Colts @ Jaguars
Final Score: Jaguars 24, Colts 0
Writer: Jason Wolf (@<J_Wolf_picks on Twitter)
Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan. New Quarterback, same old Colts. It apparently does not matter who is under center for the Colts, as they are unable to secure a win in Jacksonville for the 8th consecutive year. In this year’s iteration of the Colts’ most embarrassing loss of the season, they were completely shut out, with Matt Ryan throwing three interceptions and the offense never really finding its footing throughout the whole game. Trevor Lawrence had one of his best days as a pro, finally looking like the pro-ready NFL star that he was always projected to be as he carved up the Colts’ “defense” all game.
Matt Ryan: 16/30, 195 Yards, 3 INT
Coming into the season, the Colts were a popular pick to win their division. The addition of Matt Ryan to the Colts seemed like a perfect fit. Granted, Ryan seemed to be a perfect fit for the Colts, yet on Sunday, the Colts’ offense (in particular Ryan) looked about as poor as you will ever see a pro offense. Inability to protect the quarterback, complete lack of a downfield threat, and errant QB play were the name of the game for the Colts. Here is a visual representation of Matt Ryan’s game against the Jaguars.
Matt Ryan not in the mood to be sacked again. pic.twitter.com/Oudz9Fby2D
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) September 18, 2022
Now, it isn’t totally fair to judge Ryan too harshly from this performance, as he was down his #1 target in Michael Pittman as well as his preferred #2 target, Alec Pierce. The Colts’ offensive line also did Ryan no favors, allowing Ryan to be sacked five times. Miscommunications between Ryan and his green receivers as well as missed assignments on the offensive line were all too common for the Colts in this one, as mistakes and frustrations piled up for Matt Ryan.
As the game went on, the turnovers got sloppier, and the Colts’ offense slogged along, somehow looking less impressive as time went on. Ryan looked pretty washed up, even when considering he had next to no one to throw it to all game. Ryan missed throws, could not make any plays outside of the pocket happen, and looked generally not all that accurate. To say he looked like a statue in the pocket would be an insult to the mobility of stone figures. It would be easy to claim that Matt Ryan is washed up at this point, but it also feels a little unfair to label him as such just yet, seeing the team context around him. However, it does appear that the days of Matt Ryan supporting a plus offense are almost certainly done.
Jonathan Taylor: 9 Carries, 54 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 9 Yards
Nyheim Hines: 1 Carry, 0 Yards | 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 37 Yards | Fumble (Recovered)
After gashing up the Texans in Week 1 to the tune of 161 yards on 5.2 YPC, you would think the Colts would feed Jonathan Taylor, their best player, a healthy dose of touches. Yet somehow, Taylor only had his number called nine times, averaging 6 YPC despite the offensive struggles and offensive line woes. It was the first game since 11/12/2020 that Taylor was given less than 10 rushing attempts, yet he still managed to stick out as an offensive weapon for the Colts. Shout out to Taylor; he always makes the most of his touches, and today was no different. Taylor looks like one of the best backs in the league every time he touches the ball and it is a credit to him that he is able to make so much happen on every touch despite the overwhelmingly negative offensive context. Taylor looked great today, running with power, burst, and showing off excellent vision. Plays like these make Taylor pop out from the screen and show how valuable to a team he is, even at the most interchangeable offensive position on a clearly non-contending team. Runs like this one from Jonathan Taylor show that he is clearly in the upper echelon of RBs in the league, especially when given decent blocking.
Jonathan Taylor with an angry run. pic.twitter.com/LtAIcZIuQK
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports2) September 18, 2022
Coach Frank Reich keeps threatening the offense with a good time by promising that they will find creative ways to get shifty playmaker Nyheim Hines the ball in his hands. Reich and the offense almost followed through on their promises, as Hines was targeted three times on the opening drive, coming down with two receptions for 23 yards. He only saw two more targets throughout the rest of the game, hauling in a total of four receptions for 37 yards, averaging a solid 9 yards a catch. Puzzling usage was a theme throughout the day, as the Colts just did not do a good job of putting the ball in their playmakers’ hands on offense. Hines didn’t do anything spectacular with his touches, but he was reliable and chewed up solid yardage with each catch, something the Colts desperately needed more of.
