JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser preps for the week ahead with five quick questions for Jaguars-Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday
1.Can the Jaguars protect the ball?This has emerged as a critical question in recent weeks. The Jaguars' young offense has had trouble finishing drives, and the team has had trouble winning. The issues are intertwined and when untangled, you find turnovers at the center. The Jaguars have 22 this season. That's the second-most in the NFL. That's too many for any team, and it's far, far too many when you're not yet as talented and experienced as a lot of your opponents. Can the Jaguars get victories in their final six games? The answer may lie in their ability to protect the ball.
2.Can Marqise Lee contribute?The second-round receiver has played less originally expected; when he has played, he often has played like what he is – a rookie. But with fellow rookie Allen Robinson out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot, Lee will move into the No. 3 receiver role. He has practiced well the last two weeks and has more big-play potential than any other Jaguars receiver. Now, the question is, "Can it become more than potential?"
3.Will Marcedes Lewis make a difference? The veteran will play Sunday for the first time since sustaining a high-ankle sprain in Week 2. He's a big-time run blocker, so he should contribute there – and in the passing game, too. Quarterback Blake Bortles never has played in the NFL with a tight end of Lewis' ability. If the Jaguars can get him involved, that makes the offense immediately better – not to mention more experienced.
4.Can the defensive line get to Luck?The Jaguars' pass rush has been a strength most of this season. That wasn't true against Dallas the week before the bye. The Jaguars couldn't pressure Tony Romo, and the result was a clean pocket and big plays for Dez Bryant. You can't give Colts quarterback Andrew Luck that kind of time and have success, either. He can make enough plays on his own when under pressure. To have any chance, you have to make him uncomfortable.
*5.Will the bye mean another turnaround? *The Jaguars' season looked bleak a year ago after the bye. They were 0-8, with all losses by double digits. The Jaguars haven't struggled to that degree in the first 10 games this season, and in fact, they have shown improvement at times. Now, there's a feeling that more than improvement is needed. This is a team that needs to win a few games, and against a tougher schedule than coming out of the bye last season, that's a tough task. Can they win a few games? Can they show more improvement than they have so far this season? How they answer those questions will ultimately determine how this season is remembered.