INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (5-4) enter this week with a massive chip on their shoulder after losing their last two games, and in front of them is a division rival in the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5).
The Jaguars have their own corrections to make after stewing on their Week 9 loss throughout their Week 10 bye week. However, one big piece of news for them is the return of quarterback Nick Foles, who they signed as a free agent this offseason but then broke his collarbone in Week 1.
Plain and simple, this Jaguars team is very different from what the Colts are used to seeing in the last few years. Let's take a look at this week's opponent.
As mentioned, the Jaguars lost to the Houston Texans out in London in Week 9 by a score of 26-3. It's the Jaguars' home away from home, so they certainly spent their bye week looking to fix their issues in Week 11.
Texans' Passing Game
Texans' superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson had a great day, going 22-of-28 (78.6 percent) passing for 201 yards (7.2 YPA), two touchdowns, no interceptions, and was only sacked once (Calais Campbell) for a final passer rating of 120.4
Watson had a primary trio of pass-catchers, distributing eight balls to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for 48 yards (6.0 avg.) and a touchdown, five to running back Duke Johnson for 68 yards (13.6 avg.), and four to receiver Kenny Stills for 52 yards (13.0 avg.).
Texans' Run Game
Houston was outstanding on the ground as running back Carlos Hyde carried the ball 19 times for 160 yards (8.4 avg.) while the team carried the ball a total of 34 times for 216 yards (6.4 avg.) and a touchdown (Johnson).
Jaguars' Passing Game
In quarterback Gardner Minshew II's final start before head coach Doug Marrone declared the returning Foles had reclaimed his starting spot, the rookie went 27-of-47 (57.4 percent) for 309 yards (6.6 YPA) with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 59.6. He was also sacked three times.
Minshew spread the ball around quite a bit, finding receiver Keelan Cole five times for 80 yards (16.0 avg.), running back Ryquall Armstead five times for 65 yards (13.0. avg.), tight end Seth DeValve four times for 41 yards (10.3 avg.), receiver D.J. Chark four times for 32 yards (8.0 avg.) and running back Leonard Fournette five times for 32 yards (6.4 avg.).
Jaguars' Run Game
Fournette led the Jaguars in rushing, carrying the ball 11 times for 40 yards (3.6 avg.) while Minshew chipped in four carries for 34 yards (8.5 avg.).
Jaguars' Passing Game
There's not a big body of work for us to go off of for Foles lately considering the fact he's started just one game this year in Jacksonville's offense. However, Colts head coach Frank Reich knows Foles quite well from their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“You can look in various spots. We’ve played him when he was in Philly a few times where I was previously at (Dallas). We’re a little bit familiar with him. Obviously, we have his coach here so that helps. We can talk to (Frank Reich) about that," Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus told reporters this week. "We’re just looking at all aspects of it to try and get a grasp of what he’s good at. And we know what he’s good at. He’s good at a lot of stuff. He can do a lot of things. He’s got great command of the offense, he’s got great touch on the football and he does a lot of stuff really well.”
At receiver, Jacksonville has to be thrilled with second-year stud Chark's breakout, as he leads the team in all major receiving categories. Second receiver Dede Westbrook, meanwhile, hasn't played since Week 8 because of a shoulder injury but has done his own professional developing.
The Colts' defense ranks ninth against the pass (223.2 YPG), has 23 sacks and is tied for seventh in pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed (four), so they should match up well with Jacksonville's passing game. The health of starting cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring) will be something to keep an eye on as he has missed the last three games. Rookies Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell III have performed well in his absence.
- QB Gardner Minshew II — 61.2 percent completions, 2,285 yards, 7.4 YPA, 13 TD, 4 INT, 21 sacks
- QB Nick Foles — 62.5 percent completions, 75 yards, 9.4 YPA, 1 TD
- WR D.J. Chark Jr. — 43 catches (70 targets), 692 yards (16.1 avg.), 6 TD
- WR Dede Westbrook — 32 catches (55 targets), 383 yards (12.0 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Leonard Fournette — 40 catches (51 targets), 295 yards (7.4 avg.)
- WR Chris Conley — 23 catches (46 targets), 461 yards (20.0 avg.), 2 TD
Jaguars' Run Game
The Jaguars remain a running team as they rank ninth in rushing (129.6 YPG), are tied for sixth in yards per carry (4.8), and Fournette is sixth individually.
