NFL Preview - Jacksonville (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Whether it's a win or a loss, Blaine Gabbert knows every NFL game must be put in the rearview mirror in preparation for the next week.
The Jacksonville Jaguars would especially like to see their young quarterback forget his last start when they visit the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Gabbert completed only 7-of-19 passes for 53 yards with a touchdown in Jacksonville's 27-7 loss to the AFC South-rival Houston Texans this past Sunday, and was later replaced by backup quarterback Chad Henne because of a left leg injury. The second-year pro played one just series in the fourth quarter and was wearing an ice pack afterward.
Gabbert, who's still expected to start Sunday's contest, shouldered the blame for Jacksonville's second straight loss to begin this 2012 season.
"That's awful and that falls back on my shoulders," Gabbert said. "I've got to do a better job on making plays when they need to be made."
Jacksonville didn't give its offense much of a chance, possessing the football for only 16 minutes and 43 seconds, and was 0-for-9 on third-down attempts. The Jaguars compiled only 117 yards of offense to Houston's 411 yards, and are now off to their third 0-2 start since 2008. The last time they dropped three in a row to open a season was a four-game skid to begin 2003.
Mike Mularkey wasn't pleased after his second game as Jacksonville's head coach.
"Obviously, this is not the way we wanted to start the season at home," Mularkey said. "It was not a good showing from the very start to the very end. I told them maybe we needed to take a good punch to see how we respond."
Mularkey will try once again for his first win in charge of the Jags, but will need improved play from the offense in order to achieve that.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano did get his first win out of the way in his team's 23-20 triumph over Minnesota in Week 2. The victory was made possible thanks to one of the more clutch kickers in the game, as Adam Vinatieri successfully split the uprights from 53 yards away with eight seconds left for the deciding field goal.
Pagano was quite thrilled for his staff and players.
"I feel great for all our assistant coaches and our players, all the time and trust and belief they put into this whole thing," Pagano said. "It feels great, obviously. What a great crowd. What a great crowd. My hat goes off to our fans. They hung in there. When we needed them the most, they were there, and they were loud. It was an electric atmosphere."
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck registered his first NFL win as well by throwing for 240 yards with a touchdown, and he also ran for 21 yards on four carries. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, was happy to come out on top in his home debut.
"To get a win was something I really wanted for this team," Luck said. "For me personally, I didn't want it looming over us for the next game."
Luck was sacked just twice by the Vikings even though Indianapolis' offensive line was missing a few players. Right tackle Winston Justice (concussion) and left guard Joe Reitz (knee) were inactive, while center Samson Satele left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed knee injury. Right guard Mike McGlynn shifted to center in Satele's absence, with Trai Essex moving into McGlynn's spot and Bradley Sowell playing tackle.
Justice is expected to return against Jacksonville, but Satele's status is in question and Reitz is likely to miss more time.
The Colts were also without star outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who's sidelined with an ankle injury and is considered doubtful for Sunday's game. That would leave the defense without its cornerstone as Indianapolis begins AFC South play.
Colts lead 15-7
Streak: Jaguars have won last two meetings 2011 Meetings: Jaguars 17, Colts 3 (Nov. 13 at Indianapolis) Jaguars 19, Colts 13 (Jan. 1 at Jacksonville)
Jaguars HC Mike Mularkey vs. Colts: 0-0 Colts HC Chuck Pagano vs. Jaguars: 0-0 Mularkey vs. Pagano Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Notes: Jacksonville has taken three of its last four matchups with the Colts and halted a two-year losing streak at Lucas Oil Stadium with last season's result, which came with current defensive coordinator Mel Tucker serving as the Jaguars' interim head coach. Jacksonville is just 3-8 all-time at Indianapolis, however. Seven of the last nine contests between these teams have been decided by seven points or less, with five of those tilts having a margin of victory of four points or fewer.
BY THE NUMBERS
Offensive Team Rankings
Jacksonville: 32nd overall (236.0 ypg), 23rd rushing (89.0 ypg), 31st passing (147.0 ypg), 30th scoring (15.0 ppg)
Indianapolis: 24th overall (317.0 ypg), 29th rushing (73.5 ypg), 17th passing (243.5 ypg), 23rd scoring (22.0 ppg)
Defensive Team Rankings
Jacksonville: 23rd overall (400.0 ypg), 31st rushing (169.5 ypg), 17th passing (230.5 ypg), 21st scoring (26.5 ppg)
Indianapolis: 21st overall (377.5 ypg), 14th rushing (104.5 ypg), 25th passing (273.0 ypg), 26th scoring (30.5 ppg)
Jacksonville: -1 (1 takeaways, 2 giveaways) Indianapolis: -3 (2 takeaways, 5 giveaways)
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (offense)
Jacksonville: 50.0 percent (4 possessions, 2 TD, 2 FG) -- tied 20th overall Indianapolis: 42.9 percent (7 possessions, 3 TD, 2 FG) -- tied 24th overall
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (defense)
Jacksonville: 50.0 percent (10 possessions, 5 TD, 4 FG) -- tied 11th overall Indianapolis: 66.7 percent (9 possessions, 6 TD, 3 FG) -- 22nd overall
WHEN THE JAGUARS HAVE THE BALL
As previously stated, Gabbert (313 passing yards, 3 TD) didn't have much time with the ball last week because of Houston's swarming defense, and he'll be looking to bounce back in Indianapolis. The 2011 first-round pick is known for his toughness, especially after the beating he took as a rookie, and was sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards last week. Gabbert does own at least one touchdown pass in 12 of his first 16 NFL starts, and nine of his 15 touchdown throws have come in the last seven games. If he's is somehow unable to go, at least the Jaguars have a reliable backup in Henne, a former starter in Miami. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (137 rushing yards) was on the receiving end of Gabbert's lone touchdown strike in the Houston loss and hopes to break through on the ground against the Colts. He is averaging 101.0 rushing yards in 12 career games against Indianapolis, with three touchdown runs and 21 first downs. Jones-Drew also joined Randy Moss, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates as the only active players with 75 or more scores last week. First-year Jaguar Laurent Robinson leads the team with eight catches, while rookie first-rounder Justin Blackmon has only three catches in two games. Herb Taylor played left guard in his second career start last week and replaced the injured Eben Britton (questionable, ankle).
