AFC Championship Breakdown

The last time the Indianapolis Colts faced the New York Jets was the AFC Championship game last season. As a proponent of learning from the past, I went back and broke down that game to see if I could notice any trends.

I went back to the film and watched each play. I noted the offensive personnel, general defensive "look," run or pass and whether the play was a success or failure. "Success" was gaining half the remaining distance to go on 1st or 2nd down and all the remaining distance on 3rd down.

I am NOWHERE near smart enough to break down the kind of pressure the Jets brought so that became simplified to how many down linemen they had and how many people ended up rushing on the play. It would have also gotten messy to try to note what each offensive formation looked like, so I just noted the personnel grouping used.

Here is the link to a google docs version of the excel spreadsheet I created.

The spreadsheet has tabs along the bottom for each offense and each down (ie. Colts O v. Jets D 1st, Colts O v. Jets D 2nd, etc). A break down after the Jump!


Almost exclusively 1RB, 1 TE and 3 WR - This was our base lineup for the game. The RB switched in and out, but Clark, Wayne, Garcon and Collie where the rest of the "skill players." Only 11 offensive snaps during the WHOLE GAME that were not this base group. I think this year we will see more variation of personnel (by necessity). I would be totally surprised if we don't come out in a 1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR look much more often.

Success Running on 1st and 2nd downs - But not on 3rd down. The Colts were able to run with consistency and success on first and second down in this game. One thing I did notice was that a lot of the BIG runs came on cutbacks where the play started right, Johnson and Lilja sealed off the left, and Addai or Brown changed the intended destination of the play. DeVan needs to show up big to have this success again.

"Won" 1st and 2nd down - 52% and 53% success rate on 1st and 2nd down. Whether it was running or passing we got the yards we needed to stay in third and "manageable." Success was found on second down, in the base formation, throwing the ball. This will be key again. Stay out of the third and longs to make short, quick throws to neutralize pass rush.


Always Blitzing - The fighting Ryans never sent less than 4 rushers all game (nothing out of the ordinary there). The most common number sent was 5. They sent more than 6 rushers on 13 occasions (compared to the Colts who sent 6 only twice). They are a man coverage defense so getting our receivers to release quickly off the line will be key. I expect some stacked formations to create man coverage confusion.

Blitz read on backs - Our RBs need to make sure they are aware of the LBs on this team. The thing I saw almost exclusively was a LB in man on a back. If the back stayed in the backfield on a blitz pickup, the cover man automatically and aggressively came on a delay rush of the QB. This led to a couple of late pressures of Manning. I think getting the back to delay and release may be effective. Once the extra rusher commits to coming see if the back can slip outside and get into some open space.

4 down, meant 4 coming - It was almost too predictable. The Jets "coverage look" was 4 down linemen on defense. Only twice did they show this and bring more than those 4 rushers. Manning had great success throwing the ball against this look. I will be interested to see if Ryan change that at all for this game.


2RB, 1 TE, 2 WR Base - That year the Jets did EVERYTHING out of this look. Even the Wildcat play had Brad Smith with this personnel instead of the Sanchy - Sanchize. The Colts this year have had some trouble with FBs. The Jets used one all the time last year (but with only limited success, more on that later). Interesting chess match to watch.

37% Success rate running the ball - The Jets only achieved success (by this analysis) on 37% of their run plays. HUGE win for the defense. The number goes up to 40% if you include 1st down runs of 4 as well. Filling gaps and making tackles was key last year and will be again.

Threw on 3rd down - For a team that had run the ball SO WELL all year, the Jets threw the ball 10 out of 14 3rd down attempts. This tells me that the Colts D was keeping them out of 3rd and short. This will need to continue. Winning 1st and 2nd down is (dare I say) MORE IMPORTANT than winning 3rd down. Okay, maybe not more important, but it's close. The Jets used a 3 WR set on 8 of 14 3rd downs.

3 WR meant throw - The Jets ran 20 total plays out of a 3 WR set. 3 runs, 17 passes. That is HUGE! If you can force an offense into a formation you know what they will do out of, your defense has a huge advantage. The three times they did run out of the 3 wide was a "fail." The Jets seem to be throwing more this year than last. Making them one dimensional in a certain formation would be great.


Looked like the end of this year - Watching the film from a year ago, I was surprised to see how similar the defensive concept and look was to the last three regular season games. There was penetration from the DT (Dan Muir instead of Fili). There was strong sure tackling in the running lanes (Session instead of Conner and Angerer). Bethea was out there wreaking havoc. This gives me hope for a strong defensive performance. If we can get CBs to stop bitting on double moves and play-action, we might go somewhere.

Blitzing - Coyer sent 5 blitzes on 14 3rd down plays. These blitzes ALWAYS came from OLB, MLB or S. Even in Nickel and Dime 3rd down situations, the extra man was always a LB or S. You would think that 3rd down would be the ideal blitz time with more 3 WR sets and longer yards to gain. He actually sent more blitzes on second down. 7 blitzes out of 20 plays. More than 1/3 of those plays. Maybe that is why we won 2nd down more than we have been recently.

"Joker" was useless - All the talk when we drafted Hughes was that he was replacing Brock as the "Joker" rusher. During this game the Joker set allowed more successes for the Jets offense than failures. It didn't add extra pressure and it didn't confuse the Jets defense. Once it allowed Brock to get a better jump off the bal than the rest of the D, but all in all, it was ineffective. We haven't seen that package as much this year. Here's hoping it stays that way.


The Colts come into this game on their best stretch of the season. In order to be successful and advance against the Jets, the Colts must;

  1. Win on 1st and 2nd down on both sides of the ball
  2. Get WRs and TEs released off the line quickly and cleanly
  3. Fill lanes and tackle
  4. Play with the heart they have shown they have down the stretch

Thanks for reading and commenting! GO HORSE!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.