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2018 opponent scouting report: Jaguars offense—we should all be thankful for Blake Bortles

NFL: International Series-Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports


On November 11, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this week ten match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our new-look Colts.

The last time these two teams faced off was December 3rd of last year. The game ended up being a 30 to 10 win for a Jaguars team who has won four of the last five against our Colts. Given that the Manning-era Colts owned the AFC South for the better part of a decade, that’s not good. Hopefully this Sunday we see our Colts get things going in the right direction and come away with a win against a crumbling Jags team.

Let’s figure out what we can expect in week ten.

Offensive Scheme

Jags offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett runs an Air Coryell system.

Traditionally an Air Coryell system features a lot of single back sets, three wide receivers, pre-snap movement and deep looks down the field. These Jags run a lot of plays out of the I-formation giving heavy 21 personnel looks. With that said, they implement a lot of looks from the gun using 4 and 5-wide sets and, like classic Coryell systems, they look to push the ball down the field.

I fully expect to see a lot of passing concepts that stretch the field and create multiple easy reads for Blake Bortles. One of those concepts you can bank on seeing is the sail concept. The Jaguars like to give their quarterback simple reads and do so by stretching the defense and creating levels. Something else we can plan to see is the drive concept.

Stretching the defense to create a hole in the zone:

Blake Bortles needs quick and easy reads. This play was designed to attack zone coverage and it worked like a charm. If I had to guess I would say the receiver who caught the ball was his first option on the play. When the slot receiver came to the middle of the field and sat down, it kept both linebackers inside and out of his passing lane. The cornerbacks and safety are playing a cover three and aren’t going to get beat deep and the other defensive back who covers the tight end in the flat, create the perfect throwing lane and an easy completion.

This is where Bortles thrives. If he can get simple zone defensive looks and very little pressure he can look very good (as every NFL quarterback should be able to).

Every now and then they hit something like this:

Here the quarterback gets a look he likes in man to man coverage, otherwise the smart money is on hitting one of the underneath crossers. Instead they got a matchup they liked and the quarterback made a great throw.

You can call it a pick if you want:

But Donte Moncrief was wide open on this play. If you notice, there were more crossing routes and a quick release for Bortles. The crossing routes create confusion and give Bortles an easy read on a short pass. Once again, every NFL quarterback should complete this pass.

There it is:

The old Air Coryell in full effect. The Jags run a play action fake and give Bortles a max protect look sending two receivers deep down field, the receivers cross paths and given the safety playing deep, neither of the receivers are able to separate from their defenders leaving Bortes standing in the backfield as the pocket collapses. He is able to get this pass off but it wasn’t a good looking over-throw.

The Run Game:

The Jags will run a lot of man blocking schemes but will throw in a zone scheme from time to time as well.

I included this clip because the Cowboys play nearly the same defense we do and while the Cowboys defense has been good this season, this is what happens when someone fails to fill their gap assignment.

The most dangerous weapon for the Jaguars offense: Blake Bortles running the ball.

I saw Blake Bortles rush throws and make mistakes but the most dangerous play the Jags have isn’t one you can draw up. It’s the Blake Bortles scramble. It can’t be drawn up but I’ve seen it work enough to know if his first (maybe second) passing option is well covered Bortles will likely try to scramble and Jags fans might want him to.

The Jaguars offense is a good one. It’s using the talent they actually have instead of talent they wish they had. With that said the entire offense lives and dies with a single person.


Blake Bortles is an interesting cat. Some days he plays well, some he looks, well, awful. As of today many have criticized and will continue to criticize Tom Coughlin for failing to bring in a competent quarterback to compete with Bortles.

Instead of making a move and trying to grab a QB to get them over the hump, the Jags did nothing and instead handed the reigns back over to a man clearly incapable of winning with any kind of consistency.

Depending on who you believe the Jags were trying to trade for a QB up until the deadline this season. Rumor has it they made an offer for Nick Foles amongst others.

This play sums up Blake Bortles perfectly. It’s 4th and one yard to go. The game is on the line. Bortles has a receiver running as wide open as you can possibly be in the NFL (due to busted coverage) and instead of throwing him the ball for what would have been a walk-in touchdown, Blake, determined to pick up that single yard, tucks the ball away and sprints for a two yard gain.

Look, I’ve ripped on Bortles a lot here and rightfully so. But with a clean pocket against simple zone coverage, it’s completely possible Bortles has a big day statistically. Anything is possible.

