Colts Weekly Preview: Week 4 Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Last week was an emotional roller coaster for the Colts and their fans. You can relive my personal roller coaster in my Colts Weekly Recap. However, I’d like to just touch on a few other things.
First, it was reported today that Andrew Luck is day-to-day with an injured right shoulder. Luck will likely be fine, he is a machine, but this should be a wake-up call to the offensive line. DO YOUR JOB! Luck may look like superman, act like superman, and he may even play like superman, but he is just man. Keep your quarterback healthy, or you have no shot.
Next, the defensive line has be great! Last year, the Colts gave up 4.3 yards per carry, while this year they are giving up just 3.7. The Colts have gone up against some pretty good running teams: Buffalo is statistically the best running team in the league, Tennessee is now tenth after playing the Colts, and the Jets who historically have been ground and pound. I’ve been very impressed by this line so far.
Finally, if the Colts keep turning the ball over at the rate they have been, they are not even going to go .500. They have got to fix the turnovers, which I think will happen if the offensive line gets their act together. Not only does the offense need to stop turning the ball over, the defense needs to force more turnovers. Only three take-aways on the year, that’s good for 21st in the league.
Where do the Colts excel?
We saw glimpses of what the Colts are capable of in the fourth quarter of their game against the Titans. That’s what Colts fans all around the country have become accustomed to, and why we have all be incredible frustrated with this team so far this year. They can take the top off the defense and score points in a hurry, we just need to see more of that consistently.
I mentioned it earlier, but the Colts defensive line has looked pretty great all year so far, doing a good job winning in the trenches. They need to continue to do so especially with the secondary as hurt as they have been so far this year. They have been stuffing the run, but they can still have room to improve, which I’ll get to in just a few minutes.
The Colts special teams unit is just great. Sure, there is an aging Adam Vinatieri who is 0/2 so far this year, but that’s not going to continue, he will be fine. Pat McAfee has such great hang time to go with his long punts that the coverage unit very rarely has to do much work, as most of his punts are fair caught. The Colts have given up a total of one yard on punt returns this year.
Where do the Jaguars excel?
The Jaguars are slowly getting better and better every year. So far this year, they are tied for tenth in sacks, so they are getting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, including sacking Tom Brady twice last week in their blow-out loss.
To go along with their pass rush, they are also second best at stopping the run, according to yards per attempt, only giving up 3.3 yards per rush to their opponent. They will want to try to make the Colts as one dimensional as possible, and if they can do that, and start pressuring Luck, they may be able to force some turnovers and keep the Colts offense off the field.
The Jaguars are also tied for sixth for fewest penalties committed. This is a great sign for all their young talent going forward, they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot like some of these other teams (COLTS).
Where do the Colts struggle?
The Colts have struggled mightily at turning the ball over. They have given the ball away ten times which is two more times than any other team in the league. The offensive line is responsible for a lot of this. Of Andrew Luck’s seven interceptions, six of them he was under duress. Should he throw the ball away or take the sack? Yes, but at the same time, he is trying to just make something happen for his team.
PENALTIES! This has been a growing problem for the Colts. Two years ago they were one of the least penalized teams in the league, and now they are the 5th highest penalized team. Maybe it’s partly the lack of talent, and because of that talent gap on the offensive line, they hold to gain an advantage, I’m not sure.
The Colts’ secondary is extremely hurt, and because of this, they are forced to play a lot of zone coverage to give some of these “practice squad” caliber players some help over the top in coverage. Until they have their starting corners back, this will be a struggle for the Colts.
Where do the Jaguars struggle?
The Jaguars are one of the worst teams statistically in the league in almost every category so far this year. This was the same as last year, so I’m not too worried in saying that even with the small sample size it’s probably pretty accurate. They are 22nd in Passing yards for, 23rd in rushing yards for, 29th in points for, and 30th in points against. This is in part because of the teams that they have played, but also partly because they are just so young and inexperienced still.
What are the Colts Keys to the Game?
Can the Colts keep Luck upright?
This seems to be a theme every week, but this week it’s even more important with Luck showing up on the injury report this week. They have got to keep Luck healthy if they want to have any shot to do anything this year. They must protect Luck and open up running lanes for Frank Gore, which they actually did a fairly nice job last week.
Can Matt Hasselbeck be the Hero the Colts need?
The Colts are clearly struggling so far this year, maybe Luck's injury will be a wake-up call for the Colts' offensive line. They just simply have to be better (more on this in another hub). Luckily for the Colts, they have the most capable back-up quarter back in the league. Hasselbeck is a very smart and veteran player, he was the long time starter for the Seahawks, and led them to Super Bowl XL in 2006. We'll see if he can summon his younger self and lead the Colts to a victory.
Who is going to step up?
Someone in that Colts’ secondary needs to step up and make some plays. This may be their only opportunity to actually play in the league, they must take advantage of it. This Colts’ defense is actually play very well, but they need more from the secondary. Josh Thomas was signed last week and had a lot of playing time, including a hit on Delanie Walker that led to an interception. They need more plays like that.
Will the Colts stop shooting themselves in the foot?
As I mentioned earlier, the Colts have turned the ball over more than any other team, and have committed the 5th most penalties in the league so far this year. They cannot afford to do this and win. The Colts need to win the turnover battle and stop killing drives with stupid penalties. Watching the games it feels like EVERY time the Colts start to move the ball, there is a holding call. It has to stop.
What are the Jaguars Keys to the Game?
Can the Jaguars pressure Luck?
This answer to this is: Probably. They will need to get pressure on Luck without sending to many defenders. The Colts were actually doing well against 5 or more pass rushers against the Titans after struggling in the first two weeks.
Can Blake Bortles take advantage of a depleted secondary?
The Jaguars have a great opportunity to march into Indianapolis and steal a victory against a banged up Colts team. To do so they will need Bortles to pick apart the Colts’ zone defense that they are being forced to play because of injuries.
Can the Jaguars end drives?
They have been one of the worst teams at getting off the field on third down, allowing 52.2% conversions on third down. And if that wasn’t enough for the Jaguars to deal with, the Colts are one of the better teams at converting on third down (9th with 45%). Keeping Andrew Luck and company off the field is the best way to beat the Colts. The Titans were almost able to do it with 35 minutes of possession in their game vs the Colts last week.
Who will win?
I think the Colts may have found something last week in that fourth quarter. They were able to score three touchdowns and their defense did a great job at slowing down an offense that caught fire. I think we’ll see a lot more short-yardage throws, get the ball out of Lucks hands quickly. Also, watch for the Colts to rely on Gore more this week as well. He average 6.1 yards per carry, and I think he may have found his grove in Indy.
Colts 31 Jaguars 21
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