Taken from RATS board
Stolen from the Jags' message board...
Expect Colts to harass QB Garrard
By Scouts, Inc.
Why To Watch
The undefeated Colts continue to be the NFL's biggest story with four games remaining. QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James and WR Marvin Harrison maintain starring roles in one of the league's most balanced offensive attacks. But this week, the triplets will look to atone for the Colts' worst offensive showing of the season, a Week 2 squeaker in the RCA Dome in which the Jaguars held them to just 10 points.
This time, the Jaguars' swarming defense will have the built-in advantage of playing on a slower outdoor surface in front of its home crowd. The question, however, is how well fill-in QB David Garrard will fare in his first start against a Colts defense that leads the NFL with 39 sacks. For the Jaguars to put an end to the Colts' quest for a perfect season, Garrard will need a mistake-free outing and lots of help from bruising RB Greg Jones.
VIEW IMAGE When the Colts have the ball
Rushing: It is difficult to find many negatives regarding the Colts' offense right now. Manning garners most of the attention for his passing skills and ability to nearly flawlessly operate coordinator Tom Moore's system, but James is very much an underrated entity within the attack.
James' vision, initial quickness and slashing running style allow him to exploit defenses that are spread out and caught in undersized personnel packages in order to better match up versus the pass. James has shown impressive toughness, stamina and durability, which has allowed the Colts to actually run the ball more than they have thrown it this season.
Furthermore, because of the improved play of its defense, Indianapolis is able to establish early leads and simply run out the clock with James. James has rushed for 100-plus yards in all but three games this season, and his lowest rushing output was 88 yards in the season opener at Baltimore. The Colts' offensive line lacks elite size or overpowering strength, but it is a unit that does a great job in terms of communication and blocking angles.
What make this matchup so intriguing is that the Jaguars possess one of the most talented defensive fronts in the NFL. LDT Marcus Stroud has been bothered by lingering injuries but is getting healthier every week and should require double-team attention from ROG Jake Scott and OC Jeff Saturday. If that's the case, RDT John Henderson will have an opportunity to become a disruptive force in his one-on-one matchup versus LOG Ryan Lilja. With SLB Akin Ayodele lined up across from TE Dallas Clark on the line of scrimmage, the athletic tandem of MLB Mike Peterson and WLB Daryl Smith will be the "space" linebackers, responsible for pursuing James from sideline to sideline.
Because of the explosiveness of the Colts' passing attack, the Jaguars will not get as much run-support help from SS Deke Cooper as usual. However, if the defensive front does a good job with its gap-discipline in order to keep blockers off the second level, Peterson and Smith have the instincts, speed and tackling skills to bottle James up.
Passing: Personnel packages are extremely important when it comes to defending the Colts' offense. If Manning recognizes a defense stuck in a package that heavily favors one facet over another, he will simply break out the no-huddle and continue to attack the area of weakness until the Colts score or until the opponent proves capable of holding up or calls a timeout. If, for example, the Jaguars open a series in base personnel with four linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs versus the Colts three-receiver package, Manning is liable to go with a no huddle and target the mismatches that WRs Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley generate against RDC Kenny Wright and FS Deon Grant.
In this game, there's no question the Colts three-receiver set gives them the best opportunity to create mismatches. LDC Rashean Mathis is having a breakout season with four interceptions, but he is still a third-year pro who is not capable of holding up consistently on an island versus WR Marvin Harrison. Making matters worse, Mathis suffered a broken bone in his right hand last week. In order to protect him in this matchup, the Jaguars will need to give him deep-safety support on nearly every down. With Grant helping on one side and Cooper helping on the other, it should open up a great deal of room for TE Clark to operate over the middle versus SLB Ayodele, who is far more effective rushing the passer than he is dropping into coverage.
The Jaguars were unable to register a single sack in the first meeting between these teams, and rectifying that problem is a primary point of emphasis leading up to this week's rematch. Because of the nearly impossible matchup situations the Colts' skill players generate, Jacksonville's best chance to keep Manning in check is to get great front-four pressure. DTs Stroud and Henderson certainly have the potential to wreak havoc up the middle, but they have combined for only two sacks this season and are not playing to their potential. LDE Reggie Hayward has the best mismatch to exploit versus ROT Ryan Diem, so it will be critical for Hayward to have a career game on Sunday.
VIEW IMAGE When the Jaguars have the ball
Rushing: RB Jones gives the Jaguars their best chance to pull off the upset Sunday. Jones, who is in the process of completely taking over the starting job from longtime starter Fred Taylor, has rushed for a combined 181 yards in the past two games, both Jacksonville victories. He is a 253-pound back with a punishing a running style. Jones will not make many defenders miss in space, but he shows good vision, the ability to plant and pivot quickly in order to hit the cutback lane and impressive straight-line speed for his size. He also runs low to the ground and picks up many yards after contact, which leads to him wearing down opposing defenses as games progress.
The Jaguars obviously need to maintain balance on offense in order to keep the Colts honest, but the more carries they can get Jones, the better their chances become of winning. For starters, Jones has the powerful north-south running style to neutralize Indianapolis' great defensive speed. Secondly, the more carries he gets, the better chance the Jaguars have of slowing down the Colts' pass rush. And finally, if Jones can protect the ball and keep the chains moving, it should play into the Jaguars' goal of controlling the clock in order to keep Manning & Co. on the sideline as much as possible.
In order to combat this strategy, look for the Colts to sell out more often than usual on first and second downs. SS Mike Doss will spend a good deal of time cheated up as a fourth linebacker within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and the Colts also will send more linebackers on run blitzes in order to penetrate more gaps and create more of a disruption in the backfield. The Colts can be extremely frustrating to run against early in games when their front-four is fresh and most active. However, if Jags' offensive coordinator Carl Smith is patient and remains dedicated to the run, eventually the matchup will swing in the favor of his offensive line.
Passing: Sunday's game could prove to be the toughest challenge of QB Garrard's NFL career. He has done a decent job filling in since Byron Leftwich went down. He struggled with his consistency against the Cardinals, but he completed 55 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and just one interception against the Browns.
Garrard is doing a good job of using his feet to buy second-chance passing opportunities in the pocket and also has shown the mobility to tuck the ball and run for the first down when nothing is available through the air. His scrambling ability should prove valuable against the Colts' swarming pass rush. However, Garrard's weaknesses could just as easily become exposed. Garrard lacks patience in the pocket and has a tendency to try to make a play when nothing is available, which is something the Colts' defense specializes in due to its ability to get front-four pressure.
Furthermore, Garrard's accuracy is below average, and he seems to lack ideal field vision, which also could be exposed by DSs Doss and Sanders, who have combined for three of the Colts' 15 interceptions this season.
The first time these teams met, the Colts recorded six sacks on Leftwich, including three from RDT Montae Reagor in his matchup versus LOG Vince Manuwai. Assuming the Colts also will limit Garrard's time in the pocket this week, the third-year quarterback will need all the help he can get from his supporting cast.
The Jaguars have a talented and deep corps of wide receivers with Jimmy Smith, Ernest Wilford, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams. The problem, however, is that this unit does not match up well versus a primarily zone-coverage defense of the Colts. Smith remains one of the NFL's best route-runners and should be able to consistently make himself available because of his ability to find soft spots in coverage. However, Wilford, Jones and Williams are all inexperienced receivers who are far more productive working one-on-one than against sophisticated zone looks. With Garrard under consistent pressure, the ability of these young receivers to get open versus zone coverage could play a pivotal role in the outcome.
Sounds like they think the Colts have too much firepower for the Jags.