The Jacksonville Jaguars have only one win this season – over the Indianapolis Colts, beating them 22-17 in week 3. A lot of things have changed since then: Andrew Luck has grown to be very comfortable in the NFL, leading his team to four wins over their last five games, while the Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the NFL.
Blaine Gabbert takes a lot of heat for the numbers he produces – 1429 yards, 58% completions, 9 touchdown passes.But, he’s 3-0 in his career against the Indianapolis Colts, including this season, helped by Maurice Jones-Drew running for 177 yards against the Colts’ terrible run defense. Problem for him and the Jags? Jones-Drew will be out for a third consecutive game, and Jacksonville are on the verge of losing six consecutive games for the first time since the 2003 season.
What works for them? Nothing much, but it’s pretty clear that without establishing a running game, there’s not much the Jags can do. They’re last in the NFL in total yards (254.4 per game) and point (14.6 per game), and have been painful to watch at times when they try to move the ball.
Rashad Jennings, with 194 yards on 63 carries this season, will have to be the one that carries the load in the running game, although it’s not quite clear if he’s capable of doing that. The good thing about Jennings is his ability to run inside, and the Colts are terrible at defending the middle when it comes to rushing.
Whatever the Jaguars can do, and it isn’t very much, this game is much more up to Andrew Luck and his ability to shake off his problems when playing away from his home stadium. Luck’s 2404 yards are a bit deceiving He has 10 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions, but his completion ratio should be much better, completing 56.5% of his passes. His 79.0 passer rating tells us that while he puts up big numbers when it comes to yards, it’s more of a volume number than an indication he’s great straight out of college.
Don’t get me wrong. Luck is doing as well as you could expect from a rookie quarterback on a flawed team, even better. The Colts, who still have to play in New England, in Detroit and twice against Houston are a shocking 5-3, winning twice against NFC North teams. A lot of it has to do with Luck’s fantastic ability in the pocket and also being quite a good runner, already scoring 3 touchdowns this season and averaging 5.5 yards per rush.
It’ll be about how he connects with his favorite target, Reggie Wayne, with 835 yards on 61 receptions so far this season. Wayne’s streak of 1000 yard seasons was halted last year because the Colts were terrible at pretty much everything, but he’s still and elite receiver Luck has also been using T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery more and more, with the two combining for 210 yards last week.
Predictions – With MJD, the Jags could at least run the ball. Now, they can’t throw, run, stop the run or stop the pass. Sound like a recipe for another home loss, where they are 0-4 and have been outscored 126-34.