The Tennessee Titans are reportedly releasing their franchise-defining player, running back Chris Johnson, today.
No, the Indianapolis Colts have no intention of making a play for the soon-to-be free agent. The move does, however, highlight several significant changes that have occurred across the AFC South this offseason. Here are just some of the big changes:
- The Texans traded the best quarterback in their franchise's history, Matt Schaub, to the Oakland Raiders.
- The Jaguars released 2011 first round bust Blaine Gabbert.
- The Jags also released their franchise-defining player since 2006, running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He signed with the Raiders, joining his former AFC South nemesis Schaub in the silver and black.
- The Titans fired head coach Mike Munchak in January. Munchak had been part of the Titans organization as a player, assistant coach, and eventually head coach for more than 30 years.
- Gary Kubiak, the winningest head coach in Texans history and the only Houston head coach to lead the franchise to the playoffs, was fired.
The Texans have the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 while the Jaguars have the No. 3 overall pick. This means that the AFC South could be home to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and/or Texas Tech quarterback Johnny Manzeil.
The point here is the AFC South will be very, VERY different for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. Last year, the division was a laughing stock, and the Colts' 6-0 record against their putrid division rivals was a big reason why they made the post-season. In 2014, new Texans coach Bill O'Brien and new Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt will have different approaches than their predecessors. They'll also likely have better quarterback play.
Speaking of quarterback play, take a look at the QBs who have led the Texans, Jaguars, and Titans over the last six seasons:
- Vince Young
- Kerry Collins
- Blaine Gabbert
- Byron Leftwich
- David Garrard
- David Carr
- Matt Schaub
- Jake Locker
- Matt Hasselbeck
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Sage Rosenfels
If you want to see the primary reason the Indianapolis Colts have dominated the AFC South division since its creation in 2002, compare that list of utter suck to the Colts' list of quarterbacks:
- Peyton Manning
- Andrew Luck
I'm not including the nightmare 2011 season because it was played without Manning due to injury. Also, without 2011, there would have been no Andrew Luck.
With quarterbacks like Bridgewater, Manzeil, and possibly Central Florida's Blake Bortles likely to join the AFC South, the division will get tougher. Thus, it's important for Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson to really nail this draft. The Texans, Titans, and Jaguars can only get better, and the Colts cannot afford to remain idle.
Back to Johnson, he ran for 761 yards and 4 touchdowns in 11 games against the Colts. He had more receptions against them (49) than any other opponent. The Titans were 2-9 against the Colts during his career in Tennessee.