NFC South: Casey Weldon

The Omaha Buccaneers?

August, 18, 2010
I just received a press release that’s not really relevant to the current NFC South. But it’s kind of interesting, on many levels.

The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League are going to hold a press conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday night. There, Omaha coach Jeff Jagodzinski will announce he’s signed quarterback Jeff Garcia.

For those with short memories, Garcia and Jagodzinski had stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although Garcia’s stint was a bit longer than Jagodzinski’s. Garcia, now 40, was a fairly competent quarterback for the Buccaneers for two seasons.

Jagodzinski joined the Buccaneers after Garcia left and didn’t last long. Raheem Morris hired Jagodzinski to be the offensive coordinator, but was fired before the season even started.

Not sure the Nighthawks are ready to cough up huge salaries, but my UFL sources tell me they’ve had some talks with Scott Milanovich, Casey Weldon, Jim Pyne, Marcus Jones and Tyji Armstrong.

Hitting the links

June, 15, 2010
Matt Williamson has some interesting looks on some offensive lines. I can’t give away the whole theme here because it’s Insider content, but he talks about the Panthers.

Matthew Berry has his top 150 fantasy players. He’s got Michael Turner and Drew Brees in his top 10. I’m not a huge fantasy guy, but I have to wonder why DeAngelo Williams isn’t in the top 10.

Football Outsiders’ Bill Barnwell looks at the highest and lowest payrolls at each position groupInsider around the league to see where that money is best spent.

From this interview with WQYK in Tampa, it sure sounds like quarterback Josh Freeman and rookie receivers Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams are developing a good rapport.

Ira Kaufman said the Bucs made the right call in selecting John McKay as the second member of their Ring of Honor. I agree completely with Kaufman, my friend and former co-worker. He’s right when he says Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Doug Williams, Ronde Barber, Hardy Nickerson and Paul Gruber will get their day. That will come over time and I think you can probably include Tony Dungy on that list. For that matter, how about Scott Milanovich, Donald Igwebuike, Mazio Rosyter and Casey Weldon?

Daniel Cox has a nice feature on Atlanta’s Christopher Owens recalling his first interception, which he took away from Terrell Owens.

Steve Reed has an update on how rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is progressing.

NFC South mailbag

March, 13, 2010
Jeff in Charleston, SC writes: Great article on Warrick Dunn and his limited partnership with the Atlanta Falcons organization. You put this whole confusing situation into perspective and gave us fans a great story about one of our all-time favorite Falcons. In your mind, what does this say about the organization that a classy, philanthropist and former player like Dunn would embark on this journey with the Falcons.

Pat Yasinskas: It was a fun story to do. I covered Dunn when he came into the league with the Bucs as a very shy and private kid. The guy I interviewed on the phone the other day was an extremely polished businessman and that was very cool for me to see. Dunn had a great career and we all know about the great things he does off the field. This move says a lot about the Falcons. Arthur Blank thinks the world of Dunn. Blank also has grown as an owner. He’s been burned in the past by some players with off-field issues, but he’s learned from that and tightened up the ship. Bringing on a guy like Dunn only makes the ship more elegant. By the way, I want to emphasize this isn’t some token role. Dunn is very serious about learning the business side of football and said he dreams of being a majority owner of a franchise someday.

Jason in Jacksonville, FL writes: Need a little help figuring out some of my fellow Carolina fans. If I recall last year about 90% of us were screaming “WE WANT (Matt) MOORE! WE WANT MOORE!’’ .Then we got Moore and he went 4-1 as a starter and only threw 1 INT. Now all I see anywhere is bring in Michael Vick, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn etc.

Pat Yasinskas: Very true. I guess the best way to put it is that’s the nature of the beast and it’s not unique among Carolina fans. Quarterback is the glamour position and the easiest thing in the world to point at. The backup always seems to be the most popular guy in town when things aren’t going well. I can remember fans screaming for Casey Weldon and Scott Milanovich when I covered the Bucs and fans yelling for Brett Basanez when I covered the Panthers. Let me assure you, John Fox and Marty Hurney aren’t basing their decisions on public opinion. They plan to at least give Moore a shot to win the job. They may bring in someone to compete with him, but it won’t be Vick.

Peter in New York writes: Now that the Falcons have addressed the CB position in Dunta Robinson and have a wealth of young talent on the defensive side of the ball, what do you rate the possibility of them drafting another offensive weapon in the first round? If a C.J. Spiller or a Dez Bryant happened to be available, will they pull the trigger?

