On October 14, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will travel to take on the New York Jets. In this week six match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our new look Colts.
Since 2012 the Colts are 1-2 in games against the Jets. The last coming in December of 2016 when our Colts absolutely destroyed the Jets 41-10. Andrew Luck went 22 of 28 with 278 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Colts defense also racked up three interceptions. A lot has changed in the past two years, let’s just hope that the outcome looks the same.
Let’s figure out what we can expect in week six.
Todd Bowles has been a coach since the mid-90’s. In his time he has used every conceivable defensive scheme and seen every conceivable offensive concept thrown his way. He has used both 4-3 and 3-4 base fronts and has ultimately chosen the 3-4 to form the identity of his defense. With that said Bowles does borrow from 4-3 principals, choosing to have his defensive linemen play one gap instead of two.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when coaches say they want a defense that is “multiple” they mean they want to have a defense like Todd Bowles. At it’s best Bowles defense is aggressive and attacking and they aren’t only going to rush four. They want to bring a blitz more often than not and that’s evidenced by the fact that they’re currently tied for sixth in the league in sacks coming into the game. They play a lot of man to man coverage which should be expected considering their desire to blitz. In third and long situations the Jets are content to rush three or four and drop the rest into coverage.
Let’s get into a few of the things I noticed watching the last two weeks of Jets football:
During the Broncos game I noticed early on the Jets were having a tough time maintaining their gap responsibilities on runs to the right.
Eventually the Broncos abandoned the run to try and keep pace with a Jets offense that put up 34 points. Had the Broncos continued to run the ball, moving methodically and keeping the Jets offense off the field they may have had a chance in this one. I’m not extremely well versed on all things Denver Broncos but Vance Joseph has to be close to losing his job, right?
Andrew Luck is going to have to find Jamal Adams before every snap. He might lineup 15 yards deep, he might lineup as a linebacker, he might lineup at the line of scrimmage and I can’t find much that he’s bad at. Todd Bowles clearly enjoys having a weapon like Adams at his disposal, given how much he moves him around and tries to find ways for him to impact the game.
The Jets will blitz a lot of DB’s and it doesn’t really matter who it is, on this play they send J.J. Wilcox which confuses the offensive line and running back and it results in a nice schemed sack.
I say it doesn’t matter who they send because as of today J.J. Wilcox is no longer on an NFL roster.
I’m going to pretend I don’t know who number 96 is for the Jets but he causes this sack. The thing that jumped out to me about this play is that it’s 3rd and 12 to go. Jamal Adams comes on a late blitz and the “other” safety Marcus Maye actually comes over and cleans up the play coming away with a sack. For those of you keeping score at home, on 3rd and 12 both of the Jets starting safeties were blitzing/playing very near the line of scrimmage.
When I went back and watched the Jets vs Jaguars game the biggest difference that jumped out first was the quality of quarterback play. I can’t believe I’m about to type this in an un-ironic way but Blake Bortles played great.
On the play above Bortles faced pressure via a DB blitz, and was able to calmly step up in the pocket and it a receiver running a shallow man coverage beating route. It helped that the Jags have a better offensive line than the Broncos so Bortles had a pocket to step into, even still he stayed calm, kept his eyes downfield and hit the open man.
I hope Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni rip this play off. This is a 3rd and short play, the Jags send a man in motion and due to man coverage the two receivers routes create a natural, legal, pick that works like a charm. One thing to notice, the Jags sent a tight end out wide and Jamal Adams covered him. Using Eric Ebron as a decoy is a risky move considering he’s one of three offensive players who seem to be able to catch a pass, but by lining him up out wide it could take Jamal Adams out of the play before it even begins.
This is the kind of play you run in the final minute of overtime on 4th and 4... too soon?
This Jets defense is going to look to attack and Andrew Luck is going to have to play smart, take what the defense gives him, and move well inside the pocket. Losing Matt Slauson could be huge as the big man had been solid in pass protection and helping create a consistent pocket for Andrew Luck all year. I fully expect to see Jamal Adams all over the field, hopefully the Colts have a plan to limit his impact.
So the Indianapolis Colts have gone against some really talented defensive lines so far in 2018 and if you would like, I could lie to you and tell you that the Jets d-line is soft. So if you want to hear they’re soft, they’re soft. If that’s what you want to hear, you should stop here and skip ahead to learn more about the Jets linebackers.
