The AFC South registered a 2.34 BES overall score in our final Divisional BES Rankings of 2016. Only the NFC West was worse with a score of 2.00.
Nonetheless, the Texans (9-7) claimed their second consecutive division title which is their fourth in the last six years. Titans (9-7) closed the season with strong momentum as the only non-playoff team to finish among the BES top-10.
The Jaguars (3-13) and Colts (8-8), however, used the offseason to shake up their front offices and coaching staffs. Both clubs have relatively young rosters where a culture change could make the most immediate impact.
Here’s how the AFC South finished in our final Week 17 report of 2016:
HOW THEY FINISHED
Requisite Reads for Newcomers:
What immediately jumps out is the division was predicated on defense and ball control. All four clubs ranked in the top-16 in BES Defense. Meanwhile, the average Ball Control score for the AFC South was 2.61, highest of any division last year.
Conversely, offense was a weakness for the AFC South with an average Point Yield score of 2.15, lowest of all divisions. Understandably, each team focused on fortifying their defense and adding explosive talent on offense.
The Jaguars hired Tom Coughlin as executive vice president and Doug Marrone as their new head coach. They also extended general manager Doug Caldwell for another two years. The trio is under contract for the next three seasons.
The Colts, meanwhile, brought in Chris Ballard, former Chiefs director of football operations, as their new general manager. Armed with over $50 million in salary cap room, Ballard signed 10 free agents, seven of which play defense.
NOTABLE PLAYER TRANSACTIONS
We’ve maintained that our data can provide a framework of how teams might approach the draft and address needs. Here are the rookies we feel will have the most impact on each team’s weakest area(s) in BES performance:
AFC SOUTH BALANCE OF POWER
The favorites to claim the AFC South title appears to be the Texans and Titans.
The Texans defense alone has proven capable of winning games. If they get solid or better play from the quarterback position, they’re suddenly thrust into deep postseason conversation.
The Titans have the most complete team in the division. Unlike the Texans, they have an established, dual-threat quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a dominant ground game. More importantly, the Titans used the offseason to upgrade a pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL last year.
While the Colts and Jaguars made sound organizational changes, they didn’t do enough to out-duel the Texans and Titans.
The Colts made no improvements to an offensive line that allowed 128 quarterback hits (31st in the NFL). Meanwhile, the Jaguars brought in no viable competition for quarterback Blake Bortles who has been wildly inconsistent.