INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano routinely talks about the ultimate goal of “hoisting the Lombardi”.
And almost every time he mentions that, a phrase of “re-taking the South” usually is followed close by.
Pagano is referring to the AFC South and the goal of seeing his team re-capture that division after years where the Colts would look down on the other three teams in the final regular season standings.
Currently, three teams are tied atop the AFC South at 2-1 and the fact that this is the Colts lone divisional game until the month of November adds some importance to Sunday afternoon.
It’s pretty clear that Pagano’s players have listened to their head coach.
“You know it has an extra ‘oomph’ because the easiest way to get into the dance is to take care of your division,” defensive end
“Just because it is a division game, it’s a conference game, it does add an extra oomph.”
The Colts seven AFC South banners are mounted on the wall inside of the team’s indoor practice facility.
They serve as a daily reminder in order to have a chance of hoisting the Lombardi (a picture of that trophy is in the middle of the AFC South banners), winning your division gives you at least one home playoff game and punches your ticket into the 12-team tournament.
“It’s different because you realize that the games count just a little bit more and it’s important to get into the postseason,” offensive tackle
“Everybody is going to give you their best shot, us included. We’re going to give it our all against Jacksonville this week. It’s intense out there.”
The Jaguars come into Sunday’s game as the only AFC South team that is not tied for first place.
Sitting at 0-3, Jacksonville has struggled out of the gate with a new head coach and starting two different quarterbacks.
This week inside of the Colts locker rooms are tiny mouse traps that are an indication of the Colts not looking ahead to an undefeated Seattle team on Oct. 6 or basking in the glory of last week’s win over the 49ers.
“Jacksonville is in the NFL. It’s one of the 32 teams. They have guys over there with pride and guys want to go out there and make plays and contribute to their team,” Redding said of Sunday’s game.
“This is a divisional game. This is a conference game. We don’t take nobody lightly. You can’t overlook nobody in this league.”
The man who had some say in placing these mousetraps around the Colts locker room is Pagano.
His message has certainly resonated with his players and a win to start off AFC South play would leave a nice taste in the Colts mouth with not playing another divisional game until Nov. 3.
“Everybody is good in the National Football League. Everybody’s got players. Every Sunday is going to be a dogfight,” Pagano said.
“We know that they’re down there preparing and we’ve got to do the same thing. We’ve got to take care of us. If we take care of the cents, the dollars will come.”
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew versus Colts front seven: In last year’s first meeting against the Jaguars, the Colts controlled Maurice Jones-Drew in the first half. MJD broke off a 59-yard touchdown run on his first touch of the third quarter and that score helped Jacksonville to a 22-17 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. MJD has struggled with less than three yards per carry in 2013 but he is looking for his fourth straight game of at least 100 rushing yards against the Colts.
Colts rushing attack versus the Jaguars front seven:
-Since 2012, Colts quarterback
-Colts wide receiver
-Colts outside linebacker
-Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is 3-1 all-time against the Colts.
-Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has 1,389 rushing yards vs. Colts and is looking for his fourth straight game of at least 100 yards against Indianapolis.
-Since 2010, Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin ranks fourth in the NFL with 39.5 sacks.
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on how the success of the run game can open up options in the passing game):
-“Any time you can have the success that we had on the ground, you have the runners that we have now, it’s just going to open up everything else. It’s going to help protect our quarterback. Guys are going to have to load the box up. They’re going to bring the extra safety down. We’ve got to be able to handle and manage the eight-man spacing that people are going to play on us. But if they choose to do that, then you’re going to play single high safety. Middle of the field is going to be closed and you’re going to get some free access on the outside. We’ve got some guys on the outside that can make plays. It will help all the way around.”
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on what makes Maurice Jones-Drew so tough to stop):
-“He’s built like a fire hydrant, runs like a shorebird. Tree trunks for legs. Never stops churning. Powerful, powerful guy. We know what type of runs he excels at. Our guys are fully aware of what he can do and we got to do a great job and be disciplined on defense. Everybody’s got to be on the same page and then we got to gang tackle. We got to get as many hats on him as we possibly can. A lot of guys bounce off this guy, and rightfully so. We know he’s a great back and he is hard to get down, but we are going to do our darndest to get him on the ground.”
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck (on how he approaches games with the shuffling along the offensive line):
“I try not to get too caught up in that, try not to let it affect my preparation. The biggest change is when centers change. You just have to make sure you get the reps on the snaps and the center-quarterback exchange. Beyond that, there have been many guys, all the guys on the active roster can step in and do whatever they need to do to get the job done. They are all professionals. They are all great teammates. They’re a pleasure to play behind.”
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley (on what’s gone on in the first three games that hasn’t worked):
-“We’re seeing flashes of things doing well but just not enough of them. It’s our consistency. We understand that it’s going to take some time just offensively, defensively, special teams. We’ve had quite a new influx of players especially at the end of preseason. So it’s getting them caught up and just how we call things, our scheme, the communication that takes place on the field. So we’ve seen it the last three weeks get better, but just not consistent enough with it.”
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley (on what he’s seen offensively and defensively from the Colts):
-“I thought they did a great job offensively. You guys did. I really thought that San Francisco at times looked confused. I think that Indianapolis played more physical which is surprising because that’s what San Francisco brings to the table, playing them year-in and year-out. It just looked like Indianapolis is playing with a great deal of confidence and it continued as the game went on. Defensively, just very sound. They’re playing things really well. Very well-coached. Aggressive going after the ball. They’ve got really good leaders in (Robert) Mathis and (Antoine) Bethea. They really look like they have a good plan and the players have a good idea of what’s taking place on defense.”
Jaguars Quarterback Blaine Gabbert (on what he remembers about meeting Andrew Luck at the Manning Passing Academy):
-“It’s a positive atmosphere. We have had a slow start, but at the same time this is our first division game and division games are the ones that count, they’re the ones that really matter. We’re playing a great football team and we know we got to prepare better than we have before so we’re able to execute on Sunday.”