Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What's the Jets' recipe for success vs. Colts?
EA: The Jets must find a way to get off to a better start in all phases. Entering Week 3, the Jets have been outscored in the first half, 42-6. Missing the likes of Jamison Crowder, and speedsters Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Denzel Mims (IR/hamstring), even Vyncint Smith (IR/core) and Jeff Smith (IR/shoulder), this is not a quick-strike offense that can overcome playing from behind. The Jets hope to spread the workload among their backs and tight ends, which might be the deepest unit on the team right now. Chris Herndon can stretch the field and RB La'Mical Perine, a rookie out of Florida, had a good camp and has the ability to pick up yards in a hurry. Defensively, the Jets cannot allow back-breaking plays in the run game, which seem to contradict their top 5 ranking in sacks, tackles for loss and QB hits. Philip Rivers isn't going to move too far from the pocket -- he has connected on 77.5% of his passes early on – he's a gunslinger and there will be plays that must be made in the defensive backfield. For a chance to spring the upset, the Jets had better be on their game at the outset.
EG: It starts up front on both sides of the ball. The Jets were No. 2 in rush defense last season, but it was boom or bust against San Francisco. The 49ers had 182 rushing yards, but other than two explosive plays, they had 47 yards on 27 carries (1.7 avg). If the Jets can contain rookie RB Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), who rushed for 101 yards in Week 2, the Colts will turn to new QB Philip Rivers, who's started the season on a high note. He's completed 77.5% of his passes and thrown for 577 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs. Last season, his 20 interceptions were third-most in the NFL. For the Jets' offense, the injury bug continues to bite the wide receivers. Three WRs (Vyncint Smith, Jeff Smith and Denzel Mims) are on injured reserve, and Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring) are both doubtful to play on Sunday at Indianapolis. The Colts rank No. 1 against the pass even though their secondary is banged up. Look for the Jets to try and establish the run with Frank Gore and La'Mical Perine (ankle), who fully practiced for the first time this season on Thursday. If the Jets can establish the run, it'll open up the play-action pass for Sam Darnold and his receivers, which will include Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios, Josh Malone and perhaps someone from the practice squad, like Lawrence Cager.
RL: It looks as if a Jets win on Sunday will be a low-scoring trench battle. The Colts have posted the NFL's No. 1 rankings in total yards/game, total yards/play, net passing yards/game and net passing yards/play. This may have been helped by the slow offensive starts of their first two opponents, the Jaguars and the Vikings, but the Jets, still trying to get WRs healthy, could fall into the same trap. They'll perhaps need to get the Sam Darnold-to-Chris Herndon connection going, and their running game will be vital with Frank Gore again getting the start, but rookie La'Mical Perine, showing vs. San Fran that his ankle is good to go, getting more touches. Defensively, the G&W need to rise up and do the things they did last year in performing so well: stopping the run (Indianapolis is ranked 22nd on yards/carry), getting off the field (the Colts' third-down offense is ranked 31st) and preventing red zone TDs (Indy's RZ offense is 28th). And here's another good idea for the Jets: Don't fall behind 21-3 in the first half.
OL: After the Jets' 31-13 loss to the 49ers last week, Head Coach Adam Gase adamantly expressed the urgency for his team to convert in the red zone. In Week 2, the Green & White went 0 for 2 in the red zone, and 1 for 2 in Week 1. With injuries, the offense has been slow to establish an early rhythm, and it's showed. QB Sam Darnold and the offense will need to score early and execute at a higher level in the RZ against the Colts. It doesn't all fall on the offense's shoulders, however. A usually sturdy Gregg Williams' defense has lacked consistency through the first two weeks of the 2020 season. In the first two games, the majority of the opponent's points have come in the first half, most notably in the run game. In 2019 the defense was ranked No. 2 in the league against the run. And although the defense has been adept in forcing turnovers (3) it will need to stop the run early and often in Week 3.