Sep 8, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano watches his team during warm ups before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The regular season is underway and the AFC South is sized up exactly as anticipated. The Texans came from behind to put away the Chargers and displayed a few weaknesses along the way. The Colts managed to keep Terrelle Pryor from spoiling their opener. The Titans took advantage of the Steelers' injury issues and the Jaguars underwhelmed. In other words, the division is stacked up just as they were last week.
Will the Texans improve or let the Colts catch them in the division race? Can Tennessee surprise everyone and scrap their way to a wild card? Will Jacksonville win the lottery sweepstakes for the first overall pick? Right now we don't know but that's the story told by the first week of the season.
Houston did not look like Super Bowl contenders in Monday night's tilt with the Chargers until the second half. In the first half the Chargers simply dominated the Texans taking advantage of a poor Houston pass rush. The second quarter was brutal to the Texans and they trailed 28-7 after 5 minutes in the third quarter.
Matt Schaub took over in the second half and showed that he can indeed lead the team. Schaub threw two touchdown passes before Brian Cushing's 18 yard interception return tied the game at 28 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile Philip Rivers crumbled in the 4th recording a league record low 7.7 quarterback rating in the final quarter. Schaub's excellence late was the mirror image of Rivers' early success against the Texans. Make no mistake: Schaub proved he can throw this team on his shoulders when needed.
Chuck Pagano's squad struggled mightily in two key areas: containing a mobile quarterback and protecting their own. Going into the game the Colts new Pryor would be a tough target and he proved as much. His 112 yards on the ground were devastating. On the other side of the ball the Colts gave up 4 sacks, an incredibly disappointing outing for a team that needs to keep Andrew Luck upright.
Luck did his part however. Unfortunately the Luck years are starting to look a bit like the Manning years–a one man game. Luck's game winning TD run was incredible to watch but it shouldn't have been necessary. The team was supposed to feature an offense more friendly to Luck's abilities but instead fizzled. Run plays are obvious run plays and passing downs are practically advertised on a neon sign. As a result the Raiders defense looked like a pass rush juggernaut and Luck had to rely purely on his own abilities to survive.
The Colts are a step behind the Texans at this point and will continue to be until they manage to find some protection for their young quarterback.
The Titans rebuilt their defense this offseason under great scrutiny. For the time being the project looks successful as they stifled the injury-hampered Steelers.
Going into this game the Steelers offensive line was highly suspect and the Titans took advantage of the situation by getting to Ben Roethlisberger five times for sacks. Losing Markice Pouncey in the game certainly didn't help the Steelers as Gregg Williams and Jerry Grey dialed up the pressure. The Titans forced two turnovers and the the Steelers simply couldn't keep up.
Offensively Jake Locker needs to prove he is worthy of being a starter in this league. This week his defense saved him but his outing should trouble Titans fans. He was 11-20 with no TDs and a sack. 55% completion may work for a rookie but not for a veteran attempting to prove he can get it done in the long haul.
The Titans need to step up their game if they want to contend for a wild card spot this year.
Gus Bradley's reign got off to a rocky start as the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely dominated the Jaguars. The primary problems in Jacksonville are an inept offense and the lack of a pass rush. Blaine Gabbert was just 16 of 35 with two picks. Calls for Chad Henne should begin promptly in the River City should he have any success in week 2 filling in for the now-injured Gabbert.
There's not much the Jaguars the did well Sunday and the team clearly has a rough road ahead. They need a quarterback in the worst way and should have addressed the shortcoming in the draft. GM David Caldwell needs to seriously evaluate his options on the market now as Gabbert is clearly not going to improve enough for this team to have a fighting chance. The idea that Gabbert is either the answer or reliable is in question. Henne's track record isn't stellar. Who's out there? Tim Tebow. Yeah…I went there.