CHICAGO, July 18, 2013 — Nobody really knows how, but the Indianapolis Colts made the playoffs last year after 2011s Suck for Luck campaign landed them another generation of exceptional quarterback play. By riding Andrew Luck and miraculous fortune to a wild card spot, the Colts were easily the most popular storyline in the AFC South last year.
Meanwhile, the Texans continued to be an outstanding regular season team without much changing, the Jaguars fought their way to two wins on the year, and the Titans gave up north of 29 points per game. That is obscene.
How will each team do in 2013?
This is just a solid football team. Their quarterback, Matt Schaub, led the league in passing yards. Houston’s running back, Arian Foster, had a year where he led the league in rushing yards, while their best receiver, Andre Johnson, led the league in receiving yards.
One of the only knocks on the team’s offense was the general lack of depth at receiver, which is something the Texans addressed quite well by drafting DeAndre Hopkins and tight end Ryan Griffin.
Bringing Ravens legend Ed Reed on board was a puzzling move. Father time is creeping up on him, and a team that notoriously loses playoff games due to lack of explosive plays does not really want to put effort into getting older.
This is essentially the same Texans team as it was last year, but every contributor is a year older and wiser. Gary Kubiak should have no problem guiding this team to another division title, but no praise will be given to this franchise until they show that they can slay some giants in the playoffs.
The Colts were the luckiest team in the league last year, and the second luckiest team was not even close. The Colts were outscored by 30 points on the season, a statistic common in most 7-9 teams. In games decided by a touchdown or overtime, the Colts went an otherworldly 9-1. They rode a rookie quarterback and the second worst run defense in the league to 11 wins.
It just does not make sense, and it definitely will not happen again without some unknown players taking huge steps.
The only notable addition to the Colts’ porous defense was defensive back Erik Walden, but he is no savior. Andrew Luck throwing the ball 40 times every game is not going to get them very far with a tougher 2013 schedule, although Ahmad Bradshaw is an underrated pickup by the Colts’ front office.
In the end, this team is one Luck injury away from being a four-win team. A roster that void of talent is not going to make it to the playoffs again.
There are a lot of times in sports when you look at front office decisions and say, “Come on, that is such a dumb move, I would be so much better at that guy’s job.” However, nobody understands what kind of pressure general managers endure from fanbases and owners, so that is hardly ever a fair assessment.
In the case of the Tennessee Titans front office, however, almost anybody could actually do a better job.
This team gave up 29 points per game last year. This means that the Titans needed the dynamic duo of Matt Hasselbeck and a still unproven Jake Locker to lead an offense to more than four touchdowns per game. That is not happening.
How did the Titans address their confetti defense? They hired a BountyGate coordinator, brought in a declining Bernard Pollard, and slapped together a new defensive line out of other team’s spare parts. In other words, Tennessee’s front office is relying mighty heavily on the five rookie defenders they drafted to bring this team back to legitimacy, which is arguably not the best strategy.
It is also time for Titans fans to realize that Chris Johnson cannot be relied upon for more than 1300 yards in a season. He had one good year, then Tennessee understandably overpaid him, but it is not fair to him or that offensive line to lean so strongly on the gun game.
Tennessee’s on the right path with trying to develop Jake Locker, but this team still seems a long way from contention. Also, consider the fact that Chris Johnson has become a frightening overpaid, slightly above average player. It is hard to see this team take a step forward this year.
To win games, a team needs to score points, and stop the other team from scoring points. It really is that simple, yet the Jaguars seem ill-equipped to do either of those things this year.
It is unfortunate that they had such a high pick, number two, in a draft so empty of talent at skill positions. The Jaguars still need to come to grips with the fact that their offense is bad and their defense might be worse.
The Blaine Gabbert experiment has underwhelmed in its first two years to the point where even if he can physically play more than half a season, there is no evidence that he is a franchise quarterback.
Maurice Jones-Drew also could not stay on the field last year, but his return should help this team stay competitive in a few more games.
Bringing in Marcus Trufant, Sen’Derrick Marks, Dwayne Gratz and Roy Miller were solid pickups and should help plug a few of the holes in the defense. The Jaguars might be able to call their defense average next year.
The Jaguars are on the right path. They just are not moving very quickly.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! and That Liberal Pinko in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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