Jaguars vs. Colts: Players to watch

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play their first home game of the 2022 season against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.

These are the players I will pay most attention to on either side of the ball.

Christian Kirk

After resetting the wide receiver market this offseason, Kirk held his end of the market in Week 1 with six catches for 117 yards. It was the first time a Jaguars receiver had 100+ yards in a game since November 2020.

The old Aggies YAC machine was released from the slot last Sunday:

The Colts hired former Jags HC Gus (ayo) Bradley to lead their defense after former DC Matt Eberflus left to coach the Bears. Most Jacksonville residents probably remember Bradley’s Cover 3-heavy scheme that sends out four rushers with just about every snap of his fingers. Kirk’s 117 receiving yards last week came against men’s coverage (per PFF), but he should see more looks against the zone in his first home game at the Bank.

Colts linebacker Dariu – I mean, Shaquille Leonard was ruled out for the game with a back injury, and slot corner Kenny Moore II has been exposed in coverage since last season. Look for Kirk to take advantage in the middle of the field, as well as on the seams vertically against the single height safety eyes that Bradley favors.

LB Devin Lloyd

These three things get me excited for rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd:

  • Lloyd was team captain and 2020 All Pac-12 first team selection for the Utah Utes. He returned for his senior season to repeat those honors and add first-team All-American, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and Pac-12 Championship MVP to his resume.
  • Jacksonville recently hired Mike Caldwell to coordinate its defense. A former NFL linebacker himself for 11 years, Caldwell played his rookie season in Cleveland under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He most recently coached inside linebackers for Todd Bowles in Tampa Bay, where Lavonte David and Devin White each earned recent All-Pro selections.
  • The Jaguars traded for Lloyd in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The former Ute suffered an unfortunate hamstring injury in the summer and missed valuable reps throughout training camp and pre-season. This led to a few brutal missed tackles in Week 1, but it’s also worth noting that Lloyd fired the start, played 90% of the snaps, led both teams in tackles and got it. made in his only blitz of the game.

Lloyd played better as the game progressed, and hopefully his rust is completely gone with a divisional clash on the bridge. Indianapolis will be without starting receivers Michael Pittman (quadruple) and Alec Pierce (concussion), so running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines as well as tight ends Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson and Jelani Woods could see more targets . Taylor, who has more rushing yards than any other player since being drafted in 2020, will obviously also need to be contained on the court.

All that to say the Jaguars need to defend midfield well on Sunday with the Colts playing backup receivers on the perimeter. Jacksonville needs a good game against Lloyd if it wants to continue its home winning streak against Indianapolis.