IND-JAX Grades: Smith, Branch dominant in blowout
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Jaguars’ 51-16 blowout win over division rival Colts.
– With CB Greg Toler sidelined again, CB Jalil Brown (-4.4) was given the start in Toler’s absence. Toler allowed four catches for 58 yards, all four of which went for first downs or touchdowns. In addition, he was called for pass interference and he missed two tackles. On the other side of the field, Vontae Davis had one of his best coverage games of the season. Davis was targeted just three times, did not allow a catch, and had a nice pass defense on an endzone fade in the fourth quarter.
– Veteran OLB Trent Cole had his highest-graded game as a Colt and his highest grade since late in the 2013 season. Cole sacked Blake Bortles once, and hurried him two other times on just 15 snaps pass rushing. He also had two run defense stops. Cole’s +2.1 run defense and +2.3 pass rush grades were both season-highs.
– The Colts’ offense struggled to move the ball for most of the game, but WR T.Y. Hilton was one of the few bright spots on offense. He eclipsed 100 yards receiving for only the second time this year, but he did so on just four catches and had his second-longest reception of the year at 57 yards. He hasn’t performed as well as he did a season ago, but he is still having a good year.
OLB Trent Cole (+4.6)
CB Vontae Davis (+2.3)
WR T.Y. Hilton (+2.2)
SS Clayton Geathers (+1.6)
ILB D’Qwell Jackson, LG Jack Mewhort (+1.5)
– QB Blake Bortles (-5.4) had his second consecutive game with multiple touchdown passes and no interceptions, but the stats can be deceiving. He only had one really bad throw—a misread on a slant that resulted in a pass defense by D’Qwell Jackson—but he did have two bad fumbles, one of which led direction to a Colts’ touchdown. Bortles also struggled with accuracy and forced throws on multiple occasions. The Colts had six pass defenses on the day and Bortles’ 58.6 accuracy percentage was the second-lowest of the week.
– DE Andre Branch’s strip sack returned for a touchdown near the end of the second quarter gave the Jaguars a little momentum entering halftime. It was a career day for Branch (+3.1), who picked up nine total pressures (two sacks, seven hurries) on 36 pass rushes. He had entered the game with 15 total pressures on 258 pass rush snaps. His only big misstep was a roughing the passer penalty for making contact with the quarterback’s helmet that negated an otherwise good pressure.
– Second-year LB Telvin Smith (+3.8) continued to play well as of late after a poor start to the season. Smith was targeted six times in coverage. Four passes were completed for a total of one yard and one incompletion was a pass defense. On his nine pass rush snaps he tallied two hurries. Through the first six weeks of the season, Smith had a -12.5 overall grade that ranked 85th out of 87 qualifying linebackers. In the eight weeks (seven games) since, Smith’s +16.0 overall grade ranks behind only Luke Kuechly and Jerrell Freeman.
LB Telvin Smith (+3.8)
DE Andre Branch (+3.1)
FS Josh Evans (+2.2)
C Stefan Wisniewski (+2.2)
LT Luke Joeckel (+1.7)