Atlanta Falcons

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Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 8



Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 31

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 31


NFC South Week 1 Recap

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NFL season kicked off yesterday. I’m going to take a look around the NFC South and see what we can take away from these performances.

Atlanta- 24 Carolina- 10: As a Falcons fan I’ve always been grateful to the Panthers. No matter how bad the Falcons are you can always count on one win against the guys from Charlotte.

I expected it to be a rough day for Bryce Young since he’s a rookie quarterback on a bad team making his debut. The first pick in the draft went 20-38 passing for 146 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. I expect him to get better as the season goes on.

I was curious how the Falcons backfield would look since they drafted Bijan Robinson with the 8th pick in the 2023 draft. Tyler Allgeier rushed for over one thousand yards last season as a rookie.  Allgeier rushed for 75 yards and two TD’s on 15 carries. Robinson had 10 carries for 56 yards and 6 receptions for 27 yards and a score.

“This was a super-fun first game for me,” Robinson said. “I just can’t wait to showcase what we’ve got going down the line.”

Desmond Ridder is not the franchise quarterback of the future. He was efficient passing the ball, completing 15 of 18 attempts. He only passed for 115 yards though. He does not throw the ball downfield so playmakers like Kyle Pitts or Drake London can excel. London had zero catches and only 1 target. Pitts caught 2 passes for 44 yards.

Tampa Bay- 20 Minnesota-17: This game surprised me and left me thinking the Buccaneers have a chance to win the division. It’s way too early to make that prediction but they were the most impressive NFC South team yesterday.

Tom Brady retired for good, allegedly, and they replaced him with Baker Mayfield. The former number one pick is a journeyman who is on his last opportunity to be a starter in the NFL. He passed for 174 yards and 2 TD’s. Those aren’t impressive numbers but it is a big deal that he did not throw a pick. Mike Evans caught 6 passes for 66 yards and a score.

“It just comes with playing quarterback for a long time,” said Mayfield, who hopped from the Browns to the Panthers to the Rams to before landing with the Bucs. “The most important play is the next one.”

The Vikings won the NFC North last season and made the playoffs so this is a good win. Kirk Cousins passed for 344 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also lost 2 fumbles so the defense did a good job causing turnovers.

New Orleans- 16 Tennessee- 15: Derek Carr made his debut with the Saints and he did a decent job. He threw for 305 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He was sacked four times so he took a beating.

“I’m glad we won. That’s all I wanted to do,” said Carr. “That was one of the more physical games I’ve played in my 10 years. … We showed that we could win the ultimate physical type of game.”

Star running back Alvin Kamara is suspended the first three games of the season. Jamaal Williams had 18 carries for 45 yards, which is a paltry 2.5 yards per carry.

Second year receiver Chris Olave led the team with 8 catches and 112 yards.

New Orleans was the favorite to win the division before the season started. I think the Bucs will challenge them.


NFC South Rookie Of The Year?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The 2023 NFL season will start in a few weeks. Let’s take a look around the NFC South and see what rookies in the division will have the biggest impact.

Bryce Young, Carolina: Young was the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft so we have to start with him. He had a lot of success at Alabama. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2021, won the SEC Championship and led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship game.

His biggest question at the next level is his size. He’s only 5’10, 205 pounds. He has a slight build so we do not know if he can take the punishment from being hit by pro defenders.

He is the projected starter Week 1 and we keep hearing positive things from his teammates.

The Panthers played the Giants in their second preseason game last week. Young finished 3-of-6 for 35 yards on two series at MetLife Stadium, making him 7-of-12 for 56 yards in two preseason games.

“I thought Bryce looked sharp,” coach Frank Reich said. “Put together a nice drive. Would have liked to have finished if off [with a touchdown]. Obviously, unhappy with the number of penalties we had.

“But I thought Bryce looked sharp. I think he wanted to throw the ball more, but I thought he looked sharp.”

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta: The Falcons picked Robinson with the No. 8 pick in the draft, which raised some eyebrows.

Rookie Tyler Allgier rushed for 1,035 yards, 3 touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He only started seven games so he did well in a limited role, so it did not look like the Falcons needed another running back.

They also still have Cordarrele Patterson and they are listed as the top two backs on the depth chart.

The value of running backs has gone down since most offenses showcase the passing game.

Robinson was the top rated back and he had a great career at Texas. He won the Doak Walker Award last year and he was a unanimous All-American. He rushed for 1,580 yards and 18 TD’s. Running backs can make an immediate impact so he is expected to produce like Saquon Barkley did as a rookie in 2018. Barkley had 2,028 all-purpose yards and 15 scores.

Bryan Bresee, New Orleans: Bresee was selected 29th in the draft.

