Question 1: Back in Week 1, you confided to us, “Gun to my head, I don’t think [Jonathan Taylor] plays for the Colts this year.” Taylor finally reached an agreement on a contract extension and played his first game of the season last week. How did this issue get resolved?
First things first, Jonathan Taylor got healthy. He came off of the PUP list and started practicing with the team. The belief has always been that the Colts weren’t going to extend anyone after a 4-win season, which seemed reasonable. But the relationship with Jonathan Taylor seemed to have been broken beyond repair due to a really, really long story of circumstance and football business. So Jim Irsay played the only card he had left in his deck: he called Edgerrin James.
Edge is an Indianapolis Colts legend. He played for Indy from ‘99-’06 and is the franchise’s all time rushing leader with 9,226 yards as a Colt. Edge also, famously, had his fair share of contract issues with the Colts. But Peyton Manning called Edge the best teammate he ever had, and during his Hall of Fame induction speech, Jim Irsay said: “If I ever had a son, I’d want it to be him”. To put it simply, I can’t think of a single person more widely accepted and universally respected than Edgerrin James, so when Jim Irsay asked him to call Jonathan Taylor and Taylor took the call from a guy who has done literally everything Taylor is trying to do, Taylor listened.
And we’ll probably never know the whole story but if I had to guess, I’d say Edge’s influence on both parties had more to do with the timing of the extension than anyone will be willing to admit.
Q2: How big of a difference is Jonathan Taylor (who we covered above) plus Zack Moss (who ranks third in the league in rushing yards) compared to Deon Jackson (who started Week 1 against the Jaguars and recorded 13 carries for 14 yards with two lost fumbles)?
I have a soft spot for Deon Jackson. The guy consistently was put in tough situations. That said, compared to Zack Moss, he’s bad. Moss has been very good in Indy. He isn’t a transcendent back, as he hit a homerun last week with a 56-yard rush but that isn’t something I expect to see from him very often. What Moss is really, really good at is turning a run that was blocked for two yards into six yards. He’s really good at making defenders regret trying to tackle him. He runs hard and he’s so tough to tackle. He’s a consistent runner who seemingly never gets tired.
Taylor is still working his way back from having not played football for almost a year, so it’s tough to say what kind of production we can expect out of him. That said, even on his worst day, he is a much, much better back than Jackson. At his best, Taylor is a legitimate threat to score from anywhere on the field everytime he touches the ball. So no matter who is running the ball for the Colts this week it will be much better than Week 1.
Q3: What are your expectations for Gardner Minshew in his return to Jacksonville this week?
Minshew is at his best when he’s playing within the system. I expect a lot of quick-hitting throws. A lot of timing routes and a lot of handoffs.
Q4: The Colts have allowed the 4th-most yards and 10th-most points to opposing offenses this season. (That said, Indy has also played the most defensive snaps of any team). Now that we’re over a month into the season, what is the strength and weakness of Indy’s defense?
The strength is the front seven. They harassed C.J. Stroud in Week 2, blitzed Lamar Jackson with great success in Week 3, nearly broke Matthew Stafford in half in Week 4, and held Derrick Henry to 43 yards and a 3.3 yards per carry average in Week 5.
If the offense had shown up for the first half against the Rams then the Colts would be 4-1... but if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts then we’d all have a merry Christmas. The bottom line in Week 4 was that the Colts defensive backs are rookies and even playing with one good hip, Matthew Stafford tore up the Colts secondary, which is the weakness of the defense.
Q5: The Jaguars are favored by 4 points according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Which side of the spread are you taking, and are there any player/game props that stand out to you?
The Colts run blocking schemes are a lot different this year than they were a season ago. So much so that in Week 1, they weren’t on the same page. Actually watching the film, they were pretty bad. Since then they’ve ironed out the details and are playing much better. Because of that and the return of Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor, I feel that the Colts offense is going to be much more effective than it was in Week 1. On the defensive side of the ball, the front seven held Travis Etienne to 51 yards on 17 carries before he broke a 26-yard touchdown run at the end of that game.
Because of those things, I feel that this is going to be a close game. I ultimately think Trevor Lawrence is too good to lose to this Colts team but I’ll be taking the Colts +4 in this one.
The only prop bet that stands out to me is Josh Downs’ receiving yardage over/under number. DraftKings has it at 40.5 yards and in my opinion that’s low. I’d take the over on that one.
Thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions!
What are your thoughts on this week’s matchup, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!