The Indianapolis Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. Indy will be looking to avenge their Week 2 shutout and they’ll also look for their first win streak of the season — and move above .500.
This team’s weekly performance has not inspired much confidence in fans. They have routinely looked lethargic and discombobulated. Hopefully, this mini-bye week was enough time for them to get the kinks worked out. It’s a bit baffling that after all of the offseason, training camp, preseason, and now five weeks of the regular season the Colts still aren’t on the same page.
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Yet, this is the current state of the team. And there is enough blame to go around that not one person or unit can be singled out as the root cause. Here are three matchups to watch during the Colts vs. Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.
Can the Indianapolis Colts defense finally slow down Trevor Lawrence?
Trevor Lawrence is an NFL starting-caliber quarterback, no question. Where exactly he ranks in the 1-32 range is up for debate. Subsequently, when he faces off against the Colts Lawrence is number one, no question.
Per Statmuse, Lawrence has a passer rating of 97.4, with four touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a total of 620 passing yards in his three games against Indy. Not impressed? He also completes on average 66% of his passes and has only been sacked four times.
For some context, in his career, he completes an average of 60% of his passes, has basically a one-to-one ratio of touchdowns to interceptions (20:21), and has been sacked 38 times. There is just something about the horseshoe that brings out the best in him. Did the Colts piss him off during the scouting process when he was coming out?
Regardless, the strength and best part of this Colts team is its defense. These Colts are similar to the 2007 Chicago team. Both were led by their respective defenses, had poor QB play, and wanted to run the ball. Could this Colts team make it to the Super Bowl? Sure, I guess but they’ll need to generate more turnovers and get their running game going. But we’re digressing from the matter at hand. This defense will need to continue its current play. Jacksonville doesn’t have a strong outside wide receiver.
Stephon Gilmore will be able to win against wide receiver Jacksonville lines up on the outside. The key is Kenny Moore remembering and rediscovering the level of play that made him the best slot cornerback in the NFL. Since the Las Vegas game last season, Moore has been abysmal.
The run defense has been as expected. However, the pass rush has not. And this week they will be without Kwity Paye who suffered a high ankle sprain against Denver. Yannick Ngakoue, Deforest Buckner, and company will need to step up their game and get after Lawrence. They don’t have to rack up a ton of sacks but they do need to get him off his spot and make him uncomfortable all game long.
Another change in store for the highest-paid offensive line in the NFL
This Colts offensive line routinely get’s notified as the highest-paid in the NFL because they are. Unfortunately, typically what follows afterward is talk about how bad they are. Since ‘21 this offensive line has been regressing.
Two big reasons are, 1) they lost their franchise left tackle and haven’t been able to replace him. And 2) they don’t have a Hall of Fame QB playing for them. Now, Bernhard Raimann does appear that he might be the team’s franchise left tackle moving forward. Yes, he had four penalties last week, but two of the holding calls are questionable.
Raimann really settled in, in the second half and played well. There are still going to be growing pains, especially in pass protection, but he might be an above-average starter in a year or two. After last week’s poor offensive line performance the team has come out and said they are going to make changes to their starters. It’s 50/50 if they will announce the changes anytime before the game or right at kick-off.
Starting center Ryan Kelly is dealing with a hip injury. It’s possible he’s out this week. This isn’t a terrible thing as Danny Pinter looked better at center than Kelly. Let’s take a stab at projecting the starting offensive line here:
- LT – Raimann
- LG – Quenton Nelson
- C – Pinter
- RG – Matt Pryor
- RT – Braden Smith
This offseason, the team will need to be looking for an upgrade at right tackle as Smith looks much better at guard than tackle. If they can’t get a better right tackle option then they’ll need to get an elite right guard. The bottom line though, this offensive line needs to play much better than it has at any point this season.
Alec Pierce and Michael Pittman, Jr. will be massive in Week 5 rematch with Jaguars
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Colts were without their top two wide receivers. Alec Pierce was in concussion protocol. And Michael Pittman, Jr. picked up a quad injury during that week’s practices. This week both are expecting to play.
Pierce is starting to come on, as last week he had the best game of his young career. MPJ will want to exact some revenge as he hasn’t had the opportunity since last season’s loss. Jacksonville’s pass-defense strength is its ability to rush the quarterback. Their cornerbacks are good. But if their pass rush can’t get home they are more than beatable.
Indianapolis should implement a quicker pass game to help the offensive line, get the ball out quickly, and keep Matt Ryan from getting hit. These two wide receivers should help make a big difference in the outcome of this game.
The Colts are currently ranked second in the AFC South and Jacksonville is third. This division is still bad and therefore the Colts still have the opportunity to win it. If they’re going to do it then it will need to start with a win this week against Jacksonville.