AFC South: AFC South Stock Watch

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
1:47
PM ET
FALLING

1. Jacksonville’s execution at a critical time: Down four points in the third quarter, you can’t go for it on fourth-and-1 in your own end and not convert. I didn’t like Jack Del Rio’s call. But fact is, if David Garrard snuck it, there was room, and if Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t fumble the pitch he had room to convert it too.

2. The Texans’ perspective: Explain it away all they like, but the Brian Cushing-Antonio Smith on field scuffle looked horrible. It almost matched Bob McNair’s weak praise of his team last week for the comeback against the Ravens. Never mind they lost in overtime. McNair shouldn’t follow the instructions of his team’s fans, but he also can’t be that disconnected. And after he shared that enthusiasm about the team’s direction, it rewarded him with a dud in Nashville.

3. Don Carey and Sean Considine, Jaguars safeties: Angles, tackling and reliability have been an issue for the team from the safety position all season. In the Jaguars’ biggest game of the year, the two starters were glaringly poor. Gene Smith couldn’t fix all the personnel problems at once. Courtney Greene may be OK at one spot going forward, but this team needs to add at least two safeties in the offseason.

RISING

[+] EnlargeJacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliJaguars linebacker Daryl Smith is flying under the radar and making plays.
1. Daryl Smith, Jaguars linebacker: He was all over the place against the Colts, and if it came in a win, I think it may well have been an AFC defensive player of the week worthy performance. Smith’s backers have touted him as one of the most underrated players in the league. He was the best linebacker in the AFC South on Sunday.

2. Fernando Velasco, Titans center: Subbing for Eugene Amano, who went on IR last week, Velasco got high praise from Jeff Fisher and was part of the team’s best offensive line effort in recent memory. He’s a strong guy who seemed ready to perform, just as he did in a spot start for Leroy Harris against Dallas. Velasco could be injecting himself into the mix for a front-line spot in 2011.

3. The Colts' run-blocking: Donald Brown was our High Energy Player of the Week Tuesday, but we failed to give enough credit to the guys in front of him. It was a quality game plan which was well-executed and stopped the more powerful Jaguars. Holding up a couple times when the Jaguars needed only a yard was impressive work.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
12:10
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. The Titans' second-half adjustment and the Texans out of the gate: In the Titans’ last two games, losses at San Diego and Miami, the Titans have been outscored 39-14 in the second half. They are getting outplayed and outcoached after intermission and need to do better adjusting. The Texans, meanwhile, have fared poorly from the start in two of their last three games. They trailed both Jacksonville and Indianapolis 17-3 at the half.

Jacoby Jones
AP Photo/Eric GayReceiver Jacoby Jones has yet to show he can be a solid option at No. 2 for the Texans.
2. Jacoby Jones, Texans receiver: He was supposed to challenge Kevin Walter for the No. 2 slot and be an explosive piece of the offense. But he had one catch for five yards in Jacksonville. His 25 catches have produced an average of 9.7 yards, same as running back Arian Foster. Last year that average was 16.2. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s got four drops in 38 targets.

3. Bo Scaife, Titans tight end: His early fumble in the Titans’ end set up the Dolphins offense and got a bad day started. He also had a drop. Kerry Collins and Vince Young threw to him nine times and his six catches gained just 51 yards. It’s not his fault they are throwing short stuff to him, but he didn’t feel like a threat with the ball in his hands. Surely on some of these plays Jared Cook could offer a more dangerous change up, no?

RISING

1. Role playing tight ends: We’re heard a lot about the contributions they could make, but we’re finally seeing something out of Houston’s James Casey and Jacksonville’s Zach Miller. Casey’s caught five passes for 66 yards in the Texans’ last two games. And Miller had four catches for 79 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown in the win over the Texans.

2. The Colts’ health: I’m being a bit presumptuous here. But Joseph Addai said last week he was targeting the New England game. And in their weekly Tuesday announcement, the Colts ruled out only Bob Sanders. That means of a big group who didn’t play against the Bengals, there is a chance for guys like Austin Collie, Clint Session, Gary Brackett, Justin Tryon and Mike Hart to be back. The team hopes for many happy returns in New England.

