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The Jacksonville Jaguars head up to Indianapolis

    • 92 posts
    August 23, 2019 10:04 AM EEST
    Colts for the first of two meetings this season. Both teams are looking to improve on a 3-5 record and get a big divisional win in order to keep playoff hopes alive. Following an off week Black DJ Chark Jerseys , we are back with our weekly Q&As with the enemy, and this week we talked to Chris Blystone of Stampede Blue — SB Nation’s premier blog for all things Indianapolis Colts. I asked Chris about Andrew Luck, Indy’s improved running game, the struggling defense and more. 1. The Indianapolis Colts are playing well right now with two straight wins and strong offense, however the level of competition hasn’t been great during this stretch. What are your realistic expectations for the Colts in the final half of the season?This Colts offense is a bit of a work in progress at the moment. They have looked like a totally different unit since getting starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo back and healthy after he missed the first five games with a hamstring injury. Additionally, the return of Marlon Mack from a hamstring injury provided a huge boost in the running game.Over the last three games, Mack has averaged 115.7 yards and a touchdown. That might be expected against the worst-in-the-league Raiders, but he also did well against the Jets and the Bills who rank 18th and 11th respectively against the run. In addition the unique contributions our two rookie running backs make to the running attack has really brought a balance to the offense that has in the past relied far too much on Andrew Luck to make something happen. Can they sustain that against top teams? That’s tough to say, but they have been able to put up points all season, so that is not really in doubt.What will hold them back is their issues on defense. The Colts’ defense is trending in the right direction, with hits across this draft. Darius Leonard is one of the more exciting Colts defenders to take the field in a very long time and has far exceeded anyone but maybe Chris Ballard’s expectations.The defensive line has a lot of talent along it, but much of that is very young. The Colts may get to see the debut of second-round pick Tyquan Lewis Sunday, and the hope is that he can provide a boost for a pass rush that has dwindled a bit over the last three or four games as injuries and the greater reps those require have taken their toll on the line’s effectiveness.The biggest issue remains in the secondary. The Colts are not very skilled at the cornerback position, and it is an area that will need to be addressed in the offseason. They have a pretty strong safety group, but injuries have been an issue there as well. It looks as though their starters will be ready to go Sunday, which should be a major boost.As with any very young defense, this team just lacks consistency. If they can develop that, and if their rookie class can continue to grow over the back half of this season, the Colts could go on a nice run and realistically expect to finish with an eight or nine win season.2. Looking at the statistics, Andrew Luck is second in the NFL in passing touchdowns, and has looked pretty good so far. Are there any signs of Luck’s shoulder injury slowing him down at this point? Has he looked comfortable in the pocket? What are your thoughts about the quarterback this season? Luck has been fantastic this season and seems like the best version of himself again. There has been a lot of talk about his yards per attempt and somehow attempting to connect that with shoulder issues, but realistically, his numbers are pretty similar to Carson Wentz’s from last season. When you factor in the injuries on the offensive line and the skill of the pass rush that the Colts have faced DJ Chark Jerseys 2019 , it has meant shorter passes in general.His pocket movement has been as good as ever, and the offensive line has been great, only allowing 10 sacks on the year, which is especially good considering that the Colts are fifth in passing attempts for the season. With that kind of time, Luck has looked incredibly comfortable and has made some really great throws. As the running game has developed, the play action pass has started to become a bigger part of the offense as well. He has continued to look more and more comfortable and confident as the season has gone on, and his relationship with Frank Reich has undoubtedly aided that. With Luck under center, this team is in every game they play.3. Defensively, Indianapolis has had its struggles. The Colts currently rank 23rd in total defense and passing defense, and 25th in terms of points allowed per game. What is the best way for a struggling Jacksonville offense take advantage of a seemingly weak Indianapolis defense? The Colts defense struggles to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. If the Jaguars want to be successful against this Colts team, they need to take advantage of the gaps in the zone left by soft coverage from the corners. Slot receivers and tight ends have eaten up those zones all season long.If the Jaguars’ offensive line can keep Bortles clean, it will be virtually impossible for the cornerbacks to consistently win their battles. The safeties are a solid group, so attacking the Colts deep is likely to be less successful, but it also isn’t really