12 Things to Watch for in Sunday's Colts-Jets Game
The Colts are coming off an emotional and quite unlikely win over the Green Bay Packers. Rallying from behind the team certainly proved to be #Chuckstrong and electrified the fanbase. This week they have Benny Timmy and the Jets whose flagging season got worse on Monday when they lost to the Houston Texans. The Colts hope to roll through the first of several very winnable games.
1. Watch for the wildcat, wildjet, wildwhatever. Tim Tebow is dangerous yet for some reason most have forgotten just how effective he's been in the redzone. With Mark Sanchez struggling at every turn this could be the week the Jets finally roll out a more serious effort to run their option offense. Whether they do or not the key is that the possibility will force the Colts to take critical practice time to prepare for an additional package.
2. Watch for REGGIE! Reggie Wayne is on a blistering pace through four games and must be salivating at the thought of having his way with a Jets defense missing Darrelle Revis. Wayne has nothing to prove but has been playing as if he's determined to turn back the clock. At this point the Jets must consider all options when developing a game plan for Wayne. I'd recommend kidnapping because there's no other way they stop him.
3. Watch for BRUUUUUUUCE! Everyone in New Jersey knows that Arians is not the Boss but he may be the most important Bruce in town this weekend. Arians lead a surprisingly effective and balanced offensive attack against the Packers--something he's not prone to do often. Will the old Arians return or can the Colts force the Jets to respect the run?
4. Watch for Sanchez on the run. Tim Tebow can run. Mark Sanchez may have to do so instead. The Colts, while without Robert Mathis, must force Sanchez into his trademark unforced errors. Finding a solid inside pass rush would certainly be a good start. If the Colts can squeeze Sanchez enough they can expect to win the turnover battle.
5. Watch for Sad Pat McAfee. We love the boomstick but the Colts continue to improve on third down. The Jets frankly stink at stopping teams on third down. In fact the Jets are the third worst team defensively on third down. Leaving Pat McAfee on the sidelines would be a fantastic development.
6. Watch for a redzone cornucopia. The Jets are very generous in the redzone, in fact they just keep on giving. The Jets are among the worst teams at stopping teams from scoring inside the twenty. This is great news for the Colts as they are among the league's best in the redzone. This match is so perfect they should simply skip the engagement and head straight to the altar.
7. Watch for a confusing Rex Ryan. Rex Ryan is many things to many people: foot lover, boisterous media hound and Bill Belichick's favorite holiday guest. What Andrew Luck should know about Ryan is that he's also more than capable of offering up a bewildering array of presnap looks. His defenses tend to excel at disguising blitz and coverage packages. Luck will need to work hard at staying within the game plan, accepting the checkdown and throwing the ball away when in trouble.
8. Watch for the rookie. Yeah, Luck is a rookie, and just won his second rookie of the week award last week. But there's another rookie that will start on Sunday for Indianapolis: Vick Ballard. The Jets have one of the league's worst run defenses, allowing 4th highest YPC (4.9) and the second highest amount of run yards. Donald Brown is out, but this will allow the rookie RB Ballard to show his stuff. He hasn't been very successful thus far, but the Jets defense may allow him to start in that direction.
9. Watch for gameplanning. Last week, Greg Manusky put together the perfect gameplan for the second half, using a roll of duct tape to magically keep Aaron Rodgers at bay for half of the game. This week, Manusky plans for Mark Sanchez, not exactly the same caliber quarterback. With Vontae Davis likely out again, the Colts will be stuck with the same cast in the secondary, but Manusky should be able to work with it against this team.
10. Watch the similar sopposites at outside linebacker. Dwight Freeney and Jerry Hughes are starting for the Colts at OLB, and present vastly different pictures at this point, but both have to prove something. Freeney needs to prove that he's not dogging on the final year of his contract, not looking good in the preseason or his first real game against the Packers. Hughes needs to prove that his run of consistent pressures in the first few games was not a fluke, and that he can turn those pressures in to sacks. Both should get plenty of opportunity on Sunday.
11. Watch for lessened emotions. After a story-book win last week in Indianapolis, the Colts will go on the road against a messy New York team. After the way the Colts played in the second half against the Packers, the team really should find a way to beat the Jets, especially considering the way Andrew Luck has played. But, the emotional high from last week will not be there this week, and if it is, it will certainly be at a fraction of last week's levels.
12. Watch for the Jim Mora quotes. The Colts have the upper hand in nearly every aspect of this game except the venue. While they face no easy games this year a win this Sunday looks more than possible. Be cautious Blue Believers as we're already hearing (and using) the "P" word despite the road ahead. Somewhere Jim Mora will be warming up his Betamax to record the inevitable litany of replays of his famous "Playoffs?!?" quote. Colts 28 Jets 13.
Re #9, Is Zbikowski as much of a liability as he looks like in 'highlights'? On vacation this past week, I caught only the last few minutes of the GB game. Unfortunately, the play that sticks out in my mind is Zbikowski getting stuck in concrete on GB's big 40+ yd run.
@matt_has Yes. He's been infuriating. That is all.
@matt_has Got to agree with you there. He's been virtually invisible, except when he makes a mistake. Invisible is not a good thing on defense. As Greg Cowan pointed out, Zbikowski did have one good pass defense play in the GB game, but other than that, I think he looks like a stop-gap player until they find someone better.