3. Andre Johnson, Texans receiver: He’s topped 100 yards in three of his last four games. While his ankle may still qualify as an issue, he’s certainly found a way to play and play effectively with it. And the Texans and Matt Schaub need to keep feeding him. With Johnson and Arian Foster, the Texans have to find an offensive rhythm and score big knowing the defense won’t do a lot.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 3, 2010
11/03/10
2:06
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

The Titans in the fourth quarter of close games: They did well to pull away from Philadelphia with a 27-point fourth in what had been a close game. But against Pittsburgh, Denver and San Diego when they were in range, the Titans have not had the execution, ability or killer instinct to win.

Gary Kubiak’s play calling: I hear the explanations. Convert some third downs and stay on the field and they would have been balanced. But Kubiak outsmarted himself. The Texans ran all over the Colts the first time; the obligation is to make them show they can stop it before you turn to what you prepared for them stopping it. Also, you get into a lot more third-and-shorts if Arian Foster is running for 4 or 5 yards on first and second down.

Vincent Fuller, Titans defensive back: The team’s feisty full-time nickelback since 2007 was reduced to a role in the much less frequently used dime package. The Titans love Alterraun Verner, who’d been playing outside with Jason McCourty injured. With McCourty back, Verner started outside, and moved inside in the nickel, with McCourty taking his place.

RISING

[+] EnlargePat Angerer
AP Photo/Nick WassPat Angerer has played his way into the Colts' starting lineup.
Pat Angerer, Colts outside linebacker: He’s a middle linebacker in their eyes, but he played so well filling in a couple of weeks ago for Gary Brackett that the Colts decided they needed to keep him on the field. Out went strongside starter Philip Wheeler, in went Angerer on Monday night. He didn’t light up the stat sheet but Jim Caldwell sang his praises.

David Garrard, Jaguars quarterback: The good is outweighing the bad to the tune of a 98.8 passer rating, the fourth best in the NFL. He put the Cowboys to shame on Sunday with a sterling performance. But here’s a helpful hint: Don’t say how the team you just beat up gave up -- it takes a little shine off of what you just did.

The Colts' backups: We’ve covered it extensively (here and here), but the performances of tight end Jacob Tamme, running back Mike Hart and cornerback Justin Tryon were key in the Colts’ win over Houston. They keep calling on the depth and it keeps giving the team what it needs.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 13, 2010
10/13/10
11:39
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Kareem Jackson, Texans cornerback: He got muscled by Hakeem Nicks on an early touchdown, a tough play for any corner. But Jackson looked to grow increasingly hesitant, getting blocked out of one big-gain screen and failing to stick with Nicks on a big change of direction on a 27-yarder. Ultimately, the Texans looked to minimize his role, though they lack a solid alternative and a hamstring injury to Sherrick McManis meant he wound up back with a good share of work.

2. Cortland Finnegan, Titans cornerback: He has tremendous talent, but isn’t playing up to his standards right now and admitted as much on his weekly radio show in Nashville. He gave up too many plays in Dallas and may have let the fines and discussion of whether he’s feisty or dirty get in his head some. If he’s not playing close to his best, Tennessee’s defensive backfield isn’t nearly as good as it can be.

3. Texans early special teams: Two of the team’s first three drives started too deep in Houston territory because of penalties against the kickoff return team byDarryl Sharpton and Frank Okam. And before either of those, when Darius Reynaud muffed a Matt Turk punt, the Texans could have had possession in the red zone. Instead they watched Chase Blackburn recover the ball at the 15-yard line. Antwaun Molden and McManis didn’t seem to track the play as long as they should have and Xavier Adibi lost a race to the loose ball.

RISING

[+] EnlargeStephen Tulloch
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireStephen Tulloch's career game in Week 5 helped the Titans beat the Cowboys.
1. Stephen Tulloch, Titans middle linebacker: He was all over the place for the Titans at Cowboys Stadium with a career-high 15 tackles and a game-sealing interception late. He spent the offseason away from the team because he was unhappy about having to play for a restricted tender instead of getting a long-term deal. He’s certainly doing fine work building his case for a contract.

2. Antoine Bethea, Colts free safety: In many ways, he is the glue of the Colts defense. He’s playing beside a third-string strong safety and along one corner, Kelvin Hayden, who has seemed off his game. I don’t know that the Chiefs were ever going to score a touchdown. But Bethea eliminated one opportunity with a big, fumble-causing hit on Jamaal Charles with 1:07 left in Colts’ territory.

3. Aaron Kampman, Jaguars defensive end: In the win at Buffalo, Kampman had a tone-setting defensive effort with a team-high 10 tackles, four quarterback pressures, two tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks. The Jaguars are very happy with what they are getting from their big free agent addition, who’s leading a young group.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

September, 29, 2010
9/29/10
12:19
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. David Garrard: A bad game and maybe he gets skipped a week. A game as bad as his against Philadelphia and he’s really sinking. Granted, his protection wasn’t good. But he can probably do more against the pressure that resulted in six sacks. He simply has to throw for more than 105 yards. Will Trent Edwards ultimately put pressure on Garrard?

2. Eugene Wilson: In the loss to the Cowboys, he dropped a pick-6 in a game where the Texans desperately needed a big play from the defense. Wilson also didn’t seem to be of great help to the young corners. He might not have had responsibility to help Kareem Jackson on the short Roy E. Williams catch that went for a 63-yard touchdown. Still, if he’s so gimpy he can’t pursue better than he did, he should sit and they should have a look at Troy Nolan.

3. Titans' interior offensive line: Against the Giants, center Eugene Amano and right guard Jake Scott didn’t seem to recover well from the line’s poor game against Pittsburgh. The Titans don’t need Kevin Mawae back, but jelling and communicating might still be taking some time for this gang. Scott got called for three penalties worth 20 yards.

RISING

Austin Collie
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesAustin Collie leads the NFL in receiving yards and receptions.
1. Austin Collie: The guy had a superstar game in Denver with 12 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, showing a psychic connection with Peyton Manning. Some evaluators thought coming into the season that Collie had approached his ceiling last season based on his age (25 in November, not 16 as I initially said) and role. But he’s proven he can be a top option for Manning and the offense.

2. Will Witherspoon: Keith Bulluck played for the Giants against the Titans. But given a choice between Bulluck and the player the Titans signed to replace him, Witherspoon seems the clear choice to me right now. He’s a defensive spark for Tennessee at the linebacker level, and he’s the guy who tipped Eli Manning’s left-handed pass into the end zone to set Jason McCourty’s interception in motion.

3. Jeff Linkenbach: An undrafted Colts' rookie offensive tackle, he made his first start in Denver and did about as well as could be expected given the circumstances. Does he fill in for Charlie Johnson beyond that game? We’ll get our first hint on Wednesday when we find out if Johnson (foot) can return to practice. Perhaps Linkenbach did well enough that the Colts try to allow Johnson to recuperate?

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 22, 2009
12/22/09
11:03
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Reggie Nelson, Jaguars FS: Featured here before, he hurt the Jaguars’ chances at being the team to beat Indianapolis on Thursday with his misplay on Reggie Wayne’s 65-yard touchdown catch that put Indy ahead. Nelson was pretty good as a rookie after he was the 21st pick in 2007. But his second and third years have been a disappointment. Perhaps addressing his spot in the offseason will wind up ranking on the priority list.

2. Texans run game: It’s the blocking, it’s the backs, it’s the play calling, it’s everything. Arian Foster, the newest guy to get a chance, fumbled an early catch and saw minimal time. In the second consecutive game against a bad NFC West team, the Texans could not seize control by running with any consistency. A week after AFC South rival Tennessee averaged 5.3 yards a carry in a thrashing of the Rams, Houston managed a 2.2 average.

3. Titans veteran linebackers: The Titans lost both of their outside linebackers for the season. The durable Keith Bulluck tore the ACL in his left knee and will see a starting streak of 127 games end. David Thornton, who’s been dealing with a shoulder injury, was also shelved and will have surgery.

Rookie Gerald McRath can play. But the other spot and a pairing of inexperienced outside backers McRath and Colin Allred or Stanford Keglar or newly signed veteran Jamie Winborn could be a big issue.

