A few new exciting notes about the AFC South this year features young and old. The Tennesse Titans landed WR Julio Jones via trade from the Atlanta Falcons. The veteran receiver joins a Titan team that made some sort of improvement in 2020 by playing in Wild Card Weekend. The freshest face in the division is Rookie QB Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and he’s got some interesting reinforcements behind him. The Colts were trying for a new QB this season but he’s now injured and the Texans have a lot of uncertainty surrounding theirs. Strap in for the NFL 2021 AFC South preview!
- Key Additions: WR Nico Collins, RB Phillip Lindsay, DB Desmond King, TE Brevin Jordan, RB Mark Ingram, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Chris Conley, QB Tyrod Taylor
- Key losses: DL J.J. Watt, LB Benardrick McKinney, WR Will Fuller, CB Vernon Hargreaves
- Starting Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor
- Last season: 4-12
2021 outlook: A really disappointing end to the Texans season was J.J. Watt (then a Texan) walking off the field letting his QB know he was sorry for “wasting” the 2020 season. It wasn’t only the issue with Houston’s team as Watson now faces allegations of misconduct with former masseuses. Watson also wanted to be traded out of Houston however, the Texans management advised he would still be a Texan for now. While Watson is partcipating in training camp and around the team, there is still a dark cloud over the team. Out goes J.J. Watt (to Arizona) while the Texans did beef up their RB depth by signing Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead, and Philip Lindsay. The prime WR core is made up by Brandin Cooks, Chris Conley, and Keke Coutee. On paper with Watson, this team still looks great offensively. Defensively, the Texans may struggle to defend the run losing J.J. Watt means some of the depth will have to play better this season for the interior of the Texans defense. Further out to the secondary it is the strong point of the defense but definitely not one of the top in the NFL. For now Tyrod Taylor gets the start and the Texans season looks like another wasted one.
- Key additions: QB Carson Wentz, DE Kwity Paye, OT Eric Fisher, DE Dayo Odeyingbo, TE Kylen Granson, OT Sam Tevi, DE Isaac Rochell, DT Antwaun Woods
- Key losses: QB Philip Rivers, OT Anthony Castonzo, DE Justin Houston, DE Denico Autry, LB Anthony Walker, S Malik Hooker, OT Le’Raven Clark
- Starting Quarterback: Carson Wentz
- Last season: 11-5
2021 outlook: An amazing turnaround in 2020 as the Colts went 11-5 and gave a fight in the Wild Card weekend against the Bills only to lose 27-24. Philip Rivers was on his last leg of his career and proved that he could help elevate a team to the next level. Rivers is currently coaching high school football in Alabama but hasn’t ruled out returning to the NFL. What’s next for the Colts? They traded for Carson Wentz. Something was successful in Indianapolis last season and with Rivers on the retirement path the Colts were desparate to fill a servicable QB this season. T.Y. Hilton is on a little bit of a decline but Michael Pittman Jr is a key to the receiver core this season. Defensively, the Colts remain a stronger unit across the league. Best case scenario? Wentz returns in a heroic fashion while leading the Colts into the playoffs. However, if this is the case the Titans will have compeition to lock up the division title this season.
- Key additions: QB Trevor Lawrence, WR Marvin Jones, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Roy Robertson, WR Phillip Dorsett, CB Shaquill Griffin, DT Malcolm Brown,
- Key losses: WR Chris Conley, TE Josh Oliver, CB Josiah Scott, WR Dede Westbrook
- Last season: 1-15
2021 outlook: Well what do we have here? Urban Meyer is coaching in the NFL for a franchise that had the number one pick. Hyped as the next best thing in the NFL is Lawrence but he’s joined by his fellow RB at Clemson, Travis Etienne who also was drafted by the Jaguars. Better yet, Jacksonville’s GM Trent Baalke took over as interim GM in 2020 but later upgraded as the GM. His era of Lawrence and Meyer starts now to turnaround a franchise that has only three Division Championships and seven playoff appearances. While the Jaguars are one of the younger franchises (est. 1995), their most recent 2017 season was the most successful as the only AFC South division championship in the modern era of divisions. Adding WR Marvin Jones next to D.J. Chark and Phillip Dorsett II signing gives a few more quality targets for Lawrence. RB James Robinson is the clear RB1 on this team for now. Overall, Jacksonville has a future to be excited about and anything more than one win this season means you did better than the last.
- Key additions: WR Julio Jones, OLB Bud Dupree, DL Denico Autry, CB Janoris Jenkins, OT Kendall Lamm, OLB Ola Adeniyi, DB Chris Jones, CB Janoris Jenkins
- Key losses: CB Malcolm Butler, WR Adam Humphries, WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, &nbsp;OLB Jadeveon Clowney, DB Desmond King, OL Jamil Douglas, CB Adoree’ Jackson
- Starting Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill
- Last season: 11-5
2021 outlook: Down went the divsion winner last season in the first round against the Baltimore Ravens. While the game was mostly competitive the Titans have to feel like 2021 can be different. That being said Lamar Jackson threw for 179 yards, 0 TD (1 rushing TD), and threw 1 interception. There was all the opportunity to win the game. However, it was Jackson who also led the Ravens with 16 rushes, 136 yards in the 20-13 Wild Card win last season. Long story short? Maybe defend the run a little bit better to advance? A.J. Brown is the biggest target for Tannehill but you wanna add Julio Jones to the mix now? Sounds lovely! However, the biggest concern for the Titans is keeping the clamps on defensively. They allowed 398.3 yards per game which was the fifth worse in the NFL last season. The good news is that the defense has been reconfigured. This offseason the Titans spend more than $132 million on defensive players. Shane Bowen is appointed the Defensive Coordinator this season to lead hopefully a better effort. Certainly, a change from Mike Vrabel making the defensive calls. Tennessee could be that team we told you not to doubt come playoff time.