Linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich have slightly different takes on the Jets' game at Indianapolis a month ago compared to Sunday's home battle against Philadelphia. But their bottom lines are identical: Don't let certain things happen again.
"Indy is, for all intents and purposes, Philly, from a schematic standpoint," Ulbrich said following Thursday's practice. "Same school of coaches, so you've got to imagine they're not going to go very far to find the blueprint of how to attack us. From our standpoint, coaches and players alike, you don't get very many opportunities to do a do-over. This game is that. It was embarrassing, that game was."
"Since then, that game hasn't been on my mind at all," Mosley said. "But the system the Eagles run is the same, the coaching tree is the same. ... Are we going to see some of those plays and some of those runs? One hundred percent. As far as a do-over, playing it like we have a redo from the Colts, we can't look at it that way. New team, new opportunity. Whatever they present to us, we've got to knock it out."
The running game is the common denominator in the thinking of the two Jets defensive leaders. The Colts are fourth in the NFL with 144.5 rushing yards/game and first at 5.18 yards/carry, a big part of those rankings built on their 260 yards on 30 carries in their TNF rout of the Jets.
The Eagles, meanwhile, come to MetLife with the top ranking in the league with 157.9 rushing yards/game and are No. 2 at 5.11 yards/carry.
"Just the movement with the lineman that they do, the pulling schemes they have," Mosley said of exactly what the two foes do that mirror each other. "For us, we're going to have to do a great job of stopping the vertical separation in our defense. That's what hurt us a lot in the Indy game. I felt that we've grown and gotten a lot better since then, especially in the run game and understanding the way our runs fit for our defense and, depending on the calls that we're in, who is going to be where and making sure the linebackers are fitting in the right gaps."
As similar as the cross-pollinated ground attacks appear for the Colts of head coach Frank Reich, who was Philly's offensive coordinator in 2016-17, and for the Eagles of first-year boss Nick Sirianni, who was Indy's OC from 2018-20 under Reich, there is a major difference that could favor the Birds. Colts QB Carson Wentz, while not a pocket statue, still has rushed only 38 times for 159 yards. The yardage total is 80th among all NFL rushers.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, has 122 carries for 695 yards, 10th in the league among all rushers, and a 5.70 yards/carry average that is fourth-best among qualifying runners.
"There's always stress, so to speak," Mosley said about run defenders having to take into account a Hurts or a Lamar Jackson. "Obviously Hurts is a great quarterback, very mobile, very, very aware in the pocket, and he can hurt you once he gets out. So we have to do a great job once we get in coverage or we take care of that first play, whether the linebackers or safeties, making sure we're getting our eyes back on the quarterback for the scramble and making sure we plaster when he does get out of the pocket.
"If part of their game plan is for him to run the ball, we've just got to treat him like a running back."
And Ulbrich's one-liner on Hurts: "It's absolutely something that keeps me up at night, with the quarterback that can run the ball like he does."
So is this déjà vu all over again? Neither man sees it that way. Hurts or Wentz, high rankings aside, the Jets have been working themselves back from that Horseshoe abyss. Their last half of work was their best in years. They held the Texans to no points and less than 50 total yards, the first time they did that since 2016 against Baltimore. Houston, of course, is not Philadelphia. But the Jets of Week 12 think they're not the Jets of Week 9.
"There is no doubt how they'll attack us and how can we stop it," Ulbrich said. "There's not a ton of deception within their scheme, they're straightforward. They're just really good at what they do and they have good players to do it. So it's going to be who's better and I'll put my money on our guys."
"I feel we've gotten a lot better, especially in the run game," Mosley said. "We got exposed that game and rightfully so. But I feel we've taken a lot of steps since that game, so we'll be excited to get back out on the field on Sunday."