Gage
Jim Brown/US PresswireBoth of Justin Gage's receptions Sunday were for touchdowns.
Rising

1. Daniel Muir, Colts DT: The position was considered a big weakness in 2008, but the top three interior defensive linemen right now were on the team last year. Second-round draft pick Fili Moala was supposed to add size and impact, but Muir has filled that role.
The 312-pounder is averaging over seven tackles a game in his last six, including 10 at Jacksonville. Offenses are averaging 3.9 yards a carry in that span, an improved number for Indy.

2. Justin Gage, Titans WR: Gage’s big leaping catch in San Francisco in Week 9 ended with a crash that broke bones in his lower back. He missed four games and is now playing as the third receiver. He hardly got wide open for his two touchdown catches against the Dolphins, but when Vince Young put up perfect passes for him, he pulled them both in. If Gage plays like that, and Nate Washington holds on to the ball, those two and impressive rookie Kenny Britt could be the team’s best receiving trio in some time.

3. Gerald Alexander, Jaguars SS: Helping offset Nelson’s poor play is a summer trade acquisition. The Jaguars got Alexander from Detroit in exchange for receiver Dennis Northcutt on June 30. In his past three games, he has an interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He’s looking like a guy who could be part of a long-term answer.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 15, 2009
12/15/09
11:02
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Brad Meester, Jaguars center: While the Jaguars were ready and willing to deal with the ups and downs of rookie tackles this season, they expected their veteran interior offensive line to be a strength.

But Meester, a 10-year veteran, has dropped off. To his credit, he attempted to take the blame for a failed fourth-down quarterback draw that helped kill Jacksonville’s chances in a crucial loss to Miami. Guard Uche Nwaneri said it was really his fault. Either way, Meester’s not been good enough this season.

2. David Garrard, Jaguars quarterback: In a huge game, Garrard hardly put his team on his back. In the loss to the Dolphins, he completed 11 of 26 passes for 139 yards. He absorbed three sacks and failed to throw a touchdown. It added up to a meager 59.6 passer rating.

He knew he wasn’t very good. He tweeted what amounted to an apology: “You deserve better jag fans and you will get better from me. We still hold our own destiny in our hands.”

3. LenDale White, Titans running back: I don’t think Jeff Fisher took any offense to White saying last week if he becomes a free agent and finds opportunity, he wants to be elsewhere next year. No one blames a guy for wanting to play.

White dressed but didn't play in a 47-7 blowout of the Rams. He’s a victim of Chris Johnson’s season. The Titans have an explosive feature back pushing for 2,000 yards, and maybe even the all-time single-season record. It doesn’t seem the Titans will be inclined to steer carries elsewhere as Johnson swings for it.

Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesTennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck is making the most of his remaining time with the Titans.


Rising

1. Keith Bulluck, Titans linebacker: In what might have been his third-to-last home game in a 10-season career with Tennessee -- he’s heading for free agency -- Bulluck helped abuse rookie Rams quarterback Keith Null with two of the Titans’ five interceptions.

Bulluck also was credited with a game-high 10 tackles, one for a loss, and had an additional pass defensed.

2. Andre Johnson, Texans wide receiver: On a day where the Seahawks seemed to be willing to sleepwalk at Reliant Stadium, Johnson promptly made them pay for it.

He had a 64-yard touchdown catch on his team's first offensive play from scrimmage. Johnson recorded his 13th 10-catch, 100-yard game. He finished with 11 catches for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns.

3. Dallas Clark, Colts tight end: Talk about production. Clark was spectacular in the red zone. He had three touchdowns -- one from 10 yards and a pair of 1-yarders -- in Indianapolis’ 28-16 win over Denver.

On a day when the Colts were out of sync and won for the first time ever when Peyton Manning threw three interceptions, Clark made the most of his five catches for 43 yards.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 8, 2009
12/08/09
10:59
AM ET
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Falling

1) Nate Washington, Titans WR: It was the injured Justin Gage, not Washington, who was the Titan in the bottom 10 of the league in catch percentage (44.9) heading into the weekend. But Washington’s hands-to-helmet reaction showed he knew full well how much of a killer his dropped 65-yard touchdown pass from Young was in Indianapolis.

Washington was targeted a team-high 10 times, but had only four catches for 44 yards. He was signed as a free agent from Pittsburgh to be the team’s deep threat, and while he leads the team with five touchdown receptions, his average is just 10.9 yards.

