JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars travel to Indianapolis to begin the second half of the season. With a record of 3-5 and mired in a four-game losing streak, the Jaguars face a virtual must-win game against the Colts. If the Jaguars lose Sunday, they would likely have to win out to have a chance at the postseason. Here are my four keys for the Jaguars against the Colts:
Get back to offensive identity
When head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were strategizing in the offseason, they envisioned a Jaguars offense that controlled the ground game, running Leonard Fournette behind an offensive line that included Cam Robinson at left tackle, Andrew Norwell at left guard and Brandon Linder at center. That was to be the engine of the offense. But with Fournette injured for most of the first half of the season, Robinson out for the year with an injury and Norwell failing to live up to his big free agent contract, the Jaguars offense hasn’t looked like it was intended to. With Fournette’s expected return, the Jaguars need to get back to that identity. Run the ball. Win the physical battle in the trenches, and don’t put so much of the onus on the shoulders of the quarterback.
Win turnover battle
This is more of a key to avoid a loss than it is to assure a win. In London against the Eagles, the Jaguars won the turnover battle, but didn’t win the game. The Jaguars can certainly lose while winning the turnover battle, but they have shown little evidence that they can win the game while losing the turnover battle.
Playing indoors, the conditions will be perfect for punters and kickers. Josh Lambo has been terrific on kickoffs (as well as field goals) this year. Rookie punter Logan Cook has been inconsistent. At times, he has looked every bit like a guy worthy of being a draft pick. At other times, he has looked like a rookie. If Cook can flip the field when the Jaguars offense fails to move the ball, then the Jaguars can create short-field situations for the offense.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been well protected this year. Luck has been sacked only 10 times this year. The Jaguars are yet to have a huge sack game, as they did several times last year. Only New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been sacked fewer times this season. Last week the Jaguars’ defense had a season-high four sacks. Breaking that mark Sunday against the Colts would go a long way to a Jaguars victory.