As we head into week 4 of the NFL season, it is time again to take a look around the AFC South and see how our divisional rivals are faring through 3 games of the season.
The Texans are first in the division through three weeks, and currently look like the team to beat. Deshaun Watson has been incredible, and despite playing against the brutal pass rush of the Chargers last week, their offensive line put up their best performance of the year.
Watson has been sacked 12 times this season, but was sacked just twice Sunday. If left tackle Laremy Tunsil can get his bearings and this offensive line can begin better protecting Watson, this is going to be a tough team to beat.
There are still glaring questions in the Texans’ secondary which will need to be answered down the stretch if they hope to be a real contender, but this is a team that, if they can avoid injury, will be a tough out for just about anyone they face.
The Jaguars have a great many issues, not the least of which is that the best player on their team wants out. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey requested a trade, and while many thought the issues between Ramsey and the coaching staff might resolve themselves in the glow of a divisional win over the Titans, Ramsey “called in sick” for practice Monday. Whether or not he stays, there is clearly tension there that could cause big problems down the stretch.
On the offensive side of the ball, Gardner Minshew looks like a serviceable quarterback. He makes good decisions, takes some smart risks, and hasn’t made back breaking mistakes. Unfortunately, the offense still isn’t exactly a power house, and will need him to continue playing at that level, which is far from a certainty.
The other issue is the Jaguars’ run game. With limited passing weapons, they need to have consistent production from their rushing attack. Unfortunately, they have Leonard Fournette instead. Fournette has 179 yards rushing on the season, and that number isn’t even as good as it seems. It is boosted by the fact that Fournette broke off a 69-yard run against the Tennessee Titans, and still managed to finish the day with just 66 rushing yards on 15 attempts. That’s a feat worthy of Trent Richardson.
Tennessee Titans - (1-2)
The Titoons, as I’m told they like to be called, have not had a great start to 2019. After just 3 games they find themselves in a serious hole. Going 1-2 is a tough start, but having both those two losses be against divisional opponents is just about a worst-case scenario.
Worse still, they now head to Atlanta to play a Falcons team that barely dropped their road game to the Colts and has the talent to roll this Titans squad, especially when playing in their own building. It doesn’t get easier from there for them, because they host the Bills in week 5, and it isn’t tough to imagine that they could be looking at 1-4, which would be all but insurmountable for this team.
Marcus Mariota has played badly, and his play has directly contributed to his 17 sacks on the season.
"We're taking the blame collectively as an offense." -Rodger Saffold.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) September 24, 2019
The #Titans aren't pointing fingers were it comes to the league- high 17 sacks they've given up in three games. https://t.co/oZ1v5a5yxy
This is a team that has a good amount of talent across the roster, but which is being held hostage by its quarterback play. Given his injury history, it is fair to wonder how much more punishment, self-inflicted or otherwise, Mariota can withstand. With him under center, this talented team seems unlikely to be a significant difference maker in 2019.