Welcome to this week’s divisional breakdown! Today, we’re learning all about the AFC South.
The Houston Texans
History: Houston’s team was the Oilers until 1997, when owner Bud Adams was granted permission to move the team to Tennessee. They (eventually) became the Tennessee Titans. Teamless, Houston levied for an expansion team and was granted one (but not before a long and expensive battle with Los Angeles). The Texans first season was 2002.
Current Players to Know: Matt Schaub will be returning as quarterback after sitting out the second half of last season to a foot injury. J.J. Watt will be holding down the fort on defense as the team’s star defensive end as long as his dislocated elbow heals by the season opener on September 9th. And Andre Johnson is Andre Johnson: possibly the best wide receiver in the league.
Head Coach: Gary Kubiak
2011 Regular Season Record: 10-6
What to Watch For in 2012: The Texans could be a Super Bowl contender in 2012. They made a splash in the playoffs last season and that was without starting QB Matt Schaub. If they can stay healthy they could have a great season.
The Indianapolis Colts
History: The Colts have been members of the NFL since it’s inception and were one of three teams to move over to the AFC during the 1970 merger. They moved from Baltimore to their current home in Indianapolis in 1984.
Current Players to Know: Andrew Luck, Andrew Luck, and Andrew Luck. You may have heard that the Colts’ 14 year franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning, was ousted from Indy for the young whipper snapper Andrew Luck. Luck is touted as the best prospect to come out of the draft in decades, so all eyes will be on him and how he replaces a legend this season.
Head Coach: Chuck Pagano
2011 Regular Season Record: 2-14
What to Watch For in 2012: Well…everything. The Colts were deplorable last season without Manning, and their reaction was to clean house completely. Sixty of the ninety players who reported to training camp this season are new, the head coach is new, the defensive system is new, even the long-standing executives are new. It’ll be so interesting to see how the Colts adjust to this era in their history.
The Jacksonville Jaguars
History: The Jaguars are a relatively new team, granted as an expansion team and the 30th team overall in 1995. They’ve had sparks of greatness and splashes of less-than-greatness in that short amount of time.
Current Players to Know: Maurice Jones-Drew will be the big name here – he’s the running back who is holding out for a better contract and is key to the Jaguars offense functioning at it’s best. Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon should help the offense if he lives up to his potential. Blaine Gabbert is almost definitely going to be the starting quarterback.
Head Coach: Mike Mularkey
2011 Regular Season Record: 5-11
What to Watch For in 2012: The Jaguars can do defense…it’s offense they struggle with. If Blaine Gabbert struggles Chad Henne would be the replacement at QB – not a bad deal in the least, and potentially preferable. The MJD story will continue to be a focal point until it resolves.
The Tennessee Titans
History: The Tennessee Titans were originally the Houston Oilers. They remained the Oilers even after they moved to Tennessee in 1997 (owner Bud Adams requested the move), but in 1998 due to fan request the name was changed to the Titans.
Current Players to Know: Matt Hasselbeck is a veteran quarterback, Jack Locker is a second year QB. The two are currently fighting it out (cordially) for the starting spot. Chris Johnson is a running back who had a record setting year several years ago but has not returned to similar glory since, although he’s still outstanding at his job.
Head Coach: Mike Munchak
2011 Regular Season Record: 9-7
What to Watch For in 2012: Who starts at quarterback? How productive will Chris Johnson be? Will Kenny Britt, consistently delinquent juvenile, be available to play for most/any/all of the season or will he be suspended? The Titans managed to have a decent year last year (partially because most of the other teams in the division managed to have a non-decent year last year), so they have the potential to be respectable this season.