Regarding Jaguars-Colts, it's time to put a stop to an idea that has gotten out of control.
Actually, it may have been time to put a stop to it this past Monday or even before, back when this whole idea took hold, but because Friday is the day we run the 10 things to beat the Opposing Team Column on jaguars.com, we're addressing it fully today.
The idea that Jaguars fans should secretly – and maybe not so secretly – want the Colts to win Sunday when the teams play in Indianapolis?
The idea the Jaguars should lie down Sunday?
The idea that maybe players and coaches from either side would somehow make a "business decision" – a reader's words, not mine – and try to lose Sunday?
They're bad ideas, misplaced, and as far as players trying to lose . . .
Well, it won't happen. It's not logical. Not even close.
At the center of this whole, silly idea are two factors. One is the Colts' 0-9 record. The other is Andrew Luck, a quarterback from Stanford University and a player many believe will be the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft in 2012.
Luck is good. Very good. Many project him to be the Next Great Franchise Quarterback.
And therein is the worry of Jaguars fans.
The Colts, you see, possessed a Great Franchise Quarterback for more than a decade. And because Peyton Manning led the Colts to two Super Bowls, a World Championship and helped them always finish ahead of Jacksonville, there is fear among the Jaguars' fan base that goes like this:
Colts finish with NFL's worst record. Colts draft Luck.
Colts dominate AFC South for next 15 years.
That has led to questions this week about the Jaguars needing to lose. The theory goes that the Colts must be prevented from getting Luck – lest the Jaguars be subjected to another 15 years of second-place finishes.
I get the logic, but you can't think that way.
I have no doubt that the Colts will indeed take Luck if they finish with the NFL's worst record. Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay loves franchise quarterbacks and it stands to reason he would believe taking Luck can lead to a repeat of the Manning era. And I'm starting to believe the Colts may indeed finish with the NFL's worst record. They're not only losing games, they're running off streaks of non-competitiveness that are rare in today's NFL.
That's not to say Sunday's game will be easy for the Jaguars. And it's not to say the Colts can't win. The Jaguars have yet to show they can pull away from a team enough for an easy victory. When games are close in the NFL, either team can win. Sunday's game?
While the Jaguars should win, the Colts can win. Absolutely they can.
But as far as what Jaguars fans should root for, that's an absolute, too. They should root for their team to win, and if that means the Colts end up getting Luck, so be it.
First, there's no way to know if Luck will be the Next Great Franchise Quarterback. He looks the part, but there's a long way from looking the part and being the next Peyton Manning. And even if he does approach Manning's ability, a lot has to go around an elite quarterback to have the Colts' sustained success. Yes, the Colts are a mess this year without Manning, but a lot had to go right – Tony Dungy, Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Robert Mathis, Bob Sanders, etc. – for the Colts to run off their decade of dominance. Just having a premier quarterback doesn't do it.
And if Luck goes to the Colts and that means the Colts are very good for 15 years, you know what? So what? Be better. Beat them. That's allowed, too. Teams beat the Colts the last 15 years, and you know who did it?
Good teams, elite teams. New England. San Diego. Pittsburgh. Become an elite team yourself and you don't worry so much about how good other teams are.
So, do you root for the Jaguars Sunday? If you're a fan, absolutely you do. And speaking of winning, here's 10 things the Jaguars must do to do it:
1) Forget the record.Yes, the Colts are 0-9 and yes, their last three games have been abysmal. But before that, they had three consecutive games they nearly won. The Colts are very close to 2-7 and 3-6. Translation: They're not that much worse than 2-6 (Jaguars record).
2) Beware Desperate Team Syndrome.This is usually reserved for teams that need to win to keep playoff hopes alive. The Colts aren't going to the playoffs, but they also don't want to go from perennial Super Bowl contender to 0-16.
3) Get ahead early.The Colts have to see this as a winnable game, and the longer you let them stay in it, the longer they believe it. The Jaguars have started slow on defense most of the season. Doing that Sunday will give the Colts hope.
4) Block Dwight Freeney.Remember him? He and Robert Mathis haven't had a sack in four games, but both players are dangerous in Lucas Oil Stadium. Mathis on Guy Whimper is a worrisome match-up, but Freeney is still the more dominant player. Blaine Gabbert has to be aware of the speed with which either player can get to the quarterback.
*5) Run Maurice Jones-Drew. *Mathis and Freeney are by far the most dangerous players on the Colts' defense. Don't give them a chance to make game-changing sack/fumbles. That just gives the Colts hope. Run Jones-Drew and run him often.
6) Catch Painter's mistakes.Colts quarterback Curtis Painter will throw errant passes. Some of those will be interception opportunities. Those opportunities must become turnovers.
7) Keep Garcon contained.Reggie Wayne is the best receiver on the Colts, but Garcon is dangerous. The Jaguars have yet to show they can pull away from an opponent, so there's a good chance the game will be close. Garcon will drop a big pass on occasion, but he is the one Colts receiver who can turn 3rd-and-8 from the Indianapolis 31 into a touchdown.
8) Get separation.This isn't specific to the game against the Colts. This is just something that has to get better. Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has struggled in part because he has had to be too perfect with his passes. The receivers have to run better, more-precise routes and get open.
9) Make the catch.Everyone. Jones-Drew. Lewis. The receivers. Catch it.
10) Dominate defensively. The Jaguars' defense has played well this season. The Colts' offense has struggled mightily. Don't have one of those unexplainable slip games. Just do what you've done and keep doing it well. If you do that, you'll win a game you ought to win.