NY Jets: Top 3 keys to victory in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts
The NY Jets must do these three things if they are to pull off an unlikely victory in Week 3.
The NY Jets franchise is getting kicked while they’re down.
It’s not because the team is 0-2. The truth is that most observers of the franchise anticipated that possibility with the Jets starting their season against two playoff teams from a year ago in the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.
What’s most troubling about the Jets’ 0-2 start is how poorly they’ve played. The team is without direction or identity and has been for quite some time.
The saying goes that it’s always darkest before the dawn, but you get the sense with the Jets that the franchise is further away from seeing the light than it’s ever been.
The running joke for Jets fans who read this weekly article is to list more realistic ways to obtain a victory — presuming that New York continues to play as poorly as they have.
Listing keys like locking opposing teams’ in their hotel rooms or detaining them at the airport could be in play for the future.
As silly as those ideas sound, they almost played out, in reality, this past weekend. Last week, the Jets got so many breaks (literally) and couldn’t capitalize.
Before the game, four of the 49ers’ best players Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, and George Kittle, were all ruled out.
On top of that, airport personnel crashed into a plane scheduled to take the team from San Jose to New Jersey on Friday. The mishap delayed the Niners for six hours.
When the game started, the field turf at MetLife Stadium did everything it could to tackle the 49ers — something that Jets defenders couldn’t do independently.
Down went Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Solomon Thomas, and Nick Bosa. Every radical scenario that you can conjure up to help sway the contest in the Jets’ favor, and yet they lost in embarrassing fashion 31-13.
As tempting as it is to dismiss the chances of the Jets winning and search for more realistic and unconventional ways to achieve victory, I will stick with the more traditional route for now, but with the way the season has gone, all options are on the table.
The most popular suggestion for a victory by Jets fans is firing Adam Gase immediately. At the time of writing, nothing has changed on that front.
Here are the three keys to a Jets victory in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts — a game in which New York is listed generously as 10 point underdogs. So here it goes, wish me luck.
Next: 3. Gregg Williams' defense must show up to play
3. Gregg Williams’ defense must show up to play for the NY Jets
For all the heat that Jets head coach Adam Gase is taking and rightfully so, some of the blame for New York’s early-season struggles has to fall on the doorstep of Gregg Williams.
The Jets are a mess on defense. Sure, there are plenty of excuses to go around — Jamal Adams is gone. The Jets have injuries but poor technique, scheme, and lack of effort fall on the coordinator.
It’s Williams’ job to get the Jets right on defense. Nothing about the Jets’ performance on defense has been right in the opening two weeks of the season. In the human game of chess that football is, Brian Daboll and Kyle Shanahan served Williams early checkmates.
The Jets defense struggled to tackle and defend the pass in Week 1, and in Week 2, the team was out of sorts trying to counter the 49ers’ ground game and gave up multiple big runs— one on an inexplicable, 3rd-and-31 first-down conversion.
The elephant in the room from Jets fans is the possibility of Williams taking over for Gase sooner rather than later. Still, thus far, the job performance of Williams has done nothing to inspire confidence in him taking control.
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After Week 1, the comment that most irked Jets fans came from owner Christopher Johnson calling Adam Gase a “brilliant offensive mind.” It overshadowed the absurdity of the statement Gregg Williams made about the Jets’ defense and how close it is to dominance.
If the Jets are to have any chance of competing and potentially winning this game, their defense is going to have to neutralize and slow down the Colts’ rushing attack.
Indy has one of the league’s better offensive lines, and last week against Minnesota, Frank Reich and his staff went back to basics. Indianapolis dominated the line of scrimmage and controlled the entire game.
The Colts held the ball on offense for nearly 39 minutes. They ran the ball 40 times and only threw it 25 times. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor ran for over 100 yards and a score.
Indianapolis will play a physical style moving forward and look to wear the Jets down the same they did the Vikings last week. New York’s defenders will have to be disciplined, physical at the point of attack, and tackle better than they have in Weeks 1 and 2.
