ReFo: Jaguars @ Colts, Week 17
The afternoon started with an outside chance for the Indianapolis Colts to earn a playoff bye and they did their part in taking care of the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the bye became an afterthought after the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts have to feel good about their strong finish to the season as they await the Kansas City Chiefs in the next week’s Wild Card Round.
It was just two years ago these two teams were playing in perhaps the most meaningful meaningless Week 17 game of all time. The No. 1 pick, essentially the right to draft Andrew Luck, was at stake, and the Jaguars’ victory gave the Colts the go-ahead to turn their franchise around. They’ll head to the playoffs for the second year in a row while the Jaguars are still searching for their signal caller of the future.
Here’s a look at the performances that shaped Sunday’s game.
Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
MJD’s Last Stand?
It’s hard to believe that Maurice Jones-Drew is now one of the elder statesmen among league running backs, seeming like only yesterday that he was spelling Fred Taylor on passing downs and making an instant impact in the league. He’ll hit free agency as he heads into his ninth season and this may have been his last game in a Jaguars uniform. He certainly doesn’t look like the same running back that was carrying this offense as recently as two years ago, and Sunday just furthered the point as he graded at -1.8 to finish the season at +4.1. He picked up his first fumble while gaining only 1.2 yards after contact per attempt on his way to only 39 yards on 13 carries. Jones-Drew can still be a factor in the passing game, and perhaps that’s where the majority of his future will lie, but if he’s looking to continue as a feature back, this may have been his last game with the Jaguars.
Babin Off the Edge
Saving his best for last, defensive end Jason Babin notched a season-high +3.9 grade, including +4.8 as a pass rusher. He picked up a sack, three hits, and four hurries on just 31 attempts as he continually found his way into the Colts’ backfield. Jacksonville stunted frequently up front with Babin the beneficiary at the 3:44 mark of the second quarter as he got inside right guard Jeff Linkenbach for the sack and later at the 11:22 mark of the third quarter when he beat center Samson Satele for the hit. Perhaps Babin’s best rush of the day came near the end of the first half against right tackle Gosder Cherilus as he knifed inside on a spin move to flush quarterback Andrew Luck from the pocket in less than two seconds. Babin finished with eight of Jacksonville’s 15 hurries on the game as he finishes the season on a high note.
Tackling Woes for Posluszny
Despite leading the league in tackles by our count, it wasn’t a great year for linebacker Paul Posluszny who graded at -3.9 on the day to finish at -11.5. While he found the ball carrier quite a bit throughout the season, he was also blocked out of a number of plays while providing adequate support in coverage. Coming into the game, the one thing he’d done quite well was tackle as he’d only missed eight of his 136 attempts coming into the game, one of the best rates in the league. Unfortunately, he finished with four misses Sunday, three of which came in coverage. Whether it was whiffing on wide receiver TY Hilton near the end of the first half or failing to bring down running back Tashard Choice at the 10:17 mark of the fourth, it just wasn’t the usually dependable Posluszny we’re used to seeing with regard to tackling.
Indianapolis– Three Performances of Note
Mathis States His Case
While we certainly feel there are much better candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, outside linebacker Robert Mathis put an exclamation point on his huge season with two sacks and four hurries on only 25 rushes on his way to a +5.5 overall grade. He is currently the top runner up in our 3-4 outside linebacker rankings as he really took to the position switch in his second year in the scheme after spending his entire career as a 4-3 defensive end. As for the game, he beat both tackles for his sacks, first getting outside RT Austin Pasztor with 10:32 to go in the first before breaking out the spin move on LT Cameron Bradfield at the 13:24 mark of the fourth. He even boasted a +1.1 coverage grade as he peeled off and forced a throwaway on a screen while making a nice open field tackle on Jones-Drew on a slant. It was a fine overall day for Mathis who finishes the season graded at +31.2.
Hilton the Go-To Guy
It was clear early on that Luck was looking T.Y. Hilton’s way and he received 15 of his 39 targeted passes. Hilton made the best of them catching 11 for 155 yards, 76 of which came after the catch. He juked free safety Jon Cyprien to pick up the first down with 13:22 to go in the first before following it up later in the quarter with a nifty catch on a 37-yard corner route. Hilton’s biggest play came early in the third as he ran away from both Posluszny and CB Will Blackmon on his way to a 41-yard gain on a crossing route. He made the two biggest plays of the day for either team as it was clear that Hilton was the game’s biggest playmaker.
On what was a decent day for the offensive line, Jeff Linkenbach was the weakest of the bunch grading at -3.4. He leveled out at -0.3 in pass protection, surrendering the sack and only one other hurry on his 43 attempts, but it was his -3.4 grade in the running game that did him in. He was moved at the point of attack throughout the afternoon, with former teammate Drake Nevis giving him the most problems. Linkenbach was lucky Nevis couldn’t complete the sack at the 5:49 mark of the first as he knifed inside and narrowly missed taking Luck down for the loss. Nevis got the best of Linkenbach again at the 4:20 mark of the third quarter as he shed and re-directed the running back. Though it was his first action since Week 13, it wasn’t Linkenbach finest effort.
– Drake Nevis finished at +3.1 on only 17 snaps in his Jaguars debut.
– The Jaguars blitzed on only three of 39 dropbacks.
– The Colts missed two tackles on the day.
PFF Game Ball
Robert Mathis was an all-around presence on his way to a +5.5 overall grade.
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