12 Things to Watch for in Sunday's Colts-Jaguars Game
Jaguars are fierce and noble creatures. (See what I've been reduced to?)
Last week, the Colts squeezed out a tough win over the Vikings. This week, the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town, and the Colts have a chance to go 2-1 into the bye week. As the teams take the field in Lucas Oil Stadium, here's what to watch for:
1. Watch the boot. In breaking down the play of Andrew Luck, the most noticible thing is how often he winds up throwing from outside the pocket. Even in the two minute drive, he's constantly looking to buy time by bootlegging out to the edge. Unlike most rookie quarterbacks who behave this way, Luck does so with the intent to throw. Count up how many times he throws on the run and/or breaks contain with the intent to throw. That is what makes him very dangerous even at this early stage of his career.
2.Watch the corners. Last week, the corners had a pretty good game against a mediocre quarterback equipped with a mediocre receiving group. This week, they face a surprisingly similar opponent, with Blaine Gabbert throwing to Laurent Robinson, Mike Thomas, and rookie Justin Blackmon (who has yet to show up). If they can keep Blackmon from having a breakout game, they should be able to contain the Jaguars passing game, setting up their second straight positive game.
3. Watch for the Edge. Edgerrin James will be inducted into the Ring of Honor. With all the times I've written about James through the years, getting to actually interview him this week was honestly a thrill. I kept my cool on the conference call, but I'll admit to being giddy the rest of the day. Some people are exactly as you'd expect them to be. In the best possible sense, that was Edge. He's one of the great Colts ever and richly deserves the honor.
4. Watch for pressure from the edge. Robert Mathis got another sack last week, as did Jerry Hughes. Combined so far this season, they have four sacks and twelve total QB pressures. Jaguars' left tackle Eugene Monroe has been playing fantastic so far this season, allowing just two QB pressures over the last two weeks. The Colts will likely be mixing the OLBs around, in order to get more favorable matchups. Even with a mediocre receiving group, the Jaguars will move the ball with ease if the Colts don't get pressure.
5. Watch for Trai Essex. While Samson Satele and Winston Justice should play this weekend the team should take comfort knowing they have more options than they've had thus far. Both Jeff Linkenback and Seth Olsen have been horrible so far. Trai Essex should see significant playing time and may solidify his role this week.
6. Watch the sellout. I used to write all kind of mean things about the Jaguars, because honestly, it was funny. Now that I write professionally about the AFC South, I don't do that anymore. I feel like I owe it to my readers to be fair and not mock their team. In other words, I'm trading entertaining you for entertaining them. Why would I do that to you? Because now I get paid. Yes, that makes me a complete and total sellout, and I'm aware of how much I suck. Oh also, this game is sold-out marking about the 3,000,000th sellout in a row for the Colts. So you know, double entendre! Or maybe this is just a pun. Honestly, I'm not sure which.
7. Watch for defensive dominance. If the Colts have any chance to look dominant defensive at any point this season it's this week. Last week the Jaguars managed a meager 117 yards of total offense. Their ineptitude set a record-low for the franchise. While it's possible they bounce back this week behind Maurice Jones-Drew it's also possible that the Colts carry a little swagger with them and put up a big day defensively--this is the team to do it against.
8. Watch for the Adam Vinatieri. Sitting in the south endzone of Everbank Field in Jacksonville is John Rezsonya, better known to Jaguars fans as "Arrowman." He taunts opposing kickers with a giant arrow pointing left or right. It's distracting but thankfully this week's game is at Lucas Oil Stadium so Arrowman won't get a chance to menace one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history. Don't be surprised if the Colts are forced to call on Vinatieri again to win the game late.
9. Watch for the fire. In talking to Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country on Twitter this week, he said something illuminating. In discussing what it means if the Jaguars start out 0-3 and lose to the Colts, I was saying it would signal that their four-year rebuild was way behind the Indy one-year rebuild. Alfie said, "If they lose, everything burns.". He's not wrong. There's no way a GM should get four years to rebuild and still have his team open 0-3 in a schedule that includes the Colts and Vikings. Where have we seen this before?
10. Watch for plug. Seth Olsen was like a pool with a leak against Minnesota, allowing constant pressure up the middle of the field. Now that Joe Reitz is likely back, we may finally get to see the holes plugged at least in the passing game. Hopefully they open up in the running game. So more than like a patch for the line, Reitz may be like one of those pool plugs that you can open and close, rather than just pull straight out and let it drain. That, my friends, is how you write a metaphor. <drops mic, walks out>
UPDATE: Reitz is now like out, making Olsen like one of those pool patches you apply, but immediately rips off, making you wonder why you saved it in your junk drawer for five years only to have it fail when you needed it.
11. Watch the jerseys. The top two selling jerseys on the Dick's Sporting Goods Jersey report in football right now are Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. I saw plenty of both at the Luke last week, but overall, I think there's more room for Luck's to grow. After all, I don't even own one yet. A few wins over Jacksonville, however, and my collection may need to grow. It's especially interesting having kids in this era. I'm coming to grips with the idea of letting them have Luck as "their guy". He'll mean more to them than he'll ever mean to me, I'm sure. I'm going to have to go shopping for Christmas. The 87 and 18 ones my children wear now will always be classic, but they will outgrow them. Next up is 12.
12. Watch for a rerun. The Jaguars barely lost to the Vikings on the road, and the Colts barely beat them at home. These two teams are essentially even. The Colts are playing at home, and that will be enough to topple the Jaguars 21-19.
I still fear the Jags just lining up and running the ball down our throats. Some things never change.
(Just like your Eyes in the Backfield is always a great read.)
I would like to see an old school post in tribute to the Edge. Something like "32 Reasons to Salute the Edge"
On an game related note, I mainly want to see aggressive play calling on offense. We do this, we should win.
The Colts should be on a three year rebuilding plan. How can anybody in thier right mind mention defensive dominance. Just pray that Luck can make it without a significant injury. I would prefer to see fewer than 30 passes this week. I just want to see improvement each week. wins are a bonus.
@silentkmantab C'mon man! All he is saying is that if the Colts defense will ever have a chance to look dominant this year, it is this week. I think all of us are just looking for improvement like you, but there always exists the opportunity to make a statement. Even if it is for one game.
I agree that wins are a bonus. But why give up hope for a win any week?
Is the reason you didn't include the word "dumpster" somewhere in #9 somehow related to #6 or was it simply an oversight?
Because, you know, I often miss pre-sellout-Jags-bashing-Nate/DZ, as I'm sure a lot of long time readers do. ;)
Excellent, as always! I'm expecting a close game again but I am really hoping this is a statement game. If only because I like seeing Jaguars fans in misery, I hope this is a beat down.
Also, how did this get posted with yesterday's date?