He was considered as the top recruit coming out of high school but he did not live up to that at Clemson. He is 6’5, 305 pounds, so he has prototypical size for a defensive tackle.

He is a very good athlete with excellent strength so he should help the Saints interior line. In the second preseason game against the Chargers he recovered a fumble.

Calijah Kancey, Tampa Bay: Kancey was the 19th player selected and he draws comparisons to another Pitt defensive tackle, Aaron Donald.

He was a unanimous All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2022 he started 11 games and missed two games with an injury. He had 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Kancey has great speed and he should routinely make plays in the opposing team’s backfield.

I’m looking forward to see how these rookies perform in 2023.

Down South

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

All four teams in the NFC South report to mandatory minicamp this month. Let’s take a look at some key storylines for each team.

Atlanta: The Falcons offense has been receiving some hype recently. Is it smoke and mirrors or is it legit?

Quarterback Desmond Ridder is going into his second season and he’s expected to drastically improve. He was picked in the third round of the 2022 draft and he was the backup to Marcus Mariota for most of the 2022 season. I think he’s a huge question mark and I don’t put much faith in him.

There are some playmakers like Kyle Pitts that look good on paper. As a rookie in 2021 he had over a thousand yards and one touchdown. He played ten games in 2022 and had 356 yards and 2 scores. He has great size and speed so we will see if that will make him an elite tight end.

Wide receiver Drake London had a good rookie year with 72 catches, 866 yards and 4 TD’s.

Rookie running back Tyler Allgier started seven games and he finished with over one thousand yards and 3 scores. Then Atlanta added Bijan Robinson, who was considered the best RB in the 2023 draft.

I have a feeling they won’t quite be the 1998 Vikings or 2007 Patriots offense.

Carolina: The Panthers drafted former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young with the top pick in the 2023 draft.

Now we will see if he can help turn the franchise around. Young is only 5’10 and 204 pounds so there are questions about his durability in the NFL.

Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco last season, so the offense lacks playmakers.

They did sign wide receiver Adam Thielen as a free agent. His last thousand yard season was in 2018 so it looks like his best days are behind him.

Carolina also signed running back Miles Sanders as a free agent. He’s coming off of a breakout year in Philadelphia, rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 scores. The Eagles had a very good offensive line so I don’t expect the same level of production in Charlotte.

New Orleans: The Saints signed quarterback Derek Carr in the offseason. They did need a quarterback but how good is Carr? I think he’s slightly above average. Last season in Las Vegas he had the league’s leading rusher Josh Jacobs and receiver Davante Adams. In 15 games he passed for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Receiver Michael Thomas has not been healthy since the 2019 season. Running back Alvin Kamara struggled last season but some of that was due to inconsistent quarterback play.

Tampa Bay: Have they thrown in the towel before the season began? The Tom Brady era is over so the Bucs signed Baker Mayfield in March.

The former top pick has been a bust through his first five seasons. He’s competing with Kyle Trask for the title of QB 1.

Tampa still has some skill players like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin so maybe he can develop some chemistry with them.

I think the NFC South will be the weakest division again this season. I expect the champion to be under .500 but maybe one of these teams will shock me.

Making The Grade

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. Let’s look at the NFC South and see how each team did.

Atlanta Falcons Draft picks: RB Bijan Robinson, OT Matthew Bergeron, EDGE Zach Harrison, CB Clark Phillips III, S DeMarco Hellams, G Jovaughn Gwyn

They surprised everyone by picking Bijan Robinson with the 8th pick. He was the best running back in the draft, but the position has been devalued for several years.

Last year a running back was not drafted in the first round. The Falcons desperately need to improve on defense and specifically sacking the quarterback. Jalen Carter from UGA was still available and that made the most sense.

Rookie Tyler Allgier rushed for 1,035 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2022. They also still have Cordarrelle Patterson, who takes a lot of snaps at running back. This was a luxury pick for a 7 – 9 team that has needs to address.

Phillips is small but a tenacious player. He should make an immediate impact. Harrison is a solid defensive end.

Grade: B-

Carolina Panthers Draft picks: QB Bryce Young, WR Jonathan Mingo, EDGE D.J. Johnson, G Chandler Zavala, S Jammie Robinson

The Panthers have been looking for stability at quarterback since Cam Newton left Charlotte. Drafting former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young with the 1st pick was a good move.

There are concerns about his size because he’s 5’10 and 200 pounds. Kyler Murray is also 5’10 so maybe it’s not as big of a factor as it seems.

New head coach Frank Reich is a former offensive coordinator so I’m sure he will work with Young and put him in the best position to succeed.

Mingo and Johnson address positions of need. Zavala is a powerful blocker who adds depth to the Panthers’ offensive line. Robinson’s instincts and agility will earn him playing time as a rookie.

