Colts Head Coach Frank Reich, who played quarterback from 1985-98 (and was with the Jets in 1996) believes QB Sam Darnold will overcome the Jets' early struggles on offense.
"He's a very talented, smart player," Reich said. "Guys like that that I've been around, they figure it out. We all go through whatever spell we go through. They have a bad game or two here or there, but guys like that are hard to keep down. We have a lot of respect for Sam and this team. We have to be on top of things going up against them."
The offense continues to juggle personnel around Darnold and RB Le'Veon Bell (hamstring) and WR Denzel Mims (hamstring) are on injured reserve, while WRs Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring) are doubtful for Sunday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Darnold, 23, has thrown for 394 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INT while completing 62.7% of his passes through the first two weeks of the season. One of his best games early in his career came as a rookie against the Colts in 2018. Darnold completed a career-high 80% of his passes and threw for 280 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT for a 113.9 rating in a 42-34 Jets win.
"I thought he's been very solid early in his career," Reich said. "The most up-close look I got was two years ago when we came in there and he looked like an All-Pro against us. He really had a nice game and had a bunch of nice games. I have a lot of respect for Sam, I liked him coming out in the draft two years ago."
See Photos of the Colts and Jets Over the Years
There are 12 former Colts (1-1) on the Jets (0-2) roster, most of whom Reich coached. That list includes DL Henry Anderson; S Matthias Farley; LB Tarell Basham; OL Josh Andrews; and CBs Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson, who were both acquired in the offseason.
"I definitely never experienced anything like this," Reich said. "It's pretty cool, actually. It's one of the great things about this league. I can tell you this: The names [on the Jets roster] that I know, that were here when I was here, I knew every one of these guys. They still have a lot of good football left in them.
"I know I would've said that to every one of these guys leaving this building. And it's hard, because not only are a lot of them good football players. They're good people. I still keep in touch with one or two of them. I've got a lot of respect for these players."
One former Colt Reich, who took over in Indianapolis in 2018, did not work with is RB Frank Gore. Gore, 37, played for Indy from 2015-17, but Reich said he's heard "legendary" stories about the 16-year veteran throughout his coaching career.
"If you're a football guy, you have to have the most massive amount of respect you can for this guy," he said. "I think that's what Frank commands. I think he commands that massive respect like few others in this league do. To be as productive as he's been for as long as he's been playing that position, it's incredible."