Time for a quick run through the afternoon headlines from around the division:
In this radio interview, cornerback Dunta Robinson said the Falcons had a special chemistry in their locker room. From everything I saw all season, he’s right. The Falcons appeared to be a very close-knit team and that helped them go 13-3 in the regular season. They need to try to keep most of that team together. But they obviously need to add a piece or two, if they’re ever going to win a Super Bowl.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula said he pretty much will keep the system run by predecessor Rob Chudzinski. That’s why I keep telling Carolina fans that point to Shula’s past to give him a chance. As the offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay and the head coach at the University of Alabama, Shula never had anything close to what he has now with the likes of Cam Newton and Steve Smith. Shula had to be conservative in his previous stops, but he now has the talent to run a much more wide-open offense.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Now that coach Sean Payton has been reinstated from his suspension, interim coach Joe Vitt said he can forgive, but not forget what the Saints went through during the bounty scandal. It might be a good thing for Vitt and the Saints to not forget. They obviously did some things to prompt the sanctions and they can avoid making the same mistakes. They also can use a 7-9 season to motivate them to getting back to the playoffs.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Former Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said he’s happy to be back in the NFL (with the Dallas Cowboys) after a stint in the college ranks. I can’t help but think back to Kiffin’s departure from Tampa Bay and wonder how things would have worked out differently if he had never left. In the 2008 season, the Bucs were cruising along and ran their record to 9-3. That’s right about the time the news broke that Kiffin was going to leave after the season to be an assistant to his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee. The Bucs promptly lost the final four games of the season and coach Jon Gruden ended up getting fired. If Kiffin had stayed, I think there would have been a very good chance Gruden still would be coaching the Bucs.