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Saturday, January 12, 2013
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

Let's take a look at some odds and ends from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said in this radio interview that he doesn’t believe the team’s recent playoff struggles bring added pressure. Instead, Weatherspoon said the Falcons will use what happened in past playoff games as motivation.

ESPN Stats & Information has four statistical reasons why Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is ready to get his first playoff victory.

Jeff Schultz writes that the Falcons need to ride their offense if they’re going to win a playoff game. I couldn’t agree more. The Falcons have a lot invested in their offense, and it’s the strength of their team -- well, at least the passing game is the strength of this team. The Falcons have to come out throwing the ball against the Seahawks.

Winning brings attention, and Atlanta’s 13-3 regular season did that. The Falcons’ television ratings were up 13 percent over the previous season in the Atlanta market.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

The team plans to interview Cincinnati assistant Hue Jackson for the vacancy at offensive coordinator. I think there also will be some other outside candidates interviewing, and I think quarterbacks coach Mike Shula is going to get serious consideration.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

In this Insider post, Mel Kiper Jr. has a re-do of the 2007 NFL draft. The Saints used the No. 27 overall pick on receiver Robert Meachem and he never lived up to his potential. With the benefit of hindsight, Kiper gives the Saints running back Ahmad Bradshaw. I’m not sold on that, because it’s pretty similar to drafting Mark Ingram in 2011. When you’re a pass-happy team like the Saints, I don’t think you need to use first-round picks on running backs. If the Saints had used a first-round pick on a defensive player in 2007, they might not have had as many problems as they did on that side of the ball this past season.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a similar position at the University of South Florida. This wasn’t termed a firing, but I think it was something close to that. The Bucs almost set an NFL record for passing yards allowed in 2012. Someone had to take the fall for that, and it turned out to be Cooper.