Three Colts to Watch for: Indianapolis vs Jacksonville

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 11: Donte Moncrief #10 of the Jacksonville Jaguars catches a pass against Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 11: Donte Moncrief #10 of the Jacksonville Jaguars catches a pass against Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

How will the Jacksonville Jaguars fare against an Indianapolis Colts team they could not beat on the road 29-26 just one month ago?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are on a miserable run of form, there’s no debating that. Today they are facing off against an Indianapolis Colts team that they have fared well against in recent years, having won four of the last six meetings between the two. So there is hope from within the fanbase that the Jaguars can reverse their recent fortunes and end a winless run against divisional rivals in 2018 this weekend in Indianapolis.

Any optimism the Jaguars might have is based around the changes that have taken place since the last time Jacksonville took the field. Not only was former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett fired, but the coaching staff at TIAA Bank decided to bench a long-time starter and former first-round pick Blake Bortles.

With Cody Kessler under center and a fresh perspective on playcalling, the hope is that the Jaguars’ offense will be revitalized to a point that they can at least make the game competitive. Something which may be harder to do with Leonard Fournette suspended and a patchwork offensive line, but the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

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Rather than providing a breakdown of the Jaguars players which will be key to winning this game, instead lets put the spotlight on some of the opposing teams game-changers. These are the three Indianapolis Colts who could decide this game and extend the current losing streak to eight games.

Andrew Luck, Quarterback – The improvement of this 2018 Colts team should come as no surprise to anyone. Former number one overall pick and 100 million dollar man Andrew Luck is back under center and his command of the offense is just as good if not better than it was before he got hurt.

Whilst the Jaguars endure a miserable streak of their own, Luck has gone eight straight games with at least three passing touchdowns and five wins. If he’s not in the conversation for MVP, then a push toward the post-season will at least make him favorite for comeback player of the year.

The Jaguars could potentially be without Jalen Ramsey for this game after he missed practices this week with soreness in his knee. This would be a huge blow for the Jaguars secondary as the Colts have dangerous weapons in T.Y Hilton, a returning Jack Doyle and breakout tight end Eric Ebron.

Given the unreliable play of safety Barry Church and diminished playing time for Ronnie Harrison, Todd Wash may well have used Ramsey to shadow Ebron and take away his athleticism.

With or without Ramsey, the passing game will be a huge part of the Colts’ game plan for this game and Luck could well have another monster game in the hope of keeping his teams’ playoff hopes alive.

Darius Leonard, Linebacker – General manager Chris Ballard stuck gold when he selected Darius Leonard in the second round of this years’ draft. The former S.C State standout has been the heartbeat of his teams’ defense all year and has played his way into the defensive rookie of the year conversation.

The only player in the league to lead his team in total tackles (114), sacks (six) and forced fumbles (four) Leonard has the ability to make plays in all areas of the field for this Indianapolis defense. With the Jaguars’ own Leonard (Fournette) currently serving a one-game suspension for his actions in last week’s game versus Buffalo, and a first time starter at quarterback the standout rookie could potentially be poised for his biggest game yet.

The Jaguars will be desperate to establish a run game with Carlos Hyde and T.J Yeldon in order to make things easy for Kessler (who hasn’t started a game since week eleven in 2016) but with an offensive line without three of its starters and a star sideline to sideline linebacker on the opposition defense that will be easier said than done.

This could force Kessler into some poor throws or give Leonard and the rest of the Indianapolis front seven times to tee off on the third-year quarterback.

Jack Doyle, Tight End – When these two teams met earlier in the season, the Jaguars were gashed on play after play by former Detroit Lion Eric Ebron, whilst Ebron still poses a huge threat to the Jaguars defense it is Jack Doyle who should be high on the list of players to watch ahead of this game. Since his return to full fitness,

Doyle has slowly taken away the lion’s share of targets from his teammate to the point where Ebron was used entirely as a decoy in the Colts’ week eleven blowout against the Titans, not registering a single catch despite having three touchdowns the week before.

We’ve seen Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson do an excellent job covering safeties since his arrival in Jacksonville (most notably his week two display against Gronkowski earlier this season) and so trying to keep the Colts’ tight ends in favorable matchups is pivotal to any chance the Jaguars have of slowing down their opponents’ high-octane offense.

Next. Three Jaguars to watch against the Colts. dark

With Ebron naturally taking the attention of defenders in passing situations, making sure someone is always accountable for Doyle is key.