18 Things to Watch For Versus the Jaguars
Jack Del Rio won’t sleep well the night before the Colts game
Another year is under way, and we’ll be here every week with Eyes in the Backfield. It’s the only weekly look at the Colts’ game that gives you 18 points of emphasis. This year, we kick off with the hated Jaguars. Here’s what you need to be watching for this week:
1. Watch the floundering picks on the line-Both the Jags and the Colts made trades to get key players on the line (O and D) in recent drafts. The Colts took Tony Ugoh and the Jags took Derrik Harvey. Both players are young and have struggled some. Ugoh has been replaced, but ultimately both teams will need production from the their spots, if not from the players themselves.
2. Watch what could have been-In 2006, the Colts wanted to draft Maurice Jones Drew in the second round. Instead, the Jags scooped him up just ahead of Indianapolis. Addai and Jones-Drew are often compared to one another because of their draft class and similar skill sets. Both have seen their YPC decline for three consecutive years. The difference is that Addai is one cog in the Colts’ wheel, while MJD is the Jags offense.
3. Watch the TEs-With all the focus on the third wide receiver for the Colts, many have over looked the potential impact of Gijon Robinson and Jacob Tamme on the offense. Both should wind up with more catches than Collie or Garcon. The Colts will have to help Charlie Johnson with extra TE help, so you might see screens and late releases if no one is open downfield.
4. Watch for the 3-4-The Jags have been experimenting with a 3-4 defense in passing situations. They lack the personnel to commit fully to the scheme, but it seems to be an attempt to turn Quentin Groves into a useful player. Don’t be surprised to see odd looks from the Jags if the Colts wind up in third and long situations.
5. Watch for empty tanks-Jones-Drew is now the sole feature back in Jacksonville with the departure of Fred Taylor. Last year against the Colts, he savaged the run dense early in the game in Jacksonville (12 for 66 yards). In the second half, he was exhausted, finishing with just 25 yards on 8 carries. Jones-Drew may not be able to be a feature every down back in the league, and if the Jags run him too much, too early, he’ll wear down. The Colts, on the other hand, will counter with Don Brown whenever Addai needs rest. Look for the Indy YPC to increase as the game moves along.
6. Watch the ageless and wonder-The Jags big offseason signing was 33 year old Torry Holt. The Jaguars had horrible receivers last year, and their best hope for improvement offensively is for Torry Holt to regain some of his previous glory. Even if he matches his 2008 stats, (64, 896, 3 TDs), he’ll be better than anything the Jags had last year. If his age has caught up to him however, it’ll be another long season for Jacksonville.
7. Watch the Jags and Colts on TV-If you live in Jacksonville (and why would you do that?) you can enjoy watching your home team play a game that will be televised. Don’t get too used to it, however, because the odds are strong that when the Colts visit Jacksonville the game will be blacked out. In fact, none of the Jags home games my be aired on local TV. Ouch.
8. Watch the cannon shot-Twice the Jags have won in Indianapolis on field goals over 50 yards at the gun by Josh Scobee. Scobee will often blow short kicks against the Colts, but he is deadly from long range. Pray the game doesn’t come down to him needing to hit another 50 yarder.
9. Watch the rookie. Jerraud Powers is likely to be the first rookie to start a game at corner for the Colts since Ashley Ambrose. With Marlin Jackson still building up stamina, the third round pick has his chance to make a splash. He’ll likely be covering the stone handed Troy Williamson, if that’s any consolation.
10. Watch for consequences-Starting DT Ed Johnson is serving a one game suspension from the NFL stemming from his drug arrest. Seeing as how he was cut and lost 15 games last year, it seems punitive to pile on with an extra game. Still Johnson knew he was on thin ice and screwed up anyway. The Colts are counting on him in a big way this year, and it’s tough to have him miss a game against a running back that has plagued Indianapolis.
11. Watch for the second guessers. With the demotion of Tony Ugoh, some fans have openly wondered why the Colts took Donald Brown in the first round when they clearly needed a tackle. The next tackle available for the Colts was Eben Britton who was selected 13 picks after Brown by the Jags. If Britton can hold his own against the pass rush, those complaints will increase. If he is destroyed, they will cease.
12. Watch the blitz. The big story could be a change in philosophy from the Colts. The Colts led the league in fewest blitzes last year, rushing 4 players 84.8% of the time and rushing three 5.3% of the time. That’s 9 out of 10 plays where the Colts did not blitz on defense. The Colts blitzed frequently in the preseason, with often disastrous results. All season long, we’ll statistically track the Colts’ blitzes to determine if they are effective or not.
13. Watch for shoes. Rumor has it that Jags owner Wayne Weaver is hoping to get back into the shoe business. He has designed a stylish but affordable women’s pump that should take the market by storm. Sources indicate he’s asked several members of the Jags secondary to try them out for publicity.
14. Watch for jersey pulls. Last year, Manning threw two picks against the Jags in Indianapolis. Both were clearly blown interference calls, and one went for a touch down. Sunday, watch corner Rashean Mathis get handsy with the Colts receivers. If you see the jersey come away from the body, watch for the flag. If you don’t see the flag fly, it’ll be a long day.
15. Watch for raw hate. The Titans are the Colts’ true rival in the AFC South, but there is an abundance of mutual respect. The Jags on the other hand despise the Colts, and Colts’ fans loathe the kitties in return. We made a trip down to Jacksonville a few years ago and found the process hilarious. Be sure to check out “Ask Vic” on Monday as he’s flooded with emails from giddy Colts’ fans. There’s also a good chance that the raw hate could flow internally on the Jville sideline. The players turned on Jack Del Rio last year, and if their season goes south, it could get ugly.
16. Watch for sparkles. The Jags have added glitter to their helmets. I’m leaving it at that.
17. Watch for a leg up. With the Titans reeling after a heartbreaking loss to the Steelers and a tough slate of games yet to come, the Colts have a chance to bolt out on top in their quest to reclaim the AFC South. An early season loss to Jacksonville last year was the difference between Indy winning the division and getting a first round bye and a date with the Ravens (who they destroyed) and having to travel on the road to San Diego. Division games are too important to lose.
18. Watch for the quick start. The Colts have gotten off to good leads in several recent Jags games, only to see the Jags claw back late and make the final score closer than the game felt. Deshawn says that Indy jumps out early again on the Jags and cruises to a comfortable 30-21 win. Demond likes the Colts 20-16, figuring the offense will struggle early, but get in gear late.