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Behind Enemy Lines: What Colts fans should know about the Jaguars ahead of the home opener

Unpacking the strategy and sentiments from the Jaguars’ head coach as the Colts gear up for Sunday’s opener.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As we anxiously wait for the weekend’s face-off against our AFC South rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars, we thought it’d be interesting to peek into the Jaguars’ camp. The Jaguars’ head coach, Doug Pederson, recently opened up about his team’s preparations and game plan. Here’s an inside look into what Jacksonville thinks and says about our upcoming showdown, for which DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as 3.5-point underdogs.

A Calm and Focused Jaguars Team:

Head Coach Doug Pederson emphasized his squad's calm and focused nature heading into the Lucas Oil Stadium. The coach credits his demeanor for this, stating, “If I’m calm, they will be calm.” As Colts fans, we know all too well the importance of a team’s mental state during these high-stakes divisional games. Pederson believes his team is mentally ready for the battle.

Spotlight on Jaguars’ Defense:

Travon Walker: Pederson appears quite optimistic about their second-year SAM linebacker, Travon Walker. Labeling him as someone “headed in the right direction,” the young linebacker might be someone our offense needs to watch out for.

Andre Cisco: Another name popping up in Pederson’s press conference is third-year safety Andre Cisco. The coach believes Cisco has returned this season with heightened confidence. As one of the Jaguars’ defensive leaders, Anthony Richardson and the Colts’ receiving corps must be alert, ensuring they can keep him away from the football.

Jaguars’ Offense — Players to Keep an Eye On:

Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley: While the duo has been the talk of the offseason, the under-the-radar players sometimes spring the biggest surprises.

Travis Etienne: Despite the media’s fascination with Lawrence and Ridley, Pederson highlighted Travis Etienne, their third-year running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. The Jaguars hint at a more run-centric approach, with Etienne leading the charge. Given our defense’s track record against the run, this could be a key battleground on Sunday.

Calvin Ridley: Ridley’s explosive speed and catching ability make him a significant threat. After missing a season, Sunday will be a true test of his form and capability. Our defense must be on its toes to prevent Ridley from making those game-changing plays.

Ben Bartch: The return of guard Ben Bartch, after recovering from injury to the Jaguars’ offensive line, could be a boost for their offense. Pederson’s confidence in Bartch suggests he’s expected to play a significant role in shielding their quarterback and creating running lanes for Etienne.

Pederson’s Offensive Expectations:

Pederson’s ambitious goal of scoring around 27 points per game for the Jaguars provides insights into his offensive game plan. While this might seem lofty, it emphasizes the importance of our defense stepping up and disrupting their rhythm. Gus Bradley and the new-look defense, primarily the young secondary, must ensure the Jaguars don’t get anywhere near that mark on Sunday.

And. Here. We. Go!

Pederson’s words paint a picture of a confident and prepared Jacksonville team as the kickoff draws near. However, with home-field advantage and new energy on the Colts sideline, Sunday’s game should be fun to watch.