With the Colts facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson talked with Big Cat Country's Ryan Day about the Eagles and this Sunday's matchup. The questions are in bold and then Ryan's responses follow.
1. I think the thing most fans are wondering about doesn't really have to do with this Sunday's game, but does it seem like Blake Bortles will play anytime soon? He's obviously their quarterback of the future for the Jaguars - how long until he becomes their quarterback of the present?
Forget about wanting Bortles being the quarterback of our future, he should have been the quarterback of our past too. Chad Henne has been exactly who we thought he was (or, sadly, worse) through the preseason and first two weeks of the season. Bortles, however, shows more athleticism, quicker decision-making, and elevates those around him in a way that Henne doesn't. I don't get head coach Gus Bradley's stubbornness on this. Is it fear? Naivety? I don't know, and I'll probably never know.
There's no clear timetable for Bortles to start. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has said Bortles is "mentally ready" to be in the game. We saw very clearly he was ready to be in the game this preseason. Bradley, however, is holding firm.
I'm hoping we see a quarterback change in the season opener, but that's unlikely. Probably the Pittsburgh Steelers home game in Week 5 is a more probable estimate.
2. The Jaguars obviously have offensive line issues. The Colts obviously have pass rush issues. How do you see that matchup playing out on Sunday?
I think when a stoppable force meets a movable object, you've got a great matchup.
In all seriousness though, I generally think bad defensive lines have the edge over bad offensive lines when it comes to pass rushing because bad offensive lines aren't simply a product of themselves, but a symptom of a bad offense altogether. And that's exactly what's happening in Jacksonville. The Colts will get a couple of sacks at the Jaguars expense simply because the running game is bad and Henne's reads are slower than they need to be.
3. The Jaguars have given up the fourth most yards per game and rank dead last in points per game allowed (and a full six points more than the second worst team). Should we expect this defense to continue to be at the bottom of the league? Is there hope for them, or is this something they're pretty much stuck with this year?
With Johnathan Cyprien back from a concussion injury, look for the Jaguars secondary to improve dramatically from last week. His support was greatly missed against Washington and the secondary looked confused. Cyprien stabilizes the secondary and keeps them focused. He's a great "center-fielder" if you will. If the Jaguars can convert third downs and give our defensive linemen some rest in between series, I think his presence will help when Andrew Luck is pressured into rushing the throw.
4. Who is a player on offense and a player on defense that Colts fans should keep an eye on this week?
On offense, watch Allen Hurns. I know he's gotten a lot of pub so far with a stellar Week 1, but I think he's the best receiver on the team. If Henne gets time, and Hurns has the time to get through his route, he's got great hands. He's also got great separation despite the fact that he's not really a "burner". Hurns knows where his strengths lie and maximizes them.
On defense, look for Sen'Derrick Marks. He's not going to show up in the box score, but he makes other guys better by absorbing blocks or filling gaps.
5. So Toby Gerhart - how's he looking? What are the expectations for him this season?
Gerhart... it's tough. I want him to be great, and I think he can be, but he needs a better offensive line and a threat in the passing game. Teams are filling the box with seven and eight guys and Gerhart's strength comes when the defense is spread out. I think when the passing game comes together (see: when Bortles is starting) you'll see a much more improved offensive line and, by association, Gerhart.
He's also a great option as a receiver, so when cornerbacks are giving our receivers space and there's room in the flat, look for Gerhart to pick up momentum.
Thanks again to Ryan Day of Big Cat Country for taking the time to answer these questions!