Thursday, Sep 29th
Monday, Oct 3rd

AFC South


Texans ::

  • David Culley HC (BAL pass); old-school coach, preaches basics and execution; holdover OC who was asked by Culley to simplify offense
  • Tyrod Taylor the starting QB to begin the season
  • 16-headed backfield “monster;” I kid, but expect no less than four RBs to be involved here; Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay likely good for the bulk of early down work, with David Johnson and Rex Burkhead on hand to handle CoP and third down duties
  • WR starters: Brandin Cooks, Chris Conley, Nico Collins; rest of depth chart includes Andre Roberts and Anthony Miller
  • Mishmash TE group including Pharoah Brown (primary blocker), Jordan Akins (primary pass-catcher), and rookie Brevin Jordan
  • Bottom three defensive unit under new DC Lovie Smith (Illinois HC)
  • Bottom five OL
  • Culley wants to be more balanced on offense after HOU led the league in pass yards in 2020, but unlikely that will be the case based on the composition of each side here
  • Look for the Texans to start games off balanced and slowly transition to increased pass attempts as games move on
  • Brandin Cooks and rookie Nico Collins set up extremely well for volume
  • DC Lovie Smith is somewhat stuck in his ways with respect to defensive scheme, still clinging for dear life to the legacy Tampa-2 scheme
  • NFL offenses have adapted to be able to tear this dated scheme apart
  • His first quote after being hired as the DC in HOU was, “I think our defensive scheme is better suited for the NFL.” That tells you everything you need to know about this antiquated scheme and how much success he had coaching the college game (and, spoiler, it’s not)
  • Dumpster fire on both sides of the ball which is likely to lead to increased pass volume, primarily to Cooks and Collins

Colts ::

  • Marcus Brady OC (QB) :: HC Frank Reich calls the plays
  • QB Carson Wentz reunites with Frank Reich after experiencing success with him as his OC early in his career
  • Top 5 OL
  • Keep an eye on guard Quenton Nelson’s health early in the year (foot surgery but pushing to be ready for Week 1), who grades out as one of the top-ranked OL in the league
  • Keep an eye on tackle Eric Fisher’s health early in the season (offseason Achilles surgery/COVID)
  • TY Hilton out for at least the first three games after being placed on the IR
  • Offense should appear largely the same; expect an aggressive design targeting the weak points of opposing defenses each weak
  • With Parris Campbell, Marlon Mack, and Nyheim Hines now healthy, expect addition rotational playmakers available to Reich
  • Likely to see a starting WR corps of Michael Pittman, Jr., Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell to start the season
  • 10th in the NFL in situation neutral rush rate in 2020
  • Middle of the pack 30.55 seconds per play (18th)
  • Allowed a paltry 3.8 yards per rush attempt in 2020, tops in the league
  • DC Matt Eberflus’ defense relies heavily on zone concepts (second highest rate of zone in the NFL in 2020), but he has transitioned away from a base cover-2 to a more dynamic mix of various zone principles
  • Eberflus utilizes a 4-3 front with low blitz rates, instead banking on his front four getting to the QB
  • Struggled against the deep ball in 2020, allowing 10.5 average yards per completion and a 66.16% completion rate

Jaguars ::

  • Urban Meyer HC (OSU HC)
  • Darrell Bevell OC (DET OC)
  • Joe Cullen DC (BAL DL)
  • Added corner Shaquill Griffin
  • Likely to be a Frankenstein offensive scheme with Bevell at the helm, including heavy influence from HC Urban Meyer and passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer
  • I expect offensive personnel alignments to be fluid, with constant mixing and matching to keep the opposing defense off balance
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see some collegiate offensive concepts in this offense, with heavy shotgun formations, bubble screens, and QB motion and kick-outs, and ball-out-quick designs to allow playmakers to flourish
  • Loss of rookie RB Travis Etienne a big hit to that scheme, who would have created mismatches both as a rusher and receiver
  • Newcomer Marvin Jones, Jr. joins DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault, Jr. in the wide receiver room, and the team brought in Carlos Hyde to join Dare Ogunbowale and incumbent starter James Robinson
  • TE is a bit of a mismatch group consisting of Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister, and rookie Luke Farrell
  • Joe Cullen begins his first year as a defensive coordinator; I expect a hybrid 3-4, 4-3 scheme with heavy man coverage principles
  • Jaguars used second, third, and fourth round picks on the secondary with Tyson Campbell, Andre Cisco, and Jordan Smith
  • Based on personnel available, I expect a good deal of single high safety defensive formations, with 3-4 DBs in man coverage
  •  Expect Griffin, CJ Henderson, and Campbell to act as the “starting DBs” in this alignment
  • I also expect heavy blitz rates as Cullen comes over from Baltimore

Titans ::

  • Todd Downing OC (TE)
  • Shane Bowen DC (OLB)
  • Taylor Lewan healthy
  • OL ranked 6th in run-blocking but just 25th in pass-blocking in 2020; only allowed 24 sacks
  • Lost corner Adoree’ Jackson
  • Five new projected starters on the defensive side of the ball
  • Overall, I expect the defense to look largely like how it did last year with the promotion from within
  • Secondary appears set to struggle once more, particularly with the deep ball in a high man-coverage base set
  • Allowed Corey Davis to walk in FA and brought in Julio Jones at WR
  • Allowed Jonnu Smith to walk in FA; Anthony Firkser best available pass-catching TE on roster, it is likely Geoff Swaim is labeled the “starter” for his run-blocking chops
  • Brought in Josh Reynolds from the Rams to occupy the slot receiver role (in 11-personnel only 38% in 2020, second lowest to only the Vikings)
  • Led the league in 12-personnel usage rate at 35% (while Swaim is technically the starter, I expect both TEs to be on the field a good deal)
  • Third highest rush rate in the league in 2020 at 50%, 6% below the Ravens
  • Expect a highly concentrated offense built around Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Julio Jones4th most efficient offense in 2020

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