- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The passion of NFC South fans never ceases to amaze me.
Although the Falcons don’t play until next week (and we don’t know yet who they’ll play) and the other three teams are done for the season, Friday’s NFC South chat was even more active than a lot of our chats during the regular season.
Let’s take a team-by team look at some of the highlights:
Johnny B/ sw Florida [via mobile]: Do you feel that Mike Smith's approach for the week 17 game against the Bucs was more about staying sharp than actually (to the dismay of Herm Edwards) "winning" the game? Does that bode well for falcons starters in the divisional round or does this loss cause regression?
Pat Yasinskas: Don't think it will cause regression. If anything, it might have been a bit of a wake-up call.
Thomas (ATL): Think Harry Douglas could have more catches if the o-line gave Ryan more time to go through his progressions. With Jones, White and Gonzo, hea??s usually a last ditch effort.
PY: Yeah, but might also be because Jones, White and Gonzo always get open.
Jeremy Cartersville GA [via mobile]: What do the falcons do at RB in the off season this feels like turners last year?
PY: No doubt it's Turner's last year with Falcons. They'll bring in an RB to go with Rodgers. Just don't know if it will be through draft or free agency.
justin (Woodruff South Carolina): hey pat, honestly do you feel that ron rivera will return to the carolina panthers in 2013 and with the same coaching staff?
PY: I'm not saying that's the right call, but it is what I think is going to happen. However, I think there probably will be some changes on the coaching staff. Not necessarily the coordinators.
Paul (Charlotte): Hi Pat, what do you know about Brandon Beane's background? Does he have scouting experience? Don't want a Hurney re-tread in Charlotte.
PY: Brandon Beane is a great guy. But, no, no scouting experience. He's been their logistics guy -- setting up travel, setting up training camp, etc.
mike (greensboro): pat, why would panthers let williams go? look what he did when stuart got hurt (which is always!). i like stuart, but williams, even with a big contract is a better runner in my opionon
PY: I've said all along I think Williams is better than Stewart. But the fact is they need salary cap room. They can get it by letting Williams go. They'd lose cap room if they let Stewart go.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Ronen (México): Is it only me or did you also see flash of greatness in the young Akeem Hicks, for a third round in a awful defence, he had some good plays right?
PY: He certainly showed some promise. One of the few bright spots for that defense.
Mookie (Snellville): I know it's Spagnuolo's first year, but in my mind 7,042 yards given up in his first season means he has to get fired. I don't want this team, while trying to figure out Spags defense, ruin the 4 years Brees has left on his contract, Any chance they take that into consideration and fire him ?
PY: I think anything is possible on that one. That story that came out the other day certainly didn't reflect well on Spags.
Davis (Virginia): It seems like the Saints have lots of needs on defense and another WR and have no cap room, what is the best we can hope for next year?
PY: Difference between the Saints and Panthers is there are reasonable ways for the Saints to free up some cap room. They're not completely buried under long-term contracts. Loomis will get them to a spot where they can at least bring in some free-agent help.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Brandon (Vancouver): I really can't believe how many Buc fans are calling for Freeman's head because he had two bad games. The Bucs didn't make the playoffs this year because our secondary and pass rush were awful.
PY: I'm with you on that. Freeman was far from perfect. But, at times, he did some good things. That team had much bigger problems in other places.
Kevin (Tallahasseee): Greg Schiano seems to be a reincarnation of Ray Perkins...Perkins was also known to run his teams ragged and the teams fade throughout the season.
PY: Yeah, but it's not quite the same. Perkins was doing three-a-day practices in training camp. The new rules don't allow Schiano to do anything close to that.
Mario (Tampa): But in Tampa, isn't there a lack of leadership in Freeman? I know there are problems in other areas, but starts from QB, don't you think?
PY: Lack of leadership??? Never seen or heard anything to suggest that about him. You certainly can question his play, but not his leadership.
Here’s the complete transcript of Friday’s NFC South chat.