2021 NFC South Breakdown By Position: The Offense

NFC South Offense Breakdown

During the month of August, the Last Word on Sports NFL Department will be breaking down every division in the league by position. This article contains a position-by-position breakdown of every offense in the NFC South. The breakdown will contain “the best” at each unit followed by “the rest” in descending order.

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2021 NFC South Offense Breakdown By Position

Quarterback

The Best: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Rest: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers

As it turns out, reports of Tom Brady’s demise were greatly exaggerated. After a relatively pedestrian final season in New England, the greatest quarterback of all time put together perhaps the finest season in his spectacular career. Shredding defenses all season long en route to yet another Super Bowl victory, Brady should be even better during his second season with Bruce Arians.

Matt Ryan might not be the player he once was, but he is still a top-15 quarterback. Even without Julio Jones, the quarterback should keep Atlanta in most of their games. Jameis Winston has some history of NFL success, although turnovers will always be an issue. Taysom Hill is the biggest wild card in the league, and Sean Payton might just be crazy enough to start him. Carolina better hope that a change of scenery will bring out the best in Darnold, because he was one of the NFL’s worst passers over the past three seasons.

Running Back

The Best: New Orleans Saints

The Rest: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons

This was the hardest pick on this list. Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey are two of the best running backs in the league, but New Orleans’ depth at the position earns them the top spot. If injury struck, Latavius Murray would be a better fill-in for Kamara than Chuba Hubbard would be for McCaffrey.

The Buccaneers don’t have a single well-rounded back, but they have several players that excel at a specific part of the game. Ronald Jones is a ferocious downfield runner, Giovani Bernard is one of the best receiving backs in the game, and Leonard Fournette is an adequate backup. Mike Davis was solid in relief of McCaffrey last year, but can he handle a full season as Atlanta’s starter? If not, then the Falcons are in serious trouble.

Wide Receiver

The Best: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Rest: Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the best wide receivers in the entire NFL. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are simply uncoverable when fully healthy, and both are still in the primes of their respective careers. Antonio Brown is one bone-headed decision away from never seeing the field again, but he’s easily the best third receiver in football as long as he’s on the roster. Even if something happens to any of the aforementioned trio, the depth of Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and Jaelon Darden should be able to fill in adequately.

D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson excelled during their first year with Matt Rhule, and Terrace Marshall is reportedly tearing up training camp. If Marshall can hit the ground running, this should be one of the best trios in football. Calvin Ridley is a star, but the rest of the depth chart leaves a lot to be desired. With Michael Thomas sidelined, the Saints might have the worst collection of receivers in the league.

Tight End

The Best: Atlanta Falcons 

The Rest: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers

This ranking involves a little bit of projection, as Kyle Pitts has yet to play an NFL snap. Normally, I try to err on the side of caution when it comes to projecting rookies in the NFC South offense breakdown, but I’m making an exception here. Kyle Pitts is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever seen, and he should be able to make an impact from Day 1. Even if he needs some time to develop, Hayden Hurst is a perfectly adequate starter.

Rob Gronkowski is no longer the unstoppable force from the 2010s, but he’s still an above-average starter. He and Cameron Brate form one of the better tight end duos in the league, and O.J. Howard should have a role if he can return to form following his Achilles injury. Adam Trautman showed some flashes as a rookie and has plenty of opportunity with Michael Thomas sidelined. Ian Thomas was one of the least efficient tight ends in the league last year, and now all hope lies in Dan Arnold for the Panthers.

Offensive Line

The Best: New Orleans Saints

The Rest: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

The New Orleans Saints lost a lot of talent over the offseason, but they found a way to maintain their fantastic offensive line. Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are the best tackle duo in football, and Eric McCoy headlines a solid interior trio. If Cesar Ruiz can improve from his poor rookie season, this should be a top-three offensive line.

Tristan Wirfs was one of the best tackles in football as a rookie and should only get better with more experience. While nobody else on Tampa’s line is quite as good as him, there really isn’t a weak link. God help Matt Ryan and Sam Darnold. These teams only have one reliable starter apiece, and neither quarterback is exactly known for their escapability.

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