The Jacksonville Jaguars need a win in the worst possible way. Fortunately for them, their Week 2 opponent is one of the few against whom they have a positive streak.
The Jaguars (0-1) haven’t lost to the Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1) since 2014, when Gus Bradley and Chuck Pagano were the head coaches and Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck were the quarterbacks. Now the Jaguars get another chance to extend one of their few successful streaks.
So how do we at Jaguar Report see Sunday? John Shipley and Brett Hone weigh in below.
1) Can Trevor Lawrence bounce back against the Colts or will it be a long season?
Shipley: I think he could have a big game because the Jaguars have the edge in the scheme. Doug Pederson should be able to scheme Gus Bradley’s Cover 3 defense, a structure defense that should allow Lawrence to get easy yards underneath. This is where Lawrence was at his best last week, so we hope for his sake he can continue this week. On the other hand, Lawrence will likely have a few head-scratching throws every game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play a big role on Sunday.
Hone: Saying it will be a long season after one game is premature. Of course, Trevor Lawrence had high expectations against a vulnerable Washington Commanders defense, but this loss wasn’t all about him. Stats don’t tell the whole story, and most importantly, Lawrence showed poise in the pocket and controlled the game, a huge plus from last season. The possibility of Trevor Lawrence returning against the Colts is there.
2) Will the Jaguars really be able to slow down Jonathan Taylor?
Shipley: To an extent, but can the defense really slow down Jonathan Taylor? His four worst rushing performances as a pro came as a rookie in 2020. Since then, he’s rushed for 100 yards or more 14 times, including six games in which he reached the 150-yard mark. The Jaguars have a strong defensive front and Devin Lloyd was solid against the run a week ago, but I think even the best defensive front can only contain Taylor. He is so good. It will receive its large circulations and production on Sunday; it will be up to the Jaguars to win in the snaps he doesn’t dominate.
Hone: Jonathan Taylor is the cream of the crop when it comes to NFL running backs. In a tie against the Houston Texans last week, Taylor racked up 161 yards on 31 carries (5.2ypc) and a touchdown, continuing his dominant ways. The Jaguars did well against the run in the final game, allowing 85 total yards on 28 carries to a backfield led by Antonio Gibson. Gibson is no Jonathan Taylor. As the great Dan Patrick once said, “you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.”
3) Who is the most important player in attack and defense?
Shipley: On offense I will play with James Robinson. Robinson is arguably the best player on Jacksonville’s offense not named Brandon Scherff, and he should be treated as such through the game plan. Whether it’s powering Robinson as a drop-in in the run game or taking advantage of his pass-catching qualities against a soft coverage 3 scheme, it will be critical for the Jaguars to get Robinson even more involved this week than it was last a week.
On defense, I’ll go with Andre Sisco. If the Jaguars want to win this game, they will need the defense to once again create turnovers at a consistent clip. Matt Ryan won’t make many bad decisions, but it will be up to Cisco to make sure the Jaguars take advantage of the few times he does. Cisco had an up-and-down week last week, but there were plenty of learning moments in just his fourth career start. If he improves this week, the Jaguars could be in good shape.
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Hone: In attack, Travis Etienne is the most important player. The young running back had an eventful NFL debut. Most will remember him for a dropped fourth-down catch that could have been a touchdown. Despite the mistake, Etienne showed off his explosiveness and athleticism and did well on the ground, racking up 47 yards on just four carries. In a game where the Colts’ edge will enable the offensive line, the Jaguars will need Etienne to handle passes out of the backfield and force the Colts to respect the pass.
Defensively, it is extremely important to slow down Jonathan Taylor as much as possible. This is where strong defender Foley Fatukasi comes into play. With the Jets last season, Fatukasi was a stuffing machine, constantly demanding extra attention on defense and making life miserable for the interior linemen. Most importantly, he was effective in disrupting the rhythm of the opposing rushing attack, something the Jags desperately need to get a win against a division rival.
4) Biggest storyline going into Sunday?
The Colts didn’t put Week 18 behind them, doing their entire offseason to rebuild against the Jaguars after a shocking loss to them in the final week of the 2021 season. The Jaguars, by comparison, almost put that game behind them because of the new personnel and mostly the new roster . So in short, you have one team hyper-focused on what this game means because of the past, while another treats it as just another AFC South game. This is an important game, but perhaps more so for the Colts and their psyche. So which strategy is ultimately correct? Sunday will be our answer.
Hone: Can the Jags extend their streak against the Colts at home? The Colts haven’t won a game at TIAA Bank Field since 2014, and the Jags will hope that works in their favor.
The Colts tied for a very winnable game against the Texans in Week 1, something that certainly stoked the competitive fire and desire to rebuild. It’s up to the jaguars to put out the flames.
5) Score prediction?
Shipley: I’m conflicted. It’s hard to justify picking the Jaguars in a game, as they are 5-30 in their last 35 games with many winning contests ending in losses. With that said, three of those wins came against the Colts, and this Jaguars team is arguably more talented and better coached on offense than any of the Jaguars teams that have beaten Frank Reich’s Colts since 2019.
Jaguars 24, Colts 23. If the Jaguars don’t win this one, it could be a while before they get picked again.
Hone: Momentum may be in the Jags’ favor due to recent history, but I don’t think that gets them the win this week over a tough Colts team. The winless streak will be snapped in Duval County with a 31-14 Colts win.