AFC South Friday Tweetbag: No One Runs Like the South

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJuly 13, 2012

Running backs take center stage in the mail bag.
Running backs take center stage in the mail bag.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Welcome to the Friday Tweetbag! As always, you can tweet, email or send your questions to me in the comments section of the articles. Be sure to use the hashtag #tweetbag!


A: Considering the last three rushing champions are all in the south, the easy answer would be yes.

I hate easy answers.

Let's actually check the numbers. By rushing yards, the NFC West had some solid backs. They out-rushed the AFC South 4605 to 4522 if you just count the starters. That would be Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Donald Brown against Stephen Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, and Chris Wells.

If you take the top four backs, however, Brown drops out and Ben Tate steps in. That gives the South the win with 4819.

I feel comfortable with that. The four best starting backs are in the NFC West. The best division for running backs overall is clearly the AFC South.



A: I'm a huge supporter of Indianapolis's Donald Brown. His advanced metrics were good. His pass blocking was good. And he was coming off a great receiving year in 2010, though his numbers were awful last year.

Brown has gotten a bad rap for reasons I can't fathom. His performance against Jacksonville in 2010 kept the Colts' string of playoff appearances alive. He also gave the team one of its only highlights in 2011, with his long run against the Titans.

Whether the other Indianapolis backs are credible remains to be seen. I've been low on Delone Carter since Indianapolis selected him, and Vick Ballard looks to me like he's cut from the same cloth.

I think Brown will have a strong season in Indy this year, regardless of how the younger players fair.



A: While I just questioned the Indy backs in the answer before, I absolutely don't see how receiver counts as a deep group.

If you don't count the tight ends, and I don't, you have Reggie Wayne who is clearly on the decline, Austin Collie who is an injury risk, Donnie Avery who is simply a terrible player and a bunch of mid-to-late round draft picks.

That's not deep.

That's more shallow than an episode of Jersey Shore.

Indy isn't deep anywhere, but I have an easier time believing that Carter or Ballard become decent runners than I do that the Indy wideouts produce anything.



A: I have absolutely zero qualms about Andrew Luck's contract. He will be in camp on time.

But for the sake of argument, let's say he isn't.

Any delay longer than a day or two would be ugly. The reason is that it would show that the Indy front office was in total disarray.

The team has gone "all-in" with Luck. They cut Peyton Manning. They took a bunch of weapons for him in the draft.

It makes no sense to mess around with a hold-out over what amounts to the payment schedule of a few bonuses.

If Luck misses camp time, it hurts the Colts slightly on the field, but the real penalty will be the one they would eventually pay for being poorly run.



A: Whalen absolutely has a shot.

Is he super-talented? No. But Luck knows him, and at worst you keep him as a practice-squad option. If any of the guys ahead of him go down with injury mid-year, who could step-in as well on short notice?

Because every member of the Indy receiving corp is old, an injury-risk or completely unproven, Whalen is in a perfect position to sneak onto the roster.



A: I've already written about my affection for FOA 2012.

My favorite section this year was the Titans' preview. I don't want to spoil it because there will be an article about it next week, but I felt like it was a deeply honest, sometimes hilarious look at a team that is very difficult to get a read on.