What do u think will with the Favre situation?
I think he'll end up playing for the Vikings when all is said and done. Now, on to NFC South stuff. Starting a little early today, but we'll still go until 2 p.m. Fire away.
Which of the NFC South teams has the most difficult schedule? How do you see the division shaking out?
They're pretty much all the same. Atlanta caught a tough break getting each of the NFC East teams coming off a bye.
Hi, Pat I'm your subconscious and I was wondering who you thought was better Mike Peterson or Keith Brooking? Keep up the great work because it's putting bread on the table for both us!
Peterson. There will be a column on the blog at 1 p.m. that will talk about why Atlanta's defense will be better this year than last year and talks a lot about Peterson and Brooking.
Pat, fill the blank. Freeman will __________. (You can't say start after week 8).
All right, I'll go out on a limb and say he opens the season as the starter. Might not be what Bucs really want, but why not throw him out there. They're gonna be a running team anyway. Let him throw 18-20 times a game and he won't destroy you.
What did you make of Luke McCown's comments about the starting job? I was pumped up by that. I like the attitude and confidence.
I'd be worried if he said anything else.
Hi Pat, love your blog! Which team do you think got the better deal for their star tight end? Atlanta gives up a 2nd rounder for the proven but aging Tony Gonzalez, while the Saints and Bucs give up 2nd & 5ths for the younger but seemingly more injury prone Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, respectively. Also, which tight end do you feel will have the better year?
Hmm, I think Gonzalez will have the best year. But Winslow can have the biggest long-term impact.
Pat, any chance Roy miller starts this year? and if not what kind of impact do you see him having?
Yes, I think Miller starts right from the beginning. There aren't many other good options.
Hey Pat, wondering if you think Chris Owens makes his way into the starting lineup or a nickel spot to open the season?
He's going to get that shot. Falcons are higher on him than any of those other corners. But it will depend how quickly he comes along in camp.
Hi, Pat, What are the chances that the Buccaneers will release Byron Leftwich and Brian Griese, and go with McCown, Freeman and Johnson at the QB Position?
Griese, obviously will be gone. I could see a situation where Leftwich goes -- if Freeman and McCown both have good preseasons. But I still think Johnson will be the odd man out.
Pick one team in the NFL you KNOW will be worse than the Buccaneers and explain why. I'm a Bucs fan, but I see them rebuilding and hitting the bottom of the barrel simultaneously. Thoughts?
Detroit Lions. Do I really have to explain that one? Bucs aren't as bad as a lot of people think. QB is a huge question mark, but the rest of the offense is good. Defense has some new parts, but they might work out. This team isn't starting totally from scratch.
Pat, I keep hearing you and others say that the Panthers defense will remain relatively the same because of Fox. I have heard different from individual players. They believe that meeks bring a different kind of attitude and play to the team. I believe that while the scheme may not change, the mental aspect will, which is just as important. Agree or Disagree?
Yes, Meeks could bring a different attitude and that could be a big help. We'll see.
What do you make of Tampa Bay's new director of football administration? Do you know anything about this Douglas Daley guy?
It was a job they needed to fill to give Dominik some help because they lost several behind-the-scenes guys in the offseason. Don't know much about Daley.
to the "Bucs are rebuilding this year" guy. So where the Falcons last year...........
Excellent point. That's what I keep telling people down here who all seem to think the Bucs will be terrible.
The Observer misses you here in Charlotte, keep up the great work! It looks like Pep will be a Panther and of course Fox and Hurney think he will show up for training camp. Do you think he will? Or do you think he will hold out?
My guess is he holds out. Probably comes in a few days before the season starts.
What are the chances the Bucs D blows everyones mind and plays a lot better then everyone expects them to?
Not totally impossible. But I think they need a pass rush to be any good. Adams has to really step up.
I've seen that a lot of my fellow Bucs fans are looking at a 3-13 year. I agree that it'll be a down year, but I'm thinking between 6-8 wins. It's just that we are used to seeing a dominating defense, which we won't. Don't forget about that offense though -- They'll win some shootouts
Yeah, I'm on the same page with you.
will dexter jackson make the team this year or be bounced out of Tampa
I say he sticks and is fifth or sixth receiver.
Who do the Bucs have lined up at FB i know there have been talks of Graham......but do we have any real FB's?
2 New Orleans related questions: 1) any new developments in the Starcaps case? 2) Does New Orleans have any major competition for hosting the 2013 Super Bowl or is it a lock?
Nothing yet today on Starcaps. Could come this afternoon. I think NOLA gets Super Bowl. NFL wants it there and, now that the lease is done, I think it will happen.
