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Colts Keep Eye on Division Foes

Posted Feb 25, 2014

In 2013, the Colts wanted to recapture the AFC South flag that had flown in Houston the two previous seasons. It was ‘Mission Accomplished’ as the Colts went 6-0 in the division for the third time. With Houston and Jacksonville owning the first and third overall picks in May’s draft and with Tennessee 11th, Ryan Grigson is watching closely.



INDIANAPOLIS – When Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano joined the Colts in 2012, Indianapolis was coming off a 2-14 season that included a 2-4 record in the AFC South.

 

That stood as the only time Indianapolis had a losing AFC South record since the division was created in 2002.

 

As seasoned veterans, they knew the most direct playoff path meant returning to division prominence.

 

Presto, Indianapolis rebounded to 4-2 in the AFC South on the way to an 11-5 record. 

 

The Colts split that year with Jacksonville, dropping a tough 22-17 home verdict on a last-minute 80-yard touchdown pass, while they swept Tennessee in a couple of nail-biters (19-13 in overtime at Nashville and 27-23 in Indianapolis with a comeback effort).

 

The surprising Colts pushed Houston to week 15, but a sub-par effort at Reliant Stadium ended with a 29-17 loss, and the Texans clinched the division with the triumph.

 

The Colts rolled in the re-match, 28-16, and pointed toward 2013 as the next time to have a say in a division they often had won.

 

DIVISIONAL WINNERS SINCE 2002 REALIGNMENT

Year

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

2002

NY Jets

Pittsburgh

Tennessee

Oakland

Philadelphia

Green Bay

Tampa Bay

S. Francisco

2003

New England

Baltimore

Colts

Kansas City

Philadelphia

Green Bay

Carolina

St. Louis

2004

New England

Pittsburgh

Colts

San Diego

Philadelphia

Green Bay

Atlanta

Seattle

2005

New England

Cincinnati

Colts

Denver

NY Giants

Chicago

Tampa Bay

Seattle

2006

New England

Baltimore

Colts

San Diego

Philadelphia

Chicago

New Orleans

Seattle

2007

New England

Pittsburgh

Colts

San Diego

Dallas

Green Bay

Tampa Bay

Seattle

2008

Miami

Pittsburgh

Tennessee

San Diego

NY Giants

Minnesota

Carolina

Arizona

2009

New England

Cincinnati

Colts

San Diego

Dallas

Minnesota

New Orleans

Arizona

2010

New England

Pittsburgh

Colts

Kansas City

Philadelphia

Chicago

Atlanta

Seattle

2011

New England

Baltimore

Houston

Denver

NY Giants

Green Bay

New Orleans

S. Francisco

2012

New England

Baltimore

Houston

Denver

Washington

Green Bay

Atlanta

S. Francisco

2013

New England

Cincinnati

Colts

Denver

Philadelphia

Green Bay

Carolina

Seattle

 

Now, Grigson and Pagano have a close eye on matters again as they want to maintain control of the AFC South for a second straight year.

 

There is little question the division will look different in 2014.

 

Jacksonville changed its business model in 2013, going with general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley.  The Jaguars opened slowly but made progress by splitting their last eight games to finish 4-12.

 

Jacksonville owns the third overall pick in the draft and could be in a position to search for a quarterback, something Grigson and Pagano were able to do in getting Andrew Luck in 2012.

 

Houston won its first two games in 2013, then finished with a troubling 2-14 mark.  The slide cost Gary Kubiak his job, and Bill O’Brien is the new field leader.

 

Houston had two starting quarterbacks last year – Matt Schaub and Case Keenum – and owns the first overall choice.  A new quarterback could be in the offing, either with that pick or even in a trade out of it to build a war chest of extra selections.

 

Tennessee also changed coaches after a 7-9 season, replacing Mike Munchak with Ken Whisenhunt.  Whisenhunt went to the Super Bowl with Arizona, then spent three subsequent years searching for a quarterback after Kurt Warner retired.

 

Tennessee owns the 11th pick in the draft and could be in the market as well.

 

“I’d be lying to say I’m not intrigued,” said Grigson.  “They’re in my division and I want to know who’s getting who so we can figure out how to approach those games and game plan because they’re going to get stellar players.

 

“It’ll be interesting because in that top tier of this draft, there are some seriously talented players.”

 

Whether any of the teams takes the route of a new quarterback, they do know impact of Andrew Luck.

 

Luck is one big component why the Colts are 10-2 in the AFC South and own consecutive playoff appearances. 

 

He helped wrest the divisional flag away from Houston, and the Colts hope to keep it planted in local soil.

 

The Jaguars, Titans and Texans, regardless of their approach, have to agree with Grigson on the value of the position.

 

“All you have to do is look at playoffs.  Quarterback play is a huge, huge part of winning playoff games,” said Grigson.  “We’re very fortunate and blessed to have Andrew Luck and what he brings to the table.  

 

“Great quarterbacks don’t come along all that often and if you don’t have one, you’re going to have to bolster every other facet of your team to be able to get on the level of a team that has a great one.  If you have a great quarterback, it just helps in (the) overall confidence of your team.  It’s a nice luxury to have a talent like Andrew Luck.”

 

Check back with Colts.com later today for an analysis of Houston.  Breakdowns of Jacksonville and Tennessee will appear later in the week.


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