The first half of football was a pretty sad competition between two teams who appeared interested in performing worse than the other. Nothing the Jets did in the first half makes them look like a particularly good football team. Batted balls resulting in touchdowns, fumbles in your own territory. Every advantage the Colts could give the Jets in the first half, they did.
The result is trailing 13-23 going into the half with the chance to kick the ball away to New York to start the second half. If the Colts can securely catch passes, stop fumbling, and in general stop doing things to sabotage themselves, it is entirely possible for a comeback and important road win.
Unfortunately, they have not shown any consistency in doing that this season.
CATCH THE DAMN BALL
The first two passes of the game hit Luck’s intended targets in the hands. In succession, Chester Rogers and Marlon Mack are unable to haul in the pass. Rogers knocked the ball up in the air but no defender was around to take advantage. Mack was not as lucky and a tipped ball ended up in Morris Claiborne’s hands for a pick-six. Indianapolis found itself in an early hole again due to offensive mistakes.
Early in the second quarter the Colts had a chance to get a touchdown after Malik Hooker’s interception. Rather than take the lead for the first time in the game, Nyheim Hines jumped into the air in the end zone and was unable to handle a pass that hit him right in the chest. If he doesn’t jump in the air and simply catches the ball with his hands, it’s a touchdown. Instead, the Colts had to settle for a field goal.
On the next offensive drive, Chester Rogers dropped a pass that hit him in the hands on a crossing route that could have put the Colts in a great situation threatening in the red zone. Instead, it resulted in a third-and-10 and Reich ran the ball with Robert Turbin to create a manageable third down situation. The Colts had to settle for a field goal.
On the Colts two-minute drive at the end of the half, with a chance to get back on top, a quick throw to the middle of the field to Ryan Grant bounced off of his hands and into Avery Williamson’s.
While Darnold didn’t face a ton of pressure in the first quarter, he did make a rookie mistake. On 3rd and 4, Darnold had some pressure coming into his face and chose to take deep shot down the left sideline. The ball sailed on him and Malik Hooker was there to capitalize.
SHUT DOWN CROWELL AND POWELL
After a monster game a week ago, the Jets were unable to get either Isaiah Crowell or Bilal Powell going on the ground. This made life very difficult for their offense. It was clear early that Darnold isn’t ready to be the engine of the offense and that the Jets did not enter a game with a developed “Plan B” if the ground game stalled.
In the first half, the Jets are averaging 2.3 yards per carry.
OFFENSIVE LINE COMMUNICATION
Outside of a penalty for a block in the back early and a false start on Anthony Castonzo in his first game this season, the offensive line did a nice job of keeping the pocket clean for Luck. There were a couple of times that Luck had to step up into the pocket but at least he had a place to go.
The running game continues to struggle, even with Castonzo back on the field. This will be a key area to monitor in the second half and moving forward. The Colts are somehow averaging less than the Jets at 2 yards per carry including a fumble given up.
NO DRIVE-KILLING MISTAKES
The first drive-killing mistakes was back-to-back drops on the Colts’ first offensive drive. The mistakes culminated in a pick-six and put Indianapolis in an early hole. The second mistake was a drop by Nyheim Hines in the end zone that turned a sure touchdown into a field goal and an early lead into a 10-10 tie. It was a scoring drive but a touchdown drive killing mistake.
Another offensive drive was killed on 3rd-and-1 when short-yardage expert Robert Turbin coughed up the football. His fumble was recovered in Colts territory and gave the Jets excellent field position.
On a two minute drive at the end of the first half, Luck targeted Ryan Grant and the ball ricocheted off of his hands and was picked off by Avery Williamson. This created another short field for the Jets with a chance to extend their lead before half time.