Will The Colts Avoid Disaster In Jacksonville?

September 15, 2022

Can the Colts avoid starting the season 0-1-1 while also breaking a losing streak in Jacksonville? The team will have to play mistake-free football to come out with a victory against a young and hungry Jaguars team.

Last week’s tie against the Houston Texans was not how many Colts fans thought the season would start. Week two has some added pressure now as the team heads to Jacksonville to battle another tough division opponent.

The Colts Should Stick To Limiting Mistakes

It’s a no-brainer in football that if you turn the ball over to the other team, chances are you may lose the game. Quarterback Matt Ryan definitely had a rough start in his first game as a Colt. Throwing one interception to former Colt Jerry Hughes and fumbling four times (only losing one), Ryan seemed to have some issues during the game. “If we clean up some of these mistakes and just execute a little better, there’s a lot of things we can build on”, said Matt Ryan reflecting on the outcome of tying with Houston.

Although Ryan had a sloppy first half of play, he and his teammates battled back in the fourth quarter having 17 unanswered points. Ryan’s 352 passing yards were good enough to be Week One’s second leading passer only behind Patrick Mahomes. The offense is there for this year’s Colts team and of course, it starts with Jonathan Taylor. Matt Ryan, as a signal caller, adds some spark and most of all, confidence, to a passing game that can be described as average at best.

Regarding coaching, much respect is given to head coach Lovie Smith (also the Texans’ defensive coordinator) who brought pressure with their revamped defensive front and some outstanding play from two rookies (Derek Stingley, Jr. and Jalen Pitre). The dropped touchdown pass by Alec Pierce hurt the team in the long run. Additionally, the kicking game had two costly penalties which gave the Texans good field positions. Former Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship even missed the potential game-winning field goal in overtime.

Frank Reich’s play calling and coaching decisions also come in to question, particularly going into wildcat formation during a 4th down goal line play. Take the points and rely on the defense to get the ball back.

Colts Defense Needs To Bring The Heat

The defense needs to be more aggressive this week. Plain and simple. The Washington Commanders gave the Colts the blueprint for applying pressure on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Commanders brought the heat by blitzing on third downs, which appeared to rattle Lawrence and throw off his passes. New Jaguar Christian Kirk had his third-best single-game receiving game with 117 yards of his career. It seems that Kirk and Lawrence gelled great and will continue to build throughout the year, but this needs to be disrupted this week by the Colts’ defensive secondary players.

Similar to Washington’s front four on defense, the Colts are stacked and led by All-Pro Deforest Buckner. Indianapolis’s defensive line can create pressure and turnovers on their own, but, of course, the team needs more people to help the cause. Yannick Ngakoue should play with a chip on his shoulder, going against the team that drafted him. (He didn’t create as much havoc as expected last week, but he did stay true to his assignment.)

Linebacker E.J. Speed brought his lunch pale last Sunday! Starting in place of Shaquille Leonard, Speed did not disappoint. No word yet on Leonards’s return. However, if E.J. starts again, expect Speed or Zaire Franklin to be the extra man blitzing on third downs. Slow Lawrence down, contain the run, and the team has a good chance of walking out of Jacksonville with a win.

Colts Need To Protect Matt Ryan At All Costs

Jacksonville, since its inception, has been blessed to have defensive superstars. This year is no different, with budding star Travon Walker making his presence known in his NFL debut. Walker had a modest four tackles, but did sack former Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, along with grabbing an interception. The guys up front for the Jaguars are a problem. The team’s offensive line has its handful again this week.

Linebackers Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd combined for a massive 21 total tackles. This is going to be a test again for Jonathan Taylor, who typically shines in this matchup, but only in Indianapolis. (The story is quite different in Jacksonville, where in the last two meetings, Taylor only totaled 99 yards rushing and and had no touchdowns.)

Taylor carried the ball 31 times in the matchup against Houston. Expect something similar this week. The offense moved smoothly when Taylor was chugging along, eating up yards until he got to 161. A steady dose of the run will keep this fierce pass rush tamed for a while. Left Tackle Matt Pryor will be tested early and often this week. There also may be more two tight end looks on offense this week by offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.

Ultimately, the keep Matt Ryan clean and he can lead the team to victory. It’s time, Colts.

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