First: the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) are utter garbage. But we knew that. What about the rest of the much-maligned AFC South?
Well, if any of them were actually a smidgen above mediocre they would have run away with the division. The Houston Texans (9-7) ended up on top, even after losing on the final day to Jake’s Tennessee Titans (9-7) – who were the most exciting team to watch in the South imo – due to a better divisional record. Just for reference, the AFC South Champion Texans finished 29th in the NFL in points per game, yards per game, and pass yards per game. They were eighth in rush yards per game, which is something I guess.
The Texans squeaked out just enough wins thanks to their defense: they were 11th in points allowed per game, first in yards allowed, and second in pass yards allowed. Their rush defense was 12th in the NFL. This proved good enough to prevent Glock Osweiler/Tom Savage from ruining everything (Glock-O had 15 TDs and 16 INTs). Another fun stat: Houston finished the season with a minus-49 in point differential which means their losses were real ass whippings (their 27-0 loss to the Patriots in week three wasn’t helpful).
Tennessee succeeded mostly due to the run, on both sides of the ball. They rushed for 136.7 yds/game (3rd in NFL) while only allowing 88.3 yds/game (2nd in NFL). The Titans passing game was only ranked 25th, but Tennessee fans have to be excited about the future of Marcus Mariota, injury or no. In his third season he threw for almost 3500 yards, 26 TDs, and only 9 INTs while running for 349 and two more TDs. When you group him in with RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry it’s not hard to see how the Titans ran over people.
And then there’s my beloved Indianapolis Colts (8-8). As someone whose fandom timeline mostly consisted of the Peyton years, the last few years have been a bit rough on me. I love Andrew Luck, and TY Hilton – he led the league in receiving yards this season – joins a long line of hyper-talented Colts receivers, but, besides them, my god are they inept.
A “normal” Colts team would have left this division for dead with four games – or more – left. It feels unreal to me now that the biggest worry at the end of the season used to be how much to rest the stars without screwing up their momentum.
Indy’s defense has never been great, but the offense (read: one of the best QBs of all time) was mostly able to overcome that in the past. Now? Well, this season the Colts ranked 30th in yds/game allowed and 27th and 25th in pass yds/game allowed and rush yds/game allowed, respectively.
(A quick shoutout to Robert Mathis for a great career, he will be missed a ton.)
The offensive line is another sore spot. Andrew Luck had more dudes touch him than any female at a Trump party. Andy was sacked 41 times during the 2016 season, only one less than league leader Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills. Some of this is due to Luck’s infuriating penchant for hanging on to the ball too long, sure, but not 41 sacks worth.
Chuck Pagano is a nice guy, and I wish him the best, but it’s time to move on. The fact that he is certain of returning as head coach next season speaks to the level of delusion currently being enjoyed around the club. With that being said, GM Ryan Grigson and Owner/star of your latest fever dream Jim Irsay deserve just as much of the blame if not more.
in the 2016 draft, Indy took an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time since 2011, and it was a center (to be fair, they didn’t have a first round pick in 2015, they took a guard in the second). Additionally, their defensive selections have been mostly misses – e.g. D’Joun Smith, the Colts’ second pick in 2015, recorded one tackle before moving to the Titans (he appeared in one game this season).
But it was the first pick in 2015 that really irked Colts fans: Phillip Dorsett is an OK receiver, but Indy desperately needed a solid O-lineman or a playmaker on defense. It was indefensibly stupid. They didn’t have a pick in the second round and their third rounder was the aforementioned Smith.
Somehow Pagano and Grigson are both still around. Irsay may actually be mental, but he needs to act now before every decent potential replacement is snapped up by other teams. Colts fans are used to, and deserve, better. In a season in which a 9-7 more trash than decent Texans team won the division, their is no excuse for the poor performance of this team. They need better players and better coaching. I won’t hold my breath waiting for Irsay to make any decent decisions.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD