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NFL Black Monday head coach primer: AFC South

Our look at front office/head coach openings in the NFL continues today with the AFC South. AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We’re going to go around the league, looking at each division and seeing what vacancies could open up for Black Monday. Thankfully there probably won’t be any in Santa Clara, but a coach could bail to fill one of the vacancies elsewhere. Today, we have the AFC South.

The AFC South used to be the yard of the Indianapolis Colts, with the Houston Texans nipping at their heels and snagging a wildcard spot. Things have changed since Peyton Manning went to Denver and Kyle Shanahan left the Texans to continue his coaching career.

The South is a yard for the Texans, but it’s not a really paid free and clear for them, it’s just because the rest of the South has been iffy. At least it was. The South now may be the powerhouse of the NFL, one not unlike the NFC West a few years back. It’s dealt with some injuries, but if things keep up, next year this division will be fun to watch.

Most of the firings or firing are pretty obvious. The rest are safe given their records in the league and their teams’ improvement.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts were once the class of the AFC South, even after Peyton Manning was released and sent to the Denver Broncos. Andrew Luck was taken in his exit and then...the Colts failed to get Luck any protection on the offensive line (where have we seen this before?). Head Coach Chuck Pagano was brought in just as the Colts were drafting Luck/firing Jim Caldwell for the 2-14 mess brought on by Peyton Manning’s injury that kept him out for a year.

Now Pagano has his own mess. The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson in the offseason and many thought Pagano would be next. Every week in 2017 was a week of if Pagano would be fired. His recent loss to the Denver Broncos (led by Brock Osweiler of all people) probably may be the final nail in the coffin. If anyone’s seat is an erupting volcano, it’s Pagano’s. With Grigson’s exit and the Colts responsible for some of the dumbest plays, Pagano’s fate is all but certain.

This also is because of the rumblings that Andrew Luck may want out of Indy. There’s no official word on any of this, but there’s been a few reports that the Colt’s starting quarterback is none too happy about the management of his team.

We’ll see what a new coach gets him.

Who should/will get fired: Chuck Pagano.

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have had one of the longest rebuilding projects known to man, but with the selection of DeSean Watson in the 2017 draft, that rebuild might nearly be complete. With Watson on the field, the Texans have been downright filthy on offense, and their defense when healthy ranks as one of the league’s best. The only real need the team has is a dependable running back, because Lamar Miller probably isn’t it.

Credit goes to Bill O’Brien who has managed to get the Texans into the playoffs without a servicable quarterback. While he probably wins the award for having the biggest quarterback merry-go-round system in Houston, the guy has proven he can coach. With a dependable quarterback, the only question is how Watson bounces back after his knee injury. Robert Griffin III was highly touted his rookie season as well until shredding his knee, and never was quite the same. If Watson returns to form, the Texans may become a force in the league.

That said, no one is going anywhere.

Who should/will get fired: Yeah, right.

Tennessee Titans

Also one of the longer rebuilding projects, the Titans seem to be a team you think might almost be there, but clearly is a long ways off. The team fired Ken Whisenhunt in the 2015 and hired Mike Mularkey to replace him. The move was an anticipated disaster, in line with the 49ers hiring of Jim Tomsula, but Mularkey has carved out a place in with the Titans. Given the Titans don’t go on a losing streak, they will finish with back-to-back winning seasons, something that hasn’t happened since 2007.

The Titans have addressed needs in the draft and are becoming their own. John Robinson has been with the team since 2016, given the record, it’s far too early to fire the head coach, let alone the general manager. They are another stable team, and a team you won’t be hearing about much on Black Monday.

Who whould/will Get fired: Nobody

Jacksonville Jaguars

At the beginning of the season, I don’t think anyone knew what to think of this team. Blake Bortles looked like a terrible quarterback, Tom Coughlin was brought in as executive vice president of football ops, and general manager David Caldwell got inked an extension. The team hired Doug Marrone, a decent hire. Still, he had Bortles as his quarterback and while its hard to fire a coach in one season, given how things were shaking up in the preseason, the Jaguars looked to be a laughing stock once again.

Then their defense showed up, and Blake Bortles showed he’s...well...kind of good. The Jaguars currently hold 1st place in the division and with all the recent hires, no one in that office is going anywhere.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody