are playing. 

I don’t put any stock into preseason at all so these games don’t mean anything to me. I spend those hours doing something fun

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