Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
It didn’t take a brain surgeon to predict a Jet home victory in the home opener against Cleveland. The only surprise was the dominating margin of victory, 31-10. There’s been a black cloud hanging over the Jets franchise since long before they relocated to Florham Park. But there seems to be signs of changes.
If there is such thing as the luck of the green-and-white, it was with last week’s injuries to Antonio Cromartie and Lorenzo Mauldin. Both injuries looked like career enders, and turned out to be minor. Expect Cro and Lo to contribute significantly down the road in 2015.
The Jets are big underdogs Monday night in Indianapolis. Their chance to win is 50/50 at best. But this is not the Colts of the recent past. This is a franchise in serious decline, with the owner and general manager engaging in an ugly war of words with the franchise’s beloved head coach Chuck Pagano.
The Colts may be deadlier than ever at the skill positions, but have little to offer upfront in the push-and-shove battles of the offensive or defensive lines. That’s a huge advantage for the defensive-minded, ground-and-pound philosophy of coach Todd Bowles and his scheming staff.
Most pro football prognosticators have pegged the Jets as AFC East cellar-dwellars, but don’t believe the noise. The Jets are starting to get their act together. There are plenty of reasons for both optimism and pessimism for a final season record better than 8-8. To accomplish that goal, the Jets must seize the day, and employ their impressive mix of young hopefuls and wily veterans, and grab the spotlight of a national television stage.
Here are the top 5 five reasons to believe the Colts might just get rocked by the Jets on Monday Night Football.
Next: 5. In The Trenches
Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (62) celebrates his safety during the first half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
5. In The Trenches
It’s hard to tell if the Jets were scary good on defense last week, or it was just the Browns and Johnny Manziel. Were those three devastating strip sacks, or were they playing a JV quarterback? We will know the answer to that question after facing the mighty Andrew Luck.
The Colts have offensive weapons galore, but they’ve got nothing upfront, where it counts. On both sides of the ball, Indianapolis is incredibly vulnerable at the point of attack, and have displayed some absolutely putrid line play. Frank Gore, the franchise’s latest running back threat, has proven himself on NFL fields time and again, but the Jets’ defense should be ashamed of itself if the 11-year-pro out of Miami makes like Bronko Nagurski on the RCA Dome rug.
If football is truly played in the trenches, the Colts just might be out of luck. Luck is deceptively quick, but he could be running for his life behind a barely professional front-five. If Luck could ever get hurt, it’s in a game like this, with such dangerous mismatches. Is that any way to treat one of the best QBs in the game?
Seventeen-year-veteran Matt Hasslebeck has only played in parts of seven games going into his fourth year as Luck’s backup. Let’s hope things stay that way.
Next: 4. Colts Front Office Woes
Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on the sideline during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Colts 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
4. Colts Front Office Woes
The general manager Ryan Grigson vs head coach Chuck Pagano feud has gotten out of hand. A coach is only as good as his roster, and have you noticed what’s become of the Colts’ 53-man assemblage? They must have the oldest roster in the league, with eight players with over ten years experience. That’s including kicker Adam Vinatieri, surely the most famous graduate of South Dakota State, now in his 20th season!
Pagano is a hero — in life and on the field — and does not deserve this type of garbage, coaching as a lame-duck on the final year of his deal. Jim Irsay has firmly denied any rift, but where there’s smoke there’s fire. What is known is that Pagano was insulted by the team’s one-year extension for 2016 for no more money than 2015, and that Irsay, in turn, was insulted by Pagano’s response. Powerful men with hurt feelings — nothing positive can come of that.
Pagano knows that his Colts end is near. Such distractions will either rally the troops — which didn’t seem to work in last week’s fiasco in Buffalo, abetting Rex Ryan’s first Bills victory — or things can go south quickly. Professional locker rooms aware that their coach is a goner, have been known to fold. Here’s hoping that such distractions only help the Jets at game time.
Next: 3. No Hilton On Revis Island
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) recovers a fumble against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
3. No Hilton On Revis Island
T.Y. Hilton, welcome to Revis Island. Sure, things may get a bit uncomfortable with Revis’ right hand Antonio Cromartie out for the next week or three at cornerback. But have confidence in the skills of stand-ins Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams, with their proven abilities to go mano-a-mano with football’s receiving elite.
The secondary better come prepared Monday night. Regardless if Revis shuts down Hilton, Luck will be looking to throw long to stars-in-the-making Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, or the still-electric Andre Johnson (despite what the Indy press has been harping all week about his underwhelming debut). And somebody must cover their Gronk-like 6’6″ tight end Coby Fleener over the middle, or it’s going to be a very long night. Trevor Reilly and Jaiquawn Jarrett, are you ready to man up?
The Jets’ safeties will have to shine for four quarters. But last week’s concussion-inducing hit on quarterback Josh McCown by “The Louisville Slugger” Calvin Pryor was one for the ages — and it exemplified why strong cornerback play allows the safeties to just go out and do what they do best.
If the Jets’ defensive secondary can neutralize or minimize the Colts’ deadly passing arsenal, they can win in most other phases of the game. But that’s a tall order.
Next: 2. Our Man Chan
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the first half of their game against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
2. Our Man Chan
Have faith in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, the Jets’ best offensive coordinator since the Bill Parcells era. Unlike the Marty Mornhinwegs and Brian Schottenheimers and Paul Hacketts of autumns past — great offensive minds unable to succeed without elite players — Gailey is highly regarded for his ability to work with what he’s got. That makes him the right man for this job.
If things break right, Ryan Fitzpatrick could have a field day. Indianapolis has a handful of defensive standouts — and many Jet fans still have a soft spot for free safety Dwight Lowery — but he and the aged Mike Adams could get torched by the mad genius running a spread offense with his big receivers.
If the Jets veteran offensive line can push around the Colts 3-man front of Henry Anderson, David Parry and Kendall Langford — which sounds plausible — Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will have monster games Monday night. There’s no better way to stifle an offensive juggernaut than to run out the clock.
Next: 1. Who Says We Can't?
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles speaks to the media after the organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
1. Who Says We Can’t?
The Colts have major distractions and glaring problems. The Jets have had a few well-known distractions of their own, but it is clear that they are coming together by the week.
There are a variety of mismatches to exploit. If the Jets’ vaunted defense can play big, the team has a real chance to win because the Colts’ defense is average at best, certainly a step or two down from what they faced against the Browns at MetLife. Indianapolis has become a storied franchise, but they rarely win the big one.
And this game is huge for the Colts if they plan to gallop to victory in 2015. They are a franchise in turmoil, with nowhere to go but down, and they will be pressing in front of their spoiled, nervous fan base. That is a perfect recipe for disaster for the home team.
Be very worried about an angry Luck. But if there’s anybody who can reign in the thoroughbred Colts to a touchdown or two, it’s the lethal team of Bowles, Gailey, Revis and Fitzpatrick. Horse meat for Monday night dinner, Jets fans?