AFC South Review: Jaguars Establish Themselves as Heavy Favorites

This may be the year of the Jacksonville Jaguars and everyone else in the AFC South Division. The Jaguars were the lone victors in the division last weekend, scoring a double-digit road win over the spunky Indianapolis Colts. Both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans turned in lackluster performances.

Going into the season, many people expected teams in the division to have a difficult time getting started. It is worth questioning if any of those teams will be able to show much improvement through the season. Three of the four teams have unproven commodities at quarterback.

 

Team Result
Houston Texans L, 25-9 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts L, 31-21 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars W, 31-21 at Indianapolis Colts
Tennessee Titans L, 16-15 at New Orleans Saints

Colts May Have Found Next Signal Caller

 

Indianapolis rolled the dice by drafting Anthony Richardson out of Florida to be its next quarterback. Richardson was largely unproven coming out of Florida, where he barely played in college. However, Richardson didn’t look out of place against the Jaguars. 

Richardson threw for 223 yards and a touchdown while he added 10 carries on the ground for 40 yards and a touchdown. Richardson did have some struggles during his first home game. He only completed 24 of 37 passes and threw an interception. However, the Colts were overall impressed with his performance. Richardson left the game late with a knee injury, but Indianapolis said it wasn’t worried about the injury.

 

Former Clemson Standouts Lead Jaguars

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville running back Travis Etienne Jr. had a strong performance for Jacksonville. He led the team with 77 rushing yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown. The Clemson product also caught five passes for 27 yards.

Etienne is showcasing his potential after being forced to sit out the 2021 season due to injury. Etienne showed what he was capable of in 2022. He rushed for 1,125 yards and scored five touchdowns. He also had 316 receiving yards as well.

Jacksonville is led by former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. While Lawrence did throw an interception, he also passed for 241 yards and two scores in the victory. Lawrence led Jacksonville to a playoff win and is expected to have the Jaguars on the right track to lift the AFC South title this year.

 

What Are the Odds?

 

Calvin Ridley returning to the NFL provided one of the more fun stories of Week 1. Ridley was a star receiver for the Atlanta Falcons until he was suspended for the 2022 season for betting on football games. Despite the harsh punishment, Ridley returned this season with Jacksonville in the AFC South a refreshed man.

Ridley, 29, hardly looked like he lost a step. He hauled in eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown to lead the Jaguars in receiving. If Ridley can get back to his 2020 form, he hauled in 90 passes for 1,374 yards, then this could be a dangerous Jacksonville offense.

 

Tannehill’s Time Coming to a Close

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Ryan Tannehill

Veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill helped get the Tennessee Titans back to prominence in the AFC south. During the 2019-21 season, Tannehill helped Tennessee get back to the playoffs and even led them to the AFC Championship game in 2019.

However, Tannehill, who was drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins in 2012, is clearly starting to lose his effectiveness. During Tennessee’s season-opening loss to New Orleans, Tannehill only completed 16 of 34 passes for 198 yards and threw three interceptions. While Tannehill’s resurgence in Tennessee has been a great story, he is 36-20 as a starter in five seasons, and The Titans will likely have to turn the page.

Tennessee’s problem is that they don’t have anyone behind him who is a proven veteran. Malik Willis looked bad during his cameo with the Titans last season, and rookie Will Levis slid in the draft and will need to prove himself as a pro quarterback.

 

Stroud Needs More Time to Work

 

The Houston Texans took C.J. Stroud with the second pick in the NFL Draft. It’s clear that the Texans’ rookie will need some time to feel comfortable in his new surroundings. Stroud was sacked five times during Houston’s loss to Baltimore.

One thing that Stroud can hang his hat on is not making a major error while passing the ball. Stroud didn’t throw an interception in 44 attempts. While Stroud wasn’t terribly accurate either, he completed 28 of 44 passes, he was able to hold his own against Baltimore, which typically has strong defenses.

 

Trade Talks Continue with Taylor

 

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of the season and can’t play for four games. Taylor may not suit up for the Colts at all. Rumors are that trade talks are still swirling around the talented running back after he requested a trade in the offseason.

With several teams already seeing injuries at running back, like the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers, the market for a deal to get Taylor on the field somewhere may be heating up. Taylor saw his production decline in 2022 as injuries slowed down his season. In 2020 and 2021, Taylor led the league in rushing in 2021 by piling up a league-high 1,811 yards and scored 18 touchdowns.

 

End of King Henry’s Reign?

 

Getting to 1,000 yards will be easier now that the NFL expanded its schedule to 17 regular seasons before the 2021 season. Derrick Henry found the sledding to be tough against a good New Orleans defense in the opening week. He carried the ball 14 times for 63 yards.

However, Henry shows that he still has a lot of gas left in the tank. Henry caught two passes for 56 yards as well. During Henry’s first seven seasons in the league, he has recorded 1,000 or more yards in a season four times, including a 2,000 yard season in 2020.