They have yet to win an AFC South game at Alltel Stadium. Did you know that? Does it shock you to read that?
The Jaguars are 0-4 at home against their AFC South rivals. In fact, the Jaguars have only one AFC South win (at Houston) in the division's two-year history.
Once upon a time, Alltel Stadium was a tough place to play. The Jaguars established a decided homefield advantage very early in their history. From 1996-99, the Jaguars were 28-4 at home. Since then, the Jaguars are 11-17.
Those numbers are the foundation of the slogan, "Take Back Our House."
So, this Sunday's game against Indianapolis will provide the Jaguars with another opportunity toward their slogan's demand. A win over the Colts would mark the Jaguars' first-ever AFC South home win. A win over the Colts would raise the Jaguars' home record this season to 2-3 and leave this franchise with a flicker of hope of avoiding its fourth consecutive non-winning season at home. But most importantly, a victory over the Colts would provide this new era in Jaguars football with its first quality win.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Colts.
- Don't play their game--The Colts are a finesse team that wants to turn the game into a battle of two quarterbacks. The Jaguars were very successful in denying the Colts that wish in the first half of game one this year, dominating time of possession and field position to hold a 3-0 lead that wasn't indicative of the action. Then, in the second half, the Jaguars got into a track meet on the RCA Dome artificial turf and quickly fell behind.
- Punch 'em in the nose--The Colts are not a physical team and don't like to play that kind of game. Make that your game and make them play that way.
- Learn from your successes--Even though the Jaguars are 0-4 against the Peyton Manning Colts, and even though Manning has thrown for some prodigious passing stats in those games, it's not as though the Jaguars haven't had their moments of success against Manning. He was very ineffective in throwing for just 146 yards in last year's season-finale in Indianapolis, and that seemed to carry over into the first half of this year's game. Whatever the Jags did in those six quarters of football, they should do again this Sunday.
- Don't talk about running, do it--Colts head coach Tony Dungy is famous for his "Cover Two" defense, which is heavy in pass-coverage and one player shy in run-support. "Cover Two" challenges opposing offenses to run the ball. So, go ahead, run it. Don't just talk about running it. Commit to it and don't abandon it.
- Pressure Peyton--Manning is not the most mobile quarterback in the league and one look at his stats provides proof that strong pass-rushes bother him. In 2001, he was sacked a career-high 29 times and he suffered his worst passer rating since his rookie season.
- Don't ignore the other guy--Much has been made about the effect on the Colts offense of Edgerrin James' return to "Big Three" status with Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison, but the emergence of wide receiver Reggie Wayne is the big story in Indy this season.
- Play 60 minutes--The Colts have a habit of making big comebacks (ask Tampa Bay) and big collapses (Carolina can tell you). It's important not to rest with a lead or quit on a deficit.
- Short and underneath--Cover two means safety over the top and that means the deep ball probably won't be there. Stay underneath, hit the check-downs and be patient.
- Play the strategy game--The Colts are all about Peyton Manning running around at the line of scrimmage, reading defenses and changing plays, and Manning has been criticized for doing too much of that. Go ahead, play that game.
- Play with pride--There was a sense in the locker room this week that something good is beginning to happen with this team. Let it show.