If Will Smith and Charles Grant play as well as they have the ability to this season, how does the Saints pass rush rank in the league?
Well, that's a big "if" on those two. But they do have potential and the Saints have some push in the interior. They could be a pretty good D-line if Grant and Smith play to their potential -- and aren't suspended.
Please, please tell me that Gaines has learned a pass rush move that isn't a speed rush...
I'm sure Jim Bates is trying to teach him some moves.
Do you think the Bucs are still trying to work out a contract with Antonio Bryant or are they just going to let him play out the year and see how it goes?
Something could still happen. They have until July 15.
Pat, have you been to any of the OTAs? The Bucs seem really high on Elbert Mack, what do you think?
I'll be out at Bucs OTAs next week. But I know they've been high on Mack. Morris coached him last year. He could be starting. At worst, he's the nickel.
Hi Pat, how much do you think quarterback play affects a team's success (not just on offense)? I'd argue that Drew Brees is the best QB in the division, but the Saints finishing dead last this past season isn't what most were expecting.
Brees is best in division. You can't blame last year on him at all. Heck, without him, the Saints probably win two games -- if they were lucky.
Loved Jarrett's performance on crucial 3rd downs last season. Do we see a changing of the guards with him getting more snaps than Mushin, or is he not "there" yet in the coaching staff's opinion?
I think they're hoping he can prove he is there. They'd love him to be able to move ahead of Moose because that would mean Jarrett's arrived. We'll see.
You've said you liked what you saw of Tracy Porter last season as a starter. However, the Saints certainly didn't draft Malcolm Jenkins with the 14th overall to be a nickel back. Are you seeing something they aren't?
True. Basically, I think last year showed you can't have enough good CBs. Porter as the nickel would be a great situation. If he's your No. 3, that means you're in good shape.
Loved your article on the D-Line situation in the South. Lots of good two back teams out there now. That said, who are the best run stopper(s) in this division?
Ellis and Babineaux and Kemo in Carolina right now. Peria Jerry and Roy Miller might join them.
Do you think Steve Smith would ever want to leave Carolina so he can have a bigger role in an offense. He's big at Carolina but can you imagine him with a better QB and a pass happy offense.
Steve's always seemed pretty content in Carolina and has set down roots there. Don't see him wanting out.
Pat, do you think aqib talib is a pro bowler this year?
Definitely has the ability to be that.
How good is the young Bucs O-line really? Where would you rank them with the rest of the NFL (1-32)?
Somewhere around No. 10.
Sharell, what Steve Smith really needs is a number 2 that takes some pressure off him. Seems like he is the only WR on the field for Carolina at times.
Yeah, but it's been that way much of his career. Moose, in his prime, is only other receiver they've had who's really been able to thrive with Steve and help Steve thrive.
Will their be a definite starter at the RB position in Tampa or do you more than likely see Ward and Graham spliting carries pretty equally?
Ward will be the main guy. They paid him big money.
Don't you think the main problem with the Saints D was their potent passing offense? I don't care who you have on defense, when you spend that much time on the field you're bound to give up points.
I think that's a small factor. Main problem was defense was banged up and just not very good.
do you think phillips beats out Hayes for the weakside linebacker spot?
PY, do you think Smith really wants a great #2? Does he have an ego like most WR?
Does Steve Smith have an "ego like most WRs"? Probably more than most.
Any idea if the agent for Peppers is contacting teams trying to stir up interest in a trade? Who if anyone would be interested in a trade since it will require multiple picks and a significant salary cap hit?
Yeah, that's what the agent has been doing for months. I don't think there's been a lot of interest -- because of the compensation and cash required.
Why is it that most fans expect immediate results - big time results - from 1st and 2nd round picks? Are we ruining the game? It sure seems so - who else could have started the must-win-now philosophy?
Not sure if it's ruining the game. But, yeah, we as fans and media members definitely are a big part of creating expectations for kids.
With our O-line and running game, I think McCown would have to screw up pretty bad to lose the starting job. Like you said if they only throw 18-22 times a game, all he has to do is manage the game.
Agree. I was just presenting a different scenario because reader asked me to not use my standard line that Freeman will become the starter after the bye week. Truth is, I see McCown starting the season and Freeman taking over after London game.
No we are not the ones to blame for the expectations, the fact that rookie contracts are so damn expensive makes them have to perform
I think only Peppers and the Panthers think he is worth a first rounder and the money he wants to be paid. Has his ego taken a hit this offseason?
Let's call it a reality check. If he comes back in, he's going to be very humbled.
