Atlanta's Smith scouts the NFC South

People ask me all the time to predict how the NFC South will shake out next season. I’m hesitant to do it because it’s only March and lots can change between now and September.


SmithBut I’m always open to hearing other opinions. And I got one that I respect very much Wednesday morning at the NFC coaches breakfast at the owners meeting. I asked Atlanta coach Mike Smith to break down the NFC South.

Smith provided a scouting report. Here it is:

I think arguably the NFC South is the toughest division and I think that has played out over the last five years. With the Saints as the defending Super Bowl champs, they have to go into the season as the favorite. Offensively, they’re very dynamic with Drew Brees and the weapons that he has like Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. They’re a very powerful offense. Defensively, last year, they were probably the most opportunistic defense in the league. They do a great job of attacking the football and creating turnovers.

Carolina, every year, John [Fox] has that team playing well and playing hard. I think everything sets up around their two running backs. They’re going to run the ball and they’re always going to play strong defense with John and Ron Meeks. I played against Matt Moore when I was in Jacksonville one year and Jake was injured. I think he’s got a very good skill set. He’s got the height and the arm strong. He doesn’t have the experience yet, but I think he’s got a chance to be a very good quarterback.

In Tampa Bay, with Raheem [Morris] in Year 2, I think you’re really going to see big strides. I really like the big quarterback, Josh Freeman. He can not only throw the football, but he can run. He can extend a play. We played both our games with them in the second half of last season and I saw quite a bit of improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They were really flying around and attacking the offense.’

And what about the Falcons? We’ll have more on them -- through the eyes of Smith, Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff -- later today. I’ll be posting a column on the Falcons this afternoon.