2) Gary Kubiak, Texans coach: On Nov. 1 after a win at Buffalo, his team was 5-3. It has flat-lined since, dropping four in a row, all in the division. His job security is the chief topic of conversation in Houston.

And the halfback option pass called for Chris Brown at a crucial spot late in the loss in Jacksonville was a desperate attempt by a team with plenty of firepower when the quarterback has the ball in his hands.

3) Titans’ fourth-down and short-yardage offense: Young threw fourth-down incompletions aimed for Kenny Britt (an ill-advised fade from the 2) and Lavelle Hawkins in the red zone in the second half against the Colts.

The throw for Britt concluded a disastrous stretch that started as a first-and-goal from the 1 with a chance to pull within 24-17. Young fumbled a snap on a sneak but recovered, saw LenDale White’s run for no gain turn into a 10-yard loss thanks to a hold by guard Eugene Amano and got only two yards on a pass to Bo Scaife before the failed fade.

Rising

[+] EnlargePierre Garcon
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesPierre Garcon had a career day against the Titans.
1) Pierre Garcon, Colts WR: As the Titans worked hard, and effectively, to limit Reggie Wayne, it was Garcon who took advantage of a matchup with Nick Harper. Garcon had 99 yards receiving in the first quarter.

He finished with six catches for a game- and career-high 136 yards. That was half of the Colts' receiving yardage in the win over the Titans.

2) Adam Podlesh, Jaguars P: He dropped two of three punts inside the Texans’ 20 yard line, averaging a 45-yard net on three punts and playing a big part in a very good field position day for the Jaguars.

His coverage team chipped in too, limiting Houston’s Glenn Martinez to 13 return yards on three chances.

3) Colts' run defense: They gave up 113 yards to Chris Johnson, so what is it doing here? Well, Johnson entered the game averaging 6.4 yards a carry and got only 4.2 a carry in this game.

And he had one run of at least 30 yards in all but two games. The Colts, who didn’t let him break off anything longer than eight yards on Oct. 11, kept him at 11 yards or fewer on every carry this time around with linebacker Clint Session leading the charge.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 1, 2009
12/01/09
11:01
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

The Jaguars’ pass protection and David Garrard, Jaguars QB: A 300-yard passing game for Garrard in San Francisco was more than offset by his two lost fumbles in the red zone on the Jaguars’ first two possessions of the second half.

He was under fire all game. Sacked six times for 46 yards he also absorbed another six hits by the count of press box statisticians. Can he sense it all a bit better?

Matt Schaub, Texans QB: With his team up 20-7 at the half, Matt Schaub not only couldn’t do his part to finish off the Colts, but helped Indianapolis’ comeback efforts.

After a solid first half, he threw for 132 yards with a TD, two picks and a 60.8 passer rating to go with two sacks and a lost fumble.

Josh Scobee, Jaguars K: The big-legged kicker was hardly the reason Jacksonville blew its chance to improve to 7-4, but he didn’t help much.

But on a day when the Jaguars couldn’t find the end zone, a couple more field goals could have kept them in it longer and given them more time to come to life. Instead, he missed a 40-yarder wide left and hit the left upright with a 21-yarder.

Rising

Vince Young, Titans QB: Is there anyone in the league whose stock is rising faster or higher? Young had a career passing game with 387 passing yards in the Titans' win over Arizona.

Jim Brown/US PresswireTitans quarterback Vince Young (10) passed for 387 yards against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Tennessee defeated Arizona 20-17.


But it was the game’s final drive that was the story, and could be a defining moment in his career. He marched Tennessee 99 yards in 18 plays and 2:37 to a winning touchdown on the game’s final play, the third fourth down the Titans converted along the way.

Joseph Addai, Colts RB: As part of the Colts’ second-half comeback, he ran 15 times for 69 yards. Eye popping like Chris Johnson? No. More than good enough to supplement Peyton Manning and help power play-action? Yes.

In the Colts’ last four games Addai’s averaged 4.3 yards a carry, a number that’s hardly as bad as his detractors would have you believe.

Brian Cushing, Texans LB: He continues to fly around and deserved a better fate after a game-high 11 tackles and an interception of Manning.

