The return of Leonard Fournette from his ailing hamstring is the big storyline for the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.
The Jaguars are hoping that they will be able to return to their power running game with him in the lineup.
One factor, though, has been overlooked.
Is Fournette really a key to the game?
Last year, he didn’t play in the first game and Blake Bortles threw for 330 yards and a touchdown while T.J. Yeldon ran for 122 yards on nine carries. The Jaguars scored 14 points in the first quarter and won 27-0.
In the second game, Fournette played and gained only 57 yards on 20 carries while Bortles threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-10 Jacksonville victory.
The key to the two victories was that Bortles played well and Andrew Luck was sidelined.
They beat Jacoby Brissett in both games and sacked him 14 times.
This year, the Colts are having Luck throw shorter passes and protecting him better, and he hasn’t been sacked in three games and they rushed for more than 200 yards in the last two.
That doesn’t mean Fournette won’t have a big game against the Colts’ suspect run defense.
And his running may open things up more for Bortles.
But if they’re to upset the Colts, they need Bortles to play the way he did against Indianapolis last year, when he threw for more than 300 yards in both games and didn’t throw a pick in either game.
The Jaguars also have to play with a sense of urgency. This may be their last stand if they are to make a second-half run.
Houston is 6-3 with a bye this week. If the Jaguars lose, they will be 3-6 and three games behind the Texans with seven games left.
Their season will be on the line Sunday in Indianapolis.