Feels like an eternity since the Colts last played a game. I started getting that lonely, depressed feeling I get sometime around June when I know it's a good two months before anything NFL-related happens. Speaking of June, it's late October and its 80 degrees outside. WTF! Fall weather shouldn't be this hot. I watched the Giants and 49ers play (groan) and players were getting heat exhaustion on the field.
Again, it's late October. What gives?
Anyway, we finally get to watch our Colts play tonight after fifteen days off. It was early October when we last saw the Colts play. Now, it's late October. I was starting to get the shakes.
Week Seven: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Location: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Kick-off time: 8:40 PM EDT
Per usual, the Colts have yet another tough game. It's the third division round game scheduled for the Colts in six weeks. Of all the division road games, this is the one the Colts have placed the most emphasis on, imho. That's no slight to Houston and Tennessee, both tough teams that play tough at home. Jacksonville, however, is especially important because last time the Colts ventured into Jag Land I nearly lost my sh*t, MasterRWayne openly contemplated suicide, and every pundit and prognosticator from here on up to Colin Cowherd's colon was saying the Colts are D.O.N.E. Not a fun time. Not a fun game. It was the low point of 2006; rock bottom. Fortunately, from there, the Colts built themselves back up and went on to win it all. Jacksonville, despite their impressive December win against Indy, lost the rest of their games and kept each other warm at home while they watched the Colts dominate in the playoffs and go on to win the Super Bowl.
This time around, both teams are dramatically different. While players like Manning, Jones-Drew, Freeney, Stroud, Clark, and Henderson are still playing, many new faces grace the depth charts of both these teams. David Garrard is FINALLY the undisputed starting QB in Jacksonville, and it looks like Bob Sanders will FINALLY get to play against the Jags. He missed both games last season. With that in mind, here are the keys:
The BSBD. Behold! The return of the Bob Sanders Beatdown Defense (or BSBD for those of you who have trouble with words). That's right, I've got a strong feeling that we will see Bob close to the LOS tonight with the Colts in a Cover 3 defensive scheme. While RB Maurice Jones-Drew is an impressive player (I thought that before the December rushing rape last season), he has yet to meet Mr. Sanders. The same holds true for Fred Taylor. Fred, typically, kills the Colts. However, in the two games Bob Sanders played against the Jags, Fred Taylor did jack
bubcusbupkis. Per usual, Big Bob is a big key tonight. If he and the Colts contain Jacksonville's vaunted rushing attack, it will force a normally efficient David Garrard to throw more than he likes to. This means Freeney. This means Mathis. This means Garrard running for his life.
Bob points to God, who Bob just tackled for a loss.
Offensive line. This crew has been tremendous to start this season, especially considering they are breaking in a rookie LT. Tonight, they get Marcus Stroud, John Henderson, and Reggie Hayesworth. Have fun, fellas.
Seriously, it seems every week LT Tony Ugoh has to go up against another premiere DE. The strength of this Jaguars team is their defense, in particular their front four. They shut down your run and make you one dimensional. The key is the Colts o-line establishing themselves, opening running lanes for Joseph Addai and, maybe, Kenton Keith.
- Freddie Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler. The two men most responsible for the Rushing Rape of '06 are now playing for other teams. I'm talking specifically of Cato June and Gilbert Gardner. The Jags game last year sealed their fates. No way was Polian going to re-sign Cato after that game, and Gardner's putrid performance in Jacksonville last year cost him his starting job by halftime of that game. In their places are Freddie KO and Tyjuan Hagler. Hagler gets his first start at SAM this week. He's replacing the benched Rocky Boiman, who was himself replacing the injured Rob Morris, who was himself taking over for Gilbert Gardner, who sucked. Freddie KO seems fully healed from dislocating his elbow. This is big. Unlike Cato June, Freddie can actually tackle someone. Freddie also hits really, really, really hard. If God hurts when Bob hits, then either Jesus or Moses or maybe St. Peter hurt when Freddie hits. Freddie hasn't yet touched God, but he's in the neighborhood. Hagler, meanwhile, has shown a knack for making plays. As shonuff stated here, Hagler can bring an extra element to the SAM position that Boiman just doesn't bring. Perhaps. I'll be watching these two closely tonight. They must play well for Indy to slow down the Jaguars' run game.
As always, please check out Big Cat Country for some perspective from the kitty fan. RiverCityRage (aka Chris) runs that blog, and he used to contribute over here back before he got the Jaguars blog.
Again, it seems each week it's another big game, another big stage. Soon I start getting used to it, but really I don't want to. The excitement is too fun, the anticipation to grand.