Around the NFC South

Let’s take a trip around the NFC South through the eyes of the local columnists.

Mike Triplett writes that the lack of a pass rush was the biggest concern for the Saints last season. They went out and changed defensive coordinators in the offseason, but it didn’t look like much has changed in Sunday’s loss to Washington. Instead of taking advantage of a loud environment and putting pressure on Robert Griffin III, the Saints let the rookie run and throw all over them. If coordinator Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t figure out a way to get a pass rush soon, the New Orleans defense will be in deep trouble.

Martin Fennelly writes about Tampa Baydefensive back Ronde Barber’s 200th consecutive start. Barber had a huge game and the Bucs won. Barber, 37, almost decided to retire in the offseason and nobody would have blamed him if he walked away after a 4-12 season. But Barber came back and, if Sunday was any indication, the Bucs might be headed in the right direction. Barber deserves to be a part of that.

Tom Sorensen writes that a Carolina offense that was so creative last season was dull Sunday. I know it was hard to get a read on Tampa Bay’s defense because the Bucs have a new coaching staff and they didn’t show much in the preseason. But I don’t think the Bucs suddenly have turned into the 1985 Chicago Bears. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski should have had some other ways to move the ball.

Jeff Schultz writes that, for too long, the Falcons have been less than the sum of their parts. But that appeared to change in Sunday’s victory at Kansas City. With new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter calling the shots, the Falcons finally seemed to play to their offensive strengths.