For everyone else, this line sports Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon. We know about Leonard Williams (a former top 10 pick) and Henry Anderson (100% Chris Ballard’s biggest mistake as GM) but most surprisingly for me was how well Steve McLendon is playing from his spot at nose tackle.
McLendon is going to keep Ryan Kelly busy all day. It’s going to be strength vs. strength and losing Slauson could be huge.
In addition to those three is third round rookie Nathan Shepherd (no relation). Shepherd came out of little known Fort Hayes State and had I not lived in Kansas for the past seven years I would have no idea that school existed. Unfortunately I’ve spent some time in Hayes, Kansas and outside of tumble weed and armadillo’s the only things worth seeing used to include Nathan Shepherd. If you’re from the Hoosier state and you’ve never driven through anywhere that was once considered “the West”, driving from Kansas City to Hayes would be like driving from Evansville to Terre Haute only the hills aren’t really hills and you never see another living person. It’s a trip that only takes two hours but it feels like a lifetime.
Nathan Shepherd was in the middle of nowhere this time last year, now he plays in New York and the bright lights haven’t changed much, he’s playing lights out for a rookie and looks to be a building block for the Jets future.
I hate to do it but Henry Anderson looks really good again:
Good play by Henry Anderson (weak side 1 tech) on this tight zone. Anderson gets lower then the RG (Anderson is 6'6, one of his plus traits), good hand placement and gets the RG off his body with arm extension. Sheds and makes the TKFL. Nice play by Bryant to sift through traffic pic.twitter.com/fra8puiahs— Joe Blewett (@Joerb31) September 3, 2018
Once again our Colts will face a challenge up front. The rotation of those four players alone might be enough to shake what had looked to be a very solid right side of the offensive line that was developing for the Colts. I don’t want Anthony Castonzo to rush back and re-injure himself, but I really hope he can finally play. I’ve said it before but the team needs him more than ever.
Brandon Copeland, Darron Lee, Avery Williamson and Jordan Jenkins are the names you’ll need to know. Darron Lee is playing very well and is an absolute stud in coverage. Avery Williamson came to the Jets from the Tennessee Titans. Williamson is better against the run but he has the ability to cover if he remains disciplined. If I were going to target Lee or Williamson, I’m not testing Lee in the pass game at all. With that said both are playing very well so far this season.
Jordan Jenkins does a nice job setting the edge for the Jets but he’s not much of a pass rusher. The same could be said about Brandon Copeland, except he’s not actually good at setting the edge. If I were Luck I would find where Copeland was lined up before every called run and make sure the run is going in his direction.
Darron Lee PICK-6!— Top Ball Coverage (@TopBallCoverage) September 11, 2018
3rd interception for Matthew Staford pic.twitter.com/8RJaYCco9I
While it’s true the Jets are tied for 6th in sacks, they don’t have a pass rusher that scares anyone. They have consistently schemed their sacks and sent defensive backs to generate pressure. With a legitimate pass rush to combine with their solid defensive line and solid inside linebackers and this Jets defense could be scary.
Morris Claiborne, Parry Nickerson, Darryl Roberts are most likely the corner backs you’ll need to know. As of right now it looks like the Jets will be without Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine, both down with injury.
Without Johnson and Skrine, Claiborne will need to continue his solid play while sixth round rookie Nickerson will need to step up in a big way. Darryl Roberts isn’t great and I feel pretty good about this matchup if T.Y. Hilton can play this Sunday.
The safeties, we’ve already talked about but we’ll talk about them again because they deserve it. Jamal Adams is the best safety we’ve faced this far. There doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do on a football field and if the Colts don’t have a plan to mitigate his impact, it will be felt all day long. Normally you feel good having your tight end block a safety:
Marcus Maye is playing just as well as Adams. It shouldn’t be legal to get two safeties this good in the same draft yet the Jets seem to have absolutely killed the first two rounds of the 2017 draft.
What to Expect from the Colts Offense
A lot of what we can expect to see will depend on how the offensive line reacts to losing Matt Slauson. If the Colts are able to protect Luck, I feel he might have another big day in the air. I don’t see any way the ground game gets going in this one.
Either way we’re going to see a lot of picks and rubs and hopefully crossing routes to beat man to man coverage. Depending on how the defense holds up against Darnold will determine how important winning the time of possession battle will be. If the Colts can control the flow of the game and keep Luck somewhat clean I feel good about the ways they can attack this Jets defense.