Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: SI.com:The South has Risen

  1. #1
    Member McClintic Sphere's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Purgatory
    Posts
    2,776

    Default SI.com:The South has Risen

    Some great quotes in here by Polian and others. It's nice we have a pretty favorable salary cap situation, because this division is going to be tough for awhile. This is a case of a rising tide lifting all boats. Houston has had a lot of injuries, so that may thwart them in the very near term. If they get a solid running back, they are going to be a *****. I think the title is a bit misleading, because we still are atop the division. The other teams give up some major props.
    The South has risen

    How Jags, Texans and Titans caught up to Colts

    Posted: Friday September 28, 2007 11:02AM; Updated: Friday September 28, 2007 12:29PM


    Matt Schaub has brought new life to the Texans' offense. He has a passer rating of 100.9 after three games.
    AP




    In its first five seasons of existence, the AFC South was the NFL's version of simple division. Any way you did the math, the bottom line always came out the same. It was the Indianapolis Colts, and then everyone else.
    The AFC South was owned by the Colts. From 2002 to 2006, the Colts went 60-20 (.750) in the regular season, won four division titles and went to the playoffs every year. Last season, of course, Indianapolis won its long-awaited Super Bowl championship.

    Indy's three division opponents -- Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston -- weren't collectively just also-rans, they were almost afterthoughts. During that same five-year span, the Jaguars, Titans and Texans combined to go 104-136 (.433), making just three playoff trips with one division title (Tennessee in 2002). They produced just four winning seasons out of a possible 15, as opposed to the Colts' five-of-five showing in that category.

    But have you seen the AFC South lately? Somebody's all grown up and no longer looking like the little kid brother(s) that you remember them as. This isn't Peyton Manning and the three dwarfs any more. Through three weeks of the 2007 season, the AFC South is on the rise and making a strong case as the NFL's best and toughest division. To wit:

    • Every AFC South team boasts a winning record through three games, which represents half of the AFC's eight winning teams. The AFC South is the only division in the NFL with more than two winning teams.

    • The AFC South is a combined 9-3, with all three of those losses resulting from head-to-head play within the division. No other division in the league has more than seven combined wins.

    • The division is 6-0 against non-division opponents, with a 4-0 mark against NFC teams and a 2-0 record against the AFC.

    • Houston is 2-1 after three games for the first time in its six-year franchise history. Tennessee is 2-1 for the first time since 2003, and the Colts are 3-0 -- so what else is new? -- for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

    The Texans being winners ranks as one of the early-season surprises in the NFL, and the Titans' start merely continues a turnaround in Nashville that began in last year's second half, when Tennessee ran off six consecutive wins after a 2-7 start. As for Jacksonville, the Jaguars are also 2-1 and coming off an impressive upset at Denver in Week 3.

    "I think people around the league realize you've got four good teams in this division,'' Texans general manager Rick Smith said Wednesday. "We're early in the season. It's heading into Week 4. But I certainly believe we're going to have a tough division to compete in, from top to bottom.''

    The Colts' division dominance is difficult to understate. In the 88 weeks that the AFC South has existed (17 per regular season), Indy has led or shared for the division lead in 81 of them, including the last 46 consecutively. That's an astounding record of success, but the Colts owning first place isn't the given that it once was.

    Indy is 25-7 against its three division opponents since realignment begat the AFC South, but the tide really began changing last December, when it lost at Tennessee (20-17), at Jacksonville (44-17) and at Houston (27-24) in the span of four games. At 12-4 in the regular season, the Colts had enough of a lead to survive their 3-3 division mark last year, but a new, more competitive era was launched in the AFC South.

    "In the case of our football team, winning that game last year, and the way we ended the season with a two-game winning streak, really carried us into this season,'' said Smith, whose Texans lost 30-24 at home to the Colts last Sunday, ending their four-game, two-season winning streak.

    No team in the NFL knows the strength of this year's AFC South better than New Orleans, which lost at Indy 41-10 in the season-opener, and had its home-opener spoiled 31-14 by Tennessee on Monday night. I asked a veteran Saints source to evaluate the AFC South's strength, and the areas he pinpointed were the quality of the division's quarterbacks, as well as its young and aggressive defensive lines.

    "It starts with the quarterbacks, because everybody in that division has a good one,'' the Saints source said. "Manning is Manning, but Vince Young played at a Pro Bowl level the other night (against the Saints). And I really like [Matt] Schaub and what he has done in Houston so far. By the end of the season I think he could be a real difference maker. The Jaguars have David Garrard, and he's an upgrade over [Byron] Leftwich for them because he can do more things for you.

    "On defense, all four teams have active, young-legged lines that will really hit you, and they all can manufacture hits on the quarterback while rushing just four guys. There aren't many teams that can do that. It's a hard thing to do in this league, but when you can rush four and play coverage, it makes it difficult to play those teams. You don't see a lot of big plays getting made against those defenses.''

    Lessons learned in the course of facing Manning twice a year have sunk in deeply, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. You don't try to beat him by blitzing him, because he'll burn you with his quick release. Keep the Colts in front of you and you have a chance.

    "We're all pretty familiar by now with what Indy does,'' said Schwartz, whose Titans lost to the Colts 22-20 at home in Week 2, but split last season's series 1-1. "All of us play the same way against the Colts. We play a lot of Cover Two and try to manage the game. And the reason is because we've had our butts kicked so many times. There's no secret formula. Guys in this division just know what doesn't work against them. Nobody has anything to shut down the Colts. I don't think you can even do that. But we've figured out what doesn't work, and we stay away from that stuff.''

