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Colts vs Jets: Q & A with the enemy

Indianapolis Colts v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the Colts set to host the New York Jets for their week three matchup, I wanted to learn a bit more about the Jets team they’ll be facing. To do so, I reached out to MacGregor Wells of Gang Green Nation. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the team, and I did the same about our Colts for their page. Here’s what he had to say:

The Jets have, by my count, 12 former Colts players on the roster. Of all the guys who have made the trip from Indy to New York, Henry Anderson is perhaps my favorite. How has he looked so far this year?

I’m sorry to report Henry Anderson has played very poorly so far this year. In fact, he played so poorly last week against the 49ers, we at Gang Green Nation gave him what we call our anti-game ball, given out each time the Jets lose to the player with the worst performance that week. Anderson had a roughing the passer penalty and was partially responsible for a touchdown run of 80 yards and another long 3rd down conversion run on 3rd and 31. It was a very rough week for Anderson. Then again, it’s been a very rough two weeks for virtually every player on the Jets roster.

Adam Gase and Joe Douglas enter just their second season as head coach and GM respectively, but it feels like already the calls for Gase to be fired are starting. Is that the sentiment among Jets fans, or are they hopeful that he may turn things around?

The sentiment among Jets fans is overwhelmingly that Gase has to go. Gase has alienated key players, including All Pro Jamal Adams, leading to his trade. He has presided over the worst offense in the NFL since his arrival. He seems to make no effort to win games once the Jets fall behind, preferring to stick with an ultra conservative approach which will never allow the Jets to catch up. He appears to make no in game adjustments, instead doggedly sticking to the game plan he cooked up prior to the game, regardless of how poorly it is working. He throws his players under the bus in press conferences, and deflects blame for the team’s struggles to everyone but himself.

Most damning of all, he was brought in specifically to develop Sam Darnold, the Jets young quarterback drafted in 2018. Not only has Darnold not developed, he may be regressing. Coming into the season there were still many holdouts. All they were saying, was give Gase a chance (apologies to John Lennon). That contingent has dwindled to near zero after the lifeless performances the Jets gave in the first two weeks of this season. The overwhelming majority of Jets fans now believe Gase must be fired for the team to have any chance of righting the ship.

Colts fans are familiar with the notion of getting a franchise QB and having a front office fail to surround them with the talent needed to succeed. Do you think Sam Darnold can succeed with the Jets, and what do they need to do to make that possible?

I just don’t know about Darnold. He has shown flashes, but overall he’s been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. He appears to have some special talents, but he also makes some head scratching mistakes that don’t seem to be diminishing. On the other hand, Darnold has had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL protecting him, and one of the worst set of weapons supporting him. Things have gone from bad to worse.

This week the Jets will be fielding a 37 year old starting running back and three starting receivers consisting of 33 year old Chris Hogan signed off the street a few weeks ago, Josh Malone, who was signed off the practice squad a week ago, and Braxton Berrios, a punt returner and not much more. These are not NFL backups. They are backups to NFL backups. They don’t belong on NFL rosters. They are incapable of consistently winning assignments.

How do you evaluate the performance of a quarterback with no time to throw and nobody to throw to? It’s just a nightmare situation for Darnold. That doesn’t mean he is good, or will one day be good; it just means I don’t know how to begin to evaluate this mess. When and if he gets a decent NFL offensive line protecting him and decent NFL weapons to throw to, then I’ll tell you whether or not I think he has what it takes. That might happen as early as next year. But for now, I just have no idea about Darnold. I don’t know how anyone can.

How has the rookie class looked so far for the Jets?

In a word: broken. The rookies are mostly injured and have not played much. First round pick Mekhi Becton has been outstanding. He has already looked like one of the better left tackles in the NFL, a rarity so early in a rookie’s career. Jets fans have high hopes he may turn into a perennial Pro Bowl left tackle. We are excited about Becton. Second round pick WR Denzel Mims, third round pick DE Jabari Zuniga, fourth round pick OG Cameron Clark and fifth round pick CB Bryce Hall have all missed the first two games with injuries, and will likely miss more games going forward.

Third round pick S Ashtyn Davis has been healthy but has played almost exclusively on special teams. Fourth round pick RB LaMical Perine was hurt for weeks before seeing limited action last week; he looked OK, nothing to get excited about. Fourth round pick QB James Morgan has seen no action and likely will see no action at all this season; he is currently fourth on the Jets QB depth chart. And finally, sixth round pick, punter Braden Hall, has done a good job punting. Things are so bad here that the rookie punter doing OK is something to get excited about for some fans.

Who are some under the radar players Colts fans should be on the lookout for Sunday?

This is a very difficult question. The Jets have been so bad no opposing fans need to worry too much about anyone on this team. I’ll give you two names, but they’re hardly worth mentioning.

On offense I doubt too many people are too familiar with Braxton Berrios. He was the Jets punt returner last year and he did a very good job of it. This year he has been pressed into slot receiver duties, and he’s been … well, not awful. He is undersized but he is tough, with some speed and some lateral quickness. He may be the Jets leading receiver on Sunday, but if that happens it will be because Gase’s system targets the slot position and because there just isn’t anyone else to throw to.

On defense a way under the radar guy is defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers. He played for the Rams as a rookie in 2018, then was picked up by the Jets when the Rams cut him in 2019. Franklin-Myers missed the entire 2019 season with injuries. He got his first chance with the Jets last week, and he was fairly impressive, producing three QB hits in just 17 snaps. With little in the way of competition as an interior pass rusher on the Jets outside of last year’s first round pick Quinnen Williams, Franklin-Myers has an opportunity to carve out a role on this team as a pass rusher. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him cause a few problems this week for the Colts in the pass rush, though the Colts excellent offensive line may negate that possibility.

Thanks to MacGregor for answering my questions thoughtfully and in detail.