necessary.Given the bend-don’t-break style of play, the question will be whether the Jaguars can score touchdowns instead of field goals. That is an area where the Colts are much better, allowing touchdowns just 50 percent of the time, which is tied with Jacksonville for seventh in the league. Additionally, they are averaging two takeaways per game, which is tied for third in the league.If the Jaguars can score touchdowns in the red zone, minimize the impact of Darius Leonard, and take care of the ball, they’ll do well against this defense.4. The Colts have also seemed to have found a running game on offense, averaging 117.6 yards per game (12th in the NFL). Marlon Mack has been on a tear since returning from injury and the offensive line seems to be a much stronger unit compared to last season. Why would you say the Colts have found more success on the ground in 2018? There are many reasons Black Will Richardson Jerseys , but first and foremost it is about the offensive line. The addition of Quenton Nelson was huge, but Braden Smith, their second-round pick at guard, has found himself to be a very solid starter at right tackle. In addition, Ryan Kelly is having a great year at center, and Anthony Castonzo playing as well as he usually has. The result is huge holes for the running backs to run through and a clean pocket for Luck.Frank Reich’s play calling definitely plays a part as well. In the past, the Colts were a very predictable offense. Andrew Luck was brilliant, but buried under a mountain of incompetence. Reich’s creativity and understanding of the offense has been a huge difference this season and has aided the running game.Most significantly has been having Marlon Mack healthy. Mack played all season with a torn labrum his rookie year. This year he has seen major growth in terms of vision and his ability to take what the blocking gives him. His ability to change gears when he gets to the open field makes him dangerous, and he has put that on display over the last three weeks. If he can continue that on through the back half of the season, this offense could be something truly special.5. Frank Reich is 3-5 in his first eight games as Colts head coach. What were the feelings about Reich when he was initially hired following all of the Josh McDaniels drama, and moving forward to present day, would you say the general consensus from the fanbase is positive regarding the new coaching staff, or is more of a wait-and-see approach? The hiring of Reich was overwhelmingly supported, both because he just helped win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles, and because he did so against the team Colts’ fans hate more than any other. The McDaniels fiasco just made that hire liked even more.As training camp and preseason got underway, it was clear that Reich was the perfect coach for the Colts. He is a teacher, and put together a staff of coaches that emphasizes development of young players. With such a young roster, that is what the Colts desperately needed, and we have seen the results in terms of play from our young guys.Reich brings a gutsy approach to his play calling that we haven’t had in a long time, and he always plays to win. If he had been coaching the Broncos this weekend, you can bet the Texans would have another L to their name.While the results this season haven’t always been what Colts fans would like, ultimately we knew going in that this season was still about development, with so many pieces still missing for this team to be a legitimate contender. Frank Reich has brought guys along in very tangible ways Will Richardson Jerseys 2019 , and given another draft class and further development, this is a team that is prepared to contend for a long time into the future.Bonus: score prediction? I think this Colts offense has really found its rhythm and the defense will be able to do enough to limit the Jaguars’ offense to field goals rather than touchdowns. On the road this on might play out differently, but at home this one is a win: 27-18 ColtsThank you to Chris for taking the time to provide great analysis and thoughts on the Colts and Sunday’s matchup. Give him a follow on Twitter, and if you want to keep up with news on the rival Colts, be sure to follow Stampede Blue as well.Check out the crossover piece over on Stampede Blue. Getting insights on potential draft fits for the Jaguars with Battle Red Blog’s draft and film analyst."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Jaguars Free Agency 2016Jaguars Film RoomNFL DraftJaguars Injury NewsLatest News5 Jacksonville Jaguars Draft questions with analyst Brett Kollmann New,14commentsGetting insights on potential draft fits for the Jaguars with Battle Red Blog’s draft and film analyst. EDTShareTweetShareShare5 Jacksonville Jaguars Draft questions with analyst Brett Kollmann Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsNow that the major wave of free agency has passed, we can get a better idea of where the Jacksonville Jaguars may want to go in the NFL Draft. To help us better understand certain prospects who may be good fits for the Jags, I reached out to Brett Kollmann — NFL Draft and film analyst for SB Nation’s Battle Red Blog and trusted YouTube personality. Check out our conversation below: 1. Who are some offensive prospects you think are good fits for the Jaguars? Brett: I feel like Jawaan Taylor is one of the best case scenarios for