The Jaguars are reeling, losers of four straight and five out of their last six, the Big Cats desperately need a victory in week ten. Their opponent this week, the Indianapolis Colts, have won their last two games decisively.
Earlier this week I previewed the Colts offense. Here, I'll take a look at the other side of the ball.
After any amount of time watching the Colts defense in 2018 two words comes to mind.
The rookie linebacker from South Carolina State has been a wrecking ball for the Colts this year. He's the heart and soul of this defense. He's one of two players on the defensive side of the ball for Colts that appear to be foundational type talents moving forward. Leonard is second on the team in snaps and is putting up some eye popping numbers. He's registered a league leading 88 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in just seven games this year. He excels in run defense and in coverage. The Jaguars will need to be aware of Leonard's whereabouts on every play.
The other foundational piece for the Colts defense? 2017 first round pick Malik Hooker. The rangy free safety can cover ground quick. He's an excellent cover guy and is a better than expected tackler.
Having Hooker and Leonard in the fold is huge for the Colts future on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for Indy, however, there isn't much talent surrounding their two young stars on that side of the ball, which has led to major inconsistency from the Colts defense. Not only have they been inconsistent from game to game, but you really don't know what you'll get from this group quarter to quarter or even drive to drive. Such is life in the NFL for a defense that's led by two young players and has little else to speak of in terms of big time talent.
The Colts defensive scheme isn’t dissimilar in comparison to the Jaguars but they lack the talent to run it at a concistently high level. The Colts allow 110 yards per game on the ground and and over 260 yards per game through the air. They've surrendered the 10th most total yards per game to this point in the season and have allowed the eighth most points at 26.6 per game.
If there was ever a week that the Jaguars offense could get back on track it would be this one. The return of Leonard Fournette, along with the extra time to get healthy along the offensive line thanks to the bye week, should allow the Jaguars rushing attack to look the best it has all year. The presence of Darius Leonard looms large in this one. There could very well be several instances where it's Fournette vs Leonard (that looks weird, haha) one on one. Whomever wins those matchups will give their team a leg up in this one. Former Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is also a member of the Colts secondary now. He and Fournette have a serious history against each other so sparks could fly when it comes to the Jaguars rushing attack vs the Colts run defense. But Blake Bortles will need to play better football than he has since the first quarter of the season. On the other side Andrew Luck has been lighting defenses up, and while he hasn't faced a defense like the Jaguars in recent weeks, he's back to being one of the QBs in the game.
The Colts defense is ripe and ready to be taken advantage of, but the Jaguars offense has done little to prove that they can do anything against any NFL caliber defense. This is going to be fun (maybe).