Around the NFC South

Let's take a run through the top headlines around the NFC South.

Here’s a good column that asks if the Falcons already have reached their peak. That’s a very valid question. They’ve had four winning seasons, but haven’t won a playoff game under Mike Smith. I think it’s fair to say the Falcons have reached their peak with what they’ve got. But I also think there is upside. This is a team with lots of talent. But some changes are needed as Atlanta moves forward. I’m not just talking about adding and subtracting a few players. I’m talking about some pretty significant tweaks to the offense and defense. The defense needs to come up with more big plays. The offense needs to find an identity. Quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t the type to spout of publicly. But he needs to have a good talk with Smith. Ryan hasn’t been able to hit his full potential. He needs to tell Smith what he’s most comfortable doing, and the Falcons need to do a better job of putting their franchise quarterback in position to succeed.

There’s a lot of talk about how the Saints aren’t as good on the road as they are at home as they get ready to head to San Francisco this weekend. No doubt there’s some truth in that. But I think this is getting overblown a bit. The Saints were 5-3 on the road in the regular season. That’s not bad. It might not be great, but the Saints are capable of winning on the road.

Tampa Bay’s entire coaching staff was let go when coach Raheem Morris was fired last week. But one member of that staff already has found a job. Receivers coach Eric Yarber has landed the same position at UCLA.

Veteran cornerback Ronde Barber has been selected as the winner of Tampa Bay’s Ed Block Courage Award.

In his weekly film study, Jeff Duncan writes that New Orleans rookie linebacker Martez Wilson is likely to continue getting more playing time. Wilson is athletic and can make an impact if the Saints use him on blitzes.