AFC South Preview: Quarterbacks
4. Houston Texans
The Texans quarterback situation has been lacking for years. Ever since Matt Schaub became a pick six machine the Texans have been searching for the answer at the quarterback position. Now, they've found it, or at least they think they have. This offseason the Texans signed Brock Osweiler to a 4 year, $72 million contract. These numbers would suggest that the Texans believe they have their franchise quarterback. His size and arm strength would also suggest that he is deserving of the $18 million a year he will be earning in Houston. But there are several factors that might suggest the Texans are desperately reaching on this strong armed signal caller. Osweiler has thrown 11 TD passes in his career, compared to 6 INTs. Not a terrible ratio, but you would like to see more than 11 TDs in 7 career starts. Then there's the fact the Broncos didn't start Osweiler in the 2015 Playoffs in favor of Peyton Manning, despite Manning's ineffectiveness in the regular season. Then there's the fact that Denver decided not to resign Osweiler after the 2015 season, when he appeared to be their QB of the future. Then there's the fact that he was highly underwhelming in his first preseason action for the Texans over the weekend. Look, we're not saying Osweiler is going to be bad for the Texans, in fact he might even be good. But we can't justify him being ranked over any of the other QBs in the now ultra competitive AFC South.
3. Tennessee Titans
Despite being ranked third on this list, the Titans have an extremely promising QB situation. Marcus Mariota looks to be the real deal after one of the better rookie seasons in recent memory. In 2015 Mariota found the end zone 21 times in total, despite missing the last quarter of the season with a knee injury. All signs are pointing up for the Titan's young quarterback. He will be aided by an improved offensive line and what could be one of the best running games in football in 2016. Look for Mariota to continue his progress into 2016 and become a reliable starter with game breaking ability. He does't have a heck of a lot to work with in terms of his receivers, which makes what he did in his rookie year that much more impressive, but it could limit his upside in 2016.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars and Blake Bortles could easily be ranked number one on this list. After all Bortles threw for a ridiculous 35 TD passes in 2015 in just his second year in the league. He also helped the Jaguars jump up from dead last in scoring in 2015 all the way to 14th in 2016. He also possesses the poise to lead the offense in two minute situations, the arm strength to compete long passes down field, and the slipperiness to make big plays with his feet. But he doesn't come with out any question marks. Bortles must improve on his league worst 18 interceptions in 2015, and his penchant for throwing pick sixes. He also needs to become a more efficient quarterback as he only completed 58.6% of his passes in 2015. Bortles only recently turned 24 years old and has a long way to go before he becomes an elite QB, but he is clearly a guy on the rise and a guy that the Jaguars will rely on heavily in 2016.
1. Indianapolis Colts
There's no question that Blake Bortles was more impressive than Andrew Luck in 2015, but this is 2016 and Andrew Luck is fully healthy and will be a heavy favorite to win the comeback player of the year award. He's one of the most talented and hard working QBs in the game and he is being compensated as such. Prior to a forgettable 2015 season in which he played in only 7 games and threw 15 TDs to 12 INTs, Luck averaged nearly 30 TD passes per season. With a good group of weapons and a decent running game, Andrew Luck and the Colts could have a strong rebound year. On the flip side with an underwhelming offensive line and a sub par defense they could be in for another frustrating year in which Luck is playing from behind and getting teed off on by pass rushers. We're betting that Luck will have a bounce back year and that the Colts will be a better football team in 2016, but don't be surprised if Bortles is more of a media darling than the once crown jewel of the NFL, Andrew Luck, by the end of the 2016 season.
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