NFC South Watch

March 26 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin play in the NFC South Division in 2002 along with their new division rivals—the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Buccaneer Magazine will continue to keep Club Insiders updated on Tampa Bay's new division opponents throughout the offseason.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will begin play in the NFC South Division in 2002 along with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Buccaneer Magazine will keep Bucs fans posted on what the Pewter Pirates' new division opponents have been doing during the offseason.
Atlanta Falcons

Home Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia

2002 Draft Pick No. 17 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 7-9 record. Finished tied for third place in the NFC West Division.

Head Coach Dan Reeves (also calls offensive plays)

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips

Special Teams Coach Joe DeCamillis

How They Ranked Last Season

Offense 15th overall 16th rushing 17th passing

Defense 30th overall 21st rushing 30th passing

The Latest

The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay director of player personnel Tim Ruskell called off talks about him possibly becoming the next general manager for the Dirty Birds. Ruskell's name had been mentioned often, but Atlanta never really seriously pursued Ruskell, so the two sides called off talks, but they did not rule out the possibility of talking about the vacant general manager position after the April's NFL Draft.

In other news, the Falcons and Browns recently had a coin flip to determine who would draft in the No. 16 and 17 slots in April's NFL Draft. Atlanta and the Cleveland both finished tied for the No. 16 slot at 7-9, and both had an opponents' combined winning percentage of 136-120. But Cleveland won the coin flip and they will now draft in the No. 16 position while Atlanta receives the No. 17 slot.


Carolina Panthers

Home Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina

2002 Draft Pick No. 2 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 1-15. Carolina finished with the worst record in the NFL last season and in last place of the NFC West Division.

Head Coach John Fox (Hired after Panthers 1-15 season. Former Giants defensive coordinator).

Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning (Former Jets Offensive Coordinator. Worked under Bill Parcells).

Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio

How They Ranked Last Season

Offense 30th overall 29th rushing 26th passing

Defense 31st overall 28th rushing 28th passing

The Latest

Carolina made its biggest move of the offseason this week when they signed Dolphins free agent running back Lamar Smith to a three-year contract. Smith started 31 games for Miami and rushed for 2,107 yards over his two-year tenure, including a career-high 1,139 yards in 2000 with 14 touchdowns.

The Panthers signed a familiar face this week when they signed free agent RB Michael Bates. He is regarded as one of the best special teams players in the league, especially during his time in Carolina (1996-2000). Bates was voted to the Pro Bowl in all five seasons he spent with the Panthers, but he did not make the Pro Bowl last year with the Washington Redskins.

In other news, Carolina re-signed strong safety Damien Richardson, who is also a special teams standout. Richards filled in two games for starting SS Mike Minter last season, but made his biggest impact on special teams.


New Orleans Saints

Home Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

2002 Draft Pick No. 13 overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft

Last Season 7-9 record. Finished tied for third place in the NFC West Division.

Head Coach Jim Haslett (also serves as team's defensive coordinator).

Offensive Coordinator Mike McCarthy

Special Teams Coach Joe Baker

Offense 19th overall 18th(T) rushing 10th passing

Defense 16th(T) overall 14th rushing 10th passing

The Latest The Saints were finally able to trade left tackle Willie Roaf this week. The Kansas City Chiefs surrendered a fourth-round draft pick in the 2003 NFL Draft in exchange for Roaf. The pick could go as high as a third-round pick depending on how Roaf performs with the Chiefs. Roaf is a seven-time Pro Bowl player, but fell out of favor with Saints head coach Jim Haslett. Roaf's wife also allegedly had an affair with teammate WR Joe Horn. By trading Roaf, New Orleans cleared $2.5 million of cap room.

The Saints will move right tackle Kyle Turley to the left tackle position to fill the void left by Roaf. New Orleans signed former Miami tackle Spencer Folau to a two-year contact worth $1.7 million to fill the right tackle position.

In other news, the Saints' No. 1 draft pick from a few years ago, right guard Chris Naeole, is a free agent and wants to sign with the 49ers.

Click here to sound off on this topic on BucMag.com's Premium message boards.


Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

This story is intended to be read only by BucMag.com Club Insiders only and TheInsiders.com. Sharing of the Club content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers.

Get more analysis, inside information and expert commentary by subscribing to Buccaneer Magazine or by calling 1-800-881-BUCS(2827).

Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com.


Bucs Blitz Top Stories