Beating Indianapolis – Taking the (AFC South) Crown: Part II
By Luke Sims
BREAKING NEWS: The Indianapolis Colts are in shambles!
Not shocked? Me neither. Starting the 2011 the season, the Colts were expected to struggle without Peyton Manning under center. But how long would he be out? Four weeks? Two months? Then the dreaded news cam down; Peyton Manning was out for the entire season.
Yet the Colts failed to even remotely appear like a professional football team throughout the season. 2-14 is not a great mark. But they won the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes! That consolation prize should be enough to spring them forward for the next decade.
But for now, Andrew Luck is just a potential prospect, a raw college player, a hopeful dream.
For now, the Jags have a greater chance to beat the Colts. They are the first stepping stone to taking the division crown! How do we do it?
There are three steps to beating the Colts in 2012:
- Stop the Pass – The Colts’ passing game is weak. It isn’t Jaguars circa 2011 weak, but it isn’t Peyton Manning strong either. The Colts essentially stopped caring about the running game during the Peyton Manning era and has neglected to focus on getting the best players in to provide a balanced attack on offense. Why would you when you have Peyton Manning. The revamped Jaguar defensive backfield should be able to exploit anything the Colts throw at them, even with Andrew Luck.
- Win Time of Possession – While usually a pretty simple part of winning any game, winning the time of possession battle is especially important when your offense isn’t very explosive. The Jaguar passing offense was worse than anemic in 2011, and right now it isn’t looking like there will be a super big jump in yards and touchdowns unless someone not named Maurice Jones-Drew learns how to catch the ball. With the Colts struggling last year to pass effectively and with the prospect of a young quarterback behind center, look for Indy to come out trying to run the ball. Grinding it out in the trenches is the way to get things done against Naptown in 2012.
- Sack the Quarterback – Even if Peyton Manning comes back to play another season in 2012, whoever is playing quarterback for Indianapolis will be wary of getting hit again. Peyton has had three (four???) neck surgeries in the past year and will shy away from hurting his neck again. Andrew Luck, as good as he is, won’t be used to the speed and strength of NFL caliber defensive ends, tackles, and linebackers. Rattling the quarterback is a surefire way to set the Indianapolis offense on edge and force them to rely on their poor run game to pull them out.
Will things change in free agency and the draft? Sure. But don’t look for Indy to suddenly turn into a juggernaut again in just one season. Look for the new coaching staff to patiently approach the season and search for ways to emulate balanced attacks and defenses from around the league rather than rely too much on the past decade’s approach of pass, pass, pass, and score more points than the opponent.
– Luke N. Sims