The Colts offense has stampeded their way through defenses in a seemingly effortlessness fashion for the majority of the past six seasons. More times than not, when a defense steps in their way, the end result is the same. There's a lot of headache, head-scratching and silence, as most teams are left speechless.
In fact, Jets safety Erik Coleman can't even fathom as to how the Jaguars, a team who lost last weekend in Indianapolis, held the Colts to just 14 offensive points. With the 3-0 Colts heading to New York this weekend, the third year-safety has been studying avidly and is unquestionably impressed based on the Indy passing game alone.
Quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison are arguably the most lethal pass-catch combination in the history of the game. Since their merger, they have combined for 94 touchdowns, the most for any receiver/quarterback tandems in NFL history.
"A lot of teams talk about ways of stopping them but nobody really does it," said Coleman. Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback; Harrison is a Hall of Fame receiver. They have a great connection going on."
Eric Mangini, the Jets first year head coach, has experienced unprecedented triumphs when his former employer faced off against Manning, often leaving the future Hall of Fame quarterback dejected. However, after years of watching the son of a former Pro Bowl quarterback - Archie Manning - develop into one of the league's best, Mangini says Peyton is simply as good as they come.
"Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to arguably play the game. He's incredibly smart and incredibly accurate," said Mangini. "He does a lot of really good things not just in getting to the play that they want to be in, but also situational awareness, understanding what's happening, understanding what the defense is doing. That's a real edge for him."
Since Mangini has tasted success suffocating an elusive offense, many may believe that the first-year head coach has the proper tricks up his sleeves to once again extinguish the Manning assault this Sunday. That is clearly easier said than done as Manning himself is an incisive student of the game.
"The thing that Peyton does so well is he evolves. Each year the problem he created the year before, now he creates a new problem," said Mangini. "That's what makes him a special guy; he does a lot of self-scouting. He does a lot of opponent scouting. He can generate some new things for you to deal with."
New York linebacker Matt Chatham, a Patriot from 2000 – '05, was a member of a team who claimed seven victories against Manning over a five-year span. But he will tell you that those wins did not come easy. Even the simple things Manning brings to the line of scrimmage still seem to haunt the Jets' special teams co-captain.
"Sometimes you stand there and say, 'Did I just blink? Did I give something away?'" said Chatham. "A big part of that is him trying to distinguish what coverage you might be in, what you might be doing and all the sudden he comes with some crazy gyration and you think, 'Oh god, what did I just do? Did I scratch my ear? Did I say something?'"
"You don't know, and amazingly enough the guy gets it right a larger percent of the time," added Chatham. "He keeps you on your toes - that's for sure."
With such nauseating tricks and schemes that Manning packs with him, it seems that facing him would be a linebacker's worst nightmare.
"It's different because it's certainly unique; it's not something you get each week," Chatham said. "Playing him is going to be entirely different than playing all the guys that we're used to facing. He's a master of his craft and as a defensive player you love the challenge to go out and play against the best."
Two Jets players who have yet to experience the Manning effect are two of the club's most exciting playmakers in defensive co-captain Jonathan Vilma and safety Kerry Rhodes.
Vilma entered the league in 2004 and has yet to face the Colts. The two teams last met in November of 2003 when the Colts edged the Jets 38-31 at Indy. Vilma is one of the most competitive and fearless leaders on the defensive side of the ball, but he even has to give it up for the Indianapolis attack and Manning's authority.
"For a guy like him, you're not going to stop him. You can contain him and slow him down and make him have an average day, but you're not going to stop him at all," said the third-year linebacker. "We won't go in with the mindset saying we're going to shut him down. We just want to play well against him, play technique and he'll get his plays."
As for Rhodes, who was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, the second-year safety is looking forward to a challenge he feels can only enhance his growth.
"If you want to be labeled as one of the better players, you have to play against the better players. He's one of the best, probably the best QB in the league," said Rhodes. "It's fine for me; I'm coming out trying to do my best and see where I stack up."
Wednesday Injury ReportJets*Questionable: CB David Barrett (thigh), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), RW Tim Dwight (hamstring), OL Pete Kendall (thigh), S Kerry Rhodes (thigh), DB Derrick Strait (thight), & OL Trey Teague (ankle) *Probable: *DL Dave Ball (hand), *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Anthony Clement (shin), *CB Drew Coleman (hand), *DL Shaun Ellis (hip), *DL Bobby Hamilton (knee), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee)
Doubtful: DT Corey Simon (knee)
Questionable:LB Gary Bracket (thigh), T Ryan Diem (thumb), C Dylan Gandy (abdomen), CB Nick Harper (ankle), * DB Kelvin Hayden (groin), DB Marlin Jackson (concussion), *DB Tim Jennings (knee), *LB Freddie Keiaho (knee), DT Dan Klecko (low back), G Ryan Lilja (knee), DT Darrell Reid (elbow), S Bob Sanders (knee), *G Jake Scott (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (ankle), *DE Josh Thomas (hip), *TE Ben Utecht (groin), K Adam Vinatieri (R groin),
Probable:RB Dede Dorsey (ankle)
- Denotes players who participated in practice