The kind of game the Jets played on Thursday was not one to bring a smile to the postgame face of Robert Saleh, not as the Green & White head coach and certainly not as the defensive minded coach and coordinator by training.
It was the kind of game to bring tough questions about that defense in the HC's postgame news conference.
"Defensively, it wasn't good enough," Saleh said after the Jets fell to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in primetime by 45-30 in a game that wasn't as close as that final might suggest. "When teams run the ball the way they did ... we knew they were going to try to get their run game started, the way they were talking all week, getting 28 [Jonathan Taylor] going, and with a tremendous offensive line. Obviously we weren't up to the task."
Some numbers give an idea of how true that was. The Jets yielded 532 total yards, with 272 of those yards coming on the ground. Taylor didn't have to get going since he came into the game as the No. 2 rusher in the NFL, but he kept going with a smoking 172 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries for 9.1 yards/carry.
And it started off with a 34-yard TD run to open the scoring by Nyheim Hines and then Taylor's 21-yard score to break a 7-7 tie and take the lead for good. Before and after those runs and on into the second half, the Colts line was opening up large lanes in the Jets' front seven, which, unlike the Bengals game four days ago, didn't seem to have an answer for the assault as the home team racked up all six of their TDs in their first seven possessions.
"It tells me they were creating space, obviously," Saleh said sternly about those running holes. "When it comes to the run game, it's man vs. man. We'll get it changed, look at it and dissect it even better. But we weren't as gap-sound as we needed to be. So we'll get a look at it over the weekend."
The pass game was equally devastating even if not as wildly productive. Carson Wentz was spot on in completing 22 of 30 for 272 yards and three TDs. He was sacked only once, a zero-yarder, and didn't turn the ball over after throwing two costly interceptions late in the Colts' home overtime loss to the Titans.
"Against the zone defense, Carson was doing a good job early in the game getting rid of the football and finding soft spots in the zone," Saleh said. "They did a good job of getting it to their open people. Obviously, they were a lot faster and a lot better than we were today on defense."
See Best Images from the Game at Lucas Oil Stadium
For any fans who thought the loss was worse because Indy was easing up as the game wore on, the coach disabused them of that notion.
"First off, they're throwing in the fourth quarter, all the starters were in, they were trying to score. They didn't take their foot off the gas," Saleh said. "I can promise you, they had their starters in till the very last whistle, they played their normal coverages, they were blitzing. Believe me, the D-coordinator doesn't want to give up all those yards."
That observation, however, didn't take the pain out of the loss or out of the news that the Jets have lost S Marcus Maye to an Achilles injury.
"It doesn't look good," Saleh said of the injury. "Losing him, it's huge. You look at that secondary — he's the veteran. You've got a lot of second-year and rookie players. Marcus was that settling force back there. He's also a heck of a football player. But I'm more concerned with Marcus that with what we'll do on defense to fill that void. He's a fantastic young man. I'm sick for him."