After a thrilling season, the NFL is officially over for another year. So, the team at SportsTips thought it would be a good idea to go through every team in the NFC South, and have a look at the year that was!
The 2022 Atlanta Falcons opened the season with back-to-back losses before rebounding to win four of their next six games to reach .500 at the midway point of the season. But the Falcons went 1-5 over their next six contests and finished in the division’s cellar with a 7-9 record. Atlanta failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
The Falcons are in the midst of a steep rebuilding project but must decide whether to use the franchise tag to retain right tackle Kaleb McGary. The team rarely uses the franchise tag and declined the fifth-year option for the former first-round pick. But McGary played every single snap this past season and will be a popular free agent this offseason for teams seeking offensive line upgrades.
We’re ready pic.twitter.com/t9ehKSBIJg
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) February 13, 2023
Marcus Mariota started 13 games and accounted for 2,657 total yards and 19 combined touchdowns. However, the former second-overall pick will not be returning next season after the team handed the keys to the offense to rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder for the season’s final four games. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier led the team with 1,035 yards, while Cordarrelle Patterson added 695 yards and a team-high eight scores. Rookie wideout Drake London paced the Falcons with 72 catches for 866 yards and four touchdowns.
Former first-round linebacker Rashaan Evans ranked seventh in the NFL with 159 tackles but is a free agent that will command a lucrative contract this offseason. Veteran Grady Jarrett tallied a team-best six sacks, while Lorenzo Carter sacked four quarterbacks. Richie Grant, Mykal Walker, and Jaylinn Hawkins paced the Falcons with two interceptions.
The 2022 season got off to a rocky 1-4 start for the Carolina Panthers that cost head coach Matt Rhule his job. Interim head coach Steve Wilks guided the team to a 6-6 mark over the final 12 games as the Panthers finished in second place with a 7-10 record.
The Panthers named former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was fired midway through last season, as its new head coach. Wilks was tabbed as the new defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Carolina also has 22 free agents, including four starters – quarterback Sam Darnold, center Bradley Bozeman, running back D’Onta Foreman, and defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) February 17, 2023
Darnold led the team with seven touchdown passes as three quarterbacks started six or more games. D’Onta Foreman was the leading rusher with 914 yards and five touchdowns, while DJ Moore was the top pass catcher with 888 yards and seven scores on 63 receptions. The Panthers’ running attack finished 10th with 130 yards per game, but the offensive unit ranked 29th with 306.2 total yards per game.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson led the team with 135 tackles, and Frankie Luvu tallied 111 tackles and seven sacks. Former first-rounder Brian Burns posted a team-high 12.5 sacks and has 38 career sacks over four seasons. Cornerback Jaycee Horn paced the Panthers with a trio of interceptions.
New Orleans Saints
The 2022 New Orleans Saints opened the season on an encouraging note with a win over the Atlanta Falcons. But the Saints dropped seven of their next nine games and finished third in the division with a 7-10 record. It marked the first time New Orleans failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons since missing the postseason between 2014-2016.
The Saints attempted to trade for quarterback Derek Carr while he was still a member of the Las Vegas Raiders and are hopeful of luring the free-agent signal-caller to New Orleans this offseason. Notable free agents include Jarvis Landry, David Onyemata, Marcus Davenport, and Juwan Johnson. While Davenport is unlikely to be re-signed, Johnson and Onyemata and Johnson should be offered new contracts.
New Orleans Saints add five to the coaching staff.
Joe Woods named defensive coordinator ⚜️
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) February 15, 2023
Andy Dalton started 14 games under center and threw for 2,871 yards and 18 touchdowns. However, the veteran is a free agent who could be re-signed only as a backup option. Alvin Kamara led the team in rushing with 897 yards and also caught 57 passes out of the backfield. Taysom Hill rushed for a team-high seven touchdowns, while rookie wideout Chris Olave reeled in 72 passes for 1,042 yards and four scores. Johnson led the team with seven touchdown catches.
Linebacker Demario Davis posted a team-high 109 tackles, and added 6.5 sacks and one interception. Safety Tyrann Mathieu finished with 91 tackles and led the team with three interceptions. Cameron Jordan paced the Saints with 8.5 sacks, while Kaden Elliss sacked opposing quarterbacks seven times.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the season with two victories before dropping five of their next six games. The Buccaneers rallied to go 3-1 over their next four contests and won the NFC South title despite finishing the season with an 8-9 record. Tampa Bay suffered a lopsided 31−14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was fired after the Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs. Free agent cornerback Jamel Dean should be a priority for the Bucs this off-season, while veteran linebacker Lavonte David has stated his desire to re-sign and finish his career in Tampa Bay.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 16, 2023
The Buccaneers will be looking to sign a veteran quarterback, like Derek Carr or Ryan Tannehill. Brady threw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final NFL campaign. Leonard Fournette led the team with 189 carries for 668 yards, while Rachaad White added 481 yards. Chris Godwin ranked eighth in the NFL with 104 catches for 1,023 yards, and Mike Evans tallied a team-high 1,124 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 77 receptions.
David and fellow linebacker Devin White each posted 124 tackles for a defensive unit that finished ninth with 324 total yards allowed per game. Nose tackle Vita Vea paced the team with 6.5 sacks, while White and Anthony Nelson collected 5.5 sacks apiece.
Even though the season has finished, we’ve got you covered with all the latest information on the NFL! We keep you as up to date as possible, so you don’t miss any of the action this off-season.