With a 1-2 record, the Jaguars open AFC South play on Sunday as they host the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. EDT. This is the latest in a season the Jaguars have ever started division play.
The Jaguars are looking to begin division play with a win for the first time since 2004. In addition, the Jaguars are aiming to start the season with a record of .500 or above through four games for the seventh time in eight seasons under head coach Jack Del Rio. The Jaguars have started the last two seasons 2-2.
The Jaguars finished 3-3 in the division in 2009 with a win against Tennessee and a sweep of Houston, the second-best mark under Del Rio. The Jaguars finished 4-2 in 2005.
Colts/Jaguars known for battles
Sunday will be the 19th meeting between the two teams with the Colts holding a 14-4 advantage in the series. The Colts swept the season series in 2009 with the Jaguars' last win (23-21) coming on Sept. 21, 2008 at Indianapolis.
Four of the last five games between the Jaguars and Colts have been decided by three points or less and 12 of the 18 games have been decided by seven points or less. This is only the fourth time the teams have met in October since the series began in 1995.
"Whenever you're coming off of two tough losses you definitely have a different level of urgency," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said this week. "Guys are definitely dialed in now. We have to make sure that we get things turned around."
Jones-Drew enjoys division play
Maurice Jones-Drew has scored 24 touchdowns (21 rushing, 2 receiving, 1 return) in 23 career division games. Eight of his 12 career 100-yard rushing games have come in division play.
Jones-Drew averaged 107.7 yards from scrimmage in 23 division games from 2006-09, the fifth-highest average in the NFL. In 2009, Jones-Drew averaged 98.8 rushing yards in six division games with eight rushing touchdowns.
In eight career games against the Colts, Jones-Drew has averaged 97.2 rushing yards, scored 10 touchdowns, recorded four 100-yard rushing games and has registered 200-plus all-purpose yards in three of eight games.
Keeping it on the ground
The Jaguars have totaled 100-plus rushing yards in 22 of the last 24 division games including 11 games with 140-plus rushing yards. The Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing yards in division games from 2006-10 with a 154.0 average and 5.2 average per rush, second with 103 rushes of 10-plus yards and third with 32 rushing touchdowns.
"I think Jacksonville, they are what they are," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said this week via conference call. "They're definitely not going to go out there and surprise a lot of people; they're going to run the ball. They're confident in their running game. I would expect it, they have a horse (Maurice Jones-Drew) back there, they're going to be running the ball. It's our job to stop it."
Rushmen respond to challenge
It's no secret the Jaguars placed a major emphasis on rushing the passer in the offseason and began by bringing in defensive line coach Joe Cullen. It continued with a complete overhaul on the roster as eight of the club's 10 defensive linemen were not with the Jaguars a year ago.
The Jaguars defensive linemen have responded to the challenge for the most part. The Jaguars have already reached half of their sack total from a year ago through three games as they have seven, the most in the first three games since 2007.
Here are highlights from the Rushmen:
- The Jaguars have recorded three sacks in two of the first three games and five of the club's seven total sacks have been made by defensive linemen.
- Defensive end Aaron Kampman recorded 1.5 sacks, splitting a sack with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, in the season-opener against Denver and 2010 first-round pick defensive tackle Tyson Alualu added the first sack of his career. Knighton posted a career-best 1.5 sacks last Sunday against Philadelphia, equaling his season-total from his rookie season. He split a sack with Alualu.
- Knighton leads the team with a career-high two sacks and already has a career-high five quarterback hits in only three games. The most sacks by a Jaguars defensive lineman in 2009 was three by John Henderson.
- Kampman leads the team with 13 quarterback pressures and is tied for the team lead with two passes defensed.
- Alualu leads all defensive linemen with 19 tackles and ranks third with four quarterback pressures.
Scobee remains perfect
Josh Scobee has continued to excel in 2010, connecting on all four field goal attempts through three games. Scobee, who leads the team with 16 points, hit from 51 yards in the second quarter last Sunday against Philadelphia. All four of his field goal attempts in 2010 have been from 40-plus yards (45, 44, 48, 51). He was successful on all nine field goal attempts in the preseason.
Turn of the seasons
The Jaguars begin the October portion of their schedule on Sunday against Indianapolis and the month has been kind to quarterback David Garrard in the past. Garrard has a 93.1 passer rating in 14 October games with a 66.1 completion percentage.
- Jaguars special teams coordinator Russ Purnell served in the same capacity for the Colts from 2002-08.
- Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck was at Minnesota from 1992-94 while Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio played there. Colts senior offensive assistant Tom Moore was on the staff at Minnesota from 1992-93 while Del Rio played there and then shared the sidelines with Del Rio in New Orleans in 1997.
- Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Duffner served as head coach at Holy Cross while Colts offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen was on the coaching staff from 1989-90, and Christensen later worked under Duffner at Maryland from 1992-93. Christensen and Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Shula were on the same staff at Tampa Bay from 1996-99
- Colts special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski served in the same capacity at Maryland while Jaguars punter Adam Podlesh played there.
- Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri and Colts backup quarterback Curtis Painter went to Purdue.
Midwest on display
Three former teammates at Iowa will be on the field Sunday with all expected to play major roles. Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman (1998-2001), Jaguars safety Sean Considine (2001-04) and Colts tight end Dallas Clark (2000-02) were all teammates at Iowa during the 2001 season. Colts safety Bob Sanders (2000-03) was also part of the club but he is out with an injury.
Florida ties on Colts roster
The Colts have five players with ties to Florida: wide receiver Reggie Wayne (Univ. of Miami), Florida State), defensive tackle Eric Foster (Homestead, Homestead High), wide receiver Pierre Garcon (West Palm Beach, John L. Leonard High), linebacker Clint Session (Pompano Beach, Blanche Ely High) and defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews (Jacksonville, Terry Parker High).
The game will be broadcast regionally on CBS, locally on WTEV CBS47 (Ch. 6 cable). Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts providing analysis.
Sunday's game will be broadcast on the Jaguars Radio Network which extends to 10 affiliates in Florida and Georgia. The Jaguars' flagship stations are WOKV AM & FM (690, 106.5). Brian Sexton (play-by-play) and former Jaguars defensive end Jeff Lageman (analyst) are in their eighth season together calling all Jaguars games.
Westwood One will broadcast the game nationally with Howard David (play-by-play) and former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli (analyst).
The last word
"We know they're frustrated, but put yourself in our shoes. We're out there playing, we're out there doing all these things throughout the week to get ready. We're frustrated as well because we're not playing well. I can understand where they're coming from, but then again if you see how we're practicing and what we're putting into it and it turns out that way, we're frustrated as well. All we can ask the fans is to hang in there with us. It's their choice. Granted, we want you guys to be inside the stadium and be loud and rocking. It was working. We were down 7-3, then a couple of bad plays went down and that changed the game. We're going to keep fighting and keep playing. That's all we can do and what we're going to do."
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew on being aware of the fans frustration