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Green Zone League Articles

Final Piece to the Puzzle? AFC South
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

HOSTON TEXANS

Small Pieces Arian Foster is one of the best backs in the league but he isn't taking his load of the scoring for the team. With only 3 touchdowns this year when he averages double figures it's no wonder QB Bennett is turning the ball over so often, as he's been relied upon to score all the points. Foster needs to step up and break out some of those long runs he's known for and give the young passing game a break.
Starting a sub-par MLB at OLB isn't a key to success either. Sure the season may be considered over now and play time for the youngsters will see them develop, but no amount of play time will make Billy Hill worthy of being on the field, especially considering he spent his first 3 years without a single down played.
A new tight end with either youth and raw athleticism or a proven veteran would also help out the offensive production. Tory Humphrey has the start but at 31 he looks as raw as any rookie with some athleticism. He can't progress anywhere but a solid vet would help the young passer whilst the receivers are groomed.

Final Piece Some time is needed to develop QB Terence Bennett and his young receivers in Rueben Randle, Darvin Adams and Wilson Hanks. They are all pretty raw right now which will result in a lot of early heart aches and growing pains, but as they grow together they will develop a game plan that works and get the consistent scoring happening, which is sorely lacking this year. With Foster also struggling to score the mix isn't quite gelling together for the best interest of the team and they need to find their rhythm and get some points on the board.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Small Pieces Keep progressing Jake Locker and the young receivers to gain consistency in the scoring options. Wide receivers A.J. Jenkins and Kendall Wright will work wonders with Locker for years to come but need time to develop their field vision and catching skills. Steve Breaston will provide a solid presence alongside the youngster and give Locker a more reliable target in the short term.
Build a solid contingent of corners around Desmond Trufant as he'll be a long term cornerstone for this defense. Darius Butler is the current leader of the group but look for Trufant to take over this role, and with the right addition to the group, slip Butler back into the slot position where his lack of speed, yet good hands and awareness will be a factor. Dominique Foxworth is a decent 1 year filler and long term mentor if they choose to hold on to him after this season, but again he's lacking any leg speed to make the big plays.
Find a defensive game plan that actually stops the opponent from scoring. Twice this year the opponent has been kept under 20 points and both times they've won. A little bit of experimentation and testing with different sliders or game plans may give the young offense a chance with the ball and less pressure to put up 30+ points a game to win.

Final Piece Get a running game that can support Locker in moving the ball consistently and on the scoreboard. Marshawn Lynch has come up short so far this season with a mediocre 3.73 ypc and 4 TD's. He obviously feels comfortable with his long term resigning and doesn't think he has to earn his pay. It's time to give Montee Ball the reins and get him some game time up to develop his skills. Lynch is only going to get slower from here on out and he'll become a burden to the team with his current attitude, whilst Ball has his whole career to prove and get better so his thirst to perform will help drive the team.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Small Pieces Keep Philip Rivers healthy. Whilst Carson Palmer is no slouch as a backup, a healthy Rivers leading this offense has proven to be a mighty force. He has the right receiver's combination and a supportive running game to reduce the pressure on his fragile body, but his presence is key for the entire offense to flourish. On a side note the Jags should try to find the magic way to avoid injuries to key players every year. It may be Justin's curse but there always seems to be a yearlong injury to a key starter each season. If this wasn't happening consistently then we might see the Jags find their form and challenge for the division constantly.

Final Piece Stick with the same roster from one season to the next and develop some of those players to make them better, the team better and keep up the consistent performance. This year's outfit looks be working better than previous years, but will the management be able to avoid the temptation to make major and multiple moves this off season in hope of achieving glory? The talent looks to be balanced well between youth and experience and are performing well, so some progression and more than one season to find just the right game plans for them would be great.


TENNESSEE TITANS

Small Pieces Tim Nissen is a GM who likes to keep tweaking his roster constantly. He has an eye for talent but isn't always on song for his perfect playing piece, hence why I think he's always on the look out to find that match made in heaven. His team isn't quite clicking like it did last year but it's still a force to be reckoned with. At best it's just a settling process to get his players right and the Titans will fly, but until then I see the below as unsettled matters to resolve:
Sort out the defensive front 7. I've never seen someone shuffle their defensive line so much, making changes to personnel as well as positions nearly every week. In the previous 2 seasons the team has amassed 50+ sacks and has only reached 17 to date this year, so don't get me wrong, I love the talent available to this team, but all the shuffling around isn't getting the defense anywhere near its potential, especially playing so many guys out of position. I hope guys like Brandon Mebane and Aldon Smith are finally what this franchise are looking for and will find a long term home and a nucleus to settling this front 7 back to their prime.
Currently 3 out of 5 players on the O-line are listed as playing out of position. They're mostly respectable players in their own right, but obviously not in the right positions for the management and coaches. Much like the defensive line this has been a player carousel over the years which even saw their best, Michael Roos, amnestied this year to make room for other players. A bit of solidity here in the right positions may also keep QB Henderson from getting injured as often which can only result in more wins.

Final Piece After trading away the speed of Chris Johnson to acquire the more bustle back in Matt Forte we thought the situation was solved, however with Forte being shopped before the deadline and his lack lustre 1 touchdown for the year it still seems like the right fit for a running back is yet to be found. Once the running game has its main player the offense can only get better and free up the responsibility solely resting on Chris Henderson's shoulders (and the defensive focus that keeps getting him hurt).
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