Pat, did you get to see much of Harry Douglas in camp? That guy impressed me something proper last year - great speed agility, acceleration.
He had a great minicamp. Think you'll see him a lot in the slot. At some point, he could even replace Jenkins as a starter. Falcons are very high on HD.
Agreed, but assuming Smith and Grant are not suspended and do play to their ability, where does that leave the Saints pass rush? If they don't perform, does DE immediately become a priority for next years draft?
Yes, if they don't step up this year, Saints would have to move on at DE.
Pat do you see clifton smith having another solid year returning kicks/punts
Yes, also see him getting some time at RB.
I love the fact that Peppers, Edwards and Boldin aren't getting traded. Teams realize they aren't worth the money they'll need to pay on a new contract. Then to give up high draft picks in addition... forget it.
Regardless of when Freeman starts do you see him having enough potential to be a long term great?
Definitely has all sorts of potential. Lot of variables in projecting him as a great. But he has the physical tools, if everything else goes right.
CC in Atlanta: great answer on Grant and Smith. If you can clean it up a bit, I'd share it with the audience.
The Bucs supposedly went hard after Favre last year. Now he's available again. I know the Bucs drafted Freeman, but having him learn a year under Favre couldn't hurt. Are the Bucs not even remotely interested with Gruden now gone or is Favre only willing to play for the Vikings? Or both?
Not happening. That would defeat the whole purpose of what the Bucs are trying to do in the long term. If they wanted an old QB, they could have kept Garcia.
What do you think, matt moore 2nd or 3rd on panthers' depth chart?
3rd. McCown second.
Have they got the big Jeff Garcia banner down yet off of RayJay? How great of a stadium is it, i've never been?
Still on there last time I went by, but that was about a week ago. I'll probably go by at some point this weekend and will check it out. Great stadium. You should try to get there.
Pat, Will you name two guys in the NFC South (who aren't big names) that will have the biggest impact on the divison?
Good question. Wish I had time to think it all the way through. Off the top of my head, I'll say Atlanta safety Erik Coleman and Carolina LB Thomas Davis. Think they're two guys who have been good, but could reach another level this year.
Ok Pat, I'll keep it bland... when exactly was the last time Grant & Smith played to their potential? If that's what its gonna take for NO to excel, they need to find a plan B.
Excellent. Loved your first answer, but I couldn't post it.
I know you like what the Falcons did on defense, but did they play it to safe? Could they had done more in free agency to have more players with experience?
They did it to get young and be good for the long term. I call that smart.
Are the Panthers mortgaging their future by giving up a first rounder two years in a row? I think the Utoh trade might have been a good move but not sure what they were thinking this year.
It could be risky. But let's wait and see. I think they'll end up with a first-round pick next year.
What do you think of Sapp calling out K2 without knowing all the details
Warren's always been willing to speak his mind, which is one thing I respect about Warren. In this case, maybe he didn't know all the details. But I don't think it's a negative. If anything, it might fire up Winslow.
Wow the lack of DL depth in Charlotte is really starting to scare me.
Yeah, it's a lot different than the old Fox teams. But the back seven is a lot better.
Pat, do you think Roddy White extension could be a distraction for the Falcons?
Not for the Falcons. Maybe for Roddy, if it drags on. But I think you may see this get done before the start of the season.
for peppers, IF he stays healthy, isn't it better if he just gets franchised year after year
That's one way to look at it because the franchise money is huge. But there's no security with that. Also, in Peppers' case, it's really not about money.
Most underrated player in the south? In my opinoin, Barrett Ruud. Your thoughts?
Don't think you can call Rudd underrated after last year. Lot of people were singing his praises.
I understand that huge rookie contracts breed high expectations, but that only holds true for the first 10-12 picks. After that, fans still expect everyone to play immediately. Look at Jarrett in Carolina. He was a 2nd rounder, and we are all bashing him for not being a starter by his 3rd year. Was Steve Smith a starter before then?
Good points. I think Smith started his second year.
What do you think is going to happen in the Star caps case?
Think there will be suspensions. Just my guess.
Every year a team fromthe nfc south falls flat on their face and disappoints. Will the trend continue and which team is poised to fall the most?
Well, if you believe that will continue, you'd have to say Carolina or Atlanta because they have the most room to fall.
Pat -- you naive little soul. It's ALWAYS about the money. If Carolina offered him a megadeal I suspect all these hard feelings would vanish pretty quick.
It's NOT about the money with Peppers. He just wants out of Carolina. They offered him a deal before last season that would have mad him highest-paid defensive player in the league. He said no and played out his contract.
