River City Rage :It's week three and already we're diving into a huge game. Big Blue Shoe at Stampede Blue was kind enough to take a few questions about this weeks match-up. Mr. Shoe, let's get right down to it. What's up with DE Dwight Freeney and DT Corey Simon, will they play, and if not do you have the defensive depth to replace them?
Big Blue Shoe: I really, really hope Simon plays. IMO, he was a big reason Indy was able to sweep the Jags last year. As for Freeney, he has a pulled muscle in his... well, it's in his butt. Yes, yes, yes. I know it sounds funny, but it's true. He pulled a glutuous muscle and his status is most likely questionable. Right now, against the Jags, Freeney is more replaceable as crazy as that sounds). Bo Schobel and Josh Thomas are good backups. Corey Simon is the real key. They really need him to play, and play well.
River City Rage :I'm sure you were in one of the 9.81 million homes that watched the Jags play the Steelers, any thoughts on the game?
Big Blue Shoe : Hmmmmm. Well, the Steelers' offense sucks right now. Oh, and the Jags defense can ball. They always could. Mathis has really come into his own as a fine DB, and Darius was really laying the wood. Their secondary is much improved, but I did notice that they needed to blitz more in order to pressure Roethlisberger. I found that interesting. Matt Jones looks very good, but I don't see a lot of speed on the outside for the Jags.
River City Rage:Week one it looked like the running game was hurting a bit against the Giants, in Week two it looked a bit stronger (albeit against the Texans), how do you think the ground game will develop this season, and more specifically, can they perform against teams like the Jaguars with solid defensive lines?
Big Blue Shoe: Yes, they can run the ball against the Jags, but not the way Pittsburgh does. The Steelers are a power running team that tries to bash the ball right down your throat. This plays right into Jacksonville's hands. The Jags are outstanding at bottling up power running teams that run off tackle, forcing them to throw more than they like. The Colts run a stretch play offense. The back and the offensive line stretch the play out down the line of scrimmage laterally. Then, when the RB sees a hole, he cuts back and gains yards. Last season, the Colts ran the stretch play quite effectively against the Jags. The reason they did was because Jacksonville employed New England's "Manning Scheme" to try and stop the Colts. They dropped 8 into coverage and dared the Colts to run. The Colts did, and the result was two Ls for the Jags.
Against Pittsburgh, I saw the Jags blitzing more than usual. If they blitz Manning, I don't see the Colts running the ball much. The Colts will do what they did against the Giants: screens, hot reads, check downs, etc. The backs will be involved, but not necessarily running the ball.
River City Rage:Why will the Colts win this game? What elements will the national media forget to point out that you think will be a big factor? And just to make this an extra long question, who's the unheralded "star" of the Colts that nobody recognizes?
Big Blue Shoe : Well, things like the home crowd will help Indy win. The no-huddle offense really hurts the Jags because they can't substitute. Probably the main reason the Colts will win, and it's a reason that the moron pundit media never addresses, is the Colts are more composed than the Jags. The Colts don't commit dumb penalties. They don't turn the ball over. They make big plays in important situations. Head coach Tony Dungy's calm, focused demeanor really rubs off on the Colts. While the Jags feed off emotion, intensity, getting pumped up, etc. the Colts are the opposite. They focus, work hard, and do the little things to get the job done. The Jags lack of composure cost them both games last year. Jack Del Rio himself cost them the second game with his antics on the sidelines. And it doesn't seem as if the Jags have learned the lesson this season. On MNF against Pittsburgh, the Jags committed 10 penalties for 86 yards including a STUPID unsportsmanlike penalty on Donovan Darius in the second quarter. Obviously, Pittsburgh still didn't score, but the Steelers offense is certainly not the Colts. You do crap like that against Indy, you'll be giving up 6 on the next play. Several of Jackonsville's penalties were for false starts. How do you false start AT HOME? Silly things like that usually doom the Jags against the Colts.
There's also the Colts defense, which crushed the Jaguars last year. They slapped Leftwich around in the first game, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter of the second game that Jacksonville's offense did anything to Indy. If Simon plays, and is healthy, the Colts defense is a big factor. A key player on that defense that is unheralded is Robert Mathis at DE. I don't think he can be blocked right now, he's playing so well.
River City Rage: Which Jaguars do you think will give you the most trouble?
Big Blue Shoe : No question it's Fred Taylor. They bottled him up well last year, but traditionally he's been the thorn. When Fred is healthy, he's a good RB. Corey Simon is a big reason why the Colts stuffed Taylor last season. That's why they need him back.
River City Rage:Peyton Manning is in about 90 bajillion commercials, is he trying to tell your owners that his contract needs work?
Big Blue Shoe : Hey, when you're both good AND beautiful, why not make a little change on the side making commercials? That forehead is the most recognizable in sports.
River City Rage: All right, time for your prediction. What sort of game do you think we'll have and who'll win?
Big Blue Shoe : To be honest, I really don't know. I have no idea how this game will go. Both teams could do different things that could change the game's flow. If Jacksonville sits back and uses the New England scheme again, it might be a low scoring 17-10 Colts win. If they blitz and do not get to Manning, it could get ugly for the Jags. If you blitz you absolutely MUST get to Manning. If you don't, it's over for you.
I personally think Jacksonville will blitz. They saw success against Roethlisberger, and they'll look at tape of the Colts against Pittsburgh in the playoffs and see how the blitzing scheme (developed by San Diego) affected Manning. If they blitz, Manning will tear apart Jacksonville's secondary. As improved as it is, no one can cover Harrison and Wayne one-on-one for long. Dallas Clark will see a lot of action as well.
Colts 23-Jaguars 17
River City Rage :Thanks again for the visit and here's to a good game! Be sure to check out Big Blue Shoe all week long for great pre-game analysis and a hearty amount of horribly inaccurate statements about "spotted cats".