    Building a defense that can challenge the Colts' high-octane offense has been Job One in Houston. That's why the Texans, as they explained at the time, made the controversial No. 1 pick of defensive end Mario Williams over running back Reggie Bush in the 2006 draft. The Texans in their past four drafts have selected five defenders in the first round: defensive tackle Amobi Okoye this year, Williams, defensive tackle Travis Johnson in 2005, cornerback Dunta Robinson and linebacker Jason Babin in 2004.

    "I was asked by some reporters during training camp who the most improved team was going to be, and I said 'the Houston Texans, without question will be the most improved team in the league,'" Colts president Bill Polian said Thursday. "They've had lots of high draft choices, and [Texans second-year head coach] Gary Kubiak has had time to get his system in place.

    "They've got a great coaching staff, and (offensive coordinator) Mike Sherman has done a great job with that offensive line. He's getting results using the same players, but with a different approach. And Schaub just fits much better than the other quarterback (ex-Texan David Carr), because he's very used to playing that offense, having been in it his entire football career. On defense, you've got to rush the passer in this division, and I think people obviously are finding out why they took Mario Williams first overall.''

    The gap between Indianapolis and the rest of the division has narrowed, and it could stay that way for a while, because in something of an aberration for the NFL, the AFC South doesn't seem to feature a team or teams on the obvious descent while others are on the rise.

    The Colts' Super Bowl window may not stay open indefinitely, but Indy has done a superb job of stock-piling depth for the eventual replacement of starters lost to free agency (Joseph Addai for EdgerrinJames for instance) and it's not headed for a stint in salary cap jail. The Texans and Titans are clearly on their way up, and Jacksonville has been a solid .500 or better club since coach JackDelRio's second season in 2004. Built around their strong defense and running game, the Jaguars are trying to take the next step offensively with the switch to Garrard.

    "The first thing you've got to think about with the AFC South is that the world champions are in our division,'' Smith said. "So if you're going to compete in your division, you've got to step up and compete with them. The Colts set the bar, and everybody's chasing them, not only in our division but throughout the whole league. But everybody's improved. There are four tough teams to contend with in this division.''
    Last edited by McClintic Sphere; 09-28-2007 at 06:43 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Houston showed today that their first 2 games were flukes, making (EDIT) Joey Harrington (/EDIT) look like Dan Marino.

    Last edited by Slick Pinkham; 10-01-2007 at 04:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Member Since86's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Muncie
    Posts
    20,898

    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Pennington is still with the Jets, so I assume you mean Joey Harrington?

  4. #4
    Member McClintic Sphere's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Purgatory
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    I don't think Houston is a fluke at all, I just think injuries are finally catching up to them.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    The Lone Star State
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Quote Originally Posted by McClintic Sphere View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I don't think Houston is a fluke at all, I just think injuries are finally catching up to them.
    Many injuries to list (starting RB, C, LT, FS, SS, etc.), but the biggest one is:

    Andre Johnson healthy = 2-0

    Andre Johnson injured = 0-2

    Hard for a young team learning how to win consistently to do so without their best player, and without his backup, and without that guys back up.

    No excuses though. You still have to suit up who you got and go get a W.





    Joey Harrington is just too good.

  6. #6
    Member McClintic Sphere's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Purgatory
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Hey, I didn't get to see the game, Dannyboy. Did Joey Harrington really look good? Any Falcon's scouting you could give would be appreciated since we play them on Thanksgiving Day.

  7. #7

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Quote Originally Posted by McClintic Sphere View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Hey, I didn't get to see the game, Dannyboy. Did Joey Harrington really look good? Any Falcon's scouting you could give would be appreciated since we play them on Thanksgiving Day.
    1) Tell DeAngelo Hall he's a ninny.

    2) Watch him implode.

    3) Win game.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    The Lone Star State
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: SI.com:The South has Risen

    Quote Originally Posted by McClintic Sphere View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Hey, I didn't get to see the game, Dannyboy. Did Joey Harrington really look good? Any Falcon's scouting you could give would be appreciated since we play them on Thanksgiving Day.
    Yeah he did really look good, but really good he is not.

    The Texans only have one DB on the roster that would start for another team. Combine that with limited pressure on the QB, due mostly to suspect playcalling by the DC, and you get the good looking Harrington. I also think the Atl coach is starting to figure out what his QB does well and gameplanning accordingly (lots of short quick passes so he can't hold the ball and get sacked, while occasionally going deep to the outside and rarely throwing over the middle).

    Texans were sloppy, and the Falcons were hungry for a W. Schaub, Demeco, and Amobi were the only guys I saw that played well from start to finish. Ron Dayne was Ron Dayne, which is not a good thing. I wasn't able to see that win over the Colts last year, so I still don't know how he ran for so many yards.

    I really don't see how the Falcons can compete with the Colts though.

    And if Steve Smith could make D Hall lose control, how will he possibly maintain composure after the verbal barrage that will be unleashed on him by Marvin Harrison...

Similar Threads

  1. SI.com: AFC South Training Camp Challenges
    By McClintic Sphere in forum Indianapolis Colts
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 07-08-2007, 07:17 PM
  2. Turn Yourself into a South Park Character
    By Los Angeles in forum Market Square (General Non-Sports Discussion)
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 04-07-2007, 03:37 PM
  3. How the South-side lost the war
    By redwillow in forum Market Square (General Non-Sports Discussion)
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-04-2006, 09:34 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •