2011 AFC South Previews and Predictions

With the NFL season a few days away, the Colts are starting to realize what life will be like without Peyton Manning. His inability to recover fully from neck surgery has given the front office a gaze into the near future when he will not be under center. The Colts spent a majority of this year’s draft improving the offensive line, it’s a given he will take some shots as this line develops. The images of an aging Brett Favre taking hit after hit have to be dancing in Coach Caldwell’s mind, and Manning has been placed as doubtful on the injury report for week one against the Texans.

Just in the nick of time too as Texan linebackers Mario Williams and Brian Cushing were going to come screaming at him off the corners. It seems as though the Colts are after one last hurrah where a division rival from Texas has grown in leaps and bounds. Last year they fielded the NFL’s leading rusher in Arian Foster. His 1,616 yards and 16 TDs to go along with the production of perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson, should make this the best offense in the division.  Coach Kubiak is on the “hotseat” and hopes new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can improve his defense. These developments are happening at just the right time in our eyes. Circle week 4 when this team hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers to find out if they are for real or not.

2011 AFC SOUTH PREDICTIONS

Houston Texans 10-6 *

Indianapolis Colts 9-7

Tennessee Titans  5-11

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For the first time since they moved from Houston in 1996, the Tennessee Titans will be moving in a new direction without Jeff Fisher. The team he left behind has some pieces but made a mistake in not retaining Kerry Collins. He could have provided some continuity as the team develops #1 draft pick Jake Locker. Now he will help shape the Colts (when Manning returns) gameplan when they face his former team. Furthermore the contract renegotiation for the services of RB Chris Johnson are over, yet the subsequent holdout normally mean hamstring problems. Something to watch as this team brought in Matt Hasselbeck to be the transition quarterback.

Now we have the swan song for Jack Del Rio coming up. It looked like his team had been regressing since that playoff loss to New England a few years back. If you remember, Coach Rio in a stunning move, cut starting QB Byron Leftwich and handed the keys over to David Garard to generate more offense. that was 2007, so what does that have to do with 2011?? Lets just say same time same channel. As we went to press yesterday, Del Rio released starting quarterback David Garard. This time there is only rookie QB Blaine Gabbert to handle the offense.  He’s simply lost it with this move. In his defense, the last time he made this bold move, Garrard had provided a second half spark in many games during the previous season. Maurice Jones Drew will see mammoth 8 man fronts and will see a long season. The Titans were picked to finish last when this move came across the wire.  Looks like a recipe for disaster.

As for the Colts, this looks like the end of a remarkable run. This team won 115 games during the 2000’s which included a Super Bowl triumph in the 41st edition. As time has gone on they have drafted low for many years and now the team is devoid of any star power outside of Manning. Even if he is healthy, he masks many deficiencies. Yet with the loss of defensive sparkplug Bob Sanders there is a lot to overcome. With the emergence of the Jets and re-emergence of the Ravens with superior secondaries, the Colts deficiencies at receiver have shown up in their last few playoff losses. Each of which have come in the first round…only this year the Colts won’t make it that far.

Hope you enjoyed and share the article.

Next up: AFC North

Titans Parting With Jeff Fisher

IS BUD ADAMS THE NEW AL DAVIS?

The Tennessee Titans are on the precipice of making a tremendous mistake.  If they were going to release Jeff Fisher why wait until now?  They allowed other head coaching candidates to sign with other teams which shrinks the pool that Bud Adams can draw from.  The butterfly affect from entering the coaching carousel at the end of the season could have landed them low key John Fox. We’re just a week removed from the team announcing that defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil won’t be back so we know this team won’t be promoting from within. 

To borrow from Dennis Miller; ” I don’t want to go off on a rant here”  …but how do you release the winningest coach in franchise history without a succession in place?  The man was there 17 years, had multiple playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth amongst his 142 wins.  To bring in an ill prepared co-ordinator or afterthought retread coach isn’t fixing the solution, its adding to the problem.  Gone off the market is John Fox, Ron Rivera, Jim Harbaugh and several other hot coaching candidates that would have viewed Tennessee as a viable option.  This just sent a clear signal that the team is lacking direction. After watching the turmoil with ownership/management with a coach as respected as Fisher, many proven coaches would steer clear of this mess. Coach Fisher deserved to operate with autonomy with his track record.  To undercut him is saying the head coach doesn’t have final say.

That being the case, enter the Wade Phillips, Marty Schottenheimer’s that would be willing to coach with limited organizational power.  These would be the best moves available yet Phillips just took a job as a defensive co-ordinator in Houston.  Try calling Wade, I bet he and his agent are on the phone now trying to figure something out as you read this.  Don’t forget we’re also dealing with a region that was burned by Lane Kiffin and it may take some time for a bombastic coach to win over the fan base.  So what is going to be the draw for your season ticket holders with Vince Young gone also?

Be careful Bud Adams, this is really going to backfire without Young nor Fisher,  this is an entire rebuild and you’re going to have to have someone ready to coach a 1st round draft pick at QB.  If you go this route, you will totally increase the pounding that Chris Johnson is going to take and you can see the injuries mount up.  You need to bring back Vince Young, if he doesn’t play well then you can trade him. This isn’t the ideal time to hire in a coach that may not be ready, or you could possibly waste a draft pick and set the franchise back like that team that drafted Vince You…..uh …oh sorry.