AFC Notes: Colts, Texans, Titans

     

Colts

Colts QB coach Marcus Brady, RB coach Tom Rathman, WR coach Mike Groh, and DL coach Brian Baker met virtually with the media to discuss the team on Thursday.

Brady discussed the 20 interceptions thrown by QB Philip Rivers who will join the team this season, replacing former starting QB Jacoby Brissett who took over in the wake of QB Andrew Luck‘s retirement.

“We went back and watched every single interception,” said Brady, via Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan. “A lot of those came in desperate situations. They were down two scores in the 4th quarter and on two-minute drives late in the games, so he’s pushing the ball down the field, because he had to, or else the game was going to get away from. I would say that’s about half of them. Were there some throws in there that he shouldn’t have made and had bad reads? Yes. But, overall, the accuracy was still there. He was deadly accurate. Still makes good decisions and he just has a wealth of knowledge. I think he’ll fit well in our system. I think what will help, and everybody has talked about, is our offensive line and is our run game. It’s going to take some pressure off of him.”

Rathman, a former fullback for the 49ers, spoke about the issues that RB Jonathan Taylor had securing the ball in college, fumbling 18 times of the course of three years at Wisconsin. 

“We’ve talked about it,” said Rathman. “We’ve talked about our four points of pressure and the way that we carry the football. I think it’s just the fundamentals of the game and the way you carry the football. He can improve the way he carries the football. Looking at film, he understands that, and he understands what we are asking our players to do when we talk about ball security and how important it is. I don’t really think there’s an issue there and I think that he’ll get it corrected with the development of basic fundamentals that we harp on every day…“The thing that will help him adjust to our game is that at Wisconsin they were well-coached in different schemes. He’s been running in gap schemes, outside zone, inside zone. So whatever we throw at him, he’s going to basically know what the understanding of the concept is.”

Groh mentioned that when putting together a receivers group it is important to have players with unique individual skills. WR T.Y. Hilton gives the team a solid, veteran No. 1 option, second-year WR Parris Campbell brings speed, and newcomer WR Michael Pittman Jr. will add physicality to the group as a rookie.

“When you are putting together a receiver group, you are looking to put together a group of guys with different skill sets,” said Groh. “If you can get guys that all do the same thing really well, then you are a little bit easier to defend. Putting our group together, we are looking for guys that have unique skillsets. I’ve used the analogy of a basketball team in the past—you want guys that can obviously bring the ball up, you want guys that can score off the dribble and shoot the three, post up. When you get that complementary group of guys, I think that’s when you have the ability to create 1-on-1 matchups and that makes it really hard to defend as a defense.”

Another topic Groh spoke about was the development of Campbell who will likely see an increased role after a solid rookie season.

“I really think his best football and becoming a complete receiver is still out in front of him,” Groh added. “He’s extremely bright and tough and willing to do anything that is required of him, in whatever role we need him to play. He’s somebody that the defense needs to be aware of because he can get behind you and score in one play.”

As for the defensive side of the ball, Baker spoke about what individual players such as Kemoko Turay and DT Grover Stewart will bring to the group in terms of their skills. He also said that “It was like Christmas.” when he found out that the team had traded for 49ers’ DT DeForest Buckner.

Texans

  • The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss points out the Texans now appear amenable to doing extensions during the middle of the season, which extends the window for working out a deal with QB Deshaun Watson.
  • Reiss believes Texans LB Jacob Martin is poised to step into a bigger role in 2020 after recording 3.5 sacks following his trade acquisition from Seattle. 
  • Over The Cap’s Nick Korte lists Texans S Justin Reid and OL Max Scharping as players who are helped by the new CBA’s PPE rules and are on track to get raises in their fourth season. 

Titans

With the departure of veteran CB Logan Ryan, the Titans will need to find a new player to man the slot corner position. One of the top candidates is former first-round CB Adoree’ Jackson, who just had his fifth-year option picked up by Tennessee. Jackson was primarily an outside corner his first three seasons but has the skillset to potentially transition inside. Neither he nor the coaching staff has tipped its hand, but Jackson says he’s preparing this offseason as if he’ll be asked to play there in 2020. 

“If I’m going to be playing more inside at nickel, and the difference is it’s more about being more aware of your surroundings for what the safeties may have, or the linebackers and everything, because you all play on one accord,” Jackson said via ESPN’s Turron Davenport. “When you’re playing corner you pretty much have to worry about yourself in those aspects, and playing the nickel is a lot of different assignments and alignments and techniques that come into play.”

Playing slot corner also requires a much more varied skillset than just covering an opponent. That’s exemplified by Ryan’s stat line in 2020. He led the team in tackles, forced four fumbles, picked off four passes, knocked down 18 others, and his 4.5 sacks were a hair behind Jurrell Casey and Kamalei Correa for second on the team. 

“That nickel guy has to be able to cover, he has to be able to blitz, he has to be able to fit in the run game, he has to be smart and he has to be able to do multiple things,” Titans secondary coach Anthony Midget said. “So, it’s not just a guy that you put in the slot just to cover a guy. He has to be a guy that can go in there and mix it up versus the run and the pass, and handle everything we’ll give to that position mentally.”

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