Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Keys to Sunday's Game
The Colts welcome the division-rival Jaguars to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday. The Colts are coming off their dramatic first win of the season over the Vikings, while the Jags are still looking for their first victory of the season.
Here's a look at the keys to the game for the Colts.
Colts Offensive Line
After two weeks of witnessing Andrew Luck running for his life and running backs getting stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, it's no surprise that the Colts are the owners of the 30th ranked offensive line in football (according to FootballOutsiders.com).
Luck has been sacked five times. Credit Luck's pocket awareness and athletic ability as the reason that number isn't higher. The Jags have only recorded two sacks so far, which ranks 27th in the league. So it's not like the Colts are facing Jared Allen and the Vikings, or Julius Peppers and the Bears again. But it's still very important to give Luck time to throw in the pocket. The task could be tougher this week with the unknown statuses of Joe Reitz, Winston Justice and Samson Satele.
As for running the ball, the Colts are averaging just 74 yards per game, and rank 26th in the league in rushing. Again, the Jags are not the Vikings or Bears. They have given up close to 170 yards rushing in each of the first two games. Just like pass protection, running the football should come easier for the Colts against the Jags. If the line can take advantage of this, it will be a significant step towards back-to-back victories for the Colts.
Containing Maurice Jones-Drew
Last season's rushing champ may not be getting the carries he used to yet, but he's still averaging 4.4 yards per carry after two games. Not to mention the fact that Jones-Drew has seemingly run roughshod over the Colts for years now.
Don't look now Colts fans, but the defense is holding opposing rushers to just 3.5 yards per carry and 104.5 yards per game so far. Those numbers have come against Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson, two of the best backs in the league. Dare I say, this Colts defense could be up to the challenge of containing Maurice Jones-Drew.
If they can contain Jones-Drew (and by contain, I mean hold him to under 100 yards), they will make the Jags rely on their second-year quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, who has struggled so far this year.
Test the Jags Banged-up Offensive Line
Speaking of Gabbert, he'll be standing behind an injury-plagued offensive line. Guard Eben Britton and tackle Cam Bradfield may miss Sunday's game for a unit that currently ranks 22nd in the league at protecting its quarterback.
The Colts have six sacks after two games, with Pro Bowler, Robert Mathis picking up three of those. Knowing that the Jags are vulnerable in pass protection, even more so if Britton and Bradfield are out, or limited, if Mathis and company can get to Gabbert early, it could be a long day for the Jags quarterback.
A long day for Gabbert means a good day for the Colts defense, and puts them one step closer to a 2-1 record.
Follow Brian on Twitter @coldy4goldy.
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