The depleted New York Jets hit the road to take on an Indianapolis Colts squad looking to start a winning streak.
What: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
When: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
“Next man up” has routinely been a mantra for NFL squads when a major contributor is lost to an injury. The New York Jets, however, may need a next team up entirely if current events keep pace.
The Jets (0-2) will be missing at least five representatives as they hit the road to battle the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday late afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). That manifest includes two of their top receivers (Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder) and two members of the secondary (Quincy Wilson, Ashtyn Davis), as well as a starting offensive lineman (George Fant). Not counted are the numerous players on injured reserve, such as running back Le’Veon Bell.
Head coach Adam Gase remarked this week that “whoever’s got a pulse right now” should be ready for action in Circle City.
“I look at it as if we’re the only team going through this it would be one thing,” Gase said in an attempt to find a silver lining, through Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “You’re seeing guys going down left and right whether it be in practice or games. We’re having soft-tissue things happen to us. It seems a lot of these other teams are going through major, major season-ending type injuries.”
The Jets are coming off a one-sided loss to the San Francisco, falling 31-13 in their 2020 debut at MetLife Stadium. Strong points were hard to come by in the ugly defeat, but Quinnen Williams earned the first multi-sack game of his career. Pierre Desir also had the first interception of his New York tenure, while Sam Darnold found Braxton Berrios for a 30-yard score late in the game. Desir will make his
On the AFC South side of things, Indianapolis (1-1) earned their first win of the season with a 28-11 advantage over the Minnesota Vikings last weekend. The Colts took three interceptions from Kirk Cousins while rookie Jonathan Taylor earned the first triple-digit yardage game of his career, picking up 101 and a touchdown. Mo Allie-Cox led all receivers with 111 yards on five receptions.
This will be the 75th meeting between the Jets and Colts, former AFC East rivals prior to divisional realignment in 2002. Indianapolis leads the series 42-32, but the Jets have won five of the last seven get-togethers. The most recent meeting came in 2018 in East Rutherford, a matchup the Jets took by a 42-32 final. Andrew Luck threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns but it wasn’t enough to counter three interceptions, including one by Avery Williamson. Then-rookie Sam Darnold has a strong game as well, throwing for 280 yards and two scores.
History Happens: 2011
The Jets will return to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, the site of one of their most recent playoff victories. They topped the Colts 17-16 in the 2011 AFC Wild Card playoffs en route to the latter of back-to-back trips to the conference title game. Indianapolis took the lead on a 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining, but Antonio Cromartie set the Jets up with a strong return to the New York 46. Three Mark Sanchez throws later (two caught by Braylon Edwards), Nick Folk booted a 32-yard field goal that punched the Jets’ ticket to New England. LaDainian Tomlinson scored two one-yard touchdowns for the Jets in their victory.
They Said It
“We don’t do 3/4ths. We don’t do half-speed…That’s how we practice on defense…Those guys, whether it was misunderstood, they are taking ownership. Especially after a game, like we all do. Me first, then them. We practice very hard. It’s shocking when other people come into wherever this staff is, when they’ve been allowed to do certain things a certain way other places, that’s not what we do here.”–Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the Jets’ practices after several players spoke out against them this week, per SNY
“He’s a tough runner. He doesn’t quit, he’s not an out-of-bounds guy, he’s going to lower his shoulder. He reminds me a lot of Adrian Peterson and how they’re 17 years into the league, that’s when football was football where you’re going to run between the tackles, man on man, is my man stronger than you, is my will better than yours? And he still has that mentality. I think that’s what makes him who he is, because when he gets between those tackles he’s going to lower his shoulder, he’s going to try to run you over, and that’s what type of mentality you need playing at running back and not a lot of this other stuff you see at running back.”-Colts LB Darius Leonard on Frank Gore, per Andrew Walker
Matchup to Watch
Quinnen Williams vs. Colts offensive line
Williams put up his best New York performance to date during last Sunday’s loss, picking up seven tackles and two sacks while forcing a fumble against the Niners. It’s up to him to prove that won’t be a fluke. That challenge won’t be easy against a Colts line anchored by Quinton Nelson.
Nelson has an indirect, yet eternal, part in Jets history. In the 2018 draft proceedings, the Jets were originally slated to choose sixth. That pick was later shipped to Indianapolis for the right to select in the third slot, where Sam Darnold’s name was called. Nelson went in the rebranded sixth slot and has gone on to become one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen.
“You don’t really hear a ton of things about offensive linemen especially interior guys when you’re coming out of college,” Gase said of Nelson in a report from team writer Ethan Greenberg. “This guy was the talk of the combine. Everyone was talking about him leading up to the draft. Not only is he extremely smart, but he plays really physical. He’s mean. He sets the attitude of the entire room, but his technique and fundamentals are phenomenal. You can tell this guy takes a lot of pride in what he does.”
The Colts’ offensive line has done a solid job of protecting aging quarterback Phillip Rivers in the early going, allowing only two sacks over the first couple of weeks.
The Jets Will Win If…
Williams and the front seven can win the battle in the trenches.
With so many offensive contributors sidelined, the Jets will have to win the “ugly” way…low scoring, may multiple turnovers, and making the wary Rivers uncomfortable. The defense is missing key components as well, some of whom aren’t coming back (noted opt-out C.J. Mosley). If the defensive substitutes can rise to the occasion, they may stand a fighting chance in a low-scoring game, to the tune of a 16-13 or 13-10 final.
The Colts Will Win If…
Like many Jets games for the remainder of the season, the battle will be won if they take care of business.
The Colts are in an interesting spot in the AFC South. For example, the Houston Texans, division champions in four of the past five seasons, could well be winless in three games by the end of the weekend. The rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars have been no slouches, as the Colts found out the hard way in Week 1. At the top, the Tennessee Titans are proving that their conference title game appearance was no fluke, at least so far. Simply put, this game very well may be a must-win for the 1-1 Colts.
Indianapolis will need substitutions of their own to step up on Sunday. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin will be missing his second consecutive game, leading to the rise of T.J. Carrie. Several Colts are also looking to atone for slow starts, like former receiving yardage leader T.Y. Hilton (7 receptions, 81 yards). They could certainly benefit from a derailed Jets squad dealing with countless departures.
The Jets have endured a brutal week, and it seems only right to end this with yet another tough defeat. If a depleted 49ers squad at home was too much to handle, it stands to reason that a slightly banged-up Colts squad that has everything to lose in front of their fans (Lucas Oil Stadium will admit 7,500 to Sunday’s game) would produce a similar result.
New York can keep things more respectable this time around. Wins, however, are far too tough to come by right now. A meeting with the equally famished Broncos on Thursday? That could be another story…
Colts 23, Jets 6
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags