NFC South: Stephen Jones

Around the NFC South

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
9:33
AM ET
Let’s take a run through the headlines from around the NFC South:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

General manager Mark Dominik said it could be several months before the team finds out if the surgery linebacker Quincy Black had to repair nerve damage in his shoulder was a success. Black isn’t likely to be ready for training camp and it sounds like it’s possible his career could be over if the surgery wasn’t a success. Maybe Black will be able to return, but the Bucs have to start looking for a replacement in case he can’t.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was fired because he used too many schemes. Ryan was subsequently hired by the Saints, where he might want to try a more simplistic approach. The Saints ran a 4-3 defense and they’ll be switching to a 3-4. That alone means there will be an adjustment period, so Ryan might be wise to not get too fancy.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman made it pretty clear that they envision an offense with a power running game and a vertical passing game. Carolina moved in that direction the second half of last season, after letting Cam Newton use the read option a lot early on. I think that’s a smart plan for Carolina. The Panthers have talented running backs and Newton can throw the ball well. He still can get some yards with his legs on scrambles, but the Panthers should be better off going with a traditional offense.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has been cleared to work out at the combine after missing much of last season with a hip injury. He could be a target for the Falcons in the later rounds.
For those of you who have sort of forgotten about Rich McKay since he left his role as the Atlanta Falcons general manager after the 2007 season, here’s a reminder that he still remains a powerful force in the NFC South and the NFL. Heck, aside from Jerry Richardson who's heading the owners in the labor talks, I think you could make an argument that McKay is the most important figure in the NFC South.

The league announced Tuesday that McKay will serve as chairman of the NFL’s competition committee. McKay’s been on the committee since 1994, when he was the general manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and started serving as co-chairman in 1998. But this latest move is a step up for McKay, who had been co-chairman with Jeff Fisher since 2001. With Fisher leaving the Tennessee Titans and no longer coaching, McKay is now a one-man show at the top of this committee.

McKay became Atlanta’s team president in 2008 when the Falcons hired general manager Thomas Dimitroff. A lot of people think McKay’s role was narrowed strictly to running the team’s business operations. But that’s never really been the true story.

While Dimitroff handles the traditional roles of a general manager, McKay has continued to help with salary-cap management and is sometimes turned to for advice on football matters. He also is the point man for the new open-air stadium owner Arthur Blank wants built in downtown Atlanta.

McKay also has been Atlanta’s main liaison to the league, and that now has been underscored with his role as chairman. He should help give the Falcons some clout when it comes to proposed rule changes and similar matters.

For the record, McKay is the only NFC South representative on the competition committee. The other members are Stephen Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), John Mara (New York Giants), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Bill Polian (Indianapolis Colts) and Rick Smith (Houston Texans).

There also is a coaches’ subcommittee to the competition committee and there is one NFC South figure there. That’s New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton. The other members of the subcommittee are John Madden, John Harbaugh (Ravens), Mike Holmgren (Cleveland Browns), Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles), Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis Rams), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers) and Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals).
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Since his abrupt and bizarre resignation as team president of the Carolina Panthers just before the start of the season, we've known Mark Richardson would not be staying on the NFL's prestigious competition committee.

It was announced Thursday that Stephen Jones of the Dallas Cowboys will fill Richardson's spot. Kind of ironic because Jones is similar to Richardson in a lot of ways. They're both the sons of team owners -- Jerry Richardson owns the Panthers and Jerry Jones owns the Cowboys -- and they both have paid their dues.

This is a coup for Stephen Jones and for the Cowboys. (Gee, think he might have some pull when it comes time to talk more about raising up that scoreboard for punters?) It's also sad for Carolina. Jerry Richardson viewed it as a victory and a point of pride when his son first was named to the competition committee and it was supposed to be another step toward Mark Richardson being the eventual owner.

But that all fell apart when Mark Richardson resigned and brother Jon Richardson did the same with his role of running Bank of America Stadium. That clearly closed a chapter for the Panthers. Still not sure exactly what was behind all of that, but I've heard all the same rumors you have. My guess is we never truly will know because the only three that know the full story are the three Richardsons and they're not talking about it.

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