For a team with postseason aspirations, the Indianapolis Colts find themselves already in a tough situation during the regular season's second week.
After tying the division-rival Houston Texans last week, the Colts now face another AFC South foe in the Jacksonville Jaguars in a location they haven't left victorious in their last seven attempts.
HH: Do you feel like the Jaguars are getting back on track with Doug Pederson as head coach? Does he seem to have provided some normalcy?
JS: He absolutely seems to have provided some normalcy. Even in Jacksonville's Week 1 loss to Washington, the Jaguars looked simply more complete and professional than they did at any point last year, scoring what would have been their third-most points in a game a year ago despite leaving at least 17 points on the field. Pederson, unlike Urban Meyer, isn't ready to hang his head and admit defeat at the first sign of adversity, and it is clear that has translated to the rest of the team.
HH: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence came with all of the hype in the world but had an underwhelming rookie season compared to expectations. However, he shredded the Colts in Week 18. Is his reality closer to that performance, or is he still a big work in progress?
JS: I think it is somewhere in the middle. Lawrence has all of the physical tools in the world; he is athletic, he has a big arm, can throw from different platforms. If you wanted to create a quarterback in a lab, he looks like it. With that said, Lawrence was rawer as a prospect coming out of Clemson's elementary college system than anyone ever wanted to admit, and it has shown so far in 18 career starts. There hasn't been much to suggest Lawrence won't be the guy for Jacksonville, but anyone who expected him to be a Pro Bowler right away is likely disappointed.
HH: The Jaguars took edge defender Travon Walker No. 1 overall this year, and although it was polarizing at the time, reviews seem to be mostly positive. What's the rookie shown so far through the summer and into Week 1?
JS: Travon Walker at No. 1 overall was widely panned in April, but it is hard to say it wasn't the right choice today. Walker is facing a big transition after mostly playing with his hand in the dirt and inside for Georgia, with the Jaguars now moving him to a 3-4 outside linebacker role where he rushes off the edge from a two-point stance. This transition has brought some expected rookie moments as he still learns how to win on the edge and package together pass-rush moves, but his traits are out of this world. He moves sideline to sideline like a middle linebacker and not a 280-pound edge and his power shows up in each game. He has a long way to go, but he has had an encouraging start.
HH: What's the most underappreciated group on the Jaguars' roster that needs more attention?
JS: The running back room. While Travis Etienne was a first-round pick and James Robinson was a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie, this duo is still somehow underrated. Etienne and Robinson were the two best players on the field for Jacksonville's offense in addition to Christian Kirk last Sunday, and they have the traits to be one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL. What really works for them is how truly different their skill sets are. They are more or less polar opposites, so the Jaguars can deploy each in different situations.
HH: From a Jaguars perspective, what's the area of the Colts' roster that you feel can be most taken advantage of?
JS: The safety position. Jaguars fans know all about Gus Bradley's Cover 3 scheme and how it can sometimes leave the free safety out to dry in the seams and middle of the field, and that is something Houston took advantage of. Look for the Jaguars to attempt to do the same on Sunday.