Most Intriguing Players in the AFC South for 2019
By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)
Special to Pro Football Guru
The series continues.
Welcome back to the latest work by the team of “Voigt Julie” and “Yours Truly.” With the 2019 NFL regular season roughly two and half months away, it’s a division-by-division look at each club’s most intriguing player. It started with the AFC East, where the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have won a league-record 10 straight division titles. Then onto the NFC East, where the Dallas Cowboys are coming off capturing their third division title since 2014.
A year ago, the Baltimore Ravens won six of their final seven games to overcome a 4-5 start and win the AFC North for the first time since 2012. And this past season, the Chicago Bears won the NFC North for the first time since 2010 as new head coach Matt Nagy’s club finished 12-4.
Now the AFC South is on deck. The Houston Texans opened 0-3 and the Indianapolis Colts started 1-5 this past season. But both reached the playoffs. But the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, both which reached the postseason in ’17, are right on their heels.
Here’s Part 5 of the series (teams are in order of 2018 finish):
CB Aaron Colvin
VI: Although his first season in Houston was a bit of a disappointment, Colvin seemed to be showing some improvements during the team’s OTAs. Having to earn his spot this season is making him work hard in the offseason, although the Texans have a lot of guys competing for that starting role. The coaching staff has seen some improvement this offseason and he’s certainly in the mix for a starting job in a new-look secondary.
DE Justin Houston
BE: The four-time Pro Bowler moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme. The standout pass-rusher, who missed 11 games in 2016, rebounded the past two seasons and totaled a combined 18.5 sacks in his last 27 regular-season contests in ’17. He adds a little more oomph to a defensive unit on this rise.
QB Marcus Mariota
VI: There is no doubt that in the last year of his rookie contract with the Titans, Mariota needs to stay healthy. He has yet to play in all 16 games in a season. And the offensive coordinator change in Tennessee might not help matters as Matt LaFleur left for Green Bay. So is Mariota’s job on the line this season?
WR Marqise Lee
BE: He missed all of 2018 with a knee injury and according to Jaguars’ wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell (via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union), Lee isn’t expected back until a few weeks into training camp. So what’s the point? The four-year pro, who totaled a combined 119 receptions his previous two seasons (6 touchdowns), would be a key factor if he’s able to get back on the field early in 2019.
Julie Voigt (JulieNoted_PFG) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @pfgVIBE. Julie is also the Colts’ reporter for OurTurf Football while Russell writes for FanSided and NFL Spin Zone.