Indianapolis will look for its fourth consecutive win over the Jaguars when the AFC South rivals meet at EverBank Field on Sunday.
The Colts (2-1) rank second the in league with 29.7 points per game and are averaging 412.7 yards - third best in the NFL - due in large part to Manning. The four-time MVP leads all quarterbacks with a 116.9 passer rating and nine passing touchdowns.
He has picked apart opposing secondaries by completing 69 percent of his passes, and should continue to flourish against a Jacksonville defense allowing 289 yards per game through the air, fourth-worst in the NFL.
“As odd as it seems or as hard as it is to imagine, I really do think he is getting better,” Colts tight end Dallas Clark(notes) said. “It’s all those little things he does, but he’s really been on fire this year, just putting the ball where it’s supposed to be.”
Manning completed 27 of 43 for 325 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday, but it was Austin Collie(notes) who stole the show, catching a career-high 12 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 27-13 win at Denver.
Collie stands atop the NFL with 359 receiving yards, and is tied for the league lead with four touchdown receptions.
While the Colts’ offensive production has been stellar, the defense has struggled at times.
“I think the biggest stat I think most people need to worry about is how many points we allow,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest, the most important stat of them all, because that’s what most matters, is who has more points at the end of the game…”
“…He does it all extremely well, I mean he’s a guy that first of all, he can find the holes quickly,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. “I mean he’s a great back with great vision…”
After compiling a career-high 1,391 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in 2009, Jones-Drew has accumulated 217 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry this year, down 0.7 from last season.
The Jaguars (1-2) surrendered 291 yards and three passing touchdowns to Michael Vick(notes) in their 28-3 loss to Philadelphia last Sunday. Jacksonville’s defensive issues look even worse with the offense struggling under Garrard.
Coming off a four interception performance against San Diego in Week 2, Garrard had another poor game Sunday. He completed 13 of 30 for 105 yards and was picked off once as he recorded the third-lowest quarterback rating of his career.
“I just think collectively we all have got to play better,” Garrard said. “I’ve got to make sure that I get the ball out faster so I don’t put pressure on my offensive line. I’ve got to get it out faster to the right guys and allow them to make plays and to be explosive. We’ve got to throw the ball downfield at times, too. We just have to get back to doing what we do and I’ve got to get back to doing what I do.”
“As long as he’s our best option, we’ll continue to go with him,” coach Jack Del Rio said Monday.
Garrard wasn’t bothered by the Edwards signing, but was affected by the fans’ booing last Sunday.
“You can’t come off two games like that and not get flak,” he told the Jaguars’ official website. “It definitely frustrates you but that’s not something I can control. A win cures everything.”
A win might be hard to come by Sunday, with the Jaguars 4-14 all-time against the Colts. Jacksonville last defeated Indianapolis 23-21 on Sept. 21, 2008.
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