the Jags in the first round. He fits a clear need on the roster at right tackle, and I think there’s a relatively low chance of him outright busting (which obviously Jacksonville can ill-afford right now as they reload once again). (Wide receiver) DK Metcalf would be another guy that I think the Jags will take a hard look at, if Taylor happens to fly off the board earlier than I expect. I know he carries a little risk because of the perception that he’s a workout warrior, but I really do believe that his skillset is very comparable to Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon in their primes. If he is used correctly, he could be a monster on those trademark play-action bombs from (Nick) Foles.Editor’s note: Check out Brett’s just-released in-depth film breakdown of Metcalf. This is fantastic. 2. Who are some defensive prospects you think are good fits for the Jaguars? Brett: It sure would be nice if (defensive tackle) Quinnen Williams fell to seventh overall, but that’s most likely not going to happen. I wouldn’t hate it if the Jags traded up a few spots to secure him if the opportunity presented itself because he’s the kind of special talent that is worth picking, regardless of team needs or current personnel on the roster...well actually, I WOULD hate it because I’m a Texans fan...but you get the idea. If Williams is unattainable, I think trading down a few spots and nabbing (cornerback) Byron Murphy is the way to go. That would give the team some cap flexibility with A.J. Bouye’s deal next year if they need it since he’s got no guaranteed money left, while also giving them a really great trio of corners in the short term to try to make another run at the division (I would be kicking Bouye into the slot against 11 personnel in this scenario). 3. The Jaguars pick at No. 7 overall. Which players do you think will be in play for the Jaguars to pull the trigger on, and who is a “must-draft” if still on the board? Brett: Assuming the pipe dreams like Quinnen and (Nick) Bosa are no longer there, Taylor is probably the only “must-draft” guy for the Jags in my opinion. Foles isn’t a very mobile quarterback and he has been straight up bad under pressure at times in his career, but he was much, much better in Philly than with the Rams because the Eagles actually committed to giving him protection. They knew that he wasn’t the kind of QB that could survive and thrive while under constant duress, so they did whatever they could to avoid him being in that situation. Jacksonville needs to take a cue from them and do the same.Protection first. Weapons second. That’s how I would build the team.4. Tight end is a huge position of need for the Jaguars, but many people believe No. 7 overall is way too early to take a tight end Black Brandon Linder Jerseys , and see this as a deep draft class at the position. Do you think players such as Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are worth taking so early, or do you think the Jags should look at another position in the first round and can land a solid tight end in later rounds?Brett: While getting a freakishly athletic and/or versatile tight end in the first round would be nice, it really wouldn’t do anything to address any of the Jags’ actual problems right now. Tight end is the kind of position you take really early in the draft if you are putting icing on the cake, but Jacksonville hasn’t even baked the damn thing yet. (General manager) Dave Caldwell needs to take care of his trenches on both sides and then go from there. There will still be some great tight ends waiting for him in the middle rounds (cough cough, Irv Smith, cough cough).5. Who are some mid or late round gems you think we should be keeping an eye on? Players you expect to be drafted later who can go on to have successful NFL careers. Brett: The tight end I just mentioned, Irv Smith, has a lot of Delanie Walker to him...and I love me some Delanie Walker. I also think Sheldrick Redwine (out of Miami, FL.) would be a really great mid-round pick to slot in at free safety and replace (Tashaun) Gipson from day one (or probably even exceed him, considering how damn athletic Redwine is). Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard could probably be a really nice swing guard or backup center for (Brandon) Linder as well in this system. Considering how much the Jags’ OL depth was tested last year, investing in improving that would probably be a wise move. Bonus: The Jaguars are giving Nick Foles a huge contract, which almost certainly means Jacksonville won’t be drafting a quarterback at No. 7 overall. But just out of curiosity, which quarterback do you think should be drafted first and why?Brett: (Kyler) Murray will likely be the first quarterback taken because I believe the Cardinals happen to like him more, but if it were up to ME as a GM I think I would take (Dwayne) Haskins. He reminds me a lot of Jared Goff, and I mean that in a very positive way. Goff ain’t perfect (obviously), but there’s a lot of other teams out there that would kill to have him throwing pinpoint accurate shots down the sideline to their receivers. Within a few years, I think we will all see Haskins in the same light. The kid can sling it. Thank you to Brett for providing his insights into potential draft fits for the Jaguars. If you enjoyed his videos linked above, be sure to follow him on Twitterand subscribe to his YouTube channel.