Atlanta Falcons: What’s happening down in Tampa isn’t good
The Atlanta Falcons have historically been near the top of the NFC South Division each year, especially in the last couple of decades, with a few exceptions.
You know who typically hasn’t been near the top of the division in any shape, way or form? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Well, until Tom Brady showed up and they won a Super Bowl.
For those of you who weren’t keeping track at home, the Buccaneers had missed the playoffs 12-straight years and it seemed that the trend would continue before Brady eventually came and took them to a new level.
Now, what’s happening down in Tampa should concern Atlanta Falcons fans
We’re not just talking about the short-term implications of having Tom Brady in your division.
Yes, we know that the Bucs are going to be competitors for each of the next two seasons- and possibly beyond- with the amount of talent they have around the veteran QB. We know that the Falcons want to ‘win now’ and, to do so, they’re going to have to go through the Bucs and the New Orleans Saints, who still have plenty of talent to compete and win as they make a quarterback change.
But, we’re not really even talking about that.
We’re talking about the long-term implications.
Buccaneers left tackle talked about his decision to come back and what was driving the decisions of many Tampa free agents who wanted to stay.
"“It just shows you, what better place to be than in Tampa?” Smith said via ESPN. “These guys, we love it here, we love it here and want to be here, to continue to build and go back out there and chase it again. It just shows, the guys, how much they love it here, and [are] selfless and everything.”"
What better place to be than in Tampa? Before Tom Brady, that phrase would never have even been thought of by a free-agent, much less uttered in a news story.
Now, some of you may say: They’ll go back to the same Bucs when Brady leaves, but there’s seems to be something different about the culture down there and it’s not good, at least for Falcons, Panthers and Saints fans.
The draws to the location of Tampa- no state income taxes, the weather- have always been there, but the draw to the Bucs organization? Not so much.
Now, we’ve got free-agents who are going out of their way to sign deals for less money to play in Tampa. Yes, they want to play with Tom Brady, but it’s also not just about Brady.
He has, for better or worse, put the Buccaneers on the map and he has proven that you can win there. That means that after he’s gone, there are going to be free-agents who listen to the Bucs’ pitch who never even would’ve considered going to Tampa just a season ago. That’s the impact that Brady has had in the long-term that hasn’t been felt yet, but it’s going to be there.
The Atlanta Falcons have to build a culture where they can begin to win some of these free-agent battles to compete, but we can’t forget that it all starts in the NFL Draft.
You can’t control what your opponent is doing, but you can control the kind of culture you’re implementing in your organization.
It’s going to be interesting to see the dynamic of the NFC South Division over the next few years and even after Brady is long gone. Something tells us that the Bucs may be around a little longer than many fans from around the division would like to think.