Are you ready for some football?
No, really. I said...
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME JAGUAR SMASHIN, TOUCHDOWN PASSIN, KICK THEM IN THE FACE BECAUSE THEY'RE A BIG DISGRACE FOOTBALL?!
That's more like it. I'm pumped. In fact, I'm as pumped as Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about the pump, that's how pumped I am.
To the delight of Colts fans and the dismay of Jaguars fans, the season opener for each respective team begins here in Indianapolis. The Colts begin the season as healthy as they've ever been. Compare that to this time last year with all the controversy and uncertainty surrounding the team, we're in a much better place; a much happier and peaceful place. This year, we can let the players do the talking instead of us making up excuses and getting pissed at the FO for mishandling what seemed like every injured player on the team. If the Colts come out flat and get stomped on Sunday, then that's just the way it is. There are no excuses this year.
In fact, this should be the motto for the Colts and us fans the entire season: No excuses.
After the jump we'll get into the nitty gritty but as a reminder, to get a look at this matchup from a Jaguars fan's perspective, I would suggest taking a gander over at Big Cat Country. FSBlueApocalypse did a fine job outlining the keys for the Jaguars, so good that I'll be quoting him on the next page. He was a little hit or miss on the Colts analysis but that's to be expected.
Here is FSBlueApocalypse on the keys to victory for the Jaguars:
Things to watch for: Jacksonville Jaguars
1. Time of Possession: The easiest way to beat the Colts is to keep Peyton Manning and Co. sitting on the bench. The Jaguars must sustain long drives and take the crowd out of the game as much as possible. In all of the Jaguars wins against the Colts, the Jags had the ball for a minimum of 36 minutes.
2. Defensive Pressure: The Jaguars continued to have issues getting pressure on the quarterback with only four rushers in the preseason. While Derrick Harvey began to show why he was the #8 pick of the 2008 draft, he'll need to take the next step (ie, actually getting to the QB) to be truly effective. It's the worst kept secret in the NFL Peyton gets happy feet when his jersey gets dirty, it is just getting it dirty that is hard.
3.Offensive Line: The Jaguars will be starting a pair of rookie tackles in one of the loudest environments in the NFL. False start penalties are only the beginning of the issues they will encounter. Eugene will quickly learn if he can truly inherit Boselli's position by going against Dwight Freeney, while Eben Britton will have his hand's full with Robert Mathis.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD has scored seven touchdowns against the Colts, and had his coming out party against them in 2006. The Jaguars will need a big game from him again if they want to come out of Indy with a win. Jones-Drew will likely be used in between the tackles and in the passing game extensively.
5. Defensive Secondary: The revamped secondary will have to hold it's own if the Jaguars want to have a chance to win on Sunday. Rashean Mathis' pick six was a huge reason why the Jaguars won in Indy last year, and he'll need to bring his A game against Reggie Wayne (aka the guy Brian Williams was always chasing into the endzone.) I already mentioned Derek Cox, while safeties Sean Considine and Reggie Nelson can afford no mistakes against Manning.
He makes some valid points. Most of them are proven plans to beat the Colts, no doubt about it. Keeping Manning on the sideline and milking the clock is the best way to beat the Colts, unless your name is SAGE ROSENFAILS. However, his 5th point is somewhat disturbing to me as if you recall last season in week 4 against the Jaguars, Rashean Mathis was molesting Marvin Harrison all day. Mathis should have been called for pass interferance on that play that resulted in a pick-6, but the referees totally blew it. That no-call gave the Jaguars the victory that day, but in the end didn't really matter because the Colts weren't good enough to beat the horribly overrated Chargers in the wildcard round anyways.
Hopefully I didn't kill your football high by re-living some of those horrible moments from last season, and if I did I apologize, so let's move on.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Colts are starting the season healthier than any other in recent memory. Even though the Colts appear to be healthy, they are not without their weaknesses. If you can recall a few months ago, I highlighted 10 things the Colts must do to become 2009 champs, and these points stand true to this day.
The backfield looks very promising this season. Joseph Addai is healthy and has shown us a little bit of the Addai that we came to love in years past during the preseason. Spelling Addai when need be is the 2009 first round draft pick and fan favorite Donald Brown, who's impressed us all very much in the preseason as well. Showing us everything about his game that lead him to be the leader rusher in the entire nation last year.
However, the offensive line is a huge, MASSIVE, question mark going into this game. Arguably the biggest concern regarding the entire team. That's a very bold statement considering we're talking about a team that has a lot of new faces in playing very prominent roles both on the field and on the sidelines. The Colts need to be able to run the ball to be a complete offense again and it begins tomorrow.
Of course when you start talking about the offensive line and dominating the line of scrimmage, you must also talk about the defense and how they must dominant as well. The Jaguars are notorious for running at will all over the Colts. Luckily the Jaguars cut Fred Taylor, but there is still the issue of that little guy named Maurice Jones-Drew. He is the bane of our defense. His combination of size, speed, and strength makes him extremely difficult to take down and man handle. Anytime I see him play the Colts it reminds me of playing pinball, where he is the pinball as he bounces off of defenders left and right and eventually falling past the flippers only to completely screw up my awesome score and end my game. And if you weren't aware, I HATE PINBALL.
Domination on both lines is key because as FSBlueApocalypse mentioned, time of possession is key to stalling the Colts momentum and beating them. Fortunately for Freeney and Mathis, both offensive tackles for the Jaguars are rookies and have yet to face such a fearsome duo. Be sure to keep an eye on Freeney and Mathis using all the tools they are equipped with in trying to make David Garrard's life a living hell. If the Colts are able to own the line of scrimmage on defense and force the Jaguars to pass this will make the Colts chances of winning ten times better.
Lastly, let's hope we see some improvement from the special teams. Thus far I have yet to see any drastic improvement on special teams. We shouldn't expect to see returners stoned inside their 20 yard line each and every kickoff or punt, but at the same time, would it kill someone to tackle a returner before giving up a 30+ yard return? Honestly.