Monday, September 10, 2012
NFC South evening update
By Pat Yasinskas
The day-after interview sessions are over, so let’s take a look at what came out around the NFC South on Monday:
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Running back LeGarrette Blount got only three carries Sunday before leaving the game and not returning. Coach Greg Schiano didn’t give much of an answer either way when asked if Blount was injured. But Schiano said Blount could have returned to the game if needed. I don't know that there should be a lot of conspiracy theories floating here. I simply take that as yet another sign that the Bucs plan to go mostly with rookie Doug Martin at running back.
The Bucs pulled a last-minute switch and gave rookie outside linebacker Lavonte David the duty of wearing the radio helmet. Middle linebacker Mason Foster wore it last year. But the Bucs plan on David being an every-down linebacker and the fact they gave him the radio helmet shows they already have a lot of faith in how quickly he’s picked up the defense.
Back when the Falcons made the daring trade up to draft receiver Julio Jones last year, general manager Thomas Dimitroff talked repeatedly about how he and coach Mike Smith wanted the team to be more explosive. I think someone forgot to send the memo to former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. But, as Mark Bradley writes, new coordinator Dirk Koetter seems to have an idea what explosiveness means and the Falcons are starting to look something like what Dimitroff and Smith envisioned.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
New Orleans interim head coach Aaron Kromer spent part of his Monday defending his defense. Not sure that’s a wise idea because the defense was flat-out bad against Washington. But I get that Kromer was defending coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. Spagnuolo’s system has worked elsewhere, but the Saints just have to get a lot better (and it better happen quickly) to make it work.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson took the blame for the costly penalty for having 12 men on the field in the third quarter. Robinson said he was jogging off the field. Just a guess here, but I think Robinson will be careful to sprint -- not jog -- off the field from now on.
Coach Ron Rivera said he took some optimism out of the loss to Tampa Bay because some of the mistakes were correctable. I’m sure there’s some truth to that. But it’s still inexcusable that an offense like Carolina’s stalled so badly. Carolina’s got a very good offensive line with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert in the backfield. Even though Tampa Bay stacked the box, shouldn’t the running game be able to produce more than 10 yards? And shouldn’t a passing game with Cam Newton and Steve Smith be able to prevent any defense from stacking the box?
Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said he doesn’t think the absence of injured running back Jonathan Stewart was the reason why the ground game struggled. He said it had a lot more to do with missed blocks. Rivera had no update on Stewart’s ankle injury, but said he’d know more Wednesday.