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Throughout the long, black void of not-football season, I'll keep you posted on the comings, goings and major news of the AFC South and how it could affect the race for the division title in 2013. This week, we'll take a look at the early moves each team has made heading into the offseason.
Freeney's struggles in the Colts' new 3-4 scheme have been well-documented, so his departure is no surprise. The team is clearly moving towards youth and potential. Chuck Pagano will have all the power to mold this team without constraints from the previous regime. While it will be nice to see an old foe leave the division, this move makes the Colts younger, more unpredictable and loaded with salary cap space.
Austin Collie's story is a sad one. After getting hung out to dry by Satan Manning again and again, and rupturing a knee tendon in 2012, Collie's career could be in jeopardy. He wants to return despite all the injuries and medical advice suggesting he should retire. I hope he can make a full comeback and finish his promising career, but I would cringe during every catch he'd make in the future. I wonder what coach would want a that hanging over their conscience?
The Titans plan to keep running back and part-time English tutor Chris Johnson, despite the $10 million base salary he will be earning in 2013. It's the right move, I think. Johnson is too naturally gifted to cut, but can Mike Munchak keep him motivated and improve the run blocking of the offensive line?
New "senior defensive assistant" Gregg Williams will bring his aggressive style to the Titans. Traditionally, his defenses give up many yards but are stingy in the red zone. His constant pressure tactics helped the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl in 2009. He was suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the Saints' bounty program. Williams said he spent his year-long vacation looking "at all different styles of offense, defense and special teams, all different styles of coaching decisions." A year of self-evaluation with no pressure will certainly help Williams in the future. If the Titans can couple this with solid offseason player acquisitions, they could be dangerous in 2013.
New Jaguars' quarterback coach Frank Scelfo, will have the monumental task of developing third year pro Blaine Gabbert. He and new head coach Gus Bradley have been "stressing the positives" with Gabbert as much as possible. If he can develop the same kind of chemistry that mustachioed-man Chad Henne did with the receiving corps, who knows what could happen? I still see them in the basement of the AFC South for at least another year unless the new regime can import a boatload of new talent quickly. Somehow, some way, the Jaguars had the 4th highest payroll in 2012 and meow'd their way to a 2-14 record. Just awful.
That's it for this week. Next, I'll try to find news on what each team might be looking for in the upcoming draft. Leave your thoughts, questions and Blaine Gabbert jokes in the comments.