Carolina's Olsen: Quarterbacks secret to strength of NFC South
The NFC South not only dispatched its last two winners to Super Bowls; it's the only division in NFL history to have all four of its teams reach the league championship game.
You can look it up.
Tampa Bay won Super Bowl XXXVII. New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV. Carolina lost in Super Bowl 50. And Atlanta lost in Super Bowl LI. That's four in 15 years.
So what's the secret? What makes the NFC South the most competitive division, top to bottom, in the NFL?
"The quarterbacks are a big part of it," answered Carolina tight end Greg Olsen on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "If you've got a quarterback in this league, you have a chance. We're one of the few divisions in this league that has four.
"(And it's) kind of a mixed bag. We've fot some veteran guys who have done it for a long time. We've got guys like Cam (Newton), who are kind of in the prime of their careers age-wise and have shown what they can do. And then young guys like Jameis (Winston), who came in -- like Cam -- into a No. 1 pick. Obviously, his play has been pretty good over the years, and he's helped them each year just continue to get better (and) better -- kind of along a similar line to we had with Cam in his first year.
"And then, of course, there's Matt Ryan. Back-to-back quarterback MVPs. You're going to be hard pressed to find a better division at the quarterback position than the NFC South."
He's right about that. Ryan led the league in passer rating a year ago. Newton was its MVP the year before. Drew Brees led the league in completion percentage a year ago. Ryan was second. I think you get the idea. The NFC South is loaded with outstanding quarterbacks.
"I think that's probably as big a factor as anything," said Olsen.
But, he added, it's not the only one.
"You have good coaches," he said. "Dan Quinn's a great coach. Obviously, Ron's (Carolina coach Ron Rivera) proven what he can do. Dirk Koetter has really evolved into a very good head coach. And then, of course, Sean Payton's a Super Bowl winner. So we've got the quarterbacks, (and) we've got the coaches. That's a good place to start."