If the Colts actually were to commit to having Taylor + Hines on the field at the same time (like they keep saying they will), Hines could actually do some damage regularly, but the scheme seems to be too conservative and outdated to truly capitalize on Hines’ skill set. It should also be mentioned that Nyheim showed extreme hustle and determination in hunting down the ball after an interception was thrown. Unfortunately, he was given the opportunity to showcase his defensive hustle on multiple occasions as Ryan threw three picks.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Ashton Dulin: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 79 Yards | 1 Carry, 3 Yards
Mike Strachan: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 23 Yards
Parris Campbell: 2 Targets
Mo Alie-Cox: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 9 Yards
Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce were both DNP’s for the Colts this game, leaving the Colts with perhaps the most unproven and least threatening receiver group out of all the NFL in Week 2. The Colts’ receiving core in this game consisted of perennial “potential” monster, Parris Campbell, physical specimen Michael Strachan, and Matt Ryan’s new best friend, Ashton Dulin. Dulin drew seven targets on the day, easily looking like he had the strongest connection with Ryan out of all the Colts’ receivers (that actually suited up). Dulin showed some juice as a possession receiver, making a couple of nice grabs in traffic and another grab where he knew he was about to take a big hit, hauling it in any way. Dulin looked like the most reliable receiver for the Colts, showing some decent chemistry with QB Matt Ryan. Dulin impressed today with his increased workload, and should have earned the opportunity moving forward to see more snaps than Parris Campbell and maybe even Alec Pierce.
— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 18, 2022
The other Colts receivers really did not do much else of note, as the offense struggled mightily all day. The Jags’ pass rush was essentially living in Matt Ryan’s pocket, constantly generating pressure and not allowing Ryan to have his receivers’ routes develop. Mo-Allie Cox nearly had a Touchdown when he saw an end-zone target come his way, but Ryan threw it just a little bit too high which caused Cox to jump for the ball, landing just slightly out of bounds in the back of the end zone. A slightly less washed up Matt Ryan makes that throw and Cox comes down with the TD, and we would be talking about Cox as one of many touchdown dependent TE’s in the league. Parris Campbell was literally invisible for 99% of the game until he was called for an offensive pass interference in the endzone when the Colts were trying to punch in a score. That was unfortunately his biggest impact of the game, other than making fantasy owners everywhere go “is Parris Campbell even active today?” for three and a half quarters.
Trevor Lawrence: 25/30, 235 Yards, 2 TD | 3 Carries, 11 Yards
Trevor Lawrence might have had his best day as an NFL pro, as he absolutely shredded the Colts “defense” for 235 yards on 25/30 attempts, passing for two touchdowns along the way. He was downright impressive in this game, making numerous throws that drew audible reactions from myself and those watching in Jacksonville. During the Jaguars’ first touchdown drive, Lawrence went 8-8 before hitting Christian Kirk for the easy pitch and catch touchdown in the middle of the Colts’ defense. Lawrence set several career highs in this game, including a 121.5 QBR and a career-high 83.3% completion rate. His completion percentage actually should have been higher, as two of his five incompletions came on clear drops from his receivers, meaning his stat-line actually undersells just how accurate and deadly Lawrence was in the passing game in this one. T-Law made throws from the pocket, on the run, and regularly made plays out of nothing using his feet to get out of the pocket to pick up a few yards on the ground or to buy time for receivers to get open. Lawrence was confident, and he clearly has the confidence of HC Doug Pederson as he was drawing up intermediate-deep passing plays all game. They also went for it on a 4th down situation near the goal line, scoring on a PA rollout from Lawrence, who used his legs to create space for Christian Kirk who was wide open for an easy TD pass, a play call only made possible due to Lawrence’s efficiency using his legs.
There was one throw that Lawrence probably wishes he could have had back, though it didn’t actually negatively affect the Jaguars. On a 3rd & 1o from the Jags’ 20, Lawrence unleashed a deep pass that at first looked like a perfectly placed pass to his receiver, but the extra safety came out of nowhere and almost picked the pass off. Now, the pass fell harmlessly down on the ground, but it could have easily been picked off and became the sole blemish on an otherwise near-perfect showing from Lawrence. They were only up 7-0 at the time in the early 2q, so a turnover there could have shifted the entire course of the game. Decisions like that suggest Lawrence might still have ways to go, but he appears to be headed for that leap that we all expected of him this year.