It’s on Gregg Williams to get them to compete better than they have thus far. Theoretically, the Jets’ defense has been close to dominance.
Just ask the offenses that have dominated them.
Next: 2. The Jets offense needs to be more aggressive
2. The NY Jets’ offense needs to be more aggressive
Last week, one of the Jets’ best plays on offense was Sam Darnold buying time in the pocket, rolling to his left, and throwing across his body to hit Braxton Berrios for a long touchdown.
New York’s most explosive play happened off-script. That’s a very telling sign of where the Jets are schematically on offense.
The scoring play in the box score reads as ‘Sam Darnold pass deep left to Berrios for 30 yards,’ but reality tells a different tale. Sure, it would help if the Jets had speed on the outside at wide receiver to make more plays downfield possible.
With Robby Anderson gone, Breshad Perriman predictably injured, and Denzel Mims on the shelf, the Jets are alarmingly short-handed at receiver, but it shouldn’t deter the team from taking shots down the field.
The Jets are playing scared on offense. When Sam Darnold plays fearful of making mistakes, he is at his worst as a quarterback. Darnold’s best plays with the Jets have come when he uses his natural ability to make things happen down the field.
Typically, the answer for teams with nothing to lose is to throw caution into the wind because they are desperate, and in this case, perhaps there is some merit to that. But truthfully, it’s playing to Darnold’s strengths to let it fly.
In two games, the Colts defense has allowed just 416 total yards (241 at Jacksonville, 175 versus Minnesota). The Indianapolis defense has seven sacks, three interceptions, 10 passes defended, and a safety on their ledger.
The Colts are putting pressure on opposing teams’ quarterbacks and forcing mistakes. The Jets have done minimal well to this point, but one good aspect is their offensive line.
It’s time for the Jets to trust their new offensive line and start challenging defenses — if only to open up their offense and ground game. The Colts lost their star safety Malik Hooker for the season.
Adam Gase needs to utilize his tight ends like Chris Herndon and attack the seams of the Indianapolis defense. The Colts lost their Week 1 battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20, solely based on the play of quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Indy harassed him all day with pressure, but Minshew was able to break script and make plays — something that the Jets need to give Darnold the freedom to do.
Next: 1. The Jets must avoid a slow start
1. The NY Jets must avoid a slow start
The legendary Bill Parcells once told reporters that when you start your season without wins, it feels like you will never win another game. This comment came in 1998 after the Jets started their season at 0-2.
Parcells’ Jets would end up going 12-4 and got to the AFC Championship Game that year. The Jets in 2020 sure have the feel of a team that might not win a single game this season. It’s a feeling that everyone involved with the franchise is experiencing at the moment.
In the first two games of this season, the Jets have started poorly on offense and defense. The team has been outscored 42-6 in the first half.
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In a stat that means almost nothing, the Jets have outscored their opponents 24-16 in the second half. The Jets’ games have been over as soon as they’ve started — a trend that has to change if they want to compete moving forward.
The Jets can ill afford to start this game against the Colts as poorly as they have in the first two weeks of the season. From a confidence standpoint, it would behoove the Jets to avoid a slow start on offense and defense.
Any hiccups like last week’s 80-yard touchdown run by Raheem Mostert on the first play, or offensive struggles will only further strengthen the doubt of the team and fracture its already fragile psyche.
The Colts are looking to jump on the Jets early and set the game’s pace to their liking. The formula for Indianapolis is simple. Get out in front and then stay there.
The Colts took a 15-3 advantage into the locker room at halftime against the Vikings and then remained patient with their ground game, and it forced Minnesota to become one-handed on offense.
For the Jets to have an opportunity to win this game, they will need to keep the game close going into the second half. More importantly, they need to take the Colts out of their comfort zone, while at the same time, bringing some hope to the Jets team.
Hope is a feeling that is nonexistent at the moment. Having a chance to pull off a victory could change that.