The NFC South will look a lot different this season when it comes to the quarterback position. For the second consecutive season, a mainstay is no longer with his team.
After Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers parted ways in 2020, the New Orleans Saints will have a new quarterback under center to start the season for the first time since 2005 as Drew Brees retired. This will be the second straight season a new quarterback is under center for Carolina, as they replaced Teddy Bridgewater with Sam Darnold. The Saints will roll with a combination of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to replace Brees.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons aren’t very far behind when it comes to changing the guard at quarterback, as Tom Brady enters his age 44 season and Matt Ryan could be on his way out of Atlanta.
What can we expect from the quarterbacks of the NFC South in 2021? Here is a bold prediction for each during the season.
New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston Makes The Pro Bowl
Saints head coach Sean Payton went to Taysom Hill last season when Drew Brees was sidelined, despite having Jameis Winston on the roster. Winston re-signed with the Saints and part of that had to be that he would have a shot at the starting job.
Winston will not only secure the starting job but will earn a Pro Bowl nod as well. Winston is only two years removed from leading the league with 5,109 passing yards and throwing 33 touchdowns. He did throw 30 interceptions that season as well, but hopefully, learning with the Saints will decrease those turnovers.
Winston is talented and has a good supporting cast to get his career back on track after a tumultuous start with the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady Misses At Least 1 Game
Throughout his career, Tom Brady has been an iron man. The only games he has missed in his career came when he injured his knee in 2008 or from the league suspension in 2016. This season, Brady will miss at least one game.
Thus far, Brady has fought off Father Time as well as anyone. He has shown no signs of slowing down, even winning the MVP in 2017 at 40-years old. But, this season will be the first time he shows any wear and tear by missing at least one game during the regular season for the first time in 13 years.
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan’s Last Hurrah
A rebuild is inevitable for the Atlanta Falcons. The process began when they traded their all-time leading receiver, Julio Jones, to the Tennessee Titans during the offseason. Their all-time leading passing, Matt Ryan, will be the next veteran to go.
The 2021 season will be the last one that Matt Ryan is the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. New head coach Arthur Smith will want his own quarterback to groom in his first head coaching gig, which will mean Ryan is elsewhere within the next year.
If Smith is high on rookie quarterback Feleipe Franks, that process could even get underway during the 2021 season. Ryan will end up leaving the Falcons and the NFC South will look much different without him.
Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold Throws For 30 Touchdowns
It was only three years ago that Sam Darnold was going to be the savior of the New York Jets. Fans were ecstatic when their “Suck for Sam” slogan came to fruition after they had moved up in the draft to select the USC prospect. Darnold flamed out, as the Jets are now moved on to BYU’s Zach Wilson and the Panthers are hopeful they can help Darnold figure it out.
Darnold was never given a real chance to succeed with the Jets. The roster was never built up to help him improve and he worked with some miserable coaching staffs. In Carolina, that will not be the case.
Matt Rhule has a history of developing players going back to his days as a college head coach. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady is one of the brightest offensive minds in the league. There is also a ton of talent surrounding him. His former wide receiver with the Jets in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are both coming off 1,000-yard seasons and Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the league.
All in all, it will result in Darnold unlocking some of the potential people see in him and throwing for a career-high 30 touchdowns, more than Wilson will have, in 2021. That production will make the Panthers much more competitive in the NFC South race.