As the lead bloggers from the AFC South, we have worked through the rosters and identified the best of the AFC South. Here is what we, Jake Thompson (Titans), Anthony North (Texans), Travis Pulver (Colts) and I have determined who would be the best for the AFC South Offense.
QB – Peyton Manning. Not all of us love him, but everyone respects him. He is simply the smartest, fastest, and best under pressure in the Division. Matt Schaub has earned my respect and if he had the same team, watch out. But he doesn’t, and Peyton Manning is the best.
First Running Back – Chris Johnson. A 2,000 yard season speaks for itself. Chris Johnson simply had to be contained. Every defense was afraid of him and had to over play against letting him out. If he was on a team like the Colts, no team could play defense against them.
Second Running Back – Maurice Jones-Drew. There is no better all-around back in the NFL than Maurice. He can hit the hole and run over the linebbacker then run away from the safety. He can catch the ball out of the back field or throw a pancake block against a charging defensive end. Get inside the five yard line, Maurice delivers six.
After the jump we will look at the rest of the team.
First Receiver – Andre Johnson. ‘Dre can’t be covered. The leading receiver in the NFL on a team that has no other real offensive threat. You knew the ball was going to him, teams set up to defend it. Very few accomplished it. Imagine Peyton Manning with a load of weapons and Andre Johnson.
Second Receiver – Reggie Wayne. If you have Peyton Manning , you have to have Reggie Wayne. The two of them have the routine down so pat, it is almost automatic. In fact, if you count 1,000 yard wide receivers, in the AFC South, it is only Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne.
Tight End – Dallas Clark. There are only three receivers in the AFC South that had 1,000 yard seasons and Dallas makes up the third one. Dallas Clark is the safety valve for Peyton when the rush is on. There is none better in the AFC South.
That group of play-makers has to be the best in the NFL. I can’t imagine a more feared line-up. So let’s look at the men guarding the QB and opening the holes for the backs.
Center – Jeff Saturday. Jeff has been holding the Colts line together for years. The only place the Colts find success running the ball is behind Jeff Saturday. Peyton Manning was sacked 14 times last year. Jeff can run block and pass block. He is also the guy I want calling out the blocking assignments. I would trade Brad Meester for Jeff Saturday in a heartbeat.
Left Tackle – Eugene Monroe. I thought Eugene came on strong at the end of last season. He had very bad games against the Colts opening game and the second game against Arizona, but only one bad game against San Francisco after that. In the second game against Indy, he held his own against Dwight Freeney. He is not a great left tackle yet, but the AFC South is not full of great left tackles.
Left Guard – Leroy Harris. The Titans left guard is our choice. This should be the spot for Ryan Lilja but he left for the Chiefs. It was hard to put Vince Manuwai from the Jaguars in here since the Jaguar line was so bad. The truth is, the AFC South does not have any left guards worth considering. Leroy Harris makes it even though he saw little action.
Right Guard – Jake Scott. The Titans get both guard spots, but Jake Scott earned his. Jake was drafted by the Colts but never really played well there. He was traded to Tennessee in 2008 where he has begun to develop into an excellent right guard. The AFC South does not have many guards worth mentioning, but Jake Scott showed the most promise last year. He really came on at the end of the season.
Right Tackle – David Stewart. The Titans offensive line is the best in the AFC South? Looks like. This is the third Titans lineman to make the team. Dave Stewart is an excellent pass and run blocker and deserves to own this spot. He has started 61 games since 2006. David Stewart and Jeff Saturday are the only legitimate performers on this line.
Overall Summary: I don’t see a better group of receivers, runners and quarterback than the AFC South. Where this division falls apart is in the offensive line. When you look at QB hit statistics, Jacksonville and Houston are in the top ten. Tennessee and Indianapolis are the lowest. Indianapolis is there because Peyton gets the ball out quickly. This explains why the Titans have the most representatives on the all AFC South offensive line.
What does this mean for the Jaguars? The building of an aggressive defensive line is the formula for having success in the AFC South. Indianapolis has been using that formula successfully for a long time. The Jaguars have a good chance getting to Matt Schuab. Tennessee and Indianapolis will be harder to beat, but not impossible.
Later in the week we will look at the all AFC South Defense and see haow things stack up there.
– Terry O’Brien