Early Look At The AFC South

Published: June 29th, 2007

The Indianapolis Colts peaked at the right time last season and enter training camp as clear favorites in the division.  The passing game remains deep and dangerous.  Tom Moore has the ability to create a lot of mismatches with various multiple receiver or tight end sets.  Joseph Addai is the perfect fit for Moore’s scheme at running back.  He displays excellent quickness and possesses a natural feel for the passing game.  But what happens if Addai goes down?  The Colts lack experienced depth.  The front four is very active.  Anthony McFarland looks re-energized with the Colts.  Bob Sanders must stay healthy.  Not only does he fill gaps against the run, but his presence takes this defense to another level.  They lose experience at cornerback with the departures of Nick Harper and Jason David, but Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden possess more upside. 

An enigma hangs over the Jacksonville Jaguars.  They have enough talent to contend for the playoffs, but there are a lot of questions and inconsistencies with this team.  It starts at quarterback.  Byron Leftwich is taking a great approach to his off-season and fits perfectly into Dirk Koetter’s offense, but injuries have always been a problem and there’s an underlying friction with Jack Del Rio.  David Garrard was exposed in extended playing time last season.  The Jaguars also lack playmakers in the passing game.  Reggie Williams is just a guy.  Matt Jones is a bust.  Mercedes Lewis will be worth watching from the tight end position.  His size could create matchup problems. The defense will again keep the Jaguars in a lot of games.  They’ll get strong production from their front seven.  Reshean Mathis makes a lot of plays at cornerback.  The veteran presence of Donovin Darius will be missed, but the Jaguars have new leaders emerging on defense and Gerald Sensabaugh displays good physical skills and flashes the ability to make plays.  Rookie Reggie Nelson should also make an early impact as a playmaker. 

Matt Schaub helps the Houston Texans develop a fresh identity at quarterback.  Schaub displays a good presence in the pocket and brings stronger leadership from the quarterback position.  The offensive line remains a question with Charles Spencer trying to come back from a horrific knee injury.  Eric Winston shows promise though and looks like a solid fit in Gary Kubiak’s zone scheme upfront.  Ahman Green brings credibility to the run game, but lacks the same burst that made him a consistent playmaker in the past.  To get out of the AFC South cellar, the defense must step forward.  They have a young trio with Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, and rookie Amobi Okoye to build around among the front seven.  Expect more production from Williams as a pass rusher in his second season.  Dunta Robinson is establishing himself as a leader, but the rest of the secondary struggles to matchup against strong passing teams and struggles to create enough turnovers.

Vince Young has created a buzz around the Tennessee Titans.  Young makes things happen on the field and sets the tone for the offense.  But he’s also erratic in the passing game and needs a lot of work on making better decisions with the ball.  There’s not much support behind Young either.  David Givens faces an uncertain future.  Brandon Jones has shown flashes as a solid intermediate target, but isn’t a playmaker.  The backfield situation is more uncertain.  LenDale White hasn’t shown any responsibility as a pro.  Chris Henry is a phenomenal athlete, but lacks experience.  Chris Brown is a good athlete with experience, but durability has always been a problem.  The defense will play with a lot of effort as always, but there are a lot of limitations across the board.  There’s very little pass rush behind the high motor of Kyle VandenBosch.  Nick Harper will be a quality veteran stepping in for Adam Jones, but he’s not a matchup guy.  The bottom line – the Titans lack playmakers on both sides of the ball.  Only Jeff Fisher’s ability to squeeze wins from this talent base and get timely big plays from Young give the Titans any hope for another .500 finish. 

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