The Indianapolis Colts face the Jacksonville Jaguars tomorrow morning in London. The Colts are hoping to kick off a win streak while the Jags merely want put one in the win column.
Last December, the Colts met the Jaguars in Jacksonville and were on the receiving end of a 51-point beatdown. The Colts, led by Matt Hasselbeck, held a 13-9 edge into the break but the Jags dropped 21 points in consecutive quarter to eviscerate Indy in the second half.
No one has forgotten this, especially members of the Colts defense. Luckily for the Colts defenders, the Jags offense seems to have regressed. Blake Bortles has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season and ranks 25th in efficiency among quarterbacks. It certainly doesn’t help that the line has been bad in both phases either, 31st in run block and 23rd in pass protection.
For all the talk of the Jags being that sneaky team to take the leap and make the postseason, they sure haven’t lived up to the hype. This is a young team with talent, but they haven’t come together and have found multiple ways to lose games this season.
Frankly neither team has looked particularly good this year but at least the Colts seem to be trending up heading into the London game.
Here’s what fans should watch for:
- Ghosting. T.Y. Hilton had a monster game against the Chargers last week and there’s no reason to think he won’t put on a show versus the Jaguars. The only other team Hilton has done more damage to is the Houston Texans. Couple that with the Jaguars ranking 31st against number one wide receivers and Hilton could easily have a repeat performance.
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- Protection. The Colts need to do a better job protecting Andrew Luck for sure, but he has to protect the ball better too. Four turnovers might not seem like that many, but three have been returned for touchdowns and the fourth led to a field goal. Jim Irsay stated this week that Luck has to change the way he plays and it start with not turning the ball over. Irsay referred to Luck trying to play linebacker after turnovers, but it could also extend to protecting himself presnap (making adjustments) or avoiding big hits by hitting the deck instead of trying to fight out of a sack. That said, Luck has played very well this season and throwing interceptions at a career low rate.
- Healing factor. Vontae Davis and Henry Anderson came back to the lineup last week. This week will more than likely see an improved performance from the two as they get back into game shape. The secondary will also get Patrick Robinson back, marking the first time we’ll see Davis and Robinson during the regular season. That’s great news as the Jags have a very talented receiving corps.
- Pass rush…maybe? This could be a pinned feature every week this season. There has been nothing resembling a consistent pass rush from the Colts and with Trent Cole done for the year, that doesn’t sound like it will improve any time soon. The good news for this week is that the Jaguars helped make Bjoern Werner look like an NFL player. Their pass protection has been an issue and Bortles has been sacked nine times. If Robert Mathis is going to pick a game to break out, this would be it.
- Streaking. The Colts notched their first win last week to avoid the dreaded 0-3 start. Now they have a chance to make serious gains on the Texans, who could (but probably won’t since they face the Titans) drop to 2-2. And division win this season nearly counts for two. The Colts have a real shot at rattling off three straight wins here as they face the Bears at home next week and then travel to Houston. The woes of the first two weeks would seem like a distant memory if the Colts can rattle off three straight wins.
- A firing? Does Jags head coach Gus Bradley get to come home with the team? He’s 12-39 overall as the Jags head coach and if they lose in London, he’ll have started the season 0-4 with his most talented roster. Bradley hasn’t shown that he can be a successful coach and the Jags have perpetually been the team on cusp of being in the playoffs for years now. You can only be “one year away” so many times before management gets axed.