INDIANAPOLIS – It hasn't been a good history against with the Colts for the Jaguars. With only 8 wins in 27 games, the Jaguars haven't figured out what the Colts are all about. Two reasons are obvious though: Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. The Colts have had success in just about every phase of the game against the Jaguars, and their 30-0 lead at halftime in Jacksonville in game three put Blake Bortles in the lineup. There is one stat that goes in the Jaguars favor: They've won 2 of the last 3 in Indianapolis.
This week the Jaguars will get Marcedes Lewis back in the lineup and Aaron Colvin will see his first action of the year after suffering an ACL injury at the Senior Bowl. The Colts have injuries of their own with Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield.
But they still have Andrew Luck.
"You want to be tested," Colvin told me at the team hotel on Saturday. "He's (Luck) a great player, he'll test what we have, no question."
Indy is 6-4 this year, so they're not world-beaters. Last week they were thrashed on the ground, losing to the Patriots, 42-20. That's what the Jaguars will try to do today, take advantage of the Colts inability to stop the run. With Denard Robinson starting and a healthy Toby Gerhart, look for Bortles to get some help on the ground.
Bortles in just shy of 2,000 yards passing this year with 8 TD's and 14 interceptions. His passer rating is 72.3. In other words, being judged as anything but a rookie quarterback, he's been average. But as a rookie QB, Bortles has shown improvement, a tremendous upside and an aggressiveness that can be fun to watch, or get him in trouble.
"It's those turnovers on the plus side of the 50 that hurt," he told us this week. "Those take points off the board."
And his recognition of that is why there's still optimism for his development this year. "He sees that and knows he can fix it," Gus Bradley said during the taping of his weekly show. "Limiting turnovers, particularly on our side of the field is one of the things we challenged the players with this week."
Bradley's mantra has been all about "getting better" to the point where he's redefined victory for the Jaguars. For his tenure in Jacksonville so far, fans have been satisfied with his rebuilding of the team. But after the bye week and the loss to Dallas, there's a sense that they want more.
"We're trying to give the ownership to the players as the final step," Bradley said this week, "and we're getting there." While that's a laudable goal, these last six weeks the Jaguars have to show more than just improvement. They have to show the ability to win. They don't necessarily have to win, but rather look like they are in games and have a chance to grab victory.
If history is a marker, today's not the day for that, so we should look to be surprised The Jaguars veteran defensive front seven should be able to stop the run and put pressure on Andrew Luck. How they "fit" behind the front seven will determine the Jaguars fate today.
And it could be an indicator for the rest of the year as well.