Grade: A-

New Orleans Saints Draft picks: DT Bryan Bresee, EDGE Isaiah Foskey, RB Kendre Miller, G Nick Saldiveri, QB Jake Haener, S Jordan Howden, WR A.T. Perry

Bresee and Foskey are great fits for Dennis Allen up front after his defense has been gutted the past two offseasons.

Breese was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, but he never lived up to that at Clemson. Miller and Haener were head-scratching reaches based on what New Orleans already had. Saldiveri fills the Saints need for an athletic interior lineman.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft picks: DT Calijah Kancey, OT Cody Mauch, EDGE YaYa Diaby, LB SirVocea Dennis, TE Payne Durham, CB Josh Hayes, WR Trey Palmer, EDGE Jose Ramirez.

Kancey brings versatility, explosiveness, and underrated leverage to the Bucs’ defensive line. They traded up for Mauch but it makes sense because he can also be moved to tackle if the team needs him there.

Diaby is very athletic but a work in progress. He will need to reach his potential to justify the mid-third-round selection.

The Buccaneers filled plenty of needs on both sides of the ball. Two glaring omissions from the class are a QB and another running back. I’m surprised they passed on Will Levis in the first round.

Grade: B

On The Clock

By: Kipp Branch news services

Everyone these days produces their own version of an NFL Mock draft.

You do not have to be correct because most of these so-called experts are not. It is something fun to project. Keep that in mind. Here is my 2023 mock draft for the top ten picks with trades factored in.

Carolina Panthers: With the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft the Panthers select Bryce Young QB from Alabama.

I do not care how tall he is or what he weighs. The guy checks every box as a QB. He is accurate with a strong arm. He is mobile and played at a high level in the NFL equivalent of AAA Baseball the Southeastern Conference. Young steps in and has Carolina in contention in the weak NFC South.

Houston Texans: C. J. Stroud QB/Ohio State: Stroud showed me something in the Peach Bowl. Great pocket presence and show us some wheels when the pocket broke down.

Houston has twelve picks in this draft and can get respectable quickly in the weak AFC South.

Arizona Cardinals: Will Anderson DE/Alabama: Anderson fills a need for Arizona.

Alabama has two of the top three picks in my mock draft and they did not make the college football playoffs in 2022. Head scratcher.

Baltimore Ravens: Anthony Richardson QB/Florida: The Ravens trade Lamar Jackson to the Colts and get Richardson who wowed at the combine and who is bigger, stronger, and faster than Jackson.

Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter DL/Georgia: Carter is the best prospect in this draft who Seattle loves.

I do not believe the smokescreen of Carter falling out of the top ten. This kid is too good to drop that far. Yes, he needs to make better decisions.

Pete Carroll will develop Carter into the best DL in the league before his rookie contract expires.

Tennessee: Will Levis QB/Kentucky: With Carter gone off the board the Lions trade out this spot with Tennessee and the Titans draft Levis.

Levis has the potential to end up being the best QB in the draft in 4-5 years. Tennessee is in desperate need of a QB.

Los Vegas Raiders: Christian Gonzalez CB/Oregon: Las Vegas needs help in the secondary.

Gonzalez is the highest rated corner on my board. In a division with great QB’s the Raiders must improve on the backend of their defense.

Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson Edge/Texas Tech: With the QB’s gone the Falcons address a huge need, which is pass rush. Wilson can get to the QB. The Falcons need a lot of help on defense.

Chicago Bears: Peter Skoronski OT/Northwestern: The Bears after trading the number one pick to Carolina get must needed help along the line of scrimmage.

Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith Edge/Georgia: The Eagles take Smith here to bring heat off the edge.

Philly is already strong on defense, so the rich get richer by taking Smith who stole the show at the NFL Combine by running a 4.38 forty. Insane speed off the edge.

Local Picks in the NFL Draft:

Round 4 Pick 125: The Los Angeles Chargers select Warren McClendon OL/Georgia: The former BHS Pirate McClendon is selected by the Chargers who need help protecting Justin Herbert in LA. McClendon will be versatile in the NFL and will be able to play both the guard and tackle positions.

Round 6 Pick 180: The Arizona Cardinals select Stetson Bennett QB/Georgia: This could be the perfect opportunity for Stet to come in and compete right away for a back-up job.

Kyler Murray is rehabbing a knee injury. Colt McCoy is an aging 36-year-old career back-up.

Bennett has all the intangibles you want in a QB. The biggest one is that he is a winner and has the physical tools to go with it now with his showings at the combine and Georgia’s pro day.

Arizona is a spot where Bennett could eventually be an NFL starter. The jury is still out on Kyler Murray in Arizona.


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