2016 NFL Off-Season Grades: AFC South
(Published on 7/6/16)
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AFC South Teams (2015-16 record)
- Houston Texans (9-7)
- Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
- Tennessee Titans (3-13)
Combined non-division record: 13-27 (.325) 8th
The AFC South last season was utterly pitiful. They showcased the worst overall record for all of the divisions in the NFL last year. They also had the worst team in the AFC, record-wise, in the playoffs: the Houston Texans. These same Texans would then lose 30-0 at home against the Chiefs. Luckily the teams of the AFC South all had decent off-seasons. They addressed their weaknesses and lost few key players in the process.
Brock Osweiler may have caught all the headlines for the Texans’ off-season, but there was a lot more to it than just that. Houston focused on filling several holes on offense to help out their elite defense. They reloaded on their offensive line after losing Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones. They drafted a top tier wide receiver in Will Fuller and then picked up Lamar Miller. They left the defense virtually untouched. However, their defense isn’t exactly in great need of improvement.
The Texans will be a bit of a mystery heading into the season. On paper, they project to be much better, but as the old saying goes, games aren’t played on paper. Adding this many new pieces that will play important roles is risky. These players will need to build chemistry quickly to be productive on game day. The Texans could completely flop or they could be the NFL’s surprise team. There are no certainties with this team. We will just have to wait and see what they are capable of doing.
The Colts were uncharacteristically quiet this off-season. They signed no major free agents and weren’t very aggressive in the draft. What they did do is focus their efforts on paying their franchise quarterback and keeping him upright. The Colts used four of their eight draft picks on offensive lineman–two in the first three rounds. The Colts offensive line has been a major weakness for the Colts for several years and they’re doing something about it.
Andrew Luck will miss the presence of Coby Fleener, but he will welcome the presence of a strengthened o-line. If he stays healthy for all 16 games this season, Andrew Luck should be able to carry the team above the 500 mark and challenge the Texans for the division crown and a playoff berth.
No Major Losses
The Jaguars did great this off-season. They filled a lot of the holes in their roster while losing no key pieces. They focused on their defense, but were also able to improve their offense. Jacksonville had a superb draft and signed several players who can make an immediate impact. Malik Jackson, Jalen Ramsey, and Prince Amukamara will spice up the defense that gave up the second most points last year. Finally, Chris Ivory will help juice up the rushing attack for the Jags, who were ranked 27th in rushing yards.
The Jaguars have more than this year’s off-season haul to be excited about for the upcoming season. They can also look forward to enjoying the services of their defensive end, Dante Fowler Jr, who was last year’s #3 overall pick but tore his ACL before the season began. Jacksonville still has a long way to go before becoming a contender, but they are setting themselves up to leave mediocrity behind and be a playoff team again for the first time since 2007. They won’t take that big step this year. This year will mainly be a step in the right direction.
No Major Losses
The Titans’ move to trade the first overall pick in the draft to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for six picks was great. Dealing two of those picks back to move up and grab Jack Conklin was questionable. In spite of that move, Tennessee addressed several needs. First, the offensive line. The Titans desperately needed an upgrade after allowing a league-worst 54 sacks. The Titans also traded for DeMarco Murray with the hope that he’ll return to his 2014 form and give a giant boost to the Titans awful run game.
Teams don’t just simply bounce back from having the worst record. It’s happened before, but the Titans are going to need much more time and more effort to make the rebuild work. The good new is that they are doing well so far. Don’t expect the Titans to have the first pick again this year.
That’ll do it for the AFC South this season. What are your thoughts on the teams in this division? Do you agree or disagree with mine? Be sure to tell me all about it in the comment section below. Also, be sure to like Power Rankings and More on Facebook, follow us on Twitter: @PowerRank_More, and follow our Instagram page for all of the latest news and information from Power Rankings and More. Finally, be sure to check out the Top 25 PRAM Blogs of All Time list with the link here and the 2016 NFL Off-Season Power Rankings with the link here.
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