Running Back:

Well this is a mess.

That’s TJ Yeldon. He’s currently leading the Jags in rushing yards with 334 on the year. The Jags also went out and traded for Carlos Hyde and they also expect to get former 4th overall pick, Leonard Fournette back from injury.

Now I know that seems like a good problem to have, but thus far in 2018 the Jags rank 24th in total rushing yards after leading the league in 2017. They haven’t been getting the job done in the run game and with Fournette back, I think they have to give the Colts a healthy dose of Fournette and we’ll see what he can do. Based on the past couple of games from the Colts front seven, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this matchup. If Fournette is back and ready to roll and both Yeldon and Hyde are ready to spell the former fourth overall pick, they could give the Colts trouble.

I honestly don’t have any idea what to expect here. The Jags could rush for 45 yards or 145 and it wouldn’t shock me either way. As of right now the Jags are the 24th ranked rushing offense. If this were week three, I would predict that the Jags wouldn’t find any running room. Given the effort we’ve seen from the Colts front seven the past couple weeks, it truly could go either way.

Pass Catchers:

Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are the names you need to know.

Donte Moncrief leads all Jaguars receivers with 57 targets, he’s tied for third/fourth on the team with 29 catches but the most amazing thing about Moncrief’s season; he’s healthy. After the 2015 season, Moncrief didn’t play in more than 12 games and so far he’s 8 for 8 this year. He’s only on pace for 760 yards but that’s probably due to his quarterback.

T.J. Yeldon currently leads the Jags with 37 receptions but Dede Westbrook (an actual receiver) is second on the team with 33. Westbrook has 435 yards for the season and nearly a 69% catch rate.

Keelan Cole is the other receiver tied with Moncrief with 29 receptions but he does catch around 10% more of his targets than the former Colt. D.J. Chark is a rookie from LSU he hasn’t had a big impact but he does have 23 targets on the year.

I always try to talk about the opponents’ tight end in this section but Austin Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t really done much in this offense, 11 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown could easily be a single game for Jack Doyle, to be fair he has missed three games this year, either way the Jags don’t use tight ends heavily in their offense.

As Colts fans we should all feel pretty lucky that Bortles is the guy throwing these guys the ball because the Jags have some really talented pass catchers. As a group they are much better than the Indianapolis Colts defensive backs. If Bortles has time to throw he’s going to have open receivers all day on Sunday.

Offensive Line:

Starters from left to right: Josh Walker, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell.

Walker was an UDFA out of Middle Tennessee State, originally signed by the Colts who has been with the Packers, Texans and now the Jags. He’s been thrust into a starting role due to an injury to Cam Robinson. The Jags were so decimated by injuries and desperate for help at tackle they went out and signed Ereck Flowers. Walker isn’t great but the Jags are one rolled-up-on ankle away from starting Ereck Flowers at left tackle and their current left tackle isn’t much better.

Andrew Norwell. Ah the free agent nearly all Colts fans agreed on. I won’t lie, I wanted Norwell in Indianapolis. The former all-pro signed a five year $66.5 million contract with the Jags. Now I won’t tell you that he’s played poorly.

However, he hasn’t he’s played like an above average guard. He hasn’t played like an All Pro who earned a bigger payday than anyone at his position ever had before. He has given up sacks this year looking slow-footed and over-matched. Andrew Norwell has, so far, been a free agent bust.

Brandon Linder, by all accounts has played well but a good center doesn’t fix the other issues. A.J. Cann is at absolute best an average guard. He isn’t great but he’s better than Jeremy Vujnovich.

At right tackle is Jermey Parnell. Parnell might be the Jags best offensive lineman this year. He had a really rough game against the Chiefs but has otherwise been consistently solid.

I expect the Colts to be able to generate pressure, inside and out and I think the Jags and Colts battle in the trenches will be pretty even on this side of the ball. Look for the left side of the offensive line any time Bortles has to drop back.

What to Expect from the Colts Defense:

The Colts need to figure out how to generate pressure up front. The hope is they can do it with their front four. If they can, the back end of the defense will work itself out. If they can’t generate pressure and they have to start bringing five pass rushers, the Colts will be in man coverage more often than they should. The Colts just don’t have the talent at cornerback to cover the Jags wide receivers man to man.

This won’t be an easy game.