As discouraging as the three-game losing streak has to be for Texans fans, surely they look at Cushing and see hope for the future.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 24, 2009
11/24/09
11:01
AM ET
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Falling:

Brown
Brown
1. Kris Brown, Texans kicker: For the second time in the Texans’ last two games, Brown had a chance to force overtime with a field goal within his range and failed.

Monday night at the end of the Titans-Texans game his 49-yarder was wide left from the start. Earlier he missed a 49-yarder wide right. Houston’s counts on Brown to make those. Does Gary Kubiak lose some faith and play differently in the build up to late-game chances?

2. Houston’s rushing offense: For some reason, the Texans thought a power back would have a better chance against the Titans than the shiftier Steve Slaton. Perhaps the fumble concerns linger.

But Brown only got 3.3 yards per carry on 11 touches, while Slaton was nearly a yard better on only five carries. In all, 17 carries and 57 yards are not enough to balance out the offense.

3. Nick Harper, Titans cornerback: Jeff Fisher won’t allow a veteran starter to lose his job as the result of an injury. But Rod Hood had played awfully well after settling in as Harper’s fill-in.

Despite interceptions in three consecutive games for Hood, Fisher went back to Harper Monday night. Andre Johnson promptly ran by him and beat him for a 12-yard touchdown on a fade route.

Rising:

Brackett
Brackett
1. Gary Brackett, Colts linebacker: He’s been blitzing more this season, but his big play in Baltimore came when he faked as if he’d pursue Joe Flacco, then dropped into coverage.

Flacco didn’t see him as he aimed a short pass over the middle for Ray Rice, and Brackett hauled in a clutch interception.

2. Rob Bironas, Titans kicker: While Brown missed two great opportunities in a tight game, Bironas scored big at Reliant Stadium.

He nailed a 50-yard field goal in the third quarter and with 47 seconds left in the game his 53-yarder provided the Titans with the winning margin.

3. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars wide receiver: He’s stayed healthy and established himself as the reliable No.1 receiver Jacksonville expected he could be.

While Terrell Owens had the flashier performance in the Bills-Jaguars game, it was Sims-Walker who caught the winning touchdown.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
11:30
AM ET
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Falling
Landri

1. Derek Landri, Jaguars DT: Expected during camp to be a crucial part of a defensive line with a lot of opportunity, he’s fallen down the depth chart.

A fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2007, Landri was healthy but inactive for the second game, and second win, in a row for Jacksonville.

2. Colts pass defense: Indianapolis was yielding 5.79 yards per pass play before the game against the Patriots, then allowed Tom Brady an average of 8.3. The Colts had allowed only one team to top 300 yards passing all season (Houston) and Brady had 375.

It was a combination of a pass rush that wasn’t as effective as it had been and secondary issues that let Randy Moss get free too often.
White

3. LenDale White, Titans RB: He had just three carries against the Bills and just seven carries for 9 yards in the past two weeks, when the Titans have won with Chris Johnson getting the bulk of the touches.

A slimmed down White’s been a team player this season. But a year after he scored 15 touchdowns , he has just oneand is on pace for just over half the 200 carries he had in 2008.

Rising
Johnson

1. Chris Johnson, Titans RB: Is anyone's stock in the league hotter than his right now?

He’s been running wild during the Titans' three-game winning streak, benefiting some from opponents' concerns about Vince Young.

To make things worse on defenses, he just added his first 100-yard receiving game to his resume. Catch him if you can.
Wayne

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts WR: In a giant prime-time matchup, when the Patriots slowed Dallas Clark and when Pierre Garcon struggled a lot and Austin Collie struggled a little, Wayne was a rock.

Targeted 12 times by Peyton Manning, he caught 10 passes, including the game-winning touchdown on a slant he signaled Manning to switch to from a fade.
Del Rio

3. Jack Del Rio, Jaguars coach: Whether you like the strategy of milking the clock to win with a field goal on the final play or not -- and most people seem to -- you have to credit Del Rio for knowing what he wanted to do, and for getting the message to Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Jaguars are inconsistent, but Del Rio’s got them believing and generally overachieving.

