3TFO: Colts @ Jaguars, Week 10
It comes to no surprise that the Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the worst teams in 2012. Halfway into the year, their only victory came in Week 3 when they went to Indianapolis and had a decisive victory. While it has been all downhill for Jacksonville, the Colts have won four of their last five games and look ready to fight for a wild-card spot.
Because the Jaguars beat the Colts in Indianapolis, then typically you would expect them to have a good chance of beating them at home. But do the Jaguars still have the formula for victory against their division rivals? Below are the three reasons why this game will be different from the Week 3 matchup.
Jaguars Run Game vs. Colts Run Defense
In Week 3, Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball 28 times for 177 yards and a touchdown to control the game. He is out indefinitely with a foot injury, however, so Rashad Jennings has been serving as the feature back. In his three games as a starter, Jennings has carried the ball 50 times but has only 148 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line was part of the reason the Jaguars dominated in Week 3, but they have yet to play as well as a unit since then.
While the Colts run defense has been far from dominant, they have allowed just 251 yards on 60 carries the past three weeks — a respectable average of 4.2 yards allowed per run. Inside linebacker Kavell Conner had his worst game of the year against the Jaguars when he was held without a stop, but he has three stops or more in each of his last five games. If Jacksonville can’t run the ball as well, it will need to rely more on Blaine Gabbert, who had only 10 completions in Week 3.
Jaguars Offensive Tackles vs. Colts Outside Linebackers
Over the last two years, Eugene Monroe has been one of the better left tackles in the league. When he has played anyone but the Colts in 2011 and 2012, he’s allowed a pressure on 4.6 percent of his pass blocks. But in his last three matchups against Indianapolis, that figure has more than doubled to 9.5 percent of his pass blocks. Right tackle Cameron Bradfield has yet to start against Indianapolis, but over the last three games he has not allowed a sack or hit, and an average of one hurry per game.
In the first matchup it was Robert Mathis and Jerry Hughes who shined with a combined sack, hit and three hurries. The Colts showed they had more depth at the position last week when Dwight Freeney became one of the few players to say they got the best of Jake Long with a sack, a hit and two hurries. Backup Justin Hickman also had two hits in his nine pass rushes last week. Freeney, who missed the first matchup, lines up on the defense’s left side on 79.4 percent of his snaps and will frequently be up against Monroe, whom he played well against in the past. While Gabbert doesn’t have much drop off in his statistics when he is under pressure, he has been sacked 18 times. The winner of this matchup will be measured in sacks.
Reggie Wayne vs. Jaguars defense
Reggie Wayne had eight catches for 88 yards in Week 3, but that came on 15 attempts including a dropped pass, and an Andrew Luck interception when Wayne was the target. One of the biggest trouble areas was the middle of the field when the ball was in the air for 10 or more yards. When Wayne was targeted in that area, he had just one catch on five targets for 13 yards. But in the last five games, Wayne has caught 13 passes on 16 targets for 253 yards in the middle of the field on intermediate or deep passes.
On 63.1 percent of his pass routes, Wayne lines up in the slot. In Week 3 that put him against Aaron Ross, but Ross has been playing outside corner because of injuries. That leaves Mike Harris as the slot cornerback who has allowed a high 76.9 percent catch rate. Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis are both questionable as of Wednesday morning, and if one can’t play it will be Harris’ responsibility to stop Wayne most of the time. In the first matchup, safety Dwight Lowery had a strong performance with two passes defended. But Lowery is out with an ankle injury, and although Chris Prosinski has played adequately in his place, he hasn’t quite matched the play of Lowery. All signs point to a bigger day out of Wayne.
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