As we prepare for the Colts’ road game against the New York Jets, it is time once again to consider how we might fare against them. We know the Colts will go into this game a battered but scrappy team. But what about the Jets?
I asked Michael Nania of Gang Green Nation to give us 3 reasons the Jets will lose in the upcoming game. He kindly provided them and I did the same for them, which you can read here. Here’s why Michael says the Jets are going to lose this one:
The Jets’ inability to follow up victories
Todd Bowles’ Jets team is 3-7 coming off of wins since 2016. Of those 3 wins, two were against the hapless Browns, and the other was at home (in 2017) against a Jaguars team that was coming off of a London game without a bye. All in all, the Jets have only two winning streaks since 2016, more than only the Browns, 49ers, and Colts.
The Jets absolutely demolished the Lions on the road in Week 1, looking unbeatable in every phase. The Lions were a 9-win team last year. Since that game, the Lions have beaten Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in their next two games at Ford Field. It was an insane performance in all three phases.
How did they build off of that win? The Jets followed it up by going down 20-0 in the first half of their home opener against the division rival Dolphins, ultimately falling 20-12. They then put out a putrid performance in Cleveland to give the Browns their first win in centuries, and then went out to Jacksonville and embarrassed themselves.
They finally snapped the losing streak last week with another dominant performance, smashing the Broncos 34-16. Can Bowles prove he can lead this team to sustained success? Can this volatile roster get enough players to play well consistently to allow the team to stay above .500?
The offensive line
In the two Jets victories, the offensive line has been tremendous. In Week 1 at Detroit, the Jets ran for 169 yards while allowing only 2 sacks and no hits on Sam Darnold. In the win over Denver last week, the Jets ran for a whopping 323 yards, second most in team history, while allowing only one sack and one hit.
In between that, against three very strong fronts in Miami, Cleveland, and Jacksonville, the offensive line was putrid. Over those three games, Darnold was sacked 7 times and hit 5 times, while the rushing attack averaged only 61 yards.
The Colts present an improved defensive front that ranks 6th in defensive sack rate and is playing faster, more effective football with their revamped defensive scheme. They have players who can win matchups rushing the passer.
The tackles, Brandon Shell and Kelvin Beachum, have had games where they simply were owned by the opposition, and games where they were clean as can be. Shell has had two games this year where he did not allow a single pressure, but in between those two, he allowed 13 pressures over 3 games.
Center Spencer Long just had a great game run blocking, but has been ice cold as a pass protector with sacks allowed in three straight games. The free agent signee has struggled to replicate the pass protecting prowess he showed off in Washington, while his run blocking has been spotty as expected.
When the Jets have lost this year, and when they lose more games, the offense failing to hit 20 points will often be a big reason why. The offensive line’s erratic nature will continue to hamper that side of the ball until they prove they can chain together good games.
Poor defensive adjustments
On the whole, the defensive has had a nice start in spite of injuries and a talent deficiency at edge rusher. They’re 8th in fewest points per game allowed, 13th in fewest yards per play allowed, and 6th in total team defense DVOA (via Football Outsiders).
However, during the losing streak, there were stretches when the Jets were inexplicably getting consistently burned in ways they should not have been. Against Cleveland, the Jets were in complete control with a 14-0 lead and a rookie quarterback entering mid-game to make his NFL debut. Baker Mayfield carved them up with the same approach over and over, eating up yardage in the middle of the field against a confused zone-heavy Jets defense that did not change up anything to account for how well Mayfield was playing. They got less aggressive with their blitzing once Mayfield came in. It was a marvelous and magical performance by the top pick, but an inept performance by the Jets coaching staff for not adjusting and the defensive personnel themselves for breaking late play after play out of zones.
Against Jacksonville, Blake Bortles had a career day as he led the Jaguars to over 500 yards of offense. Countless times, the Jets left receivers wide open crossing the field and in the flat for 15-20+ yard gains. Dede Westbrook actually picked up first downs running the same route from the same position four times. Four times! The lack of adjustment in this game was appalling.
I’ve talked about consistency a lot. Todd Bowles’ staff made Matt Patricia look like the rookie he was back in Week 1. Completely outfoxed him. The defensive players even said they knew the Lions’ plays to an extent. Then, in the most recent win against Denver, the Jets were aggressive on both sides of the ball with their playcalling and in turn dominated the game.
Sensing a theme? There have been two versions of just about every player and coach on this roster to show up so far. Which versions will show up this week? Flip a coin - it’s probably a better guess than anybody can give.