1. Okay, so, where does this Colts offense attack this Jaguars defense?
They have to establish the run game and do it early. This Colts team has struggled in the passing game all season and this is not a team to figure things out against. They gave up 8 sacks last week to the Titans, who don’t have nearly the pass rush that the Jaguars do. If the running game cannot get going early this team is in trouble quickly.
With that said, if they are going to do anything at all in the passing game, they need to scheme ways to get the ball to T.Y. Hilton. The Colts have only won 3 games this season, but in all of them Hilton had more than 100 yards receiving. That is not a coincidence. If they do not get Hilton involved and producing on offense they will get the same results they’ve gotten all season.
2. I really liked the idea of Jacoby Brissett at the beginning of the season but he went downhill rather quickly. Was it all on him or does the rest of the offense share some of the blame?
I don’t know that Brissett has really gone downhill as far as his production all that much. What he has not done is improve in any tangible ways. Some of that is because of the number of hits he is taking. The Colts have allowed 47 sacks so far this season. They only allowed 44 all of last season, and they weren’t exactly known for their pass protection then.
The reality is that Brissett holds the ball too long. The deep ball is where he does his best work, and the offensive line just cannot hold up long enough for those passes to develop. He is not decisive enough, and cannot seem to put any touch on his short passes, preferring to fastball them at his receivers and running backs.
All that said, his supporting cast has been awful. There is not a single player on this offense who has put forward a season worth noting. Frank Gore might be the exception given how poor the blocking has been, but his numbers still aren’t anything spectacular.
One thing is exceedingly clear at this point in the season, Jacoby Brissett is no Andrew Luck.
3. If you were an opposing offensive coordinator, how would you attack the Colts?
The formula for that is pretty simple because the Colts have laid it out nicely all season long. To start, you want to run the ball early and often. The Colts have a pretty solid run defense, though, so that won’t necessarily work all that effectively, but it is important nonetheless.
Next, you attack the middle with your tight end. The Colts linebackers are atrocious in coverage and the middle of the field is an easy target to get quality yards and sustain drives. Mixing in some deeps shots off of play action will capitalize on the relative inexperience in the secondary and can pay big dividends on a busted big play.
The real payoff to the sustained effort to run the ball, effectively or not, is in the second half. The Colts have blown 6 (6!) halftime leads this season. There are many causes of this, but the shortest answer is that the offense stalls, leaving the defense on the field for too long. That compounds the issue because while there is talent on the defense, it is not a deep roster. All that running from the first half has exhausted the starters who are playing too long. By the fourth quarter, big running plays and pass plays are basically falling into the lap of the opposing offense.
4. What's the national perception of Blake Bortles? Honestly, do you think we're too hard on him? Or is he really that bad?
I am definitely not an expert here and I won’t pretend that I’ve watched a ton of Bortles’ film. However, based on everything I read, what I’ve watched of him, and the conversations I’ve had with others, the feeling I get is that people think he has completely hamstrung the Jaguars. They are viewed, especially this year, as a team that would be a super bowl contender if they had a top-20 quarterback. It is hard to see them beating the top talent in the AFC if they have to hide their quarterback’s play.
The Texans have struggled with this same kind of identity for a while now, fielding a very good defense and a solid running game, but are ultimately limited by their quarterback. I think that most people feel the Jaguars are in a very similar kind of situation.
5. Are Jaguars fans silly to be overconfident about this one? Do the Colts stand a chance?
Not at all. You are allowed to be overconfident when you shut out a team in their own building. The Colts’ offense has been pathetic this season, as I’ve already discussed, and that is trouble against such a dominant defense. The Colts have not convincingly won a game all season. Each of their wins were very nearly losses.
Even if by some miracle, the Colts were able to get their offense going early and play tough on defense as they have every week since their last meeting with the Jaguars, their track record of choking away the game in the fourth quarter has just been too consistent. Colts fans have learned that at some point late in the 3rd quarter or early in the 4th there will be that game changing turnover or penalty that starts the collapse. Really the best the Colts can hope for is not to be shut out again, and to spare Jacoby Brissett a serious injury.