Can you explain to me the implications of Pantera losing Kris jenkins? It seems like no one ever talked about it...maybe because he had some critical injuries and people forgot what a beast he is. I know Kemo is nice, but seriously, the line they had back in the day with Pep, Jenks, Rucker and Buckner...fiendish.
No comparison between Kemo and a healthy Jenkins. He stopped believing in the coaching staff, much like Peppers did when his turn came.
With the extra salary cap space just announced do the Saints go after Pisa Tinoisamoa?
Possibly, but I don't know that the Saints are truly interested in him.
Then what is it? Clash w/ Fox (I've never have heard those rumblings)? Dislike for Charlotte (he's a NC native)? I don't get it. There's gotta be more to it and money is almost always the elephant in the room.
Think it's a combo of him not believing in the coaching staff and feeling like he's under the microscope because of his NC roots and a desire to be just "one of the guys".
How do you know Jenkins gave up on the coaching staff. From his workout ethic it seemed as though he felt he was entitled, and above the staff more than anything else.
I covered the team at the time. That's my take on it.
Robert Meachem? Evans? Nicks? Is that so difficult or does the moderator only allow questions about the Falcons and Panthers with an occasional question about the Bucs? The other day, the only Saints-related questions seem to be about Edge even though the Saints do not need him. The only questions today have been about Smith and Grant and starcaps. Oh, and you allowed a dig on Smith and Grant by a Falcon fan who obviously did not know that Smith played with a hernia injury all last season. Can John Abraham do the same? Just as I thought!
Listen, I answer as many questions as humanly possible. There are hundreds coming in and I don't see them all. Meachem -- still has potential and this will be a make or break camp for him. Evans and Nicks -- excellent set of guards. Maybe the most underrated combo in the league.
How much does the added salary cap help teams like the Saints?
Not much. It's $1 million. Basically, it might allow them to sign an extra role player.
Pat, sorry I got here late don't leave me hanging though. I know Ronde is starting with Talib but I heard Tampa is moving him inside to the slot guy in nickel coverages with Mack playing outside...I think it will be great for Mack to line up where he will eventually start...Your thoughts on this??
Hey Pat. Come on down to NO for some OTAs and we'll feed you some stuff that will keep you coming back.
I hope to be there in June.
What would be your best guess on why big name free agents avoid Tampa?
In the past, it was Gruden. Now, there shouldn't be any excuse. No state income tax used to be a big seller for Bucs in free agency.
If Smith & Grant do get suspensions what implications will it have on the saints new and improved defence?
No doubt it hurts. You can get by with Bobby McCray and Spicer as starters. But you'd much rather have McCray being used as just a pass-rush specialist. Could make for a rough start, although they should be able to be Detroit.
Jenkins, he said his teammates had no heart 2 years ago after blowout to tampa JP included!!
Yep and he was right at the time.
Pat, gimme the lowdown on Stephen Nicholas
Falcons think he's really ready to step up.
Will Jeremy Trueblood make the Pro Bowl this year?
Tough for a RT to make it.
Do you think getting Peirless added to the Saints secondary helps at all, or is it just wishfull thinking? I havnt heard much about it. thanks!
He's nothing special. But he has history with Williams and is a good special teams guy. Can't hurt.
I hear Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas are working their tails off this off-seasons and helping each other get better. Could they both be 1000-yard backs?
I think Thomas can.
Pat, do you think Drew Brees could break Tom Brady's single season touchdown record? He certainly has enough weapons!
Just thinking down the road a little what would you think of merriman in tampa? Good fit?
Don't see it happening.
Surprised that Chevis Jackson is loved by the Falcons i thought he was ready to step it up, what don't they like about him?
I think they DO like Jackson. He could end up starting.
Does Reggie Bush have a chance of being a 1000 yard back ever? I could see him tallying that much or more in all purpose, but not just as a runner.
All purpose, yes. Just rushing yards? No.
Pat, is Reggie Bush a late bloomer like Marshall Faulk, Brian Westbrook, Tiki Barber and Thomas Jones or is he forever going to be a "decoy" and "satelite" player?
Maybe with another team or another coach. Two more questions before I run.
Derrick Ward will lead the NFC South in rushing / be in the top 5 in the NFL / approx 1500 yards FACT or FICTION?
I say 1,200 for Ward. Like him as a player and like the o-line. But defenses are going to be focused on him because they know Bucs will be running most of the time.
Pat Ruud wants a new contract, will he get it?
Why am i not considered the best QB in the league right now?
You've got my vote, Drew. Thanks to all for stopping by. See you next week.