AFC South Preview
Jul 27, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Members of the Houston Texans practice during training camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Greetings Texans Fans!
Looking at the AFC South as we prepare for the 2013 season there is a lot for Texans fans to feel good about. Of the three other teams, only the Indianapolis Colts present any real threat to wrest the AFC Crown from its home in Houston. Today we’ll take a look at where the teams stand thus far into training camp.
Another year, another step in the rebuilding process. One has to feel a little bad for Blaine Gabbert, he’s an NFL Quarterback most folks have already written off as a total failure. He has to know this is it, last chance or be relegated to backup QB for whatever team is in dire need of one next season. Many of the inherent problems in Jacksonville such as a weak offensive line and few play makers around him have been addressed in the draft. With Chad Henne, a preferred by fans option pushing to take his job Gabbert has to step up and prove he’s arrived. The new owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan is a very able business man who takes a long term approach to his investment. The argument could be made Gabbert has his chance, but it’s more of a “Hey if you prove yourself aces, otherwise high draft pics for us next year.” win-win situation for the team looking forward.
Expect Jacksonville to finish up the 2013 campaign with 5 wins and a top three draft pick next year. New head coach Gus Bradley has a lot to fix in Jacksonville and he appears up to the challenge and is earning the respect of his team.
The artist formerly known as the Houston Oilers are at a crossroads as a team. Who are they? This is the question 2013 is going to answer. Can Mike Munchak turn around his O-Line giving Jake Locker the protection he needs to prove himself as the man to lead this team moving forward? Can Chris Johnson put aside his considerable ego and excel as a team player not just a guy trying to break 2,000 yards again? They brought in Shonn Green and that means less touches for CJ2K. Drama is something to be avoided and here’s hoping that some of the commentary from Mr. Johnson on the issue is being taken out of context. However, as a fan of the Houston Oilers anything to make Bud Adams miserable is A-OK in my book.
Tennessee should have a decent season, however they can safely start making postseason plans for early January. 8-8 should be where this team tops out in 2013.
Indy has the Luck, who has some serious expectations on his shoulders moving into 2013. After a very impressive 2012 campaign that included the feelgood “Chuck Strong” emotional roller coaster and a wildcard berth this year it’s about getting down to business. New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is going old school with a more balanced power football approach, this means more growing pains for the team as they learn a new system. The goal is to make Luck’s life easier and increase his efficiency while reducing interceptions.
Indianapolis has a decent shot at another postseason appearance via the wildcard game, however with new faces on defense, old hands like Dwight Freeney now in sunny Southern California and no inspirational focus to drive the team their work is cut out for them. Post season play is in their reach but will a 10-6 finish be enough to get them there again?
Three-peat. That’s step one and the team is expecting good things from rookies DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Swearinger. The season is going to be about a strong finish and winning the big games that matter. Last year Houston got off to an 11-1 start, that didn’t get them far in the playoffs as the last four games produced a single victory. Green Bay and New England destroyed the Texans making people believe they just weren’t ready for Prime Time. This year, four games will set the tone; Denver Broncos, San Francisco, Seattle and New England. Walk away from those 3-1 with a close loss and no one will be able to doubt the Texans.
Not everything is sunny in Houston right now, Arian Foster has yet to get in the mix leading to speculation that his mild calf sprain is more serious than originally reported. Sam Montgomery has been somewhat of a disappointment so far. Coming to camp out of shape is never a good way to impress, toss in a lackluster OTA showing and now a sprained ankle and he’s very much behind the power curve. For his sake and the teams let’s hope he steps up to the plate and gets it done.
Houston should finish out with 12-4 record, it’s the losses that will matter. Who they lose to and how. The AFC playoffs are almost certain to include the Broncos and the Patriots, beating them in the regular season sets the tone for the for the playoff battles to come. Here’s hoping their first opponent isn’t wearing orange and black stripes… again.
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