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Jaguars playing for more than pride against Colts

(Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After losing two straight to fall to 4-8 on the season, all the talk of playoffs in Jacksonville has faded. The Jaguars have four games and left and finishing 6-8 or 8-8 would look a lot better than 4-12. Earlier this week Blake Bortles stated that he wants the Jaguars to “own” the AFC South.

For better part of the past 15 years that division has belonged to Sunday’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts. Gus Bradley has never beaten the Colts and by default neither has Bortles. By all accounts the Jaguars should’ve gotten over that hump when these two teams met in week four. Jason Myers missed a couple of critical field goals, either of which would’ve given the Jaguars a victory, as the Colts held on to win 16-13.

Settling for field goals is a big reason why the Jaguars loss that game. They went just 1-for-3 in the red-zone. Issues inside of the 20-yard line have been an on and off issue for the Jaguars all season long. Last week they went 6-for-6 against the Titans. Now Bortles and Co. have to find a way to be more consistent in the red-zone.

“I think it was definitely huge because, not that I don’t think anybody would say it, but we were to the point where we were starting to get in the red zone and saying we’ve got to score,” said Bortles when asked what was different against Tennessee. “Not that guys were over-pressing or overthinking or doing anything but we’ve been unsuccessful in that area so when you go six for six with six touchdowns it’s definitely a confidence boost. Now its how do we find a way to make that consistent, for sure.”

The Jaguars defense has also battled with inconsistency. During a two game winning streak in Nov. they allowed a total of 33 points. In the last two weeks, both losses, they’ve given up 31 and 42 points respectively. To make matters worse the defense will be without middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who broke his right hand against the Titans. Second-year pro Jordan Tripp will take Posluszny’s place in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Colts.

“He’s very sharp,” said Bradley when asked what he expected out Tripp. “I’m not so sure he couldn’t play all three positions, at least line up and play and execute the assignments. I think the big challenge for him is now when you’re in the game what happens when the bullets are flying? As far as lining people up, taking charge of the huddle and knowing where to be, very good.”

The Colts have also changed offensive coordinators since the last meeting in week four.

“I think there are definitely different styles,” said defensive coordinator Bob Babich.” Chud [Rob Chudzinski], he wants to go ahead and he wants to run it a little bit more. Also, Pep (Hamilton) had his own style of passes. Chud has implemented some of those things, but also put his mark on the style of pass that he likes without telling them what we’re preparing for.”

Either way Chudzinski will be calling plays for a banged up quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck was forced to leave in the four quarter of the Colts loss in Pittsburgh last week. An MRI showed that the 40-year old signal caller has a mild rib separation and a stiff neck.

A win over the Colts would not only end the six-game losing streak to Indianapolis it would also put a dent in the playoff chances.

“It’s a division game and we’ve got a great opportunity at home,” said Bradley. “Again, it’s about not them. Just like last week red zone and offensively, is it corrected? I can’t say that, it doesn’t carry over to the next week. Every week you’ve got to go out there and prepare and I think where you start to see where it’s not so much of an issue is if it’s consistently done well and that’s what we need to work on. So it comes back to nothing to do with the Colts, it’s about us and what we need to do. That part hasn’t changed.”