One Bust for Each AFC South Team in 2022

One Bust for Each AFC South Team in 2022

by June 12, 2022 0 comments

While the NFL season is a fair distance away, it is never too early to predict the next wave of stars and superstars across the NFL. However, every team has one piece that fails to live up to the hype entering the new season. The AFC South teams are no different. “Bust” is a relative term. Not all of these players will be bad in 2022, but they could underachieve based on the expectations they have for the season. Rookies are ineligible and will not be included.

Check out the AFC South’s potential breakout stars here.

Previous Entries: AFC East, AFC North

Tennessee Titans – Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill is coming off his worst season with the Titans. While he led the Titans to their most wins since 2008, Tannehill was rarely the catalyst for that success. Even when Derrick Henry was out, the Titans relied heavily on the rushing attack. The Titans led the NFL in rushing attempts despite missing Henry for nine of 17 games. Tannehill tacked on seven rushing touchdowns to his credit, but his passing production was subpar in 2021.

In 2021, Tannehill had a 90 or better passer rating in nine games. The Titans went 9-0 in those games. In their other nine games, they stumbled to a 3-6 record. For context, the only quarterbacks with more than nine games with a sub-90.0 passer rating were Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. Tannehill had just five such games in 2019 and 2020 combined. Passer rating is far from a perfect stat, but winning is significantly easier when the quarterback is not throwing a slew of interceptions. With Malik Willis behind him, Tannehill must return to form, but he might not be able to.

Indianapolis Colts – Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman had a breakout second season, eclipsing 1,000 yards and posting six touchdowns. However, his jump from year one to year two does not necessarily mean he will have another jump as he enters Year 3. The Colts nabbed speedster Alec Pierce on Day 2 of the draft, and they expect Parris Campbell to be healthy. The Colts did not have a true second option in 2021. Zach Pascal ended up second in targets, but Campbell and Pierce should satisfy the second and third options in the Colts’ offense.

Instead of getting more targets in 2022, Pittman will likely stagnate in terms of production. He is still in play for 1,000 yards, but fans should temper expectations on the third-year USC product. Pittman’s stock seems to be growing, so even 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns could be viewed as Pittman underwhelming this season. The Colts are still likely to be a run-first team with a bellcow named Jonathan Taylor. In 2021, the Colts were fifth in the NFL in rush attempts while placing 27th in pass attempts. 2022 should be no different.

Houston Texans – Steven Nelson

It’s hard to pin down the exact expectations for Nelson as he enters Year 8. However, he projects as a starter across from rookie Derek Stingley. The issue for Nelson is that he plays behind a less than stellar pass-rush. When he has been at his best, he was playing behind fronts that could generate pressure and quick wins. In both 2018 and 2019, Nelson allowed a passer rating under 80 while in coverage. He earned PFF coverage grades above 73 in both seasons as well.

As his pure coverage ability slips, Nelson is increasingly reliant on the pass rush helping him. The Texans project to have one of the least effective pass-rush units in the league. Nelson had an average to slightly below average 2021 season, but his 2022 could turn ugly. In 2021, Nelson posted a 62.3 overall PFF grade with a 60.4 coverage grade for the Philadelphia Eagles. He allowed a 109.7 rating, tacking on five penalties. 2022 could be even worse.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Foyesade Oluokun

Oluokun is coming off a season in which he led the NFL with 192 tackles. After fulfilling his four-year rookie deal with the Atlanta Falcons, Oluokun inked a sizable deal with the Jaguars. The issue is that Oluokun’s tackle numbers wildly overrated him as a player. A modern three-down linebacker needs to be able to play the run on early downs while being able to cover on passing downs. Oluokun is not particularly good at either.

Oluokun is much more boom-or-bust than his statistical profile would suggest. In 2021, Oluokun had a particularly shoddy run of form that featured just three games with a 70 or better PFF grade. On the season, Olukuon posted a 47 overall grade with a 44 run-defense grade. His pass-rush grade of 49.8 and coverage grade of 54.4 also does not paint the prettiest pictures. PFF grades might not be gospel, but Oluokun is going to a new team with a new defense and new expectations. He could be primed to bust.

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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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