Tale of the Tape: Colts and Jaguars
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INDIANAPOLIS – Despite being a 3-9 football team in 2017, the Colts have not had too many games like Sunday.
Only 3 times this season have the Colts been down at least 2 scores at halftime, and seen that deficit only grow in the second half.
That has happened now twice to the Jacksonville Jaguars, after Sunday’s 30-10 loss eliminating the Colts from any slim chance at the AFC South.
Here is the Tale of the Tape from the Colts (3-9) losing to the Jaguars (8-4) in Week 13:
Fake Punt Starts Blowout
It looked like the Colts were going to ease their way into this second meeting with the Jaguars.
Chuck Pagano said last week that teams are “dead in the water” if they get behind a menacing Jacksonville defense, with the league’s top rushing attack.
The Colts forced a 4th-and-7 on Jacksonville’s first drive of the game, from the Jaguars’ 49-yard line.
That area of the field is a prime spot for a fake, and not so much for trying to block a punt.
Plus, the Jaguars have already successfully faked two kicks this season.
But the Colts decided to bring the heat, lining up 8 guys along the defensive front, and sending all of them after punter Brad Nortman.
Jacksonville easily converted the fake pass to a wide-open James O’Shaughnessy for 29 yards.
Converting fake punts/kicks seemingly always lead to a win in an NFL game.
It happened again on Sunday, as the conversion allowed the Jaguars to extend their opening drive, which ended with a touchdown, and they never looked back.
Jacksonville has dominated the Colts on offense and defense this year, and the special teams element came on this play.
On Saturday night, Pagano told CBS that the Colts had to stay on schedule against the Jaguars.
This play put them way behind schedule for the rest of the game.
The Jaguars have now beaten the Colts in 4 of their last 5 meetings, outscoring them 158-77.
It was the fake punt, which started another major defeat, and guaranteed the first losing season under Pagano.
“Nobody wants that,” Pagano said after his team’s 9th loss of the season. “Nobody is, nobody in that room. We had a heck of a run for three years, and two 8-8’s and now we’re sitting where we’re sitting. It’s unacceptable, and every guy in that locker room will tell you that. We don’t come to work to lose. We don’t do that. It’s unacceptable, and they would tell you that. We don’t want to be where we’re at, but we are…”
Returning from the bye week, Jacoby Brissett has had probably his two worst games as a Colt.
The last two weeks Brissett has completed just 58 percent of his passes, thrown 2 interceptions and led an offense which is still stalling out in the red zone.
It’s probably no coincidence that the two poor performances from Brissett have come against his first repeat opponents in 2017.
The Titans and Jaguars had seen Brissett already this year and they rattled the quarterback more in the second meeting.
On Sunday, Brissett was 21-of-36 for 174 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
The late first half pick was a huge play in flattening any potential momentum heading into intermission.
Instead of being down 16-6, or even 16-10 at half, Brissett’s INT killed the Colts’ chances at trying to change the game flow.
The interception occurred on a 1st-and-10 from the Jacksonville 23-yard line, with 44 seconds left in the half.
At that point, still with 2 timeouts, the entire field was in play. There was no need to force a ball down the seam.
Brissett’s eyes locked into T.Y. Hilton and stud corner Jalen Ramsey stepped right in front of the Pro Bowl receiver for the pick.
From a pass protection standpoint, Brissett continues to do himself no favors in not finding his check downs and generally holding onto the ball too long.
Perhaps Brissett’s biggest regression in this 2017 season has come in the red zone.
The Colts are now 4-of-20 in their last 8 games. It’s why they are the worst red-zone offense in the league.
Heading into the bye week, Brissett looked like a definite starting quarterback in this league.
But we’ve seen now back-to-back games with obvious growing pains in the development of this 23-year-old signal caller.
Blake Bortles Again Shreds Colts
You look at the career of Blake Bortles and it’s filled with mediocrity.
But when Bortles has played the Indianapolis Colts the last 3 years, he’s looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback.
On Sunday, Bortles was 26-of-35 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Again, it was the Jacksonville passing game doing the damage against the Colts, and not the Jaguars’ top ranked rushing offense.
The 2 top total offensive games for the Jaguars this season have come against the Colts (516 yards in Week 7, 426 yards in Week 13).
The Jaguars were particularly effective on third down.
