For the past several years, the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars have been the laughingstock of the AFC South.
And when you consider that the AFC South has been perhaps the worst division in the NFL during that time frame, that’s not good.
But for the first time in quite a while, both the Titans and Jaguars have hope. The question is, will that hope translate to wins on the field?
That’s the million dollar question.
On paper, the Titans and Jaguars have made significant upgrades to their roster. In Nashville, new general manager Jon Robinson has made deals that have surprised many fans. Not because they’re bad deals, but because they’re actually good deals.
Tennessee has beefed up its offensive line with the additions of rookie Jack Conklin and former Houston Texans center Ben Jones. There’s also the addition of an extremely dynamic duo in the backfield, with both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry now on the roster.
Simply put, the Titans surrounded their franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota with a whole lot more talent than he had around him in 2015. That’s a good step forward.
As for the Jaguars, they’ve also added several intriguing pieces to the puzzle. Jacksonville might have had the best draft of anyone, as they landed two potential Top 10 talents in cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack. Although Jack’s injury concerns caused him to fall into the second round, if he’s able to work his way back to full strength, this will go down as one of the biggest draft steals in history.
The Jaguars also picked up Malik Jackson on the defensive line after he helped the Denver Broncos win a Super Bowl trophy last season.
The additions of those three in particular will certainly make the Jacksonville defense look quite a bit scarier to Mariota and company next season.
So despite both teams still having several holes on their roster, these key acquisitions have without question strengthened their team overall. Last season, the Jaguars went 5-11 and the Titans went 3-13. The year before that, we saw Jacksonville at 3-13 and Tennessee at 2-14.
In 2016, it’s hard to see either team with win totals that low. Both might not make the playoffs or compete for a conference title, but they are certainly going to make the division much stronger than it has been in recent years.
It will take a little while for the young talent on both sides to develop. However, should several of these rookies and key free agent pickups make a huge impact right away, it’s going to make this division that much more unpredictable.
You would think that the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans would be at the top. After all, it’s pretty much been that way for a while now.
But going forward, it’s not gonna be that easy to predict the AFC South. Just like the Titans and Jaguars, both the Colts and Texans have flaws. And neither team feels like an AFC title contender heading into next year.
So instead of everyone always talking about how bad the AFC South is, perhaps in 2016, everyone will be talking about how improved it is.
And thanks to solid offseason work by both front offices, you can thank the Titans and Jaguars for that.