There’s not a big body of work for us to go off of for Foles lately considering the fact he’s started just one game this year in Jacksonville’s offense. However, Colts head coach Frank Reich knows Foles quite well from their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“You can look in various spots. We’ve played him when he was in Philly a few times where I was previously at (Dallas). We’re a little bit familiar with him. Obviously, we have his coach here so that helps. We can talk to (Frank Reich) about that,” Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus told reporters this week. “We’re just looking at all aspects of it to try and get a grasp of what he’s good at. And we know what he’s good at. He’s good at a lot of stuff. He can do a lot of things. He’s got great command of the offense, he’s got great touch on the football and he does a lot of stuff really well.”
At receiver, Jacksonville has to be thrilled with second-year stud Chark’s breakout, as he leads the team in all major receiving categories. Second receiver Dede Westbrook, meanwhile, hasn’t played since Week 8 because of a shoulder injury but has done his own professional developing.
The Colts’ defense ranks ninth against the pass (223.2 YPG), has 23 sacks and is tied for seventh in pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed (four), so they should match up well with Jacksonville’s passing game. The health of starting cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring) will be something to keep an eye on as he has missed the last three games. Rookies Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell III have performed well in his absence.
- QB Gardner Minshew II — 61.2 percent completions, 2,285 yards, 7.4 YPA, 13 TD, 4 INT, 21 sacks
- QB Nick Foles — 62.5 percent completions, 75 yards, 9.4 YPA, 1 TD
- WR D.J. Chark Jr. — 43 catches (70 targets), 692 yards (16.1 avg.), 6 TD
- WR Dede Westbrook — 32 catches (55 targets), 383 yards (12.0 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Leonard Fournette — 40 catches (51 targets), 295 yards (7.4 avg.)
- WR Chris Conley — 23 catches (46 targets), 461 yards (20.0 avg.), 2 TD
The Jaguars remain a running team as they rank ninth in rushing (129.6 YPG), are tied for sixth in yards per carry (4.8), and Fournette is sixth individually.
The Colts defense continues to move up the charts against the run, currently ranking 15th (104.3 YPG). Over the last five games, the Colts are allowing just 81.8 yards per game on the ground.
- RB Leonard Fournette — 174 carries, 831 yards (4.8 avg.), 1 TD
- QB Gardner Minshew II — 42 carries, 235 yards (5.6 avg.)
- RB Ryquell Armstead — 20 carries, 59 yards (3.0 avg.)
- WR Dede Westbrook — 4 carries, 20 yards (5.0 avg.)
It all starts with whether Jacoby Brissett or Brian Hoyer starts at quarterback for the Colts this week. Brissett sprained the MCL in his left knee two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers and had to miss last week’s game as a result. Reich was asked about that earlier this week:
“Yeah, I mean if Jacoby is healthy — he is our starting quarterback obviously — he’ll go. We are optimistic that the rest was helpful. We will get to Wednesday and see how he is doing, but we are encouraged and optimistic,” Reich said. “We will make that decision Wednesday, but he will get as many reps as he can. I’m not going to try and make any secret about it, I’m really not. If he is practicing and taking full practice — at that point we will say, ‘We are ready to go. He is our starter and we are going forward.’ But we will wait until Wednesday to make that determination.”
As for the Colts’ receiving corps, it, too, has been banged up. T.Y. Hilton missed a game-and-a-half between Weeks 3-4 with a quad injury, and then he’s missed the last two games with a calf injury. Devin Funchess, of course, has been out since Week 1 with a clavicle injury but the Colts hope to get him back at practice this week, and Parris Campbell suffered a hand injury in Week 9. Zach Pascal, tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, as well as running back Nyheim Hines have carried the load in the passing game for Brissett and Hoyer.
Outside of their quality pass rush, the Jaguars aren’t the same pass defense we’ve seen in years past. They rank middle of the road in several passing categories, including overall pass defense (13th, 229.8 YPG), passing yards per attempt (tied-14th, 7.3), touchdown passes (14th, 13), pass plays of 20-plus yards (tied-18th, 33) and passer rating (13th, 88.9). Also playing a role: All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey only playing in three games for them before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 64.8 percent completions, 1,649 yards, 7.0 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT, 12 sacks
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 32 catches (46 targets), 360 yards (11.3 avg.), 5 TD
- TE Eric Ebron — 23 catches (43 targets), 304 yards (13.2 avg.), 3 TD
- TE Jack Doyle — 27 catches (38 targets), 276 yards (10.2 avg.), 3 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 27 catches (36 targets), 218 yards (8.1 avg.)
The Colts’ run game has been steady throughout the season, ranking 10th as a team (127.4 YPG) while Marlon Mack is tied for third in run plays of 20-plus yards (six), tied for fourth in carries per game (19.8) and eighth in rushing yards per game (83.7). While he is nursing an ankle injury suffered in Week 10, backup Jordan Wilkins has been outstanding, averaging more than six yards per carry. Hines is tied for second on the team in receptions while keeping defenses on their toes with 2.4 carries per game.
The Colts match up favorably with Jacksonville’s run defense, which ranks near the bottom of the league in run defense, rushing yards per carry allowed and run plays of 40-plus yards allowed. They’ve given up five games with at least 100 yards rushing, including two 200-yard games, one of those being in their most recent game against the Texans.
- RB Marlon Mack — 178 carries, 753 yards (4.2 avg.), 3 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 37 carries, 110 yards (3.0 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 27 carries, 165 yards (6.1 avg.)
- RB Nyheim Hines — 22 carries, 66 yards (3.0 avg.)