Jaguars vs. Colts: Shutting Down the Run Key to a Jacksonville Victory

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Jaguars vs. Colts: Shutting Down the Run Key to a Jacksonville Victory
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It’s hard to say that the third game of the NFL could actually make or break the season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. But it truly could.

Potentially being down 0-3 to start the season and having to come back from a 0-2 hole in the AFC South is not how the team envisioned things before the start of the 2012 season. 

While the team thinks it is close when it comes to player talents, the fact the team is not executing well in a live game as opposed to the practice field should be of some concern for head coach Mike Mularkey and his staff, not to mention team owner Shad Khan and team general manager Gene Smith.

The good thing is the Jaguars are traveling to Indianapolis, a franchise they beat twice in the regular season last year. In this game, the team gets its first crack at rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who won his first professional game last week in the Colts’ win over Minnesota (a team the Jaguars fell to in the opening game of the season).

Also, take into consideration the team has played with a decimated offensive line and two of its major starters on defense, defensive back Derek Cox and linebacker Daryl Smith out of action.  Their possible return could give a real reason for some optimism this week. 

Can the Jaguars beat the Colts—a team that, like the Jaguars, is not expected to win many games this season? Yes.

Should they beat them? Definitely.

This week, instead of facing a two-headed monster named Ben Tate and Arian Foster, who scored three times on the Jaguars defense—currently sitting at No. 32 in rushing defense in the NFL—Jacksonville sees Donald Brown, someone who may not be as intimidating, but still a definite concern. 

Brown has just 25 carries for 93 yards in their first two games; however, the team is aware he must be contained, and they have to consistently stop the run if they have any chance of winning on Sunday.

“I’m disappointed with how we’ve played so far. We’re not playing at the level we can,” said Paul Posluszny, the team’s middle linebacker in an interview with Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union. “Thirty-one [Brown] is a stud. We like their running back. He’s running the ball really well,” he added.

If the Jaguars have both Smith and Cox back in the lineup, it will mean nine of 11 starters will return to the Jaguars defense—the D-line ranked sixth overall last season and was one of the better run-crushing units in the league last season.

The addition of Smith next to Posluszny will help a linebacker unit that is also without Clint Session, who is still dealing with symptoms from a concussion last season. Session is scheduled to come off the physically unable to perform list October 15.

“It would be huge to have Daryl Smith in the lineup, but that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with. If he’s not ready, somebody else has to step up and fill his role," Posluszny added form the article. “There’s no doubt we are better when we have everyone healthy, but we need to compete with the guys we have now.”

First, Smith needs to be cleared to play on Sunday. As of Thursday afternoon, Smith and a handful of Jaguars players were held out of practice (running back Rashad Jennings, right tackle Eben Britton and defensive end George Selvie) and are not expected to play, this according to the Jaguars' Notebook on Jacksonville.com.

If the Jaguars can shut down the running game, it will force Luck into multiple pass plays. While the rookie has been quite solid so far, he is still in his first season in the NFL and there is still a learning curve to be reached.

A 1-2 record would look a lot better than 0-3 coming home to face a Cincinnati Bengals team on September 30. The Bengals defeated the Jaguars last season with a rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, behind center.

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