Welcome to Teddy Covers' unique look at the NFL. Teddy watches the first half of every preseason game; typing furiously on his laptop while giving you the key info that the box scores and game recaps simply don’t have. Today: AFC South tidbits from the first three weeks of the preseason, with a new division to follow for each of the next three days.
Colts – This offensive line is banged up already. Left tackle Charlie Johnson has a sprained foot, and his backup, Andy Alleman has a bad back. They’ve got a new starting left guard, Jamey Richard. Suffice to say that the left side of the offensive line struggled in both pass protection and run blocking here. Depth remains a concern on this unit – once the starters left, there was no downfield passing game at all, just dinks and dunks. And the running game simply isn’t picking up tough yards between the tackles. Peyton Manning, however, was at the top of his game already. Five different receivers caught balls on their first drive. Indy’s offense was tough to get off the field on third down, and Manning threw his second TD pass on a 3rd and 14. This defense really overachieved last year - can they match those stellar numbers in 2010? This is an underrated linebacking corps -- this D doesn't miss many tackles. But this secondary looks like a big question mark, exposed as a mediocre unit even after the august addition of Deshea Townsend to provide some depth.
Jaguars – Lots of mental mistakes and crucial penalties at bad times – this team doesn't seem to have their collective head together. The Jags aren’t the least bit sexy. They don't sell out. They don't get any national TV games. They don't have any 'name' player on the roster with the exception of Maurice Jones-Drew, and he's only a 'name' player for fantasy geeks. The Jags aren't likely to make many big plays. But their 'slow and steady' approach offensively paid dividends here, with four consecutive long, 8+ play drives. Lots of short, accurate passes from Garrard, moving the chains – until his ugly pick in the end zone. Unfortunately, like most plodding offenses, Jacksonville managed only ten points off those four extended drives – they’ll need to find a way to create some quick strike TDs.
Texans – Return man Trindon Holliday is a scary weapon, but he fumbled away a punt return here leading to seven points for the Saints. Then he got hurt, out for the year, leaving the Texans searching for a big play weapon to return kicks and punts. This offense picked up right where it left off last year. The offensive line looked great, as Matt Schaub marched the first stringers up and down the field. Rookie Arian Foster looks like he’s going to win the starting RB job, as long as he can hang on to the football. I was impressed with the intensity of the front four on defense – they were in the backfield on play after play. Too bad the back seven is loaded with holes. This is not a great tackling team, and the secondary is spotty at best when the pass rush doesn't help them out. Spotty is not strong enough – this secondary got torched, unable to defend downfield at all, a major concern heading into September.
Titans – Chris Johnson hasn't put up huge numbers in August, but I'm not too concerned – this offensive line remains an elite level unit, and Vince Young is good enough throwing the football to avoid consistent eight or nine man defensive fronts. Young didn't produce any points here, but I like the way he played – making good decisions, always in control. Meanwhile, Johnson was breaking tackles, even though he didn’t get any big, game changing gainers. When this team blitzes, they get to the quarterback! They’d better create some pressure, because this young secondary looks pretty green.