**A Capsule Look at the Colts' Sunday Showdown against the Jaguars
**Indianapolis Colts (2-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Sunday, October 3, 2010 (4:05 p.m. ET)
EverBank Field (67,246 capacity) – Jacksonville, Florida
Television/Radio: CBS Sports, Westwood One and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1**
Since 2002, when the NFL divided the league into eight four-team divisions, the Colts and Jaguars have played twice yearly as members of the AFC South.
And while the Colts have won six AFC South titles in the eight years of the division's existence and have beaten Jacksonville 12 of 16 times since 2002, calling the team's previous meetings one-sided would simply be incorrect.
In those 16 games, 13 of them have ended as one-possession games, including both games last season.
Last year, the Colts won the season-opener for both teams, 14-12, but needed a defensive stand as Jacksonville had the ball with under two minutes left, only needing a field goal to win. Last December, the Colts won, 35-31 after nine lead changes, and were trailing 31-28 until Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne for a 65-yard touchdown pass with 5:23 remaining in the game. The Colts didn't clinch the win until Jacob Lacey intercepted Jaguars quarterback David Garrard at the Colts' 11-yard line with 0:56 remaining.
Those two games are normal for this series, where four of the last five games have been decided by four points or less.
"It doesn't matter in terms of record or where we play, whether it's down there or up here, they are a tough team and we battle it out right to the end," said Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell. "Last year is a perfect example. We end up winning by two points, but they have the ball driving it down the field trying to get in position to get a field goal before we stopped them to win the ballgame. And then down there, there were nine lead changes in that ballgame. We played them back and forth. It was a classic battle and a high-scoring affair, obviously. I don't expect this one to be any different. It's going to be a ballgame that's going to be tough. They have very good players on both sides of the ball and an excellent coach, and they have been playing outstanding in terms of their special teams. So, it's going to be a real challenge."
For the Jaguars coming on the short end of the scoreboard in so many close contests is frustrating they say, but it also builds confidence that all they need to do is make one more play to turn a close loss into a win.
"I just think that we have gone in and looked to battle and looked to find a way to win, and we've been able to do it four times in the seven years I've been here," Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said. "And we've been close in countless others. I think the last five ballgames we've had have come down with an opportunity to go either way in the last drive. (Manning's) been one of the better quarterbacks of our era in playing well in those situations, so they've been able to pull out too many for my liking. But this is a football game, it's a division game, we study them, they study us and it's a big week for a battle for us and we're embracing it, looking forward to it."
The Jaguars come into the game on a two-game losing streak, where they have been outscored, 66-16, but the Colts say that Jacksonville's last two games really have no bearing on how they will approach Sunday's game.
"I really think you get more out of the last time you played that team," Manning said. "The last two times we played this team it's been very close games, it's gone down to the fourth quarter, a drive here or a play there. It's always tough, especially when we play down there in Jacksonville. That's kind of what we prepare for. We know when you get into a division game it has a little something extra to it. You never quite know what you're going to see. We're prepared for a tough game. We played down there in December at night the past couple of years. This is going to be an October game, a day game, so we're expecting the weather to play more of a factor. I think it will be a tough challenge."
FOCUS ON THE COLTS
With numerous playmakers, it may seem as if the Colts set a new franchise or league mark every week.
This week is no different.
On Sunday, quarterback Peyton Manning and center Jeff Saturday will set a new league mark with their first snap.
Manning and Saturday will start their 158th game together on Sunday against Jacksonville. The game against the Jaguars will set a new league mark for most starts as a quarterback-center tandem, breaking the old high of 157 set by Buffalo's Jim Kelly and Kent Hull.
"That's been just a true honor and privilege to have that quarterback-center relationship with Jeff through these years and that amount of games," Manning said. "He has shown great accountability on being there for so many Sundays. He has had a couple of injuries, but I can't tell you how many games he has played though with those injuries. I think he has missed two, three or four games, but you're talking about 40, 50 games he's played where a lot of guys wouldn't be playing with the injuries and the pain their bodies are going through. I always feel better when he is in there at center, there is no question about it. That will be special. Jim Kelly and Kent Hull were both great players. I've spoken with Jim Kelly and know the pride he took in that relationship with his center, and I've taken a lot of pride in mine with Jeff. That will be a special one to break with that first snap on Sunday."
While not setting any longevity marks like his two offensive teammates, second-year wide receiver Austin Collie has gotten off to an excellent start this season. Heading into the Jacksonville game, Collie leads the NFL in receptions (27), receiving yards (359) and is tied for first in touchdowns (4). The young receiver has made great strides since being drafted by the team just 18 months ago, but the team believes he still has room to grow.
"We can see him progressing in terms of his route-running, certainly his ability to catch the ball consistently, all of those things are there," Caldwell said. "He continues to improve upon his run blocking and his knowledge of our offense and how we operate, but also the unique thing is it is one season for him and three games, and he has to prove it every week. So he has another challenge ahead of him."
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end Robert Mathis was named September's AFC Defensive Player-of-the-Month after recording 4.0 sacks in the first three games of the season, which is tied for first in the AFC. Mathis recorded sacks in each of the Colts' first three games, including two sacks and a forced fumble in the club's Week Two win against the New York Giants. Mathis leads the Colts defensive line with 11 tackles, 10 solo, four sacks and five pressures.
Mathis is in his eighth season and has been to two consecutive Pro Bowls, but the Alabama A&M alum is still focused on improving.
"He appears to be (getting better)," Caldwell said. "You look at a lot of plays and he's a guy that has been very consistent in terms of his play. Since he's been here, he's just continually gotten better and better and better, and every week there are probably about four or five or six plays that you look at on film and you say, 'Wow, that's pretty impressive,' because he's all-out all the time. He does not take a play off. He does not gear it down. He is 100 percent every single snap of the ball."
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE JAGUARS
The Jaguars won their season-opener at home, but have dropped their last two games and come into the game versus the Colts with a 1-2 record.
Caldwell said that despite Jacksonville's struggles the last two games, those contests really have no bearing on how he sees the Jaguars.
"This is what I do," Caldwell said. "We take a look at the film and we take a look at who they have performing and playing for them and all I can see is a dangerous team. I can see Maurice Jones-Drew, who is one of the finest backs around, a guy that can run and carry the ball and give you fits. He is a game-breaker, not only as a ball carrier, but also as a pass receiver. I see David Garrard, who is without question a talented guy who certainly is very, very active and can beat you with his feet as well as his arm. I see Marcedes Lewis, one of the premier tight ends, I think, in the league, a big guy that's physical. He can block as well as get down the field and catch passes. (Mike) Sims-Walker, (Mike) Thomas, both guys have 12 catches apiece and have certainly been able to do well. They have a pretty veteran offensive line. (Brad) Meester at center is tough and a very, very smart and heady player. (Eugene) Monroe is a quality tackle, and that's just on one side of the ball.
"When you flip it to the other side, that's what I see, I see guys that can play. I see (Derrick) Harvey that can rush the passer. (Aaron) Kampman is a guy that they added to their roster that gives them effort and discipline. They've got two young guys in the middle. (Tyson) Alualu, who's a heck of a player on the inside. (Terrance) Knighton, who is tough, 336 pounds, that's what I see. I see (Rashean) Mathis on one side and (Derek) Cox on the other, who do a great job of jamming and running and playing. Two quality safeties and an outstanding kicking game, their punter and kicker are excellent, then they have return men. Thomas is doing a great job on punt returns, he is a gallant guy. They have punted it to him and the eight he has caught, he has only fair caught it once, so he is trying to ram it down your throat when he can, and (Deji) Karim is a guy with great speed that can really find seams and is able to return the ball. That's what we see, and that's the only thing that matters. You had better get ready to play these guys, and they are going to be tough. We will be playing in a very, very tough environment, and we have to get ready."
While it is clear that Caldwell has great respect for the entire Jaguars team, Jones-Drew who has rushed for more than 700 career yards against the Colts, and how successful of a game he has on Sunday will be one of the main keys for both teams.
"He is unique," Caldwell said. "He is really unique because of the fact that he blends. Oftentimes, you'll find guys that can bounce off of you and maybe they lack speed, but he does not, he has great speed, or you find guys that can really make you miss, but yet they may not have power. He does have power. I mean he can run over you, he can run around you, he's got a great wiggle, and not only that, he can catch the ball as well. He is a real threat in the passing game, screens and things of that nature. He is tough to pigeon-hole because he is so versatile."
Compounding the problem Jones-Drew's athletic ability provides is the fact that he also is a very intelligent football player.
"He is very smart," Caldwell said. "You can see that he is very aware and knows what is going on around him. That is what makes him a great player, I think. He is always looking to take advantage of opportunities. He knows the opposition that he faces and makes certain that he can find the weak spots. The other thing is he has great vision. If there is a guy who is not where he is supposed to be, in terms of (a) gap that is over on the backside, he is going to find it. He's great at that. He's a great cutback runner. He's difficult. You want to keep him running parallel to the line of scrimmage as long as you possibly can. It will be to your advantage."
Limiting Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 217 yards this season, will be a tough task for the Colts defense. Caldwell says it will be important that the defense plays sound football and gang tackles because Jones-Drew is a hard player to tackle in a one-on-one situation.
"One of the things that I think is extremely important is that you have to have your pursuit angles down precisely," Caldwell said. "As they should be when you're playing a back with his kind of talent because of the fact that one guy is probably going to have a tough time bringing him down all the time unless that chute is fairly narrow. What that requires is the guys on the backside, their angles are such where you don't give him a lot of wide open space to operate in and you can kind of narrow it down a little bit and make certain that you get a lot of people to the ball. That is extremely important because he is going to get his yards. You're not going to shut him down to no gain all too often because of the fact that he is very, very good."
