NFC South Watch

May 14 – 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. This installment of NFC South Watch focuses on some of the general manager movement within the NFC South Division.

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

Host Tampa Bay Sunday, October 6, 2002 1:00 PM

Visit Tampa Bay Sunday, December 8, 2002 1:00 PM

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 have been in search of a new general manager throughout the entire offseason, but on May 9, the Dirty Birds had their current GM resign. Harold Richardson, who served as the Falcons general manager since 1998, decided to walk away from his job now, knowing owner Arthur Blank was going to hire someone and replace him soon anyway. Tampa Bay director of player personnel Tim Ruskell interviewed for the Atlanta GM job this offseason, but decided to end negotiations while the Bucs prepared for the NFL Draft. While it's not likely that Ruskell would take the job now, there's still a possibility that Blank could pursue him, again.

On April 26, the Falcons attempted to upgrade their wide receiver position by signing Chargers free agent Jeff Graham. He is entering his 12th NFL season and had spent the last three seasons with San Diego.

The Falcons also claimed punter Matt Allen off of waivers from Seattle.

On May 10, Atlanta named Billy Johnson the team's new director of player programs.


Carolina Panthers

Home Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina

Host Tampa Bay Sunday, October 27, 2002 1:00 PM

Visit Tampa Bay Sunday, November 17, 2002 4:05 PM

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

Panthers wide receiver Patrick Jeffers has been hampered by knee injuries since his outstanding 1999 season, and on May 3, he had another knee surgery that will keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Carolina backup WR Jim Turner retired on April 30. His four-year tenure with the Panthers was filled with injuries, most of which he suffered during the team's training camps.

On May 10, Carolina hired former Washington Redskins player of personnel assistant Mike Szabo. He will fill a position in the same capacity with the Skins.


New Orleans Saints

Home Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

Host Tampa Bay Sunday, December 1, 2002 8:30 PM

Visit Tampa Bay Sunday, September 8, 2002 4:15 PM

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 New Orleans Saints have been in turmoil throughout the offseason, and things didn't get any smoother when owner Tom Benson fired general manager Randy Mueller on May 9. Benson reportedly fired Mueller for differences in management style. Mueller earned NFL Executive of the Year in 2000 after he helped the Saints win their first playoff game in franchise history. The Saints didn't wait long to replace Mueller. On May 14, Benson named Mickey Loomis the team's new general manager.

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Click here to view Tampa Bay's Current 2002 roster.

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All BucMag.com photos are courtesy of Buccaneer Magazine director of photography Cliff Welch unless noted otherwise.


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