JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Cody Kessler will start at quarterback for the Jaguars on Sunday as they try to snap a seven-game losing streak. It is the penultimate home game of the season for the Jaguars. Here are my four keys to the game:
Kessler must make the simple plays
Injuries and a suspension will have the Jaguars trotting out only three offensive starters who were expected to be starters at the beginning of the season: right guard A.J. Cann, right tackle Jeremy Parnell and fullback Tommy Bohanon. Offensive linemen Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder wer all injured. So is wide receiver Marqise Lee. Ditto tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Wide receiver Keelan Cole has been demoted and running back Leonard Fournette is suspended for the game after his fight with Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson. That's what Kessler has to work with. The Jaguars won't be expecting Kessler to sling the ball around the yard, but he must make the simple plays. The 5-yard passes should look easy. Simple check-downs must be completed. No mental mistakes.
Get Dede Westbrook involved early
For whatever reason, the Jaguars have been unable, or unwilling, to make Westbrook the focal point of the passing game. While the offensive line has struggled to pass protect, Westbrook has too many skills to be ignored. On an offense looking for playmakers, Westbrook can be a difference maker in the passing game, or, as we saw against the Bills, on reverses.
Pressure Andrew Luck
The Colts have done a very good job of protecting Andrew Luck, allowing just two sacks in the last seven games. Over that same stretch, the Jaguars have recorded 11 sacks, just over one per game. Sacksonville has gone all but deserted this year. It's time for the Jaguars to affect the quarterback again.
Cover the tight ends
In the last meeting with the Colts, Indianapolis tight ends caught eight passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Eric Ebron led the way. He has caught a team-high 11 touchdowns this season, The Jaguars safeties and linebackers must be on the same page to cover the tight ends or it will be a long day for the Jaguars.