The New York Jets head to Indianapolis to face the 0-1 Colts on Monday Night Football. Most lines have them as 6 or 7 point underdogs, as Indy was a popular pre-season Super Bowl pick. Let’s take a closer at the match-up and how the Jets could potentially score a prime-time upset…
The Glass Half Full – The Colts are a perfect match-up for the Jets because of their weakness upfront and inability to stop the run. Chris Ivory should have a field day and Muhammad Wilkerson and company should be living in the Colts backfield. An absent or injured TY Hilton will allow an already talented Jets secondary to thrive against the Colts receivers, particularly with how sluggish Andre Johnson looked in week 1. Outside of Vontae Davis on Brandon Marshall, the Colts secondary will have no answer for the Jets other pass catching options. The Colts are in a general state of dysfunction right now.The Glass Half Empty – Ryan Fitzpatrick is going into Andrew Luck’s building. People are overreacting to a poor Colts week 1 performance in a hostile environment and forgetting how talented this team is. The Colts pass rush will be able to get after the Jets offensive line on the edges and force a few turnovers. The Colts dysfunction is being over exaggerated and they are going to rally around their coach in the team’s home opener. Philip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief’s speed is going to give the Jets issues, with or without Antonio Cromartie.
Offensively: As Nick Mensio pointed out, Colts slot CB Darius Butler was cooked in week 1 and Eric Decker functioned as the Jets primary slot receiver against the Browns. There wasn’t a player on the Bills who didn’t take their turn beating on Butler last week, whether it was Percy Harvin, Charles Clay or Robert Woods. The Jets need to attack him relentlessly, particularly on play action after hopefully establishing a successful running game led by Chris Ivory.
As for running the ball, the Jets should be able to establish early down success to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick in manageable situations. The Colts were pushed around last week by an average Buffalo offensive line and there is no reason the Jets shouldn’t be able to do the same. It was Karlos Williams who had the most success for Buffalo last week, not LeSean McCoy (outside of the run below, he only had 25 yards). Williams is more of a north/south runner, which is Chris Ivory’s game.
The Colts are likely to put Vontae Davis on Brandon Marshall throughout the night. If this is the case, Marshall may not reach his 9 targets from last week but I wouldn’t expect him to be completely removed from the game-plan. Fitzpatrick and Gailey trust his skill set too much for him to still not get at least 4-6 looks. The Jets may just have to be creative with moving him around and getting him in a few stack formations.
Defensively: Todd Bowles coached against Luck 2 years ago with the Cardinals and held him to 20/39 for 163 yards with a TD and INT. Obviously the surrounding personnel has changed but I’d expect Bowles to dive both into that tape and into what Buffalo did to Luck last week, which was constantly send blitzers at him, particularly through the A Gap.
Luck may be great but he is prone to bouts of inaccuracy and carelessness with the football, particularly when under pressure. The Jets should be able to get him to throw them one or two on Monday, it is just a matter of making a play on the ball, something they were consistently unable to do last season.
Indianapolis only managed 64 yards on 17 carries last week and it is hard to see them having much more success running against Damon Harrison, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams. If the Colts beat the Jets, it will be through the air and on the back of Luck.
Overall: The Jets need to keep themselves from playing catch-up, so they can rely on their running game throughout the night. If they can get an early lead or keep this a one possession game throughout, they will be able to lean on Chris Ivory and build a play action passing attack off it to attack the Colts secondary, outside of Vontae Davis. Andrew Luck is likely to play better in week 2 than he did in week 1 but if the Jets can force a turnover or two, while avoiding any themselves they should be in good position to steal one in prime-time in a relatively favorable on paper match-up.