It would be a win for the Jets just to remain competitive in this game after two weeks of looking like a doormat. This one will be close at halftime, but the Colts will pull away as the Jets’ offense fails to reach the end zone.
Colts 24, Jets 9
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Jets front seven
The Jets gave up a whopping 6.3 yards per carry against the 49ers last week, but most of that damage came on two long runs. It was an uncharacteristic performance from a defense that was strong against the run last year.
Coordinator Gregg Williams’ group now has to try to stop Taylor, the Colts rookie who ran for 101 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries, and helped Indianapolis control the clock for 38 minutes in the win over the Vikings. The second-round pick has replaced Marlon Mack in the starting lineup, and the Jets’ front will be challenged trying to slow him down.
The Jets last week gave up a touchdown run of 80 yards on the first play of the game, had a 67-yard touchdown run called back, then allowed a 55-yard run on a third-and-31 play. There was plenty for the defense to clean up this week.
“We had the two runs in the ballgame that were frustrating,” Williams said, “but the next 27 were 1.7 per carry. … That’s how we’re supposed to play all of them. You just can’t let one of them pop and we did. But they learned from it and grew from it.”
In-D: The Colts have the No. 1 defense in the NFL after a dominating performance last week in their win over the Vikings. The trade with the 49ers for DeForest Buckner paid dividends. He sacked Kirk Cousins 1.5 times, one time for a safety. The Colts forced three interceptions from Cousins and held him to a dismal 15.9 quarterback rating.
This is not a defense the Jets’ offense can easily get well against.
“They’re really good up front and their linebacking corps is as fast as probably we’re going to play,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “These guys, they know their defense. This feels like it’s pretty close to the same group that I went against in 2018 [when Gase coached the Dolphins]. They’ve added a few new pieces, but for the most part, a lot of same guys, big-time guys. I think adding Buckner really makes their front dangerous.”
Wide Receivers Wanted: The Jets enter this game without their top three wide receivers.
“We’re down to whoever is available, whoever’s got a pulse right now, we’re ready to go,” Gase said.
This will be a challenge for quarterback Sam Darnold. Jamison Crowder (hamstring), Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Denzel Mims (hamstring) are out. That leaves Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone as the team’s receivers.
With the receiving corps that banged up, Gase is going to have to rely on others to produce in the passing game. Running backs Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine, and tight ends Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin have to be factors if the Jets’ offense is going to have any success.
Serving Pancakes: One of the only positives this season for the Jets has been the performance of left tackle Mekhi Becton, the team’s first-round pick. The 6-for-7, 370-pounder is the highest-graded rookie by Pro Football Focus and has been throwing people around.
Last week, Becton pancaked one 49ers defender and got up screaming at the sideline to keep running the ball behind him.
“That’s always been my mentality since growing up,” Becton said. “I always want the ball run behind me. It always feels good when I’m blocking my responsibility and I can see the running back cutting off my butt for a big gain. It always feels good seeing that.”
Old Man Rivers: The Jets will see a familiar face in a new place this week under quarterback for the Colts. The 38-year-old Philip Rivers is in his first year in Indianapolis after playing 16 years for the Chargers. Rivers is 5-4-1 in his career against the Jets.
Rivers has reunited with Colts coach Frank Reich, whom he worked with in San Diego. Reich did not ask Rivers to do a lot last week against the Vikings. He took a few deep shots, but mostly operated in a short, safe passing game as the Colts controlled the clock with the run. He has two touchdowns and three interceptions through two games.
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