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2017 Colts Opponent Scouting Report: Week 7, Jaguars Special Teams, Wildcards, and a Prediction

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Detroit Lions Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Overview

On October 22, 2017, the Indianapolis Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this week seven match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of what we’re up against.

The Jags finished 2016 with 3 wins and 13 losses. One of those wins came against our Colts. Our win against that bad Jags team came at home and is best remembered by the visual of a pumped up Andrew Luck running off the field, wearing a brace on nearly every visible joint, pumping his fist like a kid who just won the Super Bowl. This all despite the win coming against a 3-12 team at a time the Colts had already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Luck’s display of fight and competitiveness will live on in memory but this time the Colts will have to face the Jags without Luck — hopefully, his absence won’t hurt our chances this time around. Let’s figure out what we can expect in week seven.


Kicker: Jason Myers Josh Lambo

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On the season Myers is 11 of 15 on field goals and 15 of 17 on extra points. The word on Myers is that he has a big leg and will turn kickoffs into touchbacks regularly. The problem is, he’s only hitting 73.3% of his attempted field goals and for a kicker with a “big leg”, he’s missed all three he’s attempted from beyond 50 yards.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter if he misses wide one direction or the other, or if the kick falls short, a miss is a miss and for a team that relies so heavily on their running game, Jason Myers could have a big impact one way or another.

UPDATE: The Jags have cut kicker Jason Myers and signed Josh Lambo.

He’s a kicker so I’m not going to spend much time researching yet another kicker but here’s what I know, he has a career field goal average of 81.3%

So there’s that.


Punter: Brad Nortman

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t long ago that the Jags took punter Bryan Anger in the 3rd round of the draft. Why anyone would take a punter in the 3rd round is beyond me. Besides the fact that they wasted a day two pick on a guy whose entire job is to give the ball back to the other team they couldn’t re-sign him after his rookie deal because he didn’t want to play for a team stupid enough to draft him in the third round. Easy to understand, really.

Instead, the Jags signed Nortman away from the Carolina Panthers. So far this season Nortman is bottom five in every major punting stat with the exception of balls downed inside the 20.

Once again, it’s odd for a team that is going to lean heavily on ball control and field position that they haven’t gone out and found specialists who are even decent. Nortman’s ability to pin the opponent deep is absolutely beneficial in that pursuit but he seems completely unable to flip the field if his offense doesn’t get the ball to at least their own 35-yard line.


Returner: Marqise Lee Probably Won’t Return Anything

Despite being named as the starter at both kick and punt returner the Jags seem to have declared their current WR1 too valuable to throw to the special teams wolves. As a result, he has still returned a few punts with almost no success and he has yet to return a kick this season. This clip from last year shows, it’s probably a good thing they’re saving him for Blake Bortles to throw to. Bold strategy.

In his stead, the Jags have thrown out Corey Grant, Keelan Cole, and Tommy Bohanon. Together they have an average of 19.1 yards per kick return and a long of 28 yards. I’m not saying one of those guys couldn’t break off a long one, I’m saying I would be very surprised.


Wildcards of the game

These are the “if” guys of our match-up. If they live up to the hype, draft position, or past success they could impact the game in a big way. This week I believe the biggest wildcards are Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette.

Blake Bortles

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Bortles isn’t a good NFL quarterback. He is capable of being a conservative game manager if he plays inside of his skill set. If he can find it within himself to take check downs, without forcing throws downfield and just be okay punting the ball, he could consistently win games this way.

If he comes out and does the opposite our talented secondary could manage to come up with a few big plays in this one. Blake Bortles should never be put in a position to win or lose a game for this team, but if he finds himself in that position, I feel good about our chances.

Leonard Fournette

Los Angeles Rams v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

More than half of Fournette’s rushing yards in week 6 came on a single run. Roughly half of Fournette’s rushing yards in week 5 came on a single run. You can’t take those runs away from the guy, he was the one that broke them, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that without those two game-changing runs, in the past two weeks he’s carried the ball 47 times and gained 146 yards, good for a 3.11 yards per carry average.

He did that against the Steelers and the Rams who are the 23rd and 29th ranked teams against the run, respectively. If we can keep him from breaking off a long run there is a real chance we hold the NFL’s second-leading rusher to a sub 3.0 yards per carry average.


Final Thoughts for the Week

These Jags are improved. We’ve heard every year for the last decade that the Jags have turned the corner, they could challenge for the AFC South title. We’ve heard about the talent and about how much potential they have.

For once, it seems that the Jags have actually improved. Their defense is truly, really good. It isn’t ‘15 Broncos, ‘02 Buccaneers, ‘00 Ravens or ‘85 Bears good, but it’s really good. As these guys grow in the next couple of years it could be really bad news for the Colts.

With that said, the Jags offense just isn’t there yet. No part of their game scares me. Fournette can pound the rock for four quarters, but as long we stay in front of him, he can’t win the game by himself.


Prediction

Jags 17

Colts 16


Draft Watch

This segment will keep an eye on our draft positioning as the year progresses. No, I’m not suggesting that we throw the season or that we should all look forward to the draft. Rather I hope that this will allow us all to be aware of next off-season and realize how much our 2018 outlook can change from week to week.

I would like to point out a really cool site that covers the NBA, NHL and NFL: Tankathon. It has a funny name but it serves a cool purpose, weeding out tie breakers to show who is slated to draft where.

2018 Colts Draft Position Post Week Three:

4th Overall

Every year Colts fans clamor at the possibility of trading down in the first round to acquire additional picks. It’s a good theory, more picks could lead to more talent, the trade-off is the talent you pass on with your pick. If the Colts do find themselves drafting in the top 5 picks, this will be the most likely year to actually see a trade down.

With that said, I hope they don’t. The kind of player we could get in the top 5 is the kind of player that can change the projection of a franchise for a decade or more. The top 5 is going to be a buffet of pass rushing, quarterback blocking, pass intercepting, touchdown catching options. Less, on the receiver front for those keeping score at home, but there may be as many as 5 first round offensive tackles drafted this year and a top 5 pick would mean we would likely have our first choice. On the other side of the ball the same is true of pass rushing threats and again, at 4th overall, we probably get to pick the highest rated player on our board before anyone else has a chance to.

Hopefully, we don’t end up with the 4th overall pick. Hopefully, we end up much later in the draft. No matter what happens this year, I can promise you the 2018 offseason is going to be a wild, exciting ride.