I hate ties… I hate ties so much. I say now, knowing that I will probably feel entirely different when it’s possibly the difference between a playoff birth and a regular season exit, that I would rather lose than tie. The miniscule mathematic variable that this presents is enough to make this Colts fan seethe with contempt.
But here we are with a tie heading into Week 2. Handed two away games off the bat can be difficult for most NFL teams. Luckily we play in the AFC South so the odds are tilted a bit in our favor. That being said, we have to come out and win this game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I just do not see how we can face both Houston and Jacksonville back to back and not come away with at least one win there. Wins are not easy to come by in this league. I do not want to be sitting in Week 15, with tremendous stress for whether or not the Colts will win the games necessary to make the playoffs, looking back at the first two games thinking man I wish we had those two back.
While the Colts head into this game considered by most the AFC South favorite, they must live up to it. That first half looked like we were shaking off ALL the dust from our offensive game. We absolutely stepped it up in the second half, and after seeing this be the case for a large portion of the NFL on Sunday, I’m confident that Marcus Brady and Frank Reich will produce a product on Sunday that looks far more like our second half than the first last week.
While we often think ourselves greater than our AFC South neighbors, do the less versed amongst us want to know something crazy? We haven’t won there since 2014. That’s right, even with the privilege of playing a game in Jacksonville each and every season, we still haven’t won once in that time. This stat alarmed me. I was unaware that Jacksonville has been owning us so hard in Florida. This cannot stand and must be rectified immediately.
So what will I be looking for the Colts to do to address the atrocity that is subjecting us to 8 straight years of woe when visiting Jacksonville? First off is our show pony, the man of the hour Jonathon Taylor. While Jonathon Taylor had 161 yards against Houston, that had to be the quietest 161 yards I’ve ever witnessed. JT was making the plays we needed, but there was an absence of one of his “oh holy crap, only that man can do that” runs. Look for Quenton Nelson and the offensive line to open up alleys for these moments to shine through. In turn, opening up the passing game for the Colts and Matt Ryan.
In regards to Matt Ryan, I look at his box score last week and just do not get it. The box score in front of my face is telling me he racked up 352 yards. While that is an impressive amount of yardage, I most definitely didn’t see an impressive performance. Matt Ryan’s fumble to incompletion play was a thing of beauty. While I will be quick to file this under starting the season slow, I will be needing Matt Ryan to come out and start the game in the same fashion he was finishing it against Houston. I also will be hoping to see that he continues to establish a connection with Michael Pittman Jr.
Speaking of, Michael Pittman Jr. and Kwity Paye, two guys who I have been paying most attention to this year. It was so great to see that these two men played very well and displayed a boost in their development from the previous season. Kwity’s two huge overtime sacks allowed for us to get within range to win the game, and Michael Pittman was Matt Ryan’s only open receiver for a large portion of that game. I truly believe that Matt Ryan establishing his game with Michael in that second half opened up the offense and finally let us get things in motion. I will be watching for these two to continue to display their growth and even beginning to have their names heard far more often nationally.
Also look for Kwity to step up again in this one. We need someone to set a tone, with Shaq Leonard out again this week.
Jacksonville’s defensive line consistently finds a fifth gear to bring against us in their home stadium. Whatever you may think about the Jaguars, this will be a significant test for the offensive line. This would be a good time for Quenton Nelson to rally the boys behind him (and that fat stack of cash we gave him) and take it to them. While our recent history states they have our number. I am hopeful and confident that the offensive line will be able to provide adequate protection in this matchup. We have the talent, just need to come out more cohesively.
Jacksonville will be looking to come out more discipline than they had last week. When they had 13 penalties, dropped touchdown passes, and struggles throughout. While many Colts fans would be quick to think “It’s Jacksonville…” try and remember we aren’t the Manning teams, we aren’t the Luck teams. We can not afford to take them lightly. There are different dynamics to our matchups these days and the Colts must come out Sunday ready to play and ready to operate in conjunction with one another if we want to avoid a slow start to this one as well.
Lastly, I feel for Rodrigo. I think most of the Indianapolis Colts fans who are well versed with the team really grew fond of the guy, not just the player. While I wish him all the best, this season is too valuable to give him time to figure it out. I hope he can find a second life in the NFL, and I’m sure he will. Thanks for your time here in Indy Rodrigo, but now we must trust that either Chase McLaughlin or Luke Havrisik is up to the task.
Here’s hoping the boys come out dialed in tomorrow. Have a great day.
For the Shoe,