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NFL 2012 Preseason Preview: The AFC South

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The Houston Texans could be Super Bowl bound, Andrew Luck is creating quarterback amnesia among Indianapolis Colts fans, the Jacksonville Jaguars don't have their star rusher but the sophomore signal-caller might not be a bust after all and would the Tennessee Titans please just pick a quarterback already?

Indianapolis Colts

If you don't know that Peyton Manning now plays for the Denver Broncos -- read something else; this article will make absolutely no sense.

2011 wrap-up:

1. The Colts "lucked" into segueing directly from one franchise quarterback to another, courtesy of a perfect storm of events. So, let's not complain too bitterly, shall we?
2. The team showed great character, which would matter if more than three of them were still on the roster. Yes, that's an exaggeration.
3. Jim Caldwell seems like a very nice man. That's the best I can do.

2012 offseason:

1. The team's new GM is Ryan Grigson and the new head coach is former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
2. Pagano brought in the 3-4 defense. He's trying to turn star DEs Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney into outside linebackers. Yeah, that always works.
3. C Jeff Saturday is in Green Bay, WR Pierre Garcon is in Washington, TE Jacob Tamme is in Denver and Dallas Clark is a Buc.
4. Grigson brought in some new linemen, Donnie Avery at WR and (here's a concept) a somewhat credible backup QB in Drew Stanton. They drafted Luck's Stanford buddy, TE Coby Fleener, and will start concussion-prone WR Austin Collie opposite Reggie Wayne.

Storylines:

1. Luck is literally supposed to be the next Peyton Manning. On his first Sunday, he went 10-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. So far, so good.
2. OC Bruce Arians came over from the Steelers where he did an excellent job with Ben Roethlisberger and knows how to "break in" an NFL star.
3. Pagano has the luxury of coming into a "you can't do any worse" situation. Great.

Houston Texans

The Texans had two of the best defenders in the NFL. They let them walk. Just goes to show what they think of youngsters Connor Barwin, J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed.

2011 wrap-up:

1. If Houston hadn't lost QB Matt Schaub to injury, they would have contended up to the AFC Championship game. At least.
2. Arian Foster and Ben Tate: 2,448 rushing yards. Oh and H-back James Casey caught 18 passes, averaging 14.4 per reception. Next.
3. Wade Phillips arrived with a new defensive scheme and promptly finished fourth in points allowed. Next.
4. All-World WR Andre Johnson has started suffering lower-body injuries. Jacoby Jones and TE Joel Dreessen are no longer Texans. Hmmm.

2012 offseason:

1. Houston drafted two WRs (Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey).
2. Trindon Holliday and Justin Forsett were signed as specialists and Holliday already has one kick return for a score.
3. Free Agent Bradie James comes in for the departed DeMeco Ryans.

Storylines:

1. Can the stars stay healthy? It hasn't happened yet.
2. Phillips' revision of the defense is already giving Andrew Luck nightmares -- I guarantee it.
3. Fantasy players be warned: Sheer offensive balance will keep any one player from helping your imaginary basement competitions.
4. This team has precious few shortcomings. They play in a weak division. Pencil in the playoffs.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans' QB battle is a handy distraction from questions surrounding rusher Chris Johnson's slump and receiver Kenny Britt's ongoing legal implosion.

2011 wrap-up:

1. Britt missed 2011 with an injury, so his absence won't be anything new.
2. To say that Johnson was disappointing is to say that the Grand Canyon is a small depression in the desert.
3. We all know that rushing opposing QBs wins Super Bowls, right? If not, please ask Tom Brady. The Titans couldn't accomplish this.
4. Seven 2011 draft picks panned out as starters or contributors.

2012 offseason:

1. The Titans drafted WR Kendall Wright. Nate Washington had a 1,000-yard season and Damien Williams hauled in 45 balls. TE Jared Cook has evolved into a legitimate target.
2. Tennessee drafted five defenders and brought in Kamerion Wimbley to help with that whole "get to the QB" thing. 2010's DE Derrick Morgan is finally healthy.
3. Head Coach Mike Munchak is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. He brought in G Steve Hutchinson. It's a mathematical certainty that the line will improve.
4. The team re-signed DBs (except for losing Cortland Finnegan) rather than picking up new ones. The wisdom of this approach will be tested.

Storylines:

1. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck or second-year QB Jake Locker? While it's probably just a matter of time, some would like to see Matt have one more shot before they kick him over to ESPN.
2. Can CJ2K rebound?
3. Will Kenny Britt continue to be a talented waste?
4. In the "strange but true" category, the offense welcomes TE Taylor Thompson -- who played defensive end at SMU. Oooh-kay.
5. Will there be a pass rush?
6. Can the sub par secondary stand up to the opposition?

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars culture may be a-changin. Rumors of Blaine Gabbert's bust status may have been premature.

2011 wrap-up:

1. Despite a dismal season, JAX possess the NFL's leading rusher: Maurice Jones-Drew--who would gladly trade his running crown for a playoff berth. Or a new contract.
2. Gabbert came into last year as the safest pick among all rookie QBs and ended the season as a borderline disaster. A tissue-paper O-line led to jitters, bad decisions and generally dreadful play.
3. The WRing corps wasn't much better.
4. This D went from 28th to fifth. The linebackers are especially impressive and MLB Paul Poslusnzy must be from Central Casting: Wanted -- blond Polish-American god with granite jaw, awesome shoulders... huh? Oh yeah, preview.

2012 offseason:

1. The Jaguars' new owner is a hands-on American success story. Shad Khan is no pushover and coach Mularkey chose Jacksonville after avoiding head coaching since dumping his Bills headset.
2. The polite way of putting it is that the O-line is a work in progress.
3. When you are a cellar-dwelling team, you have to draft a punter. Bryan Anger was the most inspiring aspect of the Jaguars first preseason game.
4. Justin Blackmon will be the sole legit WR talent--and his head is questionable. Great.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew is holding out. Since backup Rashard Jennings is healthy and producing...
6. Rookie DE Andre Branch is the great hope for pass rushing.

Storylines:

1. Blaine Gabbert cut his hair. This will hopefully result in a completely new presence on the field. Because the old presence was going to get driven out of town before Labor Day.
2. Mike Mularkey, Shad Khan and the fans. It's a wary courtship thus far.
3. If we keep talking about the amazing Bryan Anger--the season isn't going well.

Detailed NFL 2012 season preview for the AFC North.

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