The Colts were able to hold Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson to 60 yards on 16 carries last week, but had trouble covering the pass. That shouldn't as much be a problem this week, given how badly Gabbert played before going down with a leg injury. Minnesota's Percy Harvin burned Indianapolis for 104 yards on 12 catches and quarterback Christian Ponder did not throw an interception in last Sunday's contest. The Colts have one interception this season, and that belongs to linebacker Jerrell Freeman (18 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT), who also forced a fumble against the Vikings that led to a field goal and a 10-6 lead. Defensive end Cory Redding (7 tackles) recovered the fumble and had one of nine passes defensed by Indianapolis. The Colts will need a similar effort this week to throw Gabbert off his game. Safety Antoine Bethea (17 tackles) had two pass breakups and led the team with nine stops against the Vikings, while Mario Addison (2 tackles), Jerry Hughes (2 tackles, 1 sack) and Justin Hickman (tackle) all rotated at Freeney's outside linebacker spot and Robert Mathis (12 tackles, 3 sacks) sacked Ponder twice from the other side. Nose tackle Antonio Johnson played a role in stopping Peterson, but will face another test in Jones-Drew.
WHEN THE COLTS HAVE THE BALL
Luck (533 passing yards, 3 TD, 3 INT) hopes to get some offensive linemen back for this week's matchup and has been sacked five times this season. He has a 75.2 passer rating and a 56.6 completion percentage through the first two games, but was more efficient versus Minnesota than he was in a Week 1 loss at Chicago. The top pick in the NFL Draft will face a Jacksonville secondary that has had trouble defending the pass over the first two weeks. Wide receiver Donnie Avery (12 receptions, 148 yards, 1 TD) stepped up in a big way against the Vikings, hauling in a team-high nine passes for 111 yards. It was his best performance since catching six passes for 163 yards and a score back on Oct. 26, 2008 as a member of St. Louis. Fellow wideout Reggie Wayne (15 receptions, 206 yards, 1 TD) has shown no signs of slowing down in the latter stages of his career and made his 147th consecutive start Sunday. He also played in his 168th straight game and is approaching 12,000 receiving yards (11,914). Indianapolis could use a boost from running back Donald Brown (93 rushing yards, 1 TD), who has yet to make a difference in two games and hasn't caught a pass this season.
The Jaguars played miserable defense against Houston and were probably taxed most of the second half, as evidenced by the Texans' 242-42 advantage in total yards over the final two quarters. Linebacker Daryl Smith has yet to play a game this season because of a groin injury that will keep him out of the starting lineup once again Sunday. Linebackers Russell Allen (20 tackles) and Kyle Bosworth (7 tackles) picked up the slack on a busy afternoon last week, with Allen credited with a game-best 13 tackles and Bosworth having two tackles for a loss. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was not sacked once, however, and he took advantage of running back Arian Foster, who rushed for 110 yards and a score on 28 touches. Ben Tate also got into the act of abusing Jacksonville 's defense with 74 yards and a score on 12 carries. The Jaguars shouldn't worry about Brown so much, but Luck will give them problems if they're not prepared. Safety Dawan Landry (15 tackles) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (3 tackles) will try to slow down Wayne. The Jags also were without cornerback Derek Cox and defensive ends Austen Lane and George Selvie versus the Texans. Lane and Selvie will most likely miss this game, but Cox could make his season debut this weekend.
The Jaguars should get more than 20 minutes of possession this week and must give Jones-Drew at least 25 carries. Yes, the Jags' offensive line is a bit weak due to injuries, but the next man has to step up. The Colts will take advantage of the fresh faces across Jacksonville's line and hope to rattle Gabbert into making poor throws. If Indianapolis can play stingy defense, it shouldn't have a problem going 2-1. Luck is starting to get into a groove and already has impressed Pagano with his poise and patience in the pocket. One can only imagine how Luck will perform against a Jaguars defense that was embarrassed by Houston last week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colts 27, Jaguars 17
09/20 16:06:52 ET