NFL Storylines: AFC South

8/7/13 in NFL   |   GFortier   |   520 respect

Blog Photo - NFL Storylines: AFC South
 
The NFL's popularity is at an all-time high, and this coming season seems as intriguing as ever. Time to feed the beast and take a division-by-division look at the five biggest questions facing each team in the league. Here's the AFC South.
 
Houston Texans

Houston's been on the cusp of being considered in the elite group of NFL teams over the past few seasons, but have fallen disappointingly short of winning anything meaningful. With Schaub, Foster and Johnson as the nucleus of their offense, their window is closing quickly-- can they break through this season?

Will Arian Foster bounce back from a disappointing end to last season? His production dipped when the team needed him most.

Will JJ Watt continue his dominant performance after winning Defensive Player of the Year?

Can 1st round pick DeAndre Hopkins, who had arguably the best hands of any receiver in the draft, relieve some of the pressure facing Andre Johnson?

How good can Ed Reed be in this defense? 

Indianapolis Colts 

Can the Colts build on the surprise season they had last year? A weak schedule and a handful of close, end-of-game wins helped them get that 6th seed, so if they don’t improve their play they may find themselves out of luck.

Will Andrew Luck continue to grow into the elite quarterback everybody expects him to be?
 
What affect will having head coach Bruce Arians healthy and on the sidelines for an entire season have on the team?
 
Can Ahmad Bradshaw stay healthy and have a productive season as the #1 RB?
 
Their defense was, without a doubt, a liability last season. They’ve signed Laron Landry, drafted Bjorn Werner 24th overall—can this defense begin to make some positive strides?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Who will win the starting job at QB, Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne? If Henne beats out Gabbert, it’s safe to say that Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in 2010, has been a bust in Jacksonville.
 
What will new head coach Gus Bradley bring to the table? Bradley spent the past 4 years running the aggressive Seattle defense.
Paired with Gus Bradley, newly hired general manager David Caldwell has been in the front office of a playoff team for 13 of the last 17 seasons—will the two combine to instill a winning attitude in Jacksonville? Their impact may not yet be seen in the win column this season, but you can still tell when there is a shift in team culture.
 
Justin Blackmon, suspended for the first 4 games of the upcoming season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, is at a crossroads. He had a couple breakout games last season, and must return strong, on-field and off this season to dispell the thinking that he was a disaster of a pick at 5th overall back in 2012.
 
How will Denard “Shoelace” Robinson be utilized? Will he tie his shoes at the NFL level?
 
Tennessee Titans
 
Much like Blaine Gabbert, this is a make-or-break year for Jake Locker, the 8th overall pick in 2011. He’s shown flashes of promise but also an inability to stay on the field. How will he fare this season?
 
What will the Titans get out of Chris Johnson? They’ve shown a commitment to the running game by drafting guard Chase Warmack 10th overall and signing backup Shonn Greene—can Johnson reward them with a little more consistency?
 
The Titans traded up in the 2nd round to nab the in-state stud receiver, Justin Hunter of the Tennessee Volunteers. Will he be worth the 3rd round pick (in 2014) that they gave up for him?
 
Will Bernard Pollard, the biggest free-agent signing the Titans made this off-season, strike fear in opposing receivers the way he was able to in Baltimore?
 
In this head coach Mike Munchak’s final season as the head coach? He’s entering his third year and after a surprising 9-7 record in his debut season, his team has disappointed ever since.


Other storylines: 
AFC East
AFC North
AFC West

Follow @gregfortier
 
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview