Best Offseason in the South: Part 1 of 2

Jack Del Rio (Phil Coale/AP)

The AFC South should be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL in 2009, as three of the four teams finished .500 or better a year ago, and the last place Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly improved several areas of need. We are going to take a closer look at what these teams did and count down their offseasons from worst to best.

Number 4 - Indianapolis Colts - Indianapolis isn't usually much of a participant in free agency, so the fact that they signed three under the radar players shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone. The Colts decided to spend their money on retaining corner Kelvin Hayden, as well as veteran Jeff Saturday and linebackers Tyjuan Hagler and Freddy Keiaho.

The Indianapolis draft may be very good, or it could make hardly any impact at all as they selected Connecticut running back Donald Brown in round one to team up with former first-round pick Joseph Addai. The selection of Brown likely signals that the Colts will attempt to lean on the run a little more in 2009 than in years past. Indy also hopes that they can plug up their holes in the middle of their defense with second-round pick, USC defensive tackle Fili Moala and fourth-round pick defensive tackle Terrance Taylor (Michigan).

Although Indy lost longtime fixture on the outside, Marvin Harrison, as well as Dominic Rhodes and Keiwan Ratliff, the biggest losses for the Colts come from the ranks of the coaching staff. Head coach Tony Dungy has retired, as has offensive coordinator Tom Moore, and offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Although Moore and Mudd are expected to return as consultants, it likely won't be the same and there is certainly a question of whether the Colts can keep up their winning ways.


Number 3 - Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars, coming off a 2008 season in which they were "shell-shocked," have made wholesale changes to almost every facet of their roster. A perception of a lost locker room has caused the front office brass to jettison nearly anyone who has had any kind of issue with either the law or the coaching staff.

Gone are underachieving, outlaw wide receivers in Matt Jones and Reggie Williams, as well as 2008's well paid free agent class of wide receiver Jerry Porter, cornerback Drayton Florence, and quarterback Cleo Lemon. Throw in veterans Paul Spicer and Mike Peterson, not to mention the release of the best Jaguar in franchise history Fred Taylor, and the Jaguars have retooled if not completely rebuilt.

The team brought in former Pro Bowlers Tra Thomas and Torry Holt to assist in the development of the offensive line and wide receiving corps, and they had what could be a very good draft which included offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, as well as underrated wideouts Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard, and Tiquan Underwood. Although we don't believe this will be a worst to first situation, the Jaguars should be improved in 2009.


PART 2 of 2 - HERE

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