MJD took a knee at the 1 rather than scoring to set up the scenario Del Rio wanted, and it worked.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

November, 10, 2009
11/10/09
11:01
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

Falling

Moats
1. Ryan Moats, Texans RB. No. 1 riser a week ago flips all the way to No. 1 faller. The one thing he couldn’t do against the Colts is the one thing he did -- lose a fumble. That it came right on the doorstep of a touchdown made it an even bigger sin.

However the Texans are coaching their running backs on ball security isn’t working and they need to find a solution during their bye week.

Pollak
2. Mike Pollak, Colts G. Pollak had been sharing time with Kyle DeVan. But it’s one thing to yield to a former afl2 player and another thing entirely to have him start in front of you, as DeVan did on Sunday against Houston.

Bill Polian said after the Colts beat San Francisco that someone on the interior had been run over a couple of times. There is little doubt who it was now.

3. Houston special teams: Yes the coverage was good. But Kevin Bentley got a flag on a Texans punt, Jesse Nading was penalized on a Houston kickoff return and Connor Barwin was whistled on a kickoff return.

Penalties on special teams have hurt the Texans this season and the problem is far from solved.

Rising

Young
1. Vince Young, Titans QB. His supporting cast has been great, making defensive plays and actually holding on to passes and paving the way for Chris Johnson to go crazy.

But Young’s done his part in the two wins since taking over for Kerry Collins, posting a 105.3 passer rating, which is 36.5 points better than his career rating coming into the season.

Session
2. Clint Session, Colts LB. In the team’s first game since losing strongside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler for the season to an injury, Session was a big presence from the weakside for Indianapolis in its win over Houston.

Game statisticians credited him with a game-high 14 tackles and he snatched a key interception when Gary Brackett’s blitz forced a bad throw by Matt Schaub.

3. Jaguars’ defensive philosophy. Give Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker credit, I suppose, for pulling out all the stops in an effort to maximize their defensive talent. But their 3-4 front wasn’t productive in the pass-rush department.

A return to the 4-3 is the right move, and while it won’t transform a group that’s far from loaded, the defense was solid for a day with three sacks that upped the season total to eight.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 27, 2009
10/27/09
11:03
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

Falling

1. Sleep for Titans’ coaches. Jeff Fisher sent his winless team away for its bye weekend and told players to clear their heads. But Monday, Fisher and a few of his assistants spotted at the team’s facility didn’t look like they had been able to get work off their minds.

Such is life while coaching an underachieving team that hasn’t found a way to win yet.

2. Frank Bush, Texans defensive coordinator. The Texans had a 21-0 lead at intermission. But facing reserve quarterback Alex Smith, the former No. 1 overall draft pick who came off the bench, Bush’s guys struggled to make adjustments and keep the lead safe.

Particularly troubling were the difficulties linebackers and safeties had in tracking 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who managed to find room three times for touchdown catches.

  Garcon
3. Pierre Garcon, Colts WR: It’s nitpicking to choose anyone in the Colts’ passing offense as falling. But Garcon has dropped off in his last couple of games.

Targeted 12 times by the NFL’s most precise and exacting quarterback, Peyton Manning, in victories over winless Tennessee and St. Louis, Garcon hass hauled in just four of the throws.

Rising

  Daniels
1. Owen Daniels, Texans TE. It’s back-to-back appearances here for Daniels, but how can he be left off? His 123-yards receiving (on seven catches) in the win over San Francisco were the second-most of his career.

And his touchdown catch was his fifth of the season, which matches his career best. Plenty of quarterbacks around the league are jealous of Matt Schaub, who’s got Andre Johnson and Daniels who rank first and tied for seventh, respectively, in AFC receiving yards.

  Lacey
2. Jacob Lacey, Colts CB. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State continues to earn the confidence of the coaching staff with good work weeks and had another strong showing in the Colts win in St. Louis.

Playing as the third cornerback, he had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown to go with three tackles and a special-teams tackle.

3. Kris Brown, Texans K. His 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was his longest of the season and his 17th field goal of 50 or more yards in his career.
  Brown


Duane Brown’s unnecessary roughness penalty just before the kick pushed it from a 35-yard attempt to a 50-yarder but Kris got Duane off the hook.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
11:23
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted By Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson

Falling

1. The Tennessee Titans: How can a winless team's stock drop? Well, just watch a few minutes of the debacle in New England this past Sunday and you will fully understand. To put it mildly, it was an embarrassment.

