Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The AFC South is seen by many NFL analyst as one of the weaker divisions in football. That can be a positive because it will take less improvement by the Jags to turn things around. The negative is a total lack of respect. Aside from the Colts, there is not much to be excited about right now in the AFC South, except for the impending NFL draft in which three of their teams will be picking in the top 11, and two in the top three. What I will be doing is ranking the AFC South at multiple positions. For now I will be going with the players who would be the presumed starters while attempting to take into consideration free agency and draft picks. We have completely ranked the offense (QB, RB, WR, TE & OL) & the defense (DE, DT, LBs, CB, & S). Now we’re on special teams. We started with punters. We’ll finish with placekickers. Let’s start ranking.
- Tennessee Titans (Rob Bironas) / 25 field goals made, 86.2% FG success rate, 55yds long FG, 116 points – As you will see when I summarize the other teams, Bironas barely got this one. Rob could as easily end up tied for last. The reason is his salary cap number for 2014. $3,875,000! That’s a lot of money for a kicker, no matter how consistent. I wouldn’t be shocked if Rob was released. The Titans currently have another kicker, Maikon Bonani, under contract for $3.45 million less than Bironas. That’s gotta be tempting! They haven’t made a move yet, so for now, the Tennessee Titans have the best kicker in the AFC South.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (Josh Scobee) / 23 FGs made, 92.0% FG success rate, 55yd long FG, 91 points – First of all, Scobee was victimized by the extremely poor Jaguars offense. Josh had 18 less PAT attempts than Bironas. The real reason Scobee couldn’t be rated higher than Bironas is that Scobee has a worse salary cap number than Bironas. Scobee’s is $4,187,500. Wow…that’s just stupid! For a team that is moving to getting young and saving money, Scobee is neither. What he is though is amazingly consistent and a good guy. Because he could also be released, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the 2nd best kicker in the AFC South.
- Houston Texans (Randy Bullock) / 26 FGs made, 74.3 FG success rate, 51yds long FG, 104 points – A truly below average kicker. When I thought about him before checking out the stats I remember thinking I needed to cut him some slack because he was a rookie. But last year was his 2nd year. There is no excuse. If the Texans are going to turn things around, they need to move on from this guy. Even with him being possibly the worse kicker in the NFL, shockingly the Houston Texans have the 3rd best kicker in the AFC South.
- Indianapolis Colts (your name here) / Normally Indy would be at least #2 if not first because they have potential Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri. Adam had another stellar year in 2013 with 35 FGs, an 87.5 success rate, and a division leading 139 points. The reason then that the Colts are in last? As of press time, Adam Vinatieri is a UFA. When you go to the roster page for the Colts, there is no kicker listed. What does this mean? Are they letting Adam look around and hope to get him back on the cheap? are they going to bring in a free agent or look for a booming leg in the draft? All options are very risky for a playoff caliber team. For this reason, the Indianapolis Colts have the worst kicker (nobody) in the AFC South.
I’ll be real curious to see what the Colts end up doing. Some teams forget how important consistent kicking is. Like a great baseball team with a terrible closer, it can break a teams spirit. I believe they will find a way to keep Vinatieri on the squad.
Summary of the AFC Ratings:
- (tie) Indianapolis Colts / 29 points (five 1sts, one 2nd, two 3rds, and four 4ths) – Indy ended up tie for first on offense with Houston, second on defense, and last on special teams. This is a good indication as to why the Indianapolis Colts are one of the best teams in the AFC South.
- (tie) Houston Texans / 29 points (four 1sts, two 2nds, three 3rds, and three 4ths) – Houston tied for first on offense, finished 3rd on defense, and tied for first on special teams. Considering the Texans was the worse team in the NFL last year, this score is actually surprising. Regardless, the Houston Texans are one of two best teams in the AFC South.
- Jacksonville Jaguars / 31 points (zero 1sts, eight seconds, one 3rd, and three 4ths) – The Jags finished last on offense, first on defense (shock!), and tied for first on special teams. For as badly the Jags scored on offense, they did equally well on defense. They finished 2nd in every defensive category I in no way feel I was wearing my “homer” glasses when performing these ratings. If the Jags make a few good moves on defense, they could easily turn this around!
- Tennessee Titans / 35 points (three 1sts, one 2nds, six thirds, and two 4ths) – the Titans finished third on offense, third on defense, and third on special teams. The Titans is the model of a team that could go in either direction but most likely down. Only one second place to improve to first, but six thirds that could drop to fourth. For being ranked third or worse in eight catagories, the Tennessee Titans are the worst team in the AFC South.
Thank you for reading the series and please feel free to send me your comments!! Michael McDonald.
Hit me up on Twitter @gumbussy.