With Bortles finding a plethora of receivers, the Jaguars converted 8 of their first 10 third downs on Sunday---hence why they scored on their first 5 series (outside of a 1-play drive to run out the first half clock).
“We just weren’t in sync, and we could never get in sync,” Pagano said of the third-down struggles. “They did a great job, you know, with runaways, and over-routes, and mis-directions, and bootlegs, and plays down the field, and crossers. They just executed well, and we didn’t execute. It seemed like (Bortles) found the open guy every single time. Whether it was dumping off to a back and getting the first down. We had some third-and-long’s too, when we should have got off, and we didn’t. We just didn’t play well in the pass game, and pass defense, and in particular on third down. We have to be better.”
In his last 6 games against the Colts, Bortles has thrown 10 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and averaged 282.5 passing yards per game.
Yes, Blake Bortles continues to torch the Colts.
Rookie Corners Needed
In the end, it took an injury for Quincy Wilson to get back on the field for the first time since Week Two.
When cornerback Pierre Desir went down with a shoulder injury on the first play of the second quarter, the Colts had no choice but to send Wilson into the game.
Wilson didn’t play in Sunday’s first quarter. The Colts went with undrafted rookie Kenny Moore to start for Rashaan Melvin (hand), leaving the second-round pick Wilson out of the starting lineup.
But once Desir went down, the Colts were left with 3 rookies atop their cornerback depth chart:
-Quincy Wilson (2nd round pick)
-Nate Hairston (5th round pick)
-Kenny Moore (undrafted free agent)
In Wilson’s 3 quarters of action on Sunday, he got beat deep once, and wasn’t really thrown at too much besides that. He had 4 tackles.
The final month of the season is going to be about this sort of thing---rookies getting more playing time.
Third-round pick Tarell Basham finally flashed on Sunday, with a nice speed rush strip/sack of Blake Bortles.
Chris Ballard has to use this final quarter of the season to evaluate if any young guys show enough to alter how he might address a certain position or two in the upcoming offseason.
- Why didn’t the Colts go for the 4th-and-1 in the middle of the second quarter? Already down 10-0, the Colts faced a 4th-and-1 from the Jacksonville 9-yard line. Sustained drives, ending in touchdowns, were going to be so hard for the Colts to muster against Jacksonville. Here was a golden opportunity to find such an elusive series. The Jaguars do struggle a bit in stopping the run. I didn’t like the decision to kick a field goal here, especially in a game that showed no early signs of your defense being able to slow down the Jaguars.
- Better pass protection from the Colts? I guess. Jacoby Brissett was sacked 4 times on Sunday, with 2 of those squarely on his shoulders. So, yes, an ‘improvement’ in pass protection compared to the 10 sacks that Brissett took in Week 7.
- The Colts running backs had one of their better days running the football. Frank Gore (13 carries for 61 yards) and Marlon Mack (6 carries for 46 yards) combined for 107 yards on 19 carries. But the 5.6 yards per carry from the running backs could not be leaned on much once the lead expanded to three scores.
- Speaking of running backs, Marlon Mack got 30 snaps. Frank Gore played just 22 snaps.
- I found it interesting that the CBS color announcer Rich Gannon said Jacoby Brissett still has weekly talks with former teammate Tom Brady. Gannon said the biggest thing Brissett has learned from Brady is that preparation for a Sunday game never ends. Changes are made constantly, even during a Saturday morning walk-through or in-game.
- When Jack Doyle (the team’s leading pass catcher) doesn’t have a reception until the final minute of the third quarter, that’s not a good day for the offense.
- This Indy run defense has been one of the few positive/consistent elements of that side of the ball this year. Leonard Fournette had just 57 rushing yards on 20 carries (2.9 yards per carry) against the Colts.
- Donte Moncrief had a decent day compared to his 2017 standards (5 catches for 37 yards). But Chester Rogers did outsnap Moncrief (54-to-50).
- Clayton Geathers had 2 tackles in playing 19 total snaps (16 on defense). Geathers’ playing time nearly doubled, as expected, from last week’s season debut.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Frank Gore played in just 31.9 percent of the offensive snaps on Sunday. That’s his lowest percentage since Week 17 of the 2011 regular season.
- The Jaguars had 10 plays of at least 18 yards on Sunday. The Colts had 3 such plays.