One division that has a lot of eyes on it is the AFC South. A lot of changes have been made on each team from rebuild mode to acquiring players to become a super bowl contender. The Jaguars have had a massive downfall since their AFC championship run back in 2017. That year they went 10-6 but went 11-36 through the next three seasons. Indianapolis and Tennessee have shaken up the offseason with their blockbuster trades. Lastly, Houston will be in full rebuild mode if Deshaun Watson is traded.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been cleaning house and in rebuild mode since that magical run during the 2017 season. Letting go of key culture players such as Calais Campbell, Leonard Fournette, Dante Fowler Jr, and even Jalen Ramsey did not sit well with most fans. The team signed Nick Foles in hopes that he would be the team’s next franchise quarterback, but with an injury-plagued season, the former Super Bowl champion became the backup to Gardner Minshew. Minshew did pretty well his first two seasons but not enough to become the team’s franchise quarterback. Starting the 2020 season winning the first game but losing 15 consecutive games is extremely embarrassing for any organization and screams rebuild. With a team that finished at the bottom of the league in offensive and defensive rankings, the Jaguars have a lot of work to do to turn this team around. Signing undrafted free agent James Robinson turned out to be a great move as he went on to rush for 1,070 yards during the season. This is a small start towards a rebuild. During the 2021 NFL Draft, the team felt like they had found their franchise quarterback in drafting Trevor Lawerance from Clemson. Jacksonville also had an additional first-round pick which they used to get Travis Etienne. Some might say this is a slap in the face to Robinson, but the franchise looks at it as added depth.
The Texans were an AFC South team that seemed to be on the cusp of becoming a serious playoff contender, winning four of the last six division titles. But over time things started to unravel. Key players were being traded, not to mention rumors about how poorly the organization treats its players. Deshaun Watson was supposed to be the final piece that put Houston into that Super Bowl conversation but with his recent legal troubles, his future is uncertain. With a new head coach at the helm in David Culley, the team now has the big task of transforming this team into a contender once again.
Tennessee is trying to get into that Super Bowl conversation as they have been the most consistent team in this division as far as wins. Having four consecutive 9-7 seasons from 2016 to 2019 with their record last season improving to 11-5. The team added former Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones this offseason. This blockbuster trade now opens the playbook as teams have to respect their strong run game as well as their passing attack.
The Indianapolis Colts have had to make some abrupt changes once Andrew Luck retired right before the 2019 season. Starting Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, he got the team to a record of 7-9. The next season the team acquired long-time Chargers quarterback Phillp Rivers to a one-year $25 million dollar. Unfortunately, Rivers was not able to get the team to the Super Bowl losing to the Buffalo Bills in the wild card round. Now with a big question mark at QB, the Colts made a big move by trading for Carson Wentz only giving up a 2021 third round pick and a 2022 second round pick. They also signed former league leader in total tackles Darius Leonard to a five-year $99.25 million dollar contract that helps secure a key player on defense.
Now the question is who will win the AFC South? Can the Jaguars rebuild this roster into a Super Bowl contender? What are the Texans Plan B if they trade for Watson? Are the Titans really a title contender right now with Julio Jones on offense? What’s the next step for the Colts?
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