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Preview Week Three: Jaguars at Colts

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It is rare one gets a "must win" game in September, but that is the way it is looking for the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is a big game for the Colts as well. All division games are big. But, for the Jags, this is do or (perhaps) die. Starting 0-3, losing two division games in the process, is a pretty deep hole to climb out of. That is why we should expect a very determined, very "anything goes" attack from the Jaguars this week.

Week Three: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium- Indianapolis, IN
Kick-off Time: 4:15pm Eastern
Broadcast: CBS

Like the Colts, the Jags are very beat-up, in particular along the offensive line. Their starting center, Brad Meester, tore his bicep. He’s just now coming back to practice. Their reserve tackle, Richard Collier, was tragically wounded in a targeted shooting. Collier is still recovering, and we wish him well in his recovery. OT Todd Wade has also been hurt. The spotted kitties are also missing their prized free agent signing, WR Jerry Porter. Porter tore his hamstring in training camp, and a torn hamstring is not something that heals in just a few months. With all these offensive line problems and the absence of anyone at the WR position who can do anything, the Jags offense has really struggled. David Garrard threw 3 INTs all of last year. He has 3 in his first two games this year. But it is not the Jaguars offense that has been the most puzzling. It’s their defense. Here is something from Chris on their loss to Buffalo last week:

Trent Edwards was 20-25 for 239 and completed his first ten passes. Mathis hasn't been close to his 06 form and like most recent losses, every defensive series can best be summed up with stuffing the run and giving a QB all the time he needs.

The Jags have had a hard time the first two games pressuring the QB. In Week One, they let rookie phenom Chris Johnson run all over them. In Week Two, Trent Edwards looked like Jim Kelly. Knowing this, and knowing that the Colts are likely to have TE Dallas Clark and OC Jeff Saturday back for Sunday’s grudge match, here are the keys:

  • Jacksonville has a new defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams) and a new defensive approach. They blitz more, have more complex coverages, and do many different things to disguise both. The last time the Colts played a Gregg Williams defense, they lit it up. But that was then. This time around, if the Jags follow the game plans of Chicago and Minnesota by crowding the line of scrimmage, the Colts must protect Peyton as he will likely go deep, looking for the big play. For two weeks, Colts WRs (in particular Reggie Wayne) have dropped several passes that would have gone for TDs or big yardage. In the second half against the Vikes, the Colts finally started to hit on those plays, and it cost the Vikings big time. Peyton is getting healthier, and if you blitz or crowd the line against a healthy Peyton, you will get burned. This might be (and I stress might, because the Jags are good) the week Peyton breaks out and lights someone up.
  • Containing Fred Taylor is a must. Last year, the Colts swept the Jags in dominant fashion because Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew were neutralized. This year, the Colts run defense has reverted to 2006 form, and the last time that kind of defense played the Jags the result was nearly 300 yards rushing surrendered. Eric Foster proved he is a keeper at DT, but he is under-sized playing "nose tackle" in the Tampa 2 scheme. Bill Polian said that Lajuan Ramsey will see more snaps at DT this week as he gets more comfortable playing in this scheme. The Colts run defense found itself in the second half of last week’s game, limiting Adrian Peterson to 39 yards on 16 attempts. But, with SS Bob Sanders out for 6 weeks, the Colts will not be able to run the same Cover 3 defense they deploy against teams who run the ball on them. Melvin Bullitt is a good safety and will fill-in just fine for Bob. But what is key are the DTs, Freddie Keiaho, and Gary Brackett. They must bring the ball carrier down hard.
  • Justin Forsett needs to get the Colts good field position. Special teams could be the equalizer this week. Coverage units have played well, for the most part, and Adam Vinatieri is booming kicks into the endzone. But it is KR Justin Forsett who needs t make something happen. He showed promise last week, and now he needs to deliver some.

As always, Chris at BCC is cross-blogging here and doing some great things at Big Cat. It has been a joy to see BCC’s community grow and prosper. Contrary to popular belief, the Jaguars do have a passionate fanbase. This game will likely turn those passionate fans into wild, rapid dogs. This is a big game. Both these teams are rivals with a lot of bad blood. It will be nerve racking, but entertaining. Not used to big games in September? Welcome to AFC South football.