JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars a run first football team. That’s become their identity with Leonard Fournette leading the way. Through six weeks the rookie running back is second in the NFL with 596 rushing yards. Opposing teams have started to take notice. During Sunday’s loss the Rams deployed a goal-line defensive look even when the Jaguars were in the middle of the field.
“For as many times as we run the ball, and I think how well we’ve been running it, guys are going to do different things to make sure they can try and stop the run,” said Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. “We’re going to have to figure out and adjust to it on the fly.”
Part of that equation is putting more on the right arm of Bortles. That may be even more the case this week. Fournette turned his ankle late in the Rams game and didn’t practice on Wednesday.
Jacksonville is 29th in the NFL in passing yards per game (170). Only Buffalo, Baltimore and Miami are worse.
Enter the Indianapolis Colts.
If there were ever a week for Bortles and the passing game to breakout this could be the matchup. The Colts defense is surrendering 8.5 yards per pass attempt and is ranked 30th allowing 296 passing yards per game. However Indianapolis has shown the ability to rush the passer. Their 18 sacks are tied for seventh best in the NFL.
“That’s where it all starts, is with the protection,” said Bortles, who was sacked five times during their loss to the Rams. “Making sure the backs are in the right place, tight ends are staying in, everybody is on the same page. The communication part of it is definitely the first part of it and then its guys just running the routes and me making the throw. Based off what they are doing, with all those guys in the box, it’s going to be a lot of one-on-ones down the field and we got guys that can win and get open and we are going to have to click.”
Although the Jaguars have the top rush offense in the NFL it hasn’t translated to success down the field off the play action pass. In six games they’ve only completed two passes of 30 yards or more.
“Everybody has to execute their assignments,” said Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns. “We have to get all 11 on one page. We know our running game is doing pretty good right now. We have to pick it up in the pass game.”