Grits, Gravy, and Gumbo: NFC South News for Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

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Updated: March 5, 2013

Greetings and salutations. Since our NFC South brethren seem to frequent WCSN mostly at night, I thought I would try something new and release this Tuesday, March 4th, 2013 installment of Grits, Gravy, and Gumbo, your daily source of NFC South News links, in the evening and see if that gets a better response.

Jon Vander Woude, who had been handling GGG the past few weeks, signed off on Friday to pursue other projects. The baton has been handed to me, so I will carry it forward for another week or so. If at that point, no one volunteers to continue the tradition, we will shutter GGG for the immediate future. We all have our pet projects, and as much as I enjoy writing GGG, it takes away time from the pursuits I am passionate about.

Frankie is the first known blue-eyed koala bear to be born in captivity.

Frankie is the first known blue-eyed koala bear to be born in captivity.

If you would be interested in becoming our NFC South daily links columnist, drop me a line at and I can help you get started.

I know you’re hankering for a fun fact, so here’s a doozy. We all know that a lot of hot air gets passed back and forth around here. Did you know that if you were to yell nonstop for eight years, seven months and six days, you would generate enough energy to heat one cup of coffee? Doesn’t seem like the greatest return on investment, does it?

Here’s another fun fact: I have a weakness for blue eyes — my wife has them. But among primates, blue eyes are almost as rare as Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl wins. In fact, other than humans, only one other primate species is known to have them: Sclater’s lemur (Eulemur flaviflons). That’s quite the mouthful for a species name. I wonder if those little guys like to rock the clock necklaces.

Oh, and koala bears can have blue eyes too. Isn’t the little guy pictured above just adorable? His name is Frankie. I heard he was considered for a job as the New Orleans Hornets’ new mascot, but unfortunately, he lost out to a pelican. Them’s the breaks.

NFC South News

Atlanta Falcons

Now that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has inked a record-setting deal to the tune of $120.6 million, the Atlanta Falcons know they are going to be ponying up some serious cash to hold on to Matt Ryan around long term. But retaining the services of Ryan is not their only concern. They also want to , according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They might even look into bringing back cornerback Brent Grimes and tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Fortunately for the team, they are currently about $20 million under the 2013 salary cap. That’s no reason to get complacent though. Ask any of the teams who are currently on the contract-restructuring round robin: the money goes fast. General manager Thomas Dimitroff probably isn’t too concerned about that. He’s been vocal in his insistence that the team will be looking to build through the draft, not free agency.

The Falcons take a lot of good-natured ribbing from fans of other teams because of their frequent one-and-done appearances in the playoffs. But a question that a lot of people genuinely ask themselves is do the Atlanta Falcons have what it takes to win it all?

Despite their checkered playoff history, their experience has players would seem to indicate that the answer is yes. Daniel Cox of AtlantaFalcons.com points out that 12 — over 20 percent — of the players on the Falcons’ 53-man roster while in college. Eight of those players were on the winning team. Now they just need to figure out a way to pool their talents to win the biggest trophy of them all. I’m sure it would feel good to shed that dratted Failcons moniker.

The Atlanta Falcons are hoping to bring back offensive tackle Sam Baker, who was one of only two players on the field for every offensive snap in 2012.

Carolina Panthers

STADIUM UPDATE! Elon University has just released the results of a poll they conducted back in February that reveals a whopping with state funds, reports Cleve R. Wootson, Jr. of the Charlotte Observer. The Carolina Panthers had been reportedly prepared to ask the state for $62 million in funding toward a planned $250 million renovation project, although Governor Pat McCrory claims that no such request was ever received and that the state doesn’t have that kind of money even if they had made such a request.

I’m not sure how long this rickety soapbox will hold my weight before it cracks, but let me just say that it’s nice to see the people of a state and the state government itself standing up to a team like this. NFL franchises love to tell states that their existence creates jobs. Well, if they’re really a net benefit to the economy (which they’re not), then they should be able to come up with a way to pay for themselves. If they can’t do that, then clearly they must actually be a net drain on the economy (which they are). Hopefully more states and municipalities will find the courage tell team owners to pay for their expensive and inefficiently run hobbies themselves.

After an injury-plagued couple of seasons that saw him only start 11 games for Carolina, veteran defensive end . The signing of Colin Cole last month was probably done in anticipation of this move.

I know that wasn’t an earthshaking item of news, but the Carolina Panthers, like the Minnesota Vikings, don’t seem to update their sports pages all that often.

Imagine how empty Bank of America stadium would look if 88 percent of the seats were open.

New Orleans Saints

Just when you thought it was pretty well established that NFL general managers believe the soundest strategy for longterm success is to build through the draft, along comes former (I stress former) Indianapolis Colts headman Bill Polian to say that NFL teams should be looking to .

He says that the advantage of free agency is a team gets a “finished product,” a player who is just entering his prime and will never be better than he is at that moment. He points out that the success rate of free-agency acquisitions is a little above 50 percent, which if accurate, is certainly higher than the oft-quoted 33 percent success rate of draft picks. Polian claims that the reason why more free-agency pickups aren’t considered successes is that it takes them a couple of years to adjust to a new system. In today’s frenetic win-now landscape, that can be too long.

