Here are three keys to victory for the Jets on Sunday against the Colts:
1) Hit Andrew Luck… A LOT
Luck will be without two key pass-catching weapons (WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Jack Doyle), but history has shown that he can be a one-man wrecking crew. The Colts’ ever-changing offensive line (fifth different starting group this season) should give the Jets the upper hand. It’ll be incumbent upon Todd Bowles’ pass rush to take advantage of inevitable communication breakdowns along Indy’s line.
Only four teams have given up more quarterback hits than Indy (38) this season. The 6-4, 240-pound Luck is a tank, but Gang Green can’t afford to give this Brainiac time in the pocket. Luck & Co. have the NFL’s top third-down offense (50.6). If the Jets pass rush can’t disrupt Luck, it could be a long day for a secondary that will be missing two of its top three cornerbacks (Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine).
Indy’s non-existent rushing attack has forced Luck to air it out at a ridiculous rate (49 times per game). He’s on pace to shatter Drew Bledsoe’s single-season record for pass attempts by nearly 100.
“(It’s) the same thing that I saw from him before he got hurt,” Bowles said about Luck, who looks like he’s shaken off any rust from missing last season due to shoulder surgery. “Outstanding quarterback, knows the game inside and out. You’re not going to surprise him with anything, he’s seen everything, he’s very accurate, knows the offense inside and out. We just got to try to slow him down, disrupt him and hope he has a bad day.”
2) Lean on the offensive line again
It’s hard to imagine a more dominating performance than what we saw during the Jets’ 512-yard explosion (8.4 yards per play) against Denver, but Gang Green’s big eaters definitely need to control the line of scrimmage again.
Don’t expect another 323-yard rushing day, but the line sure could make life easier for Sam Darnold. This could be a dink-and-dunk day through the air against a defense that will force you to beat them with underneath stuff. The Colts defense, frankly, isn’t menacing, but only two teams have more sacks (17) than them. Keep an eye on rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who is on track to return from injury. He’s a multi-dimensional menace who always seems to be around the ball.
Darnold & Co. can’t rely on 70-plus yard touchdowns every week. They’re going to have to sustain drives, which means sealing the deal in the red zone. Gang Green is dead last in the league in red zone offense (35.7 percent).
3) Get off to a fast start
Part of the reason why Gang Green is 3-6 following a win in the past two seasons: Slow starts.
Must-wins don’t exist in Week 5, but the Jets sure could benefit by getting out of the gate better.
Todd Bowles’ team has held a lead after the first quarter only three times in those nine games. They were shut out in the first quarter five times.
The players and coaches insist that complacency won’t settle in after they went into a three-game tailspin following their tour-de-force victory in the season opener in Detroit. Seeing is believing.