INDIANAPOLIS – It was a loss that led to Jim Irsay feeling the need to have a talking to with his head coach and general manager.
Losing another season-opener—not to mention in Jacksonville, nor as a touchdown favorite—had the Owner understandably pissed off.
Since that 27-20 Week 1 loss to the Jaguars, the Colts have responded, while Jacksonville has lost 14 straight games and clinched the No. 1 overall pick. That only adds to the Colts’ sting as they need help to get into the postseason.
Let’s take a look back on that first Colts/Jaguars meetings and see what we learned:
-Minshew’s Rhythm: What a wakeup call it has been for the Indy defense since that horrific opener. You had Gardner Minshew, who has since been passed up for two different starting quarterbacks (the Jaguars have changed QBs 5 times this season), complete an incredible 95 percent of his passes (19-20 for 173 yards) and 3 touchdowns. The Colts hardly contested anything through the air and looked lost in coverage at times. Obviously, the defensive effort has taken a 180 since that game, even though the freshness of that loss to the Steelers is still there. Now, Minshew is no longer the Jaguars starter. It was veteran Mike Glennon under center last week. Given what Minshew has done to the Colts before, this is a welcomed sign for Frank Reich’s team.
–Up And Down Rivers: The 2020 season opener saw what Philip Rivers can give you in 60 minutes of football. For most of the game, Rivers was highly efficient (completing 79 percent of his passes for 365 yards) and did a wonderful job of finding his running backs (Colts running backs caught all 18 of their targets in the opener). But he did have two interceptions, both coming on third down, and both leading to Jaguars scores. With Marlon Mack injured early and Jonathan Taylor rushing for 2.4 yards per carry, more was on the plate of Rivers to carry the offense. And when the Jaguars got the Colts into some obvious passing situations, the QB got exposed.
-Missed Opportunities: While the Colts certainly did more than enough to lose this first meeting, they also had ample chances. They out-gained the Jaguars 445-241, with poor situational football (4-of-12 on third down, 2-of-5 in the red zone, with a missed 30-yard field goal) not helping at all. The Colts got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 early in the game that could have put them up 14-0. You had two key drops from T.Y. Hilton on the game’s final drive. This was not some thoroughly controlled performance by the Jags, yet they did enough to pull off the upset.
-Major Personnel Changes: As you would expect with any rematch happening 16 weeks apart in the NFL, the personnel changes from the first time these teams met are extensive. The Colts don’t have Parris Campbell (6 catches for 71 yards in the opener), Marlon Mack (who got hurt in the second quarter) or Malik Hooker (who played every defensive snap). The Colts do have some current injury/COVID situations with Anthony Castonzo (knee/ankle), Braden Smith (COVID), Khari Willis (concussion protocol), Michael Pittman (concussion protocol). Conversely, the Jaguars have moved on from Gardner Minshew as the starting QB. Also, the Jags have talented, young defenders CB-C.J. Henderson and DE-Josh Allen on IR. Back in Week 1, Henderson and fellow rookie RB-James Robinson had really good debuts. Now, both of them are iffy for his rematch.