Colts Preparing for an “Aggressive” Jaguars Defense That Is a Bit Different From 2018
A little less than a year ago, the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the Indianapolis Colts during a December game at TIAA Bank in Jacksonville and completely shut down Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense in a 6-0 shutout.
Consider this: a Colts team that went 10-6 and put up solid offensive numbers all of 2018 thanks to a resurgent Luck and a fantastic first-year head coach in Frank Reich could not score a single point on the 5-11 Jaguars. The Colts team that advanced to the second round of the NFL playoffs and was sixth in the NFL in scoring (25.6 points per game), was thoroughly and methodically dominated by a Jaguars defense that, while solid, was nowhere near elite.
A lot of things have changed since then, and with the Jaguars (4-5) and Colts (5-4) set to clash yet again this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, it is worth looking at exactly what the changes mean for the challenge the Jacksonville defense presents to Reich’s team.
For instance, the Colts will obviously no longer have Luck following his retirement before the 2019 season. As for Jacksonville, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey now dons Los Angeles Rams colors after the Jaguars sent him to the Rams in a blockbuster trade in October. That means the two best players on the field the last time the Colts and Jaguars played will not be suiting up in this Sunday’s pivotal AFC South matchup.
In a conference call with Jacksonville media on Wednesday, Reich laid out a few of the differences he sees in Jacksonville’s defense this season compared to years past. The largest thing, he said, is the fact that the aggressive defense has mixed things up a bit more in terms of what they like to do to get pressure on the quarterback.
“A little bit more pressure. I mean, in more recent years it felt like it was a little bit more four-man rush,” Reigh said when JaguarMaven asked him about the differences.
“Slightly a little bit more five-man rush, and a few other exotic things that they are doing and that they do very well, so you have to prepare for that and account for that.”
Jacksonville’s defense has had a few dominant outings this season (Week 3 vs. Tennesee, Week 7 vs. Cincinnati), but it has also had a few less than stellar performances. In 2019, the defense ranks 16th in yards allowed per game (350), 13th in points allowed per game (21), and fifth in sacks (30).
While Reich says the defense has changed a few things, it is still largely the same scheme being utilized by defensive coordinator Todd Wash, and it still has the same aggressive style of play.
“Their defense is, even though they are still the same scheme, just mixing it up a little bit,” Reich said. “Very well-coached, very aggressive, and they have very good players. They are a good defense.”
Even with the always-changing NFL , one of the constants of Jacksonville’s defensive performances against the Colts over the last few years has been fourth-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. In six career games vs. the Colts, Ngakoue has terrorized Luck and quarterback Jacoby Brissett and recorded 5.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble.
When it comes to Ngakoue, Reich knows his offense has their work cut out for them when it comes to blocking the fourth-year defensive end who has had his way with the Colts in the past.
“He has got great speed, edge pass rush, he is very active in the run game,” Reich said when JaguarMaven asked him about Ngakoue on Wednesday.
“You know, with the stunts and movements that they do up front, he can wreck the game in the run game and then he has elite speed coming around the edge. So a very good player, and you have to know where he is at, we have to account for him and try to neutralize him the best we can.”
With the Jaguars and Colts both quite different from the last time the two teams met on the gridiron, Sunday should surely be an interesting clash of styles. But for the Colts, they know to always expect the same aggressive Jacksonville defense.