The Colts issued their injury report/game status update on Friday with the following players listed as out for Sunday's game: LB-Kavell Conner (foot), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) and DB-Bob Sanders (biceps). Listed as questionable are RBs-Joseph Addai (knee) and Donald Brown (hamstring), WRs-Austin Collie (heel) and Pierre Garcon (hamstring), OT-Charlie Johnson (foot), DB-Brandon King (hamstring), G-Jamey Richard (shoulder) and LB-Clint Session (hamstring). Listed as probable are LB-Gary Brackett (back), DB-Jerraud Powers (foot) and C-Jeff Saturday (knee).
"The perception for any of the teams that are at the top, and they've been one of them, is that they are so far superior to everybody else that you don't have a chance, and that's just not the case. The difference is those five or six plays that separate a win from a loss. They make a good percentage of those that go in their favor at crunch time, and that's where they've been at their best. That's where Peyton Manning as their quarterback has made things happen and helped tilt games in their favor. I think it's been proven over the years that there is a small difference between the very best and the very worst at this level. It's execution. Really what it comes down to is execution."- Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the difference between winning and losing in the NFL.
"Speed, to me, is a difference-maker. That, to me, is one certainly very, very important makeup of our team. If they are not fresh and they are not rolling, then I feel that we're not at our best."- Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on the importance of speed and keeping his team fresh.
"I think it's without a question a very worthy cause. There are some great things going on through the country with new techniques and medical advancements that are certainly helping in those areas. Everyone has someone in their family who has been stricken by the horrible disease. My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, as well as many others. It's dear to our heart, and I think the league is doing a great thing, the month of awareness and actively participating in it, as well."- Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on the NFL participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR…
1. Austin Collie off to one of the best starts in Colts' receiver history
Second-year wide receiver Austin Collie has gotten off to a great start to 2010. After three weeks of play, the former Brigham Young standout leads the NFL in receptions (27), receiving yards (359) and is tied for first in touchdowns (4).
Collie's start not only puts him at the top of the league's receiver rankings, but it is also ranks as one of the best receiving starts in Colts history. Collie is only the fifth player in franchise history to have a touchdown reception in the first three games of the season, joining Colts greats Jim Mutscheller (twice), Raymond Berry, Marvin Harrison and Lenny Moore as the only players to accomplish this feat.
His 359 receiving yards tie for the second-most through three games in club history. Harrison's 422 receiving yards in 1999 is the only start better than Collie's.
Most Receiving Yards Through First Three Games of Season in Colts History
1. 422; Marvin Harrison, 1999
2. 359; Austin Collie, 2010 359; Marvin Harrison, 2000
4. 345; Reggie Wayne, 2004
5. 334; Marvin Harrison, 2006
2. Colts offense and defense excelling in red zone
The Colts have been one of the NFL's most efficient teams in the red zone this season, on both offense and defense.
On offense, the Colts have scored on all 10 red zone opportunities this season, including seven touchdowns. Dating back to last season, the team has scored on 24 consecutive opportunities in the red zone, including 19 touchdowns. Last season, the Colts offense ranked first in the AFC and second in the NFL in touchdown percentage in the red zone, scoring a touchdown 66 percent of the time (35/53).
On defense this season, the Colts have held opponents to two touchdowns in eight red zone attempts (25%), third-best in the NFL. On the season, the defense is tied for second in the NFL, having allowed scores on only five of eight red zone attempts. Last week against Denver, the Broncos ventured inside the Colts 20-yard line five times, but came away with just two field goals. The Colts defense caused a turnover on downs on the other three possessions, including one where the Broncos had a 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. the Colts
A key for the Colts on Sunday will be to limit Jones-Drew's effectiveness. The 2009 Pro Bowl running back has rushed for 778 yards on 139 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per carry in his career against the Colts. Of his 139 rushes, 25 have been for 10 or more yards, while only 17 have gone for zero or negative yardage.
In the Jaguars' two wins against the Colts while having Jones-Drew on the team, the running back has rushed 34 times for 273 yards. That averages out to a little more than eight yards per carry. He has also broken for runs of 10 yards or more 12 times in those two games. In the Colts' six victories over the Jaguars, Jones-Drew has rushed 105 times for 505 yards, an average of 4.95 yards per carry, more than three yards less per carry than in the Jaguars' two wins. Also in those six meetings, Jones-Drew has only 13 rushes for 10 or more yards, while also having 13 rushes that went for zero or negative yards.
Limiting Jones-Drew and putting the Jaguars in downs and distances where they need to pass allows the Colts' Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to be more effective. The two pass rushers have combined for 14.5 sacks in 14 career games against the Jaguars.
Maurice Jones-Drew vs. the Colts
Date Att. Yards TD 10+ 0-
09/24/06 13 103 0 4 0
12/10/06* 15 166 2 7 0
10/22/07 13 52 1 1 2
12/02/07 11 52 1 2 3
09/21/08* 19 107 1 5 4
12/18/08 20 91 0 2 2
09/13/09 21 97 1 1 0
12/17/09 27 110 1 3 6
Totals 139 778 7 25 17