Pat Yasinskas: It’s possible. But I think there still are needs on the defensive side, mainly at defensive end and maybe at outside linebacker. Mike Smith is a defensive coach and I think the Falcons already have pretty good weapons at the offensive skill positions. My guess is they go with defense.

Da Truth in Woodbridge, VA writes: Pat, I've been blogging in your "How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch" article. One Panther fan seems to think they and the Saints are the team to beat this year and that the Falcons did nothing to improve their defense. Even to go as far and say Dunta Robinson is not really an upgrade--just an overpaid, tackle-after-the-fact CB. Of course I'm a Falcon fan and him being a Panther fan we're both biased toward our teams. From an unbiased point of view, who do you think will be in the better position to challenge NO for the division title and the playoffs?

Pat Yasinskas: At the moment, I think the Falcons are the team most likely to challenge the Saints. I think Atlanta has improved so far this offseason. Don’t see any way you can say the same about Carolina right now. But there still is time in free agency and the draft and I’m anxious to see what Fox and Hurney have up their sleeves.

Wes in New Orleans writes: As always, you do a great job, but your note about Jake Delhomme contained a fairly noticeable factual error. Aaron Brooks' draft status was not the reason Jim Haslett was obligated to keep him at starter. He was drafted by Green Bay and was traded to New Orleans for a draft pick. His contract had much more to do with it.

Pat Yasinskas: You are absolutely correct. Thanks to you and a few other New Orleans fans for pointing out my error. I’ll go back and fix it. Brooks was Haslett’s guy and the Saints put a lot of money into him. That’s why Delhomme never really got a fair shake in his first stint with New Orleans. By the way, he was supposed to visit the Saints on Saturday, but that got delayed because of problems with his flight schedule. Delhomme now is scheduled to visit the Saints on Sunday.
Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- You want a quarterback battle? Go back to that day on the golf course when Casey Weldon and Trent Dilfer slugged it out.

That was a battle with two of Tampa Bay's quarterbacks throwing punches at each other after some dispute about counting putts. It was big news. I didn't see it, but I covered the aftermath when I worked for The Tampa Tribune. Both quarterbacks apologized and tried to pass it off as boys being boys.

That was good entertainment. What we saw out of Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown in Thursday night's lightning-interrupted preseason game, was more like one of those later "Rocky" movies. All hype and no real substance.

No Mas?

Let's hope there's a peace treaty on this "battle" when coach Raheem Morris meets with the media Friday afternoon. Just go ahead and call this thing now. It's pretty clear Morris has wanted to go with Leftwich all along and that's suddenly looking like the safe decision for a team that wants to bring rookie Josh Freeman along slowly.

If Morris really wanted to go with McCown, he would have done it after the second preseason game. That's when McCown outplayed Leftwich in Jacksonville. Morris put off the decision and the implication was he saw the race as a dead heat.

Thursday night didn't do anything to change that. Leftwich had a few nice throws, but he also overthrew receivers five times, including one pass for a wide-open Kellen Winslow Jr. that he couldn't have caught if he was standing on Kellen Winslow Sr.'s shoulders.

Leftwich's stint ended with a 45-minute lightning delay. If McCown ever was going to firmly step up and claim the job, he had the opportunity. He didn't capitalize.

McCown completed five of 11 passes for 38 yards. He also supported some of the doubts the Bucs had about him. Without much help from the offensive line, McCown struggled to handle the pass rush. That's been the knock on him and it showed why he's been a backup his entire career and might be destined to stay in such a role.

If you thought this thing would play out naturally, it has. If you thought Leftwich or McCown would light it up and run away with this job, what were you thinking? All they've shown is they deserve to be backups.

But Morris has to pick a starter. There's really only one choice for a team that doesn't like to use the word "rebuilding," but clearly is.

That's Leftwich. He's the lesser of two evils and has more experience. That'll come in handy because he's going to be handing off a lot. The Bucs have said all along they want to be a running team and they probably want to do that more than ever now.

Leftwich probably can get you through a brutal earlier schedule better than McCown. Really, that's all Morris reasonably can be asking for at this point – try to scrape out a few wins with the running game and the defense in the first half of the season.

If you want to throw Freeman in as a starting candidate right now, don't. The second half of the season -- at the earliest -- is the soonest you're going to see him. If you saw Freeman getting flipped around by Miami's defense in the fourth quarter, you're probably thinking the same thing Morris should.

Right about now, Leftwich looks better than ever.