In Week 6, our Indianapolis Colts will travel to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Knowing the party was hitting the road I sat down with Gus Logue of Big Cat Country. You can find him on Twitter @gus_logue. We swapped questions about the Colts and Jags and what follows is what I learned about this week’s enemy.
Chris Shepherd: I’ve gone back and I’ve watched several Jaguars games this year and the conclusion I’m coming to is that Trevor Lawrence is really good at this whole quarterback thing. In my desperation to find something, anything, wrong with Lawrence, I discovered that through five games he has fumbled the ball six times! I found a flaw! He’s been sacked 13 times and he’s fumbled six times. Obviously, Jaguars fans have to be excited about his progress in year two with Doug Pederson, but is anyone concerned at all with the fumbles, or am I just showing my desperation to find a flaw with a guy I really wish the Colts didn’t have to play twice a year?
Gus Logue: I think your evaluation of Lawrence is spot-on. He is indeed really good at this whole quarterback thing, as evidenced by his fifth overall ranking via subjective graders at both Pro Football Focus and The Ringer.
Lawrence’s objective stats haven’t been as impressive; partly because the rest of the offense hasn’t always played up to his level, and partly because of untimely mistakes by Lawrence himself (like two red zone sack-fumbles last week).
I’m with you that his one flaw this season has been fumbling. But Lawrence has been great at avoiding sacks since he stepped into the league, so I think once Walker Little (sprained MCL) returns and Jacksonville’s offense line is at full strength, these concerns will be mitigated.
I’ll also add that Lawrence was near-perfect under pressure when he wasn’t sacked last week. He put on an absolute clinic against Bills blitzes, including a clutch third-down pass to Calvin Ridley against a Cover 0 look by Buffalo. The fumbles are almost worth it to get the fireworks.
CS: Both the Colts and Jaguars find themselves sitting at 3-2 heading into week six. The Jaguars took home the win the last time these two teams played in week one, in what ways have the Jaguars improved as a team? Have there been any major losses or steps backward?
GL: The offense has been slowly rounding into form over the course of the season. Lawrence has been dealing all year, but Ridley needed to knock off some rust (other receivers have also had multiple drops) and the offensive line has yet to go finish a game with its ideal starting lineup of Robinson-Little-Fortner-Scherff-Harrison (the latter of which is also a rookie getting his bearing).
But the defense? Phewwwwwwww. Mike Caldwell’s unit is playing like a top-10 defense after forcing Buffalo to punt six times last week, including four in a row to start the game. (The Bills punted just seven times from Weeks 1-4.) Jacksonville should still look for depth help at EDGE before the trade deadline, but its defense is playing better than anyone could have predicted.
CS: In the Jaguars' three wins this season the defense has forced 8 turnovers. Is this something that can continue? Has the defense reliably gotten stops otherwise, does the defense feel improved from 2022?
GL: Jacksonville’s defense has adopted a motto from senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton: “Think Turnovers.”
I was initially hesitant to buy in, as turnovers are generally flukey and not something a team should reliably count on for success — but this Jaguars defense is convincing me otherwise. Third-year safety Andre Cisco has emerged as a true ballhawk, and veteran cornerback Darious Williams made two major interceptions in the past two London games. The secondary is playing lights-out.
I think the defense is good enough to succeed without turnovers at this point, but they certainly made it an emphasis and are getting paid off for it.
CS: The Colts are winning their games, right now, in the trenches. In week five we saw them dominate the Titans on both sides of the ball. How do you think the Jaguars will look to deal with the Indy fronts and how do you feel the Jaguars match up in the trenches?
GL: I’m nervous about Jacksonville’s offense in the trenches. Walker Little looked great in his first action at left guard last week but exited the game after just 11 snaps. That means Tyler Shatley will have to go back into the starting lineup. (Ben Bartch got the Week 1 start.) Regardless, I’m expecting another big week from interior linemen DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart.
I’m very interested to see the difference in Indianapolis’ run game with Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor playing instead of Deon Jackson, who mustered 13 carries for 14 yards and two lost fumbles in Week 1. The only running backs who’ve cleared 50 yards on the ground against Jacksonville this year are Isiah Pacheco (70 yards) and Bijan Robinson (105 yards).
But the Colts will also be without Anthony Richardson, who brings a rushing element of his own. The Jaguars stack the box at the second-highest rate in the league and you can expect that to stay the same on Sunday. Jacksonville also has the fourth-best run defense by Expected Points Added per play despite the absence of defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton (back) to start the season.
Writers Note: RB’s faced: 1. Deon Jackson 14 yards on 13 carries, 2. Isiah Pacheco 70 yards on 12 carries, 3. Dameon Pierce/Devin Singletary combined for 72 yards on 23 carries, 4. Bijan Robinson 105 yards on 14 carries, 5. James Cook -4 yards on 5 carries.
CS: As of the time of this writing, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as four-point underdogs. Is that line fair and how do you see this game going? What’s the final score?
GL: I do not think this is a fair line. 4 points suggest this line would be Jags -1 on a neutral field, essentially a toss-up. Playing immediately after a 10-day trip to London is not ideal, but this team seems motivated enough to shake off any sleepiness and get a critical divisional win before its Week 7 bye. More than anything, the difference in quarterbacks makes me confident the Jaguars will win by at least a touchdown.
Writers note: I think this game is going to be a pretty interesting watch for Jaguars fans.
As of this writing, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as 4-point underdogs on the road this weekend. If you’re betting on this game, you can find updated lines at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Colts offensive and defensive lines were dominant a week ago and if they have any chance in this one, they have to do the same thing against these Jaguars. Short of dominating up front, Trevor Lawrence is too good. Jacksonville will score too many points if the Indy front seven doesn’t hit him early and often. On offense, the Colts need to blend long scoring drives with explosive runs and passes to both wear down the Jaguars' defense and keep their own defenders fresh. It all sounds simple, but we all know it isn’t. If the Colts can dominate the trenches it will give them a chance. The question then becomes, is Trevor Lawrence good enough to overcome it?
I’d like to thank Gus Logue of Big Cat Country for taking the time to talk Colts vs. Jaguars.
As always, go Colts.