|September 13th, 2009
|1:00 pm EST
|Lucas Oil Stadium
The new era of Jaguars football officially begins this Sunday in Indianapolis. The Jaguars take on the Indianapolis Colts in a game that is about as important as any Season Opener can be. Though, I must say, the Jaguars must take the attitude that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If they win on Sunday, it's a huge upset the gets the town excited for next week. If they lose, it would be expected.
The main story line for the Jaguars is that the club's first four picks will be in the starting line up. The Jaguars will find out very quickly if Eugene Monroe was worth the #8 pick in the draft and all of that guaranteed money going against Dwight Freeney. Like wise, Derek Cox will get a similar baptism by fire going against Peyton Manning.
In addition, the Jaguars newly revamped wide receiving corp will look to show why the team decided to keep six instead of the usual five on the 53 man roster. Will Troy Williamson keep up the pace he set in the preseason? Will Mike Sims-Walker pick up where he left off before his latest injury?
Things to watch for: Jacksonville Jaguars
1. Time of Possession: The easiest way to beat the Colts is to keep Peyton Manning and Co. sitting on the bench. The Jaguars must sustain long drives and take the crowd out of the game as much as possible. In all of the Jaguars wins against the Colts, the Jags had the ball for a minimum of 36 minutes.
2. Defensive Pressure: The Jaguars continued to have issues getting pressure on the quarterback with only four rushers in the preseason. While Derrick Harvey began to show why he was the #8 pick of the 2008 draft, he'll need to take the next step (ie, actually getting to the QB) to be truly effective. It's the worst kept secret in the NFL Peyton gets happy feet when his jersey gets dirty, it is just getting it dirty that is hard.
3.Offensive Line: The Jaguars will be starting a pair of rookie tackles in one of the loudest environments in the NFL. False start penalties are only the beginning of the issues they will encounter. Eugene will quickly learn if he can truly inherit Boselli's position by going against Dwight Freeney, while Eben Britton will have his hand's full with Robert Mathis.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD has scored seven touchdowns against the Colts, and had his coming out party against them in 2006. The Jaguars will need a big game from him again if they want to come out of Indy with a win. Jones-Drew will likely be used in between the tackles and in the passing game extensively.
5. Defensive Secondary: The revamped secondary will have to hold it's own if the Jaguars want to have a chance to win on Sunday. Rashean Mathis' pick six was a huge reason why the Jaguars won in Indy last year, and he'll need to bring his A game against Reggie Wayne (aka the guy Brian Williams was always chasing into the endzone.) I already mentioned Derek Cox, while safeties Sean Considine and Reggie Nelson can afford no mistakes against Manning.
Things to watch for: Indianapolis Colts
1.Offensive line: The Colts had issues with their first team offensive line through out the preseason. While I know the Colts have never cared about the preseason for some time, it's never a good thing to see your QB getting hit often. If the Jaguars detect any chinks in the armor, I'm sure they'll begin to send heat.
2. Bob Sanders (or lack there of): The Colts will be without Bob Sanders on Sunday, and make no mistake, this is huge. Sanders is the heart and soul of their defense, and their physicality is amped up with him in the line up. The Jaguars will test the Colts ability to stop the run early, and the Colts must be ready to defend the middle.
3. Peyton Manning: Manning begins another season as one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. However, he begins it without long time wide receiver Marvin Harrision. While most expect Peyton to recover without missing a beat, it could affect him subtely during the game.
4.Reggie Wayne/Anthony Gonzalez: Meet the new wide receivers for the Colts, same as the old wide receivers for the Colts. Reggie Wayne has arguably been better than Harrision for the last few seasons already, so the Colts shouldn't experience much drop off there. It will be interesting to see how Gonzo reacts to his new role with the team.
5. Coaching Turnover: The headline for much of the Colts offseason has been the abnormal amount of turnover. Usually the kind of turnover the Colts saw results from a house cleaning, but rather came from retirements for various reasons. It may not have much impact on this game, but will be an interesting thing to note through out the season.
Player(s) on the Hot Seat
Eugene Monroe, LT, Jacksonville
Derek Cox, CB, Jacksonville
The two most high profile Jaguar rookies will have diffucult assignments to start their NFL careers. However, their ability to handle their assignments may be the main difference in the game on Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts 28
Jacksonville Jaguars 24