AFC South: 2013 Week 3 QB Watch

QB Watch: Colts' Andrew Luck

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback play.

Luck
Rewind: Andrew Luck wasn’t flashy against the 49ers, going 18-of-27 for 164 yards and no touchdowns. Luck’s longest pass play was to receiver Reggie Wayne for 25 yards, with 23 of those yards coming after the catch. Sunday was only the fourth time in Luck’s career that he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in a game. The Colts didn’t need Luck’s arm to beat San Francisco. He got a huge assist in the running department from Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson, as the Colts rushed for 179 yards.

Fast-forward: Luck faces a Jacksonville defense that has given up eight passing touchdowns. The Jaguars, though, are giving up only 203 yards a game through the air. Don’t expect the Jaguars to get much pressure on Luck. They have only six sacks on the season. San Francisco got to Luck just once this past weekend. Luck averaged 270 yards passing in games against Jacksonville last season.

Not on pace: Luck had already passed for 846 yards by the end of Week 3 last season. He’s well below those numbers this season, having passed for 663 yards. Luck’s had two games of fewer than 180 yards passing. You know what? He’ll gladly accept those numbers because the Colts won both games. They lost to Miami when Luck threw for 321 yards. You can also expect Luck’s passing numbers to fall well short of his 4,374 yards last season because the Colts will have a balanced attack with Bradshaw and Richardson pounding away for yards on the ground.

Prediction: Expect another low-passing game from Luck because the Colts should be able to jump on the winless Jaguars early, then let the two-headed monster of Bradshaw and Richardson kill a lot of clock by running the ball.

QB Watch: Jaguars' Henne, Gabbert

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback play.

Henne
Gabbert
Gabbert
Rewind: Chad Henne made his second consecutive start in place of Blaine Gabbert, and things pretty much went the way they have all season for the offense: flounder early on first down, struggle to move the ball and then put up yards and points when the defense starts playing softer coverage with a big lead. Henne threw for 235 yards but completed fewer than half of his passes (18-for-38). He also threw two interceptions, including one that bounced off center Brad Meester’s helmet and got deflected a second time. Most of Henne’s production came in the second half. He completed just 5 of 14 passes for 44 yards in the first half, which ended with the Seahawks leading 24-0. Henne, by the way, posted a 6.1 QBR against Seattle.

Fast-forward: Gabbert’s hand has healed, and he will return to the starting lineup on Sunday against Indianapolis. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he was impressed with the way Gabbert threw the ball while running the scout team at the end of last week and said he spoke with Gabbert about trying to play more freely and take a few more risks. The Colts are coming off an impressive 27-7 road victory over San Francisco. They neutralized Colin Kaepernick and held the 49ers to just 254 yards of total offense.

Horseplay: Gabbert seems to have the Colts’ number. Three of his five victories as a starter have come against Indianapolis despite him never having thrown for more than 209 yards in any of the four meetings.

Prediction: It looks like the Jaguars may have tight end Marcedes Lewis back, which should make a big difference in the passing game. Now there’s someone else on the field to draw attention away from Cecil Shorts. Unless the team has better production on first down, it’s going to be another long day for Gabbert.

QB Watch: Titans’ Jake Locker

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Titans' quarterback play:

Locker
Rewind: Locker played very well in the win over San Diego, engineering a game-winning drive right near the end. He posted a 96.6 passer rating and a 91.9 QBR. Some other nice numbers from ESPN Stats & Info -- on five rushes for 68 yards, including a career-long 39 yard scramble, Locker found four first downs, and he was 9-for-13 for 107 yards and a TD on third down. His final play, the 34-yard winning score to Justin Hunter, increased Tennessee’s win probability from 14.9 percent to 97.1 percent, the single biggest swing on a play last week.

Fast-forward: The Jets have the NFL’s seventh-ranked pass defense through three games, but it’s come against Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, a group of Patriots receivers who struggled for Tom Brady and Buffalo’s rookie signal-caller EJ Manuel. They’ve recorded 12 sacks and held those quarterbacks to a 70.5 passer rating.

Confidence: Locker’s confidence should be at an all-time high after delivering the Titans to a win in dramatic fashion. The running element was excellent, and the hope will be that he keeps the Jets on guard in a similar fashion. Interior protection needs to be strong for him against 3-4 end Muhammad Wilkerson, who’s got three sacks already.

Prediction: The Jets have been a balanced defense, so it will be interesting to see whether the Titans approach this game intending to be offensively balanced. I think Locker and the offense could finally end up with some short fields to work with. Geno Smith has already thrown six interceptions. If the Titans can stop committing kickoff penalties and set up the offense with a turnover or two, things can be a lot easier for Locker.

QB Watch: Texans' Matt Schaub

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Houston Texans' quarterback play.

Schaub
Schaub
Rewind: Sunday's first loss of the season didn't represent a great afternoon for anybody on offense, really. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown and called on himself to play better after a game in which he averaged only 5.5 yards per attempt and had a 72.8 passer rating, his lowest this season. The mettle he showed in his first two games didn't return.

Fast-forward: Against Baltimore, Schaub faced a defense that was fearsome up front, but had major question marks on the back end. This weekend he'll face a team that's strong up front and even stronger in the defensive backfield. Loquacious cornerback Richard Sherman is just one piece of a very effective group. The Seahawks rank first in total defensive yards allowed and passing yards allowed. They've notched five interceptions and allowed only one passing touchdown so far. The Seahawks have given up 27 points this season, but 17 of those came in a blowout win over the Jaguars.

Play-action game: Quite troubling for Texans coach Gary Kubiak is that the Texans' play-action passing game hasn't worked this year as it has in the past.

"Our play-pass is something we’ve been pretty good at around here," Kubiak said. "It goes with us running the ball. It hasn’t been good early in the season because of some of the types of games we’ve been in. ... It’s got to improve. There are too many negative plays coming from it."

Schaub's average play-action passes have traveled 3.3 yards downfield this season, shortest in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. From 2011 to 2012, he averaged 9.8 yards downfield on play-action passes.

Prediction: The Seahawks' defense will pose the biggest challenge Schaub has faced so far. It's the only team that has posted better numbers overall and against the pass than the Texans' defense. I'll predict an interception but also a touchdown pass for Schaub.

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