  Collins
2. Kerry Collins, QB, Titans: Because the entire Titans team was so terrible against the Patriots, it is difficult to single out one player. But Collins was horrific Sunday, unable to crack that ever-elusive zero-yard passing barrier. Completing two passes for minus-7 yards deserves special mention.

3. Tennessee's pass defense: Let's just make this a Terrible Titans Trifecta. They earned it. Tom Brady did whatever he wanted to the pass defense despite playing in heavy snow. The Titans couldn't pressure him. They couldn't keep up with or compete with the Patriots' receiving corps. Brady threw only five incompletions, one fewer than the number of touchdown passes he torched Tennessee for. And Brady didn't even play much of the second half.

Rising

  Schaub
1. Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub is putting up huge numbers and the passing game is carrying Houston's offense. Over the past five weeks he has averaged almost 329 passing yards and 2.8 touchdown passes per game, but this past weekend's victory at Cincinnati (392 yards, four TDs) may have been Schaub's best performance of the season. Schaub threw in rhythm, manipulated coverages, made excellent decisions and utilized play action very well.

2. Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: As Schaub's stock has risen, Daniels’ has as well. He has been phenomenal this season and simply tortured the Bengals last week. Daniels has rare athletic ability for the tight end position and moves almost like a wide receiver. He is a developing player who can consistently create mismatches against any defense that Houston faces.

3. Jacksonville's wide receivers: Three of the Jaguars' wide receivers deserve mention here. It has become clear that the Jags’ passing offense becomes inept when Mike Sims-Walker is out of the lineup. He has been exceptional and was once again against the Rams. Speaking of the Rams, Torry Holt resurfaced to abuse his former team. Finally, rookie Mike Thomas has looked very promising as well. He isn't huge, but is very tough, works the middle of the field and also contributes as a returner. Look for Thomas' role to expand.

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

October, 6, 2009
10/06/09
11:03
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


Falling

1. Titans defensive backs: Filling in for the injured Cortland Finnegan, rookie corner Jason McCourty got picked on. But over and over, David Garrard’s targets found open spaces in Tennessee’s secondary. Is this group playing so far off because it’s scared of someone getting behind it?

Or is all the cushion and are all those gaps a scheme issue that is a result of something rookie defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and the defensive staff are doing?

Ugoh
2. Tony Ugoh, Colts OT: The guy the Colts traded up to draft in the second round in 2007 lost his starting job to Charlie Johnson in the offseason. But Sunday he didn’t even rate as the swing backup to Johnson and right tackle Ryan Diem.

Though Ugoh wasn’t on the injury report during the week, he was inactive Sunday and Dan Federkeil was the swing tackle.

Collins
3. Kerry Collins, Titans QB: He completed only 60 percent of his throws, missing receivers high 11 times by the count of ESPN Stats and Information while throwing two interceptions for the second week in a row.

He needs more help, sure, but a team looking to break out of a terrible funk needs a jolt from somewhere, and the quarterback is one of the guys who needs to provide it.

Rising

Alexander
1. Gerald Alexander, Jaguars SS: The Jaguars acquired him in a late offseason trade for receiver Dennis Northcutt and what a nice addition he has turned out to be. Sunday against Tennessee he started in place of the injured Sean Considine.

And he forced a Chris Johnson fumble and intercepted Collins before halftime. It could be hard for them to take him off the field when they are healthy.

Powers
2. Jerraud Powers, Colts CB: The rookie has his team’s confidence, and the only thing that’s kept him off the field so far this season is a groin injury. It’s clear the team has confidence in him and once everyone is healthy, odds are he starts opposite Kelvin Hayden with Marlin Jackson continuing as the nickel.

Powers started his third game Sunday and against the Seahawks he was credited with six tackles, second on the team, and was a big part of a very solid defensive effort.

Garrard
3. David Garrard, Jaguars QB: Garrard’s 126.3 passer rating was his highest since Nov. 9, 2008 against woeful Detroit. He looked poised and confident, delivering the ball accurately against a defense allowing his targets space.

And his eight runs for 38 yards were both season highs and helped the offense’s effectiveness.

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