AFC South: 2012 Week 2 coverage

Wrap-up: Chargers 38, Titans 10

September, 16, 2012

Thoughts on the Titans' 38-10 loss to the Chargers in San Diego:

What it meant: The Titans are 0-2, two games off Houston’s pace in the AFC South, and they did little to solve their major issues from the opener. They didn’t run it well (10 carries for 38 yards) and while they got four sacks and a pick, they still didn’t get the basic plays they needed on defense. San Diego converted on 59 percent of third downs, had the ball for 43:39, gained 416 total net yards and earned 27 first downs. Tennessee gave up five touchdowns to Dante Rosario and Jackie Battle -- backups to guys who didn’t play.

What I didn’t like: Free safety Robert Johnson lined up a mile deep and the Titans are likely to tell us about how they didn’t surrender any plays longer than 31 yards. The determination to minimize big plays hasn't prevented two giant losses, so I am not sure how playing a safety so deep is helping them. ... Jake Locker missed throws all over the place -- with one overthrow of a wide-open Taylor Thompson deep being especially painful. … Tight ends continue to shred Tennessee. Antonio Gates didn’t even play, and yet three tight ends combined to make eight catches for 108 yards. Rosario had three touchdowns.

Continuing to fade: Something is broken with running back Chris Johnson and the run-blocking. Mike Munchak absolutely has to stray from convention and do something to shake things up and get it fixed. How can a coach who did so much to help create so many successful running teams while he was in charge of the offensive line be overseeing this mess? Johnson rebounded from his performance against New England (11 carries for 4 yards)with eight carries for 17 yards. At this rate of improvement, when will he get good again?

What’s next: Tennessee hosts the Detroit Lions in a matchup of two head coaches in Munchak and Jim Schwartz who came up under Jeff Fisher with the Titans.

Wrap-up: Colts 23, Vikings 20

September, 16, 2012
Thoughts on the Colts' 23-20, last-second win over the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium:

What it meant: A first win for head coach Chuck Pagano and quarterback Andrew Luck and a lot of others in the revamped organization. The Colts may wind up being one of the NFL’s lesser teams this season, but they proved capable of beating another team that falls into the same category.

What I liked: Luck is just fantastic on the move, whether it’s a relatively small step up or slide over or a big rollout or run away from pursuit. Obviously he cannot lose 22 yards trying to run out of a late sack and has to surrender at times. But his skills on the move remain underrated. … Four sacks from the defense which held running back Adrian Peterson to 3.8 yards a carry on 16 chances were great defensive developments. … Adam Vinatieri was clutch with the 53-yard, game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.

A couple of finds: Receiver Donnie Avery will need chances to provide more evidence. But a veteran who the Titans couldn’t get anything out of last season had a very productive day with nine catches on 10 targets for 111 yards. On defense, Jerrell Freeman proved a good replacement for Pat Angerer (foot). Freeman had a team-high 13 tackles with a sack and a forced fumble.

What I didn’t like: The defense did some good things, certainly. But it can’t allow a nine-play, 47-yard, 2:19 drive for a game-tying touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game. … The rushing offense has to find a way to get more than 2.8 yards a carry, a number that drops to 2.4 if you take Luck’s running out of it.

What’s next: The Colts host the 0-2 Jaguars. Jacksonville lost at Minnesota in overtime in Week 1 and the Colts are coming off a home win over the Vikings.

Rapid Reaction: Texans 27, Jaguars 7

September, 16, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 27-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on Sunday:

What it means: The Texans are off to a 2-0 start and remain ahead of the pack in the AFC South. Their lead over the 0-2 Jaguars now amounts to 2.5 games. Houston was methodical, as a good team should be against an overmatched team with some personnel deficiencies.

What I liked: The Texans were assertive. They threw mostly short stuff, clearly thinking that after the Jaguars struggled to bring down the Vikings last week that the Jaguars would struggle to get them to the ground. While Jacksonville tackled better, the Texans found steady bites of yardage, allowed nothing very damaging on defense and got out of town without any new injuries apparent.

What I didn’t like: Jacksonville seemed to play scared on offense. They needed to protect quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who was working behind a line using two subs. But still, they should have at least attempted to threaten the Texans down the middle of the field once in a while. When they finally did, Gabbert found Laurent Robinson down the middle and the 32-yard gain set up a somewhat inventive, short touchdown throw to Maurice Jones-Drew. Overall, the formations and play calling were too conservative. Maybe the Jaguars were na´ve enough to think that stuff could work as they planned. As the game unfolded, however, they have to adjust if they intend to compete. And they simply didn’t adjust enough.

AWOL: Justin Blackmon was ineffective. But did the Jaguars put him in good spots? Shouldn’t slants and crossing routes by the rookie receiver be bread-and-butter plays for the Jaguars? My answer is yes.

Not a controversy: Chad Henne completed a couple of passes when he took over in the fourth quarter for Gabbert, who left with a leg injury. If Gabbert’s healthy, expect no controversy. The progress he’s made wasn’t undone by a poor game against a very good defense.

What’s next: The Jaguars head to Indianapolis to face the Colts and Andrew Luck. The Texans head for Denver, where their matchup with the Broncos and Peyton Manning will be a highlight in Week 3.