Thursday, February 05, 2015

Avery Williamson named to All-AFC South team, AFC South Rookie of the Year

By Tania Ganguli |

January 27, 2015 All-AFC South Team

QB: Andrew Luck, Colts
RB: Arian Foster, Texans
TE: Delanie Walker, Titans
TE Coby Fleener, Colts
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Colts
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
LT Anthony Castonzo, Colts
LG vacant
C Chris Myers, Texans
RG Brandon Brooks, Texans
RT Derek Newton, Texans

DE: J.J. Watt, Texans
NT: Sen'Derrick Marks, Jaguars
DE: Jurrell Casey, Titans
OLB: Erik Walden, Colts
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Colts
ILB: Avery Williamson, Titans
OLB: Whitney Mercilus, Texans
CB: Vontae Davis, Colts
CB: Kareem Jackson, Texans
S: Kendrick Lewis, Texans
S: Mike Adams, Colts

P: Pat McAfee, Colts
K: Adam Vinatieri, Colts

Watt revisited stories familiar from this season -- Googling what rich people buy, buying his mom a car upon signing his new contract, and that time he did a five-foot box jump from a standing start. Watt simulated that jump live on the show, with Kimmel playfully quivering underneath the table upon which Watt was to jump. He did it safely, with no injury -- to Kimmel or himself.

The offseason is a lighter time for Watt, but in-season he focuses singularly on his game. That focus meant a historic season in which Watt counted 20.5 sacks, 10 batted passes, three touchdown catches, two defensive touchdowns among his accomplishments.

Selecting Watt to this team was probably the easiest decision we had to make as we selected our All-AFC South team this season. Tennessee Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco and Indianapolis Colts reporter Mike Wells joined me in selecting a divisional All-Star team. The division wasn't strong -- perhaps only stronger than the NFC South, which had no teams with winning records. But at most positions we had at least one, maybe a few players who stood out.

Watt and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck aside, the division was particularly strong at receiver. There was little debate that Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins deserved the nods there. We pondered whether to include three receivers and one tight end (which would have gotten Texans receiver Andre Johnson onto the team) or two receivers and two tight ends, and went with the latter.

One point of contention came with the offensive line, especially at left tackle. Texans left tackle Duane Brown and Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo were the subject of significant debate. Initially we had a tie between the two. What some thought gave Castonzo the nod was the Colts' success in keeping Luck clean and also the fact Castonzo had played his best season.

I fought for Brown. While I do believe Brown has had better seasons, and I also believe Castonzo has steadily improved, in 2014, Brown was the better player. A year from now, this could change, but in 2014 I maintain Brown was the AFC South's best left tackle.

We had fewer arguments defensively. Ultimately the division wound up with 10 Colts, nine Texans, three Titans and one Jaguar. Given the teams' individual records, I'd say that makes sense.

All-AFC South superlatives announced

January 28, 2015

By Michael DiRocco |

The All-AFC South team was released on Tuesday and now it’s time to give out some superlatives within the division for the 2014 season. The awards were determined by a panel of the NFL Nation writers from the division: Michael DiRocco (Jacksonville), Tania Ganguli (Houston), Paul Kuharsky (Tennessee) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis)

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis

Luck led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes and was third in passing yards (4,761). He had 11 games (including playoffs) in which he threw for at least 300 yards. He led the Colts to an upset of Denver in the divisional round and into the AFC Championship Game.

Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Houston

Gee, let’s see: 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, one safety, one interception (which he returned for a TD) and for good measure, three catches for 4 yards and three touchdowns. Watt has just as good of a case for league MVP honors as any other player.

Rookie of the Year: Avery Williamson, Tennessee

The fifth-round draft pick cracked the starting lineup in Week 5 and never left. He finished with 51 tackles (third on the team), four pass breakups, 3.0 sacks and was one of the Titans’ top defensive players.

Coach of the Year: Bill O’Brien, Houston

The Texans had a shaky quarterback situation and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (Jadeveon Clowney) played in just four games, but O’Brien led the Texans to a 9-7 mark and kept them in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season. Remember, this team was 2-14 in 2013.

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