Thought Trevor Lawrence was gonna drop one of the best throws of the season before Julian Blackmon decided to come out of nowhere pic.twitter.com/bLamY6cNAJ
— Johnny Kinsley (Geno Smith Hive CEO) (@Brickwallblitz) September 19, 2022
James Robinson: 23 Carries, 64 Yards, TD | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 14 Yards
Travis Etienne Jr.: 9 Carries, 20 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 33 Yards
The James Robinson comeback story has been absolutely incredible to see unfold. From unknown RB buried on the Jaguars’ depth chart, to pro-bowl quality RB, to season-ending achilles tear, the James Robinson ride has been a wild, up-and-down rollercoaster the past couple of years. However, he somehow appears to be fully healthy not even 10 months later, marking what is probably the most impressive and improbable sports injury recovery case to date. Not only does he look healthy, he actually looks explosive!
The James Robinson comeback is amazingpic.twitter.com/iuMqbb7NdE
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 18, 2022
There were plenty of rumblings about how the Jaguars would be replacing Robinson with Travis Etienne and how he would obviously be the feature back since Robinson was coming off an injury where no RB has really seen much success after. For Robinson to be on the field so soon is an amazing comeback story. For him to be on the field, trucking defenders, making moves, and showing pre-injury burst like he did on his 37-yard TD run? That is simply superhuman-like from the Jags’ RB. Robinson is in control of this backfield, as he currently is more suited for a three-down role than Etienne. He won’t be used in that way, however, since Etienne is such a plus-player coming out of the backfield.
Speaking of, Travis Etienne was quiet in this one, rushing the ball for 20 yards on nine carries, and not doing too much with any one carry. Etienne hasn’t flashed too much as a traditional running back yet, however he has shown his potential as a pass catcher out of the backfield, catching another three balls (on three targets) for 33 yards. Etienne looks good with the ball in his hands, but he has yet to really make enough waves to demand more of a target share than the current split. James Robinson is playing out of his mind and has historically performed very well for the Jaguars, so this split seems to be working for the Jags, and we can expect more of the same moving forward. Etienne will surely have more to do in a game where the Jags need to keep up but against the Colts in this one, they were more than happy to hand the ball off to J-Rob to chew clock and eat yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Christian Kirk: 6 Targets, 6 Receptions, 78 Yards, 2 TD
Marvin Jones Jr.: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 33 Yards
Zay Jones: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 23 Yards
Evan Engram: 8 Targets, 7 Receptions, 46 Yards
The real story in the Jaguars’ pass-catching group is undoubtedly Christian Kirk. Endlessly ridiculed in the offseason for “resetting the market” with his massive contract, Kirk came into the year with something to prove as his contract has been repeatedly pointed to as the single reason for the WR market exploding in the NFL. Go figure then, that now with some of the contracts other, more average receivers have gotten, it seems that Kirk’s contract might have been a steal? The Lawrence to Kirk connection is humming along, as he now has 195 yards through just two games, solidifying his ability to succeed as a true #1 WR, which was highly in question this offseason. Lawrence is constantly looking for Kirk, and Kirk is being utilized to the fullest in Pederson’s offense, lining up in different spots all over the field. Kirk made plays out of the backfield, in motion, and connected on a deep bomb from Lawrence as well. Christian Kirk looks set for a massive season as a true WR1 and it appears as if the Lawrence-to-Kirk connection is just getting started in a big way. This could be a beautiful pairing for years to come.
TOUCHDOWN JAGS!!! Trevor Lawrence to Christian Kirk again!!! Trevor is COOKING today. 22/27, 227 yards, and 2 TDs!
— Austin Pendergist (@apthirteen) September 18, 2022
The Jones Brothers, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones, provide a nice set of options for Lawrence as their speed and downfield playmaking ability go well with Christian Kirk’s utilization all over the field. Their usage from week to week will always be sporadic and hard to rely on, but Lawrence is consistently looking to hit them in the intermediate-deep passing game. Zay Jones in particular has had a nice start to his Jaguars career and with a little more time working with Lawrence, might develop as his preferred deep-ball specialist.
Evan Engram appears to be heavily involved in the offensive game plan, drawing eight targets, and actually leading the entire team. Usually a player marred by frustrating drops and lack of focus, Engram is seeing encouraging usage rates and is actually coming through with solid catch rates and efficiency metrics. Pederson is actually using Engram in clever ways, lining him up outside of the TE slot the majority of the time, and even playing the role of X receiver. Engram has even seemingly left the drops behind, his biggest issue from years past, as he has hauled in 11 catches on 12 targets. He could finally be headed for that breakout year that he has always been capable of, but never put together.