The New Orleans Saintsations will be among those who help kick off Lemonade Day New Orleans on May 4th, 2013.

Don’t get me wrong — I have a lot of respect for Bill Polian. He did an excellent job building a team around quarterback Peyton Manning early in his career. But toward the end he seemed to get apathetic or cocky, and he stopped assembling talent, being content to rely upon the amazing talent of Manning alone. I repeatedly expressed my belief that if Manning ever went down for an extended period of time and the team’s record dropped noticeably, Polian should be fired for failing to maintain the infrastructure of the team. That’s exactly what ended up happening.

If you’re like me and love old-fashioned, homemade lemonade, you might want to book a trip to New Orleans on May 4th to take part in . The Saints will be helping to kick off the festivities. Sounds as refreshing as, well, a cool glass of iced lemonade.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After the agent for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman retired, Freeman was forced to hire another agent. That prompted a getting-acquainted meeting with the team this week, writes Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune.

During the meeting, head coach Greg Schiano and other front-office staff apparently assured Erik Burkhardt, Freeman’s new agent, that and that they’re confident they can win a Super Bowl with him.

Freeman probably isn’t due for a contract extension any time soon, but with so many teams hopping on the quarterback-raise merry-go-round, this doesn’t strike me as the most strategically sound thing to tell an agent. It doesn’t put the Bucs in a favorable negotiating posture, that’s for sure. I understand the idea to get things started on the right foot and establish friendly relations, but sometimes saying less is better.

I don’t know if you remember the first time you put on glasses, but I do. I was pretty excited. Still, it wasn’t nearly as cool as what a bunch of kids at Fairmont Park Elementary in St. Petersburg experienced this week.

As part of the Glazer Family Foundation’s Vision Program, Buccaneers players, cheerleaders, and staff delivered to students at the school. Imagine how much easier it was to ogle the girls after they donned those specs!

About the author

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for the Water Cooler Sports Network. He resides with his family in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

259 comments
Borderline Football Brilliant
Borderline Football Brilliant

Turned on the Blackhawk game last night to watch my first game of the season. It was 11 minutes in to the first period, and the Hawks were down 1-0. They scored at the 13 minute mark, and 6 minutes later they were up 4-1. I turned it off after a scoreless second period, but it was a fun game to watch.

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 Whoo-hoo! Less than five hours until our celebrity chat with LionsGuy! CAN'T WAIT!

niemerg1
niemerg1

 LionsGuy? who would this be?

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Google is your friend.

Um...
Um... moderator

That latest episode of walking dead was good. That is all.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

ok, I'm heading out for the evening.  gonna play some video games before bed.  Good things happening on Twitter this evening, hopefully that will carry over to here in the upcoming days. 

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

LA gave up 71 in a half 

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 I have a feeling you'll be in class around noon, yes?

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

  I will not, but I have a career planning meeting.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sports Shit no one says: Joe Flacco definitely deserves to be the highest paid QB in NFL History

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 I am a sucker for a good piece of ass.

Um...
Um... moderator

 you are playing the wrong game, weirdo.

Um...
Um... moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 Carlos Zambrano is one calm, cool and collected baseball player.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

LOL

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 Hey, Troy, will you be around tomorrow around noon Central? 

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

 possibly, why?

EDIT:  My wife has a meeting at 10 our time (11:00 central), and I will be watching my boys, so I don't know, but I'll try.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  I'll be able to stop in some, but not around enough to moderate

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 Well, be sure to get your questions in ahead of time. The queue will open a couple hours early.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  sorry, I won't be able to do it.  WIll be in the midst of an experiment at that time

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 And dentures. I've been gumming it too long.

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 Well, we have our Celebrity Chat tomorrow at noon, and I might be late getting back due to my dental appointment. I was hoping a person with a level head could serve as moderator.

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Wow, I failed massively on military press today. By the third set I couldn't even push-press a single rep. I definitely know where my limit is right now. On the bright side, it's over 78% of my body weight, which is more than most people can do, even a lot of guys much bigger than I.

Joedirte
Joedirte like.author.displayName 1 Like

I guess I'm gonna work on my 2nd mock draft

peace out.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Fake SC: Lakers give up 37 points in 1st quarter, show signs of finally buying into D'Antoni's system

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

 In their defense, it is OKC in OKC. But yeah, good burn.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

 Poor Nash.  He thought he had a chance with the Lakers...

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

Damn. The Badgers' loss to Purdue was terrible. We had a chance at the Big 10 title now that IU might go down tonight. 

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

How's everybody doing? Anybody have any news to share?

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 I tweeted my Brandon Marshall article at him and he favorited it.  Hoping he retweets it, because that will expose this site to 700k Chicago fans.

Also, Rashied Davis got back to me on Twitter and might be interesting in doing a chat on here.

Bro Montana
Bro Montana

  I see you've been blowing Twitter up.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  yeah, I'm a bachelor for the night due to weather, so I figured I'd take advantage.  Lot of Chicago sports people on due to the Hawks game