INDIANAPOLIS – It’s the scenario that the Colts would have signed up for at the end of September or October.
A “win and in” game to close out the season against the worst team in the NFL. That is waiting for the Colts (9-7) on Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville (2-14).
Here are some takeaways from the Colts getting back to practice on Wednesday:
- It sounds like Parris Campbell (foot) has a chance to make his return to game action this week, although Frank Reich said Campbell still has to “prove a lot in the next couple of days.” Campbell has not played since injuring his foot back on October 17th. While Campbell did return to practice last week, Carson Wentz wasn’t participating (due to being on the COVID list), so this will be their first work together in nearly three months. Even though Campbell wasn’t putting up big numbers when playing earlier this season, the overall passing game has dipped without him in the lineup. “He’s dynamic,” Wentz said of Campbell on Wednesday. “We’ve seen that in flashes. Defenses feel his speed and his presence when he’s out there.”
- The Colts are no longer in “virtual” COVID protocols mode. Meetings are back in-person. Reich said on Wednesday that most of the Colts players have had COVID and he thinks the team is on the ‘downside’ of the dozen or so guys that have gone on the list in the past couple of weeks.
- With Hard Knocks airing on Wednesday, this Darius Leonard clip has been making the rounds of his disappointment in watching the team’s practice to start last week. Now, Leonard was not attending practice due to him being on the COVID list, but DeForest Buckner says the assessment from No. 53 was spot on: “I definitely agree with what he said over Zoom to us,” Buckner said on Wednesday. “Practice wasn’t up to our standard. We had some mental errors early on in the first period. Not paying attention to the details like we should have been. We had those mental errors and (Coach Reich) had to call the whole team up because both sides had some mental errors. He shouldn’t have to do that. We need to be locked in from the first snap.” Stopping practice to bring the offense and defense together is a rare move for Reich, but he was not a fan of the “uncharacteristic” mental errors with several guys missing due to COVID. Buckner believed the intensity at Wednesday’s walk-through was at a high level with guys realizing the urgency of a “win and in” game come Sunday.
- In this article, it’s outlined the poor efficiency and accuracy numbers from the pass game over the past couple of months. On Wednesday, Frank Reich was asked if he’s noticed anything fundamentally or physically impacting Carson Wentz that has led to those issues: “We are always working on things,” Reich said. “We kind of establish that at the beginning of the year and just because the season is starting it’s not like we are going to not touch these things. We use an example of a golfer. We are always going to be tweaking the swing, talking about fundamentals. We talk about those reminders every week. (Quarterbacks coach) Scott Milanovich does a good job with him. I talk about some of those things. And I think Carson works at those things. The completion percentage, I don’t know exactly where it is right now, I know it’s a little bit low. I’m conscious of that. It does need to be a little higher. But that could come from many factors.”
- As a 15.5-point favorite for Sunday, the Colts will enter Jacksonville as the biggest road favorite since spreads started being kept dating back to 1978. It’s the biggest road favorite the Colts have been in 347 road games.
- One note from this season that is important for Sunday, and potentially the postseason is the play of Carson Wentz away from home. Wentz has thrown 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 7 road starts this season, with an impressive QB rating of 103.4.
- While the Jaguars definitely gave the Colts some troubles in their first matchup (a 23-17 Indy win in early November), it should be noted how different their personnel now looks from that game. Jacksonville won’t have their top two rushers and pass catchers from that game, nor their leading tackler. Since their Week 7 bye, the Jags have scored more than 17 points just one time (21 points vs. Jets). They’ve scored 10 points or less in 6 games over that time.
- To call it ‘head scratching’ would be an understatement. The Colts have lost 7 straight games away from home against the Jaguars. It was the 2014 season—with the likes of Bjoern Werner, Trent Richardson and Josh McNary in the starting lineup—as the last time the Colts won in Jacksonville. Since then it’s been 5 straight losses in Jacksonville, one in London, with the Jaguars scoring at least 30 points in 5 of those 6 games.
- The Colts are back on a normal (Wednesday-Friday) practice schedule for their final week of the regular season. They’ll have a Saturday walk-through before heading to Jacksonville for Sunday’s 1:00 PM season finale.