NFC South Notes: Newton, Panthers, Short

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a household name and widely considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today. But how do his divisional foes regard him? Jenna Laine of spoke with a few Buccaneers players who say that they respect him overall with one player admitting that tackling him is a “chore.” As for his touchdown celebrations, Tampa players don’t seem to be nearly as irked by his dancing as some of the country’s talking heads are.

Here’s more out of the NFC South:

  • Was firing Lovie Smith and hiring Dirk Koetter the right move for the Buccaneers? Vaughn McClure of doesn’t think that Smith was given enough time to fix what was broken in Tampa for a long time. Although Smith was criticized for pushing the Tampa 2 scheme to hard in his two years with the Bucs, McClure hears that Gerald McCoy‘s work ethic was suspect, and that may have been the culprit of some D-Line issues. Meanwhile, Koetter got a lot of credit for turning around the Bucs’ offense, but McClure notes that the team also emphasized offense with 12 of 13 draft picks coming on offense during the 2014 and 2015 drafts, which surely helped. Smith may have been behind the 8-ball from the start as one source told McClure that he inherited a team “in disarray” in Tampa with “a lot of guys who didn’t love football.”
  • Bill Voth of Black And Blue Review wondered whether Panthers GM Dave Gettleman was thinking about Kawann Short‘s contract situation when he drafted Vernon Butler with the No. 30 overall pick. When asked about his overall philosophy on that, Gettleman didn’t specifically say whether he consider contracts of current players when prepping his boards. However, he did make it clear that he sees a difference-maker in Butler and was willing to take him even though he didn’t fill a need position-wise. “Looking at the roster, did we need another defensive tackle?” Gettleman asked rhetorically. “People can argue ‘no.’ But you know how much I believe in the front. You know how much I believe it’s a big man’s game and [coach] Ron [Rivera] is right there with me.”
  • There are a lot of people in the NFL who are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Saints ownership battle appears to be settled, according to Jason La Canfora of
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