This week in the Colts' locker room, Chuck Pagano and the coaching staff placed mousetraps all around to remind the team that the upcoming game was a trap game. After all, it was a game against a bad team sandwiched in between games with two very good teams.
The Colts didn't fall into the trap at all and they dominated the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars on the road. They didn't look sharp at first, but they were still scoring and still dominating. They looked good later on, and they kept scoring and dominating.
Really, that's what good teams do. Even when they're not playing their best, they still win the games they're supposed to win. That's what the Colts did today, and they're truly beginning to look like a good team. Sure, they didn't play great today. Sure, the Jaguars are terrible. But the Colts won and dominated.
People have begun mentioning the Colts as the AFC's second best team behind the Denver Broncos, and really, it's hard to argue.
One important thing to consider from this game, however, is not to read too much into it. This wasn't the best test for the Colts, against a Jaguars team that is truly awful. That said, they still deserve credit for a big win and one of the most dominating wins by the Colts in a long time. It started with the defense and didn't let up all game. Let's take a look at the game notes:
- The Colts defense was great today. Many will just chalk it up to the Jaguars being bad, and certainly, that's part of it. But still, holding the Jaguars to 5.6 yards per attempt passing and just 2.2 yards per carry rushing is impressive; as is forcing 3 turnovers. For the second straight week the Colts defense, and in particular the secondary, played very well.
- Darius Butler had a 41 yard interception return for a touchdown today, his 3rd pick-6 since joining the Colts last year. In last year's game in Jacksonville, Butler had 2 picks (one for a touchdown) and a fumble recovery and was named the AFC's defensive player of the week. Yeah, I think he likes playing in Jacksonville.
- Vontae Davis also played very well today. He had an early pick and some nice pass breakups. He looked good.
- Robert Mathis tied a career high with 3 sacks today, bringing his season total to 7.5 and his career total to 99. It was also the fourth straight game with a sack for him. It's safe to say that he has clearly exceeded expectations for this year and answered any questions that myself or others had about him entering the season. He has had a tremendous year and was great again today.
- Cory Redding also had a very good game today. He had 2 tackles for loss, a sack, and was disruptive a lot more too.
- After being great a week ago, the Colts' offensive line wasn't so good today. They gave up quite a bit of pressure on Luck and that contributed to a shaky start from number 12. From first glance, it appeared that Hugh Thornton was the weakest link on the line today, but I'll need to go back and watch before I say for sure.
- The Colts led the league in fewest penalties coming into the game with only 7 in three games combined. Today, they doubled that total by committing 7 penalties. They had a touchdown called back because of an illegal hands to the face penalty, the Colts' second touchdown called back this year due to a penalty (the one today negated a terrific throw from Andrew Luck to Reggie Wayne).
- In the first half, Andrew Luck was about as off target as I have ever seen him, as he missed quite a few passes. He had at least three passes that I can remember off the top of my head that should have been picked, and one that was (that actually set up the Jaguars' only points on the day). In the second half, however, he found his rhythm and played great. In the third quarter alone he was 7 for 7 for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the day, he was 22 of 36 (61.1%) for 260 yards, 2 touchdowns, a pick, and 2 rushes for 26 yards.
- For the first time in his career, Andrew Luck was not under center for a snap. The Colts put Matt Hasselbeck in the game late when it was already out of reach and it was a monumental move. Andrew Luck had taken every single snap in his career up to that point. Hasselbeck came in and played well, completing 2 of 3 passes for 37 yards and leading the Colts to a field goal.
- Reggie Wayne just keeps on being great. He caught 5 passes for 100 yards and a score. He became just the 11th player in NFL history with 13,000+ receiving yards and 80+ receiving touchdowns. What an incredible player and what an incredible career.
- Coby Fleener also had a great game today. He caught 5 passes for 77 yards and a score. He has really stepped up in Dwayne Allen's absence and is having the type of season that many expected he would. He looked good today.
- You know who else looks good? Donald Brown. Seriously. He actually looks really good this year. He broke a 50 yard run today right up the middle and finished with 3 carries for 65 yards. As a starter he looked bad, but I think that he has shown this year that as a change of pace back, he actually could be very good. Don't give up on Donald Brown quite yet. He's now in the role that is best for him and he has looked good there so far.
- Trent Richardson was just "meh" today. I wouldn't consider his game to be a "bad" one, but for a guy like him who is supposed to be "elite" going against the NFL's 32nd ranked run defense, it was underwhelming. Don't hit the panic button yet, but 20 carries for 60 yards, a touchdown, and a fumble just isn't going to cut it. He'll get better, I'm sure, but so far Richardson has been nothing special.
- Adam Vinatieri hit all three of his field goal tries today, bringing his season total to 7 of 9 (with both misses coming from over 50 yards out). He's having a good season too.
- Bjoern Werner didn't play much today before leaving with a sprained foot. He didn't return.
- Here are some thoughts on the Jaguars:
- I was adamant that the Jaguars needed to start Blaine Gabbert all year to see what kind of quarterback they have in him because they have to find out this year. Well, I think they've found out already. He's terrible. I mean, he's just really, really, really bad.
- I can't believe I'm actually typing this, but... why not Tebow? I mean, seriously, Blaine Gabbert is terrible and the Jaguars are awful. I guarantee you that Tim Tebow wouldn't be worse than what they already have. And if free beer doesn't get fans to come out to the game, not much that they try would. Tebow might. It won't happen, but I'm beginning to wonder if it wouldn't be better than what they have right now.
- These Jaguars might just be the worst team I have ever seen. Previously, I thought it was the 2011 Colts and then the 2008 Lions right behind them. But the 2013 Jaguars? I think they're the worst of the three.
- The Colts play the Seattle Seahawks in Indy next week. The Houston Texans took the Seahawks to overtime but Seattle pulled out the victory. Still, it showed how much different the Seahawks look on the road versus at home, and next Sunday they take to the road again to play the Colts. I never would have thought so just a few weeks ago, but I think the Colts actually will have a shot at winning that game.
- The Colts will end the day in first place in the AFC South, the only question is whether they will be in sole possession or tied with the Titans (who are playing the Jets as I write this).
- If you want to call the Colts the second best team in the AFC, go right ahead. I think I'd agree at this point. Just make sure you're not basing it completely off of this game. Because, as impressive as it was, I don't think we really learned much about this Colts team, other than the fact that they can dominate teams that they are supposed to dominate.