Sep 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 14 - 6. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
I've consumed massive amounts of coffee today while attempting to make sense of the AFC South. After two weeks there are more questions than answers and none of the teams look like a great bet. The Texans, still tops in the division, had their second straight slow start against the resurgent Titans. The Colts regressed against the Raiders and are now suddenly injury-plagued. The Jaguars offer the only solace: they still stink.
This week I expected Matt Schaub and the Texans to handily beat the Titans and for the Colts to pull out a win against the Dolphins. Instead we got two close games and an unexpected loss. It turns the division a bit and makes the road to the playoffs tough for Indy.
Let's take a look at how they stack up after two weeks.
This team has come out of the gate slowly in their first two weeks. This week the Texans needed overtime to gut out a win against a division rival. Losing Andre Johnson didn't make the day much better. Overall it wasn't a great day.
One shining moment is that this proves the team has the intestinal fortitude to win tough games. They don't have to blow teams out in order to keep their Lombardi hopes alive. The character gained in these moments will serve the Texans well when it gets tough down the stretch.
Again this week the Texans defense looked pretty good. They held Chris Johnson under 100 yards and kept the inept Jake Locker looking, well, inept. While Locker threw two TDs he only went 17-30 for 148 yards and was a punching bag for J.J. Watt.
Offensively Matt Schaub wasn't great. His horrific interception for a TD will haunt him this week. In the end the offense came up big in OT but it shouldn't take this kind of theatrics to finish off a team like the Titans.
I'm not ready to sound the alarm yet but the Colts badly needed to win this game at home if they wanted the make the playoffs. They didn't protect Andrew Luck and lost guard Donald Thomas along the way. The defense struggled to contain the Dolphins' passing attack and Mike Wallace looked like a great pickup as he dominated the Colts. The Colts needed a better outing as they now face a tough stretch that includes seven road games with only three home outings. They've got San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Tennessee and San Diego along with the return of Peyton Manning and the Broncos. It's not shaping up to be an easy path to the playoffs.
The bright spot again was Andrew Luck. This week his connection with T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener was remarkable. His lone mistake came as he killed a potential game-winning drive by attempting to force the ball and instead lead to an interception.
The real problem this week was mental mistakes. The team blew coverages, gave up costly penalties and didn't execute in all phases of the game consistently. That has to end for this team to be considered a contender.
Adding Trent Richardson in a blockbuster trade is a big change but it's not going to fix the offensive woes the team faces. It won't protect Andrew Luck and it won't help Pep Hamilton disguise his intention. It's bold but only time will tell if it powers this team to the playoffs.
As it stands now Tennessee looks like it's got the goods to make a run at the wild card. I suspect that won't last.
Tennessee took advantage of the Texans slow start and stood their ground against a very good Texans team. The offense however looked lifeless, stalling on countless drives and giving up four sacks. Locker wasn't great but once again wasn't good. The team needs to work on getting him into better situations and getting the ball to Kenny Britt more often. Making Britt a key part of the offense may be tough given the quality of young receivers on the roster. Defensively they did what the needed to do against a sluggish Texans offense. Overall it was a quality outing for the team.
The big problem Tennesse had last week was discipline. Mike Munchak likes to talk tough but his team must not be listening. The flags flew frequently and the Titans paid royally. Had they played with more discipline they might have beaten the Texans in regulation.
Gus Bradley has the same kind of headache I have.
I don't need to write any more do I?
It's clear this is a rebuilding year for the Jags. From a personnel standpoint they are not equipped to play. Their quarterback situation is horrible. They should be calling every veteran they can to get some help. Anything. Even the Tim Tebow rally fizzled in a town that loves him--are these fans willing to suffer through this season with the kind of quarterbacks they have on the roster?
The team has few positives at this point but I still love the coaching staff. They may be the worst team in the league but Gene Smith is to blame here and that's why new GM David Caldwell has a tough road. Let's see how they draft next year.