The Colts defense continues to move up the charts against the run, currently ranking 15th (104.3 YPG). Over the last five games, the Colts are allowing just 81.8 yards per game on the ground.
- RB Leonard Fournette — 174 carries, 831 yards (4.8 avg.), 1 TD
- QB Gardner Minshew II — 42 carries, 235 yards (5.6 avg.)
- RB Ryquell Armstead — 20 carries, 59 yards (3.0 avg.)
- WR Dede Westbrook — 4 carries, 20 yards (5.0 avg.)
Colts' Passing Game
It all starts with whether Jacoby Brissett or Brian Hoyer starts at quarterback for the Colts this week. Brissett sprained the MCL in his left knee two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers and had to miss last week's game as a result. Reich was asked about that earlier this week:
“Yeah, I mean if Jacoby is healthy — he is our starting quarterback obviously — he’ll go. We are optimistic that the rest was helpful. We will get to Wednesday and see how he is doing, but we are encouraged and optimistic," Reich said. "We will make that decision Wednesday, but he will get as many reps as he can. I’m not going to try and make any secret about it, I’m really not. If he is practicing and taking full practice — at that point we will say, ‘We are ready to go. He is our starter and we are going forward.’ But we will wait until Wednesday to make that determination.”
As for the Colts' receiving corps, it, too, has been banged up. T.Y. Hilton missed a game-and-a-half between Weeks 3-4 with a quad injury, and then he's missed the last two games with a calf injury. Devin Funchess, of course, has been out since Week 1 with a clavicle injury but the Colts hope to get him back at practice this week, and Parris Campbell suffered a hand injury in Week 9. Zach Pascal, tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, as well as running back Nyheim Hines have carried the load in the passing game for Brissett and Hoyer.
Outside of their quality pass rush, the Jaguars aren't the same pass defense we've seen in years past. They rank middle of the road in several passing categories, including overall pass defense (13th, 229.8 YPG), passing yards per attempt (tied-14th, 7.3), touchdown passes (14th, 13), pass plays of 20-plus yards (tied-18th, 33) and passer rating (13th, 88.9). Also playing a role: All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey only playing in three games for them before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 64.8 percent completions, 1,649 yards, 7.0 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT, 12 sacks
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 32 catches (46 targets), 360 yards (11.3 avg.), 5 TD
- TE Eric Ebron — 23 catches (43 targets), 304 yards (13.2 avg.), 3 TD
- TE Jack Doyle — 27 catches (38 targets), 276 yards (10.2 avg.), 3 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 27 catches (36 targets), 218 yards (8.1 avg.)
Colts' Run Game
The Colts' run game has been steady throughout the season, ranking 10th as a team (127.4 YPG) while Marlon Mack is tied for third in run plays of 20-plus yards (six), tied for fourth in carries per game (19.8) and eighth in rushing yards per game (83.7). While he is nursing an ankle injury suffered in Week 10, backup Jordan Wilkins has been outstanding, averaging more than six yards per carry. Hines is tied for second on the team in receptions while keeping defenses on their toes with 2.4 carries per game.
The Colts match up favorably with Jacksonville's run defense, which ranks near the bottom of the league in run defense, rushing yards per carry allowed and run plays of 40-plus yards allowed. They've given up five games with at least 100 yards rushing, including two 200-yard games, one of those being in their most recent game against the Texans.
- RB Marlon Mack — 178 carries, 753 yards (4.2 avg.), 3 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 37 carries, 110 yards (3.0 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 27 carries, 165 yards (6.1 avg.)
- RB Nyheim Hines — 22 carries, 66 yards (3.0 avg.)
JAGUARS' 2019 KEY STATS
- Tied-5th in interceptions (4)
- Tied-6th in rushing yards per carry (4.8)
- 9th in rushing (129.6 YPG)
- 9th in time of possession (31:14)
- 21st in turnover differential (-2)
- 24th in scoring (19.6 PPG)
- 25th on third-down conversions (34%)
- 30th in red-zone scoring (34.5%)
- Tied-5th in sacks (30)
- 22nd in rushing (120.2 YPG)
- Tied-24th in pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed (7)
- Tied-28th in rushing yards per carry allowed (4.9)
- Tied-30th in run plays of 40-plus yards allowed (4)