It’s a rough start to the season for the AFC South. Outside of the hapless Miami Dolphins being dominated by the Houston Texans, everyone lost. The closest game was easily the Jaguars @ Vikings in overtime, but unless there’s a W in that final win column it doesn’t really matter.
Despite a rough game for first overall pick Andrew Luck, it was Tennessee’s Jake Locker who had the toughest game. Sacked twice with a fumble, Locker was ultimately knocked out of the game when he injured his left shoulder tackling New England’s Patrick Chung while returning the fumble.
A storyline heading into the season was the large number of 1st and 2nd year quarterbacks starting in the league this week. Three of the ten were out of the AFC South. Gabbert had a strong showing with two touchdowns, 260 yards, and hitting 59% (23/36) of his passes. Locker, despite his woes, threw one touchdown, 229 yards, hit 72% of his passes (23/32), and only had one pick. Both Gabbert and Locker had ill-timed fumbles that hurt their teams. Luck had a much rougher start to the season than his preseason and training camp would have indicated. Throwing one touchdown, 309 yards, but only hitting 51% (23/45) and tossing three picks. No matter how good Luck is, his supporting cast desperately needs to step up to avoid a rookie season like that of Blaine Gabbert.
Matt Schaub and company seemed to be the best poised (surprise) out of the AFC South. Schaub threw a touchdown, 266 yards, and hit 64% (20/31) of his passes. He decimated the Dolphins secondary and made it look easy with a superb 79 yards and two touchdowns from Arian Foster. It definitely helps to have a supporting cast.
There were some pleasant surprises despite all of the misery that will undoubtedly descend upon the Jags, Colts, and Titans. Jaguars’ receiver Laurent Robinson had a very good game despite only one catch in the preseason and helped Gabbert with five catches for 66 yards. Similarly, Jared Cook stepped up for the Titans with four catches for 64 yards. As always, Reggie Wayne was a strong receiver for the Colts but may have been overshadowed by Luck’s Standford teammate, Coby Fleener. Fleener is a reassuring presence for luck and proved he can do it in the pros with a six catch 82 yard performance.
While it appears there is still a gap between the Texans and the rest of the AFC South, the gap appears to be closing. The Texans beat down the horrendous Dolphins while the Jags almost bested a revitalized Vikings, the Titans made it look more competitive against a strong New England squad, and the Colts began to get their legs underneath them.
Here are your AFC South scores:
Indianapolis Colts @ Chicago Bears: 21-42
Tennessee Titans vs New England Patriots: 13-34
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings: 23-26 OT
Houston Texans vs Miami Dolphins: 30-10
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims