Jaguars driving force in AFC South
July 03, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
The AFC South produced two playoff teams last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans. Both clubs actually went a few games deep into the postseason as well.
Here’s an early look at how the division shapes up this season.
Jaguars: The Jags made the AFC Championship Game. However, I’m not impressed from an overall league standpoint. The AFC was not very good last season when you consider both the Colts and the Texans finished 4-12 and played most, if not all of 2017, without their star players. The Jaguars return their entire coaching staff intact for 2018 and that will give them a head start on both the Colts and Titans who made wholesale changes.
Titans: Tennessee cleaned house in their coaching department. Mike Vrabel takes over at the head coach helm. Matt LaFleur is in at offensive coordinator and Dean Pees takes over the reins of defensive coordinator. That is a lot of changes for one team in one season and we’ll see how long it takes this team to mesh and get the chemistry and styles right.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been hit and miss so far in his career. He has certainly not lived up to his hype coming out of college. Sure, there have been flashes of brilliance from the young signal-caller, but he has to get more consistent in his passing game, which would really give balance to an already strong running game.
Texans: They have kept the same coaching staff for a while now. That can be good and bad in my opinion. Bill O’Brien, known as Captain Hook in some circles due to his tendency of pulling QB’s, has not shown me much as a head coach and offensive coordinator. O’Brien needs to step up in 2018 and prove to everyone he has what it takes to be the main man on this Texans coaching staff.
Furthermore, as the offensive coach I need to see more creativity if they are going to reach their talent levels. This is going to be a “hot seat” season for O’Brien. The good news for the Texans is they should get all their wounded warriors back on the field, at least for the start of the season.
Colts: When we talk about Indianapolis we have to go directly to quarterback Andrew Luck. In 2017, Luck missed the entire season and that made the Colts a mediocre team at best. They played with misdirection and each week there was question about Luck’s medical condition. Still, with or without Luck, there are many holes to fill.
The offensive line is a mess and had trouble protecting Luck when he was in there. Who knows if Luck will be back, retire or whatever. The fact remains, Indy will likely be a last place team in this division. Frank Reich takes over as the new head coach, with Nick Sirianni as the offensive coordinator and Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator.
Overview: With the Colts likely to be the bottom dweller in the division, I look for the other three clubs to have more pieces in place. Will new coaches gel with the players and will teams remain relatively healthy? Only time will tell.
The Jaguars are the favorite to win the division and that’s fair by what they did last year in the regular season and the playoffs. But don’t be fooled, this division was a MASH unit in 2017.
The Jags have the best defense but will quarterback Blake Bortles be consistent this year? Hopefully he will find more of what he showed us last year where he almost led his team to the Super Bowl. The Jags return their entire coaching staff and they know how to win.
Early selection: I give the Jaguars the edge in the AFC South over the others that are looking for the right coaching combinations.