In Week 1, our Indianapolis Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Knowing the party was coming to town 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.
CS: A couple days ago a buddy of mine asked me for a dark horse team to make the AFC Championship game this year and I thought about it long and hard and I came up with the Jaguars. After I finished gagging, I realized that Pederson and Lawrence put you guys solidly in the driver’s seat of the AFC South, so my question for you is, how does that feel? It’s been a long time since 2010 for me.
Gus- The last time Jacksonville won back-to-back division titles they played in the AFC Central. Expectations are wildly different now with Lawrence and Pederson, but still, I’m not sure it’s truly hit most fans how special that combination will become. Once the franchise appears in its first Super Bowl you won’t hear the end of it from Duval.
CS: Now that I’ve said nice things about the Jags, I feel like I can point out that at times last year that defense stunk. The corpse of Matt Ryan threw for 389 yards and 3 touchdowns in week six (week two didn’t happen), is the feeling around the team this season that the defensive side of the ball will start out hotter than they did a season ago or is Trevor Lawrence going to try to outscore all their problems?
Gus- Defense is definitely a concern after the Jaguars failed to add any notable depth in the offseason. Their stars & scrubs approach at cornerback and EDGE is worrisome, as just one big injury could tank that entire side of the ball. The organization is banking on development from second-year Jaguars: not just sophomore pros like Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd, but also returning free agent signings like Foye Oluokun and Darious Williams.
Jacksonville’s apparent plan to outscore every opponent is thrilling in theory but we’ll see how it plays out.
CS: Last year’s number one overall pick Travon Walker didn’t light up the box score a season ago but the book on him was that he might be a guy that would need some time. How has he looked in camp and preseason and how are the Jags and their fans feeling about Walker heading into year two?
Gus- I admittedly spent more time watching skill players during camp and preseason than anything else (and how can you blame me with Calvin Ridley in town). From what I have seen and heard, though, Walker’s performances this camp and preseason haven’t been as impressive as team brass may have hoped. He hasn’t been bad! But the first-overall pick isn’t developing as a pass rusher quite as quickly as the team may need next him to opposite Josh Allen.
That said, Walker has been asked to play EDGE nearly full-time after moving across the defensive line at Georgia. More snaps along the Jaguars’ interior would help, and it’s possible that could happen sooner than later with recent injuries to DaVon Hamilton and Foley Fatukasi.
CS: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Jaguars are five-point road favorites coming into this one. Do you feel that’s fair and how much are you putting down?
Gus- As a recent Gator alum, I know firsthand the danger Anthony Richardson presents. I think it’s gone a little under the radar how challenging it will be for the Jaguars to game plan against a rookie dual-threat quarterback and first-time head coach.
But that challenge is offset by how easily Doug Pederson can manipulate Gus Bradley’s defense. Pederson had his number in both contests last year, and the biggest mismatch in the game might be Ridley and Jacksonville’s receivers against Indy’s corners. I think Rid and the whole offense will start off hotter than expected — give me a Jaguars alternate spread of 10-plus points.
CS: Colts Rookie QB Anthony Richardson figures to have a very up and down season. How well do you think the Jaguars defense will play him and do you think they’ll be able to keep off the highlight reels?
Gus- I’d almost be surprised if Richardson didn’t have a SportsCenter Top-10 play every week, but he is far from a consistent or accurate passer right now. As long as the Jaguars play sound — not breaking contain, finishing tackles, preventing explosive passes — he and the Colts offense will be kept in check. It’s more of Jacksonville’s game to lose than Richardson’s game to win on that side of the ball.
This is the first game of many for Anthony Richardson. I don’t need to tell you what his development means for the franchise but for the sake of Gus’ prediction of a 10 point Jaguars win, I sure hope Richardson’s development happens sometime in the second quarter and the second half is all Colts. Realistically, this one should go the Jags way, but the element of surprise is on the Colts side. It’s week one so anything could happen. Either way, Indianapolis Colts football will finally be exciting to watch again and that’s fantastic news.
I’d like to thank Gus Logue of Big Cat Country for taking the time to talk Colts vs. Jags, it was the first time he and I had a chance to talk and it won’t be the last. Hopefully next time I get to gloat a little about week one.
As always, go Colts.