When we put together the All AFC South offense, I learned some things about our division. The thing that stood out for me was the bi-polar nature of the four teams.
Houston and Indianapolis are not running teams. Jacksonville and Tennessee are.
Houston and Jacksonville allow their quarterback to be hit often. Tennessee and Indianapolis don’t. Indianapolis and Tennessee lead the league in fewest sacks and quarterback hits. I understood that from Indianapolis, but I never got it about Tennessee.
When you look at the offensive lines in the AFC South, Tennessee has the highest yards running, the highest average yards per run and the lowest, with Indianapolis, in quarterback hits. That is an amazing performance in my opinion.
Now you could argue that the 2,500 yards rushing the Titans amassed were all Chris Johnson, and you would be right. But there are 11 guys on defense and someone blocked enough of them to get Chris Johnson open.
When I think about the Jaguars move to rebuild the trenches, I think Jeff Fisher never took his eye off that goal. His defensive lines are always a focus and it looks like his offensive line has been as well.
The weak spot for the Titans, offensively, has been the receiving corps and the quarterback. Kerry Collins was playing hot, everything worked. I don’t have the confidence that Vince Young can hold it together even with a good offensive line.
The Houston Texans surprised me as well. They don’t run the ball, they throw. Matt Schaub put up an amazing 2009 campaign but it didn’t translate into the success the Texan fans hoped for. The weakness of the Texans is the number of times they allow Matt to be hit. Against the Jaguars, he went out of the game and there was no real hope for them when he was gone. Peyton Manning can get the ball out, Matt Schaub doesn’t have the luxury of talent Peyton has. I don’t believe a quarterback can take that much punishment and remain at the top of his game. I don’t believe that about David Garrard and I don’t believe it about Matt Schuab.
The real sin in Houston is that they are doing nothing to improve the offensive line situation. With the Jaguars forming a more fierce pass rush, and the other teams in the AFC South following along, I thik the Houston Texans are at great risk of losing their starting QB for a number of games.
I was surprised to see Ryan Lilja let go by the Colts. He was such an anchor at left guard for so long. With Manning, the pass blocking has always been good, so I expect they know what they are doing. I was just surprised by that move.
So what I learned the most was Tennessee has the protection, but not the quarterback. Houston has the quarterback but not the protection. I don’t know if the Jaguars will be positioned to take advantage of this in 2010 or not. I do think the Jaguar coaching staff has an opportunity to play both these teams very tough if the new defensive line becomes a strength.
- Terry O’Brien