There are five teams with a divisional record of 2-0: San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, and your New York Jets. After two straight losses, the Jets invite Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to Metlife Stadium to close out a string of three straight home games. It would be good for the team to put a win in their back pocket before they travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots.
With a 2-3 record, the undermanned Jets can’t afford to look ahead.
Injuries have torn through the Jets locker room like stomach flu, leaving no one immune from a trip to the trainer’s table. The team’s number one receiver (Santonio Holmes) and the league’s number one defensive back (Darrelle Revis) are most-likely done for the season. The team’s second-round draft pick Stephen Hill, starting fullback John Conner and Sanchez’s security blanket, TE Dustin Keller, are still trying to fight their way onto the field after pulling hamstrings. With all the injuries to receivers, I’m surprised Mark Sanchez doesn’t need to introduce himself during offensive meetings. Sanchez has Chaz Schilens, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Jason Hill, Jeff Cumberland & Konrad Reuland as his receiving core, with Antoino Cromartie making a guest appearance when called upon. To make the already thin team even thinner, DB Eric Smith sprained his knee in practice on Wednesday and won’t play on Sunday. Rookie Josh Bush will be called upon to backup LeRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Kendrick Ellis is out four to six weeks with a sprained MCL. Probowl center Nick Mangold hasn’t practiced all week because of the ankle he injured during the Texans game, however all reports have him good to go for game day. Sione Pouha is still struggling with a bad lower-back, and will likely miss the game against the Colts.
Every team deals with injuries and each year it seems one team gets hit harder than others. Teams try not to use them as excuses, but it obviously changes the dynamic of teams when starter after starter is yanked from the lineup. Andrew Luck and the Colts offense have been luckier than the Jets in this respect, with almost all of their skill players present and accounted for. Former UCONN star and Colts starting RB Donald Brown will miss three weeks after having knee surgery. Vick Ballard, a rookie out of Mississippi State will get the start against the Jets. Gang Green is giving up an average of a little over 172 yards a game, which ranks them 31 out of 32 teams.
Luck has looked every bit the can’t-miss QB everyone swore he would be coming out of Stanford, and is improving in the pro game with each passing week. Last week’s comeback win against the Green Bay Packers is indicative of Luck’s grasp of the pro game. He showed the poise at the end of a game some NFL QBs have yet to master, as he threw for a career-high 362 yards, and a TD pass to Reggie Wayne with seconds left on the clock to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The Colts scored 27 points in the second half against the once-mighty Packers to even their record at 2-2.
The Jets will need to do what they haven’t been able to do all season, run the football. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game this season. Sanchez hasn’t had the help he needs from his receivers, with balls glancing of their hands for interceptions or just flat-out drops. The defense has given up runs that flip the field and lead to easy points for their opponents. The pass defense hasn’t suffered as much as expected with the absence of Revis, but teams will continue to test Kyle Wilson as well as use three-receiver sets to take advantage of the team’s lack of secondary depth. Jeremy Kerley has a punt return for TD and Joe McKnight has a kickoff return for TD, while Nick Folk has been money all year. Tim Tebow has converted two fake punts into first downs, a valuable weapon that will keep the opponent’s punt rush on edge. The Jets will need a total team effort to put down the Colts on Sunday, and that includes the coaching staff. It was great to see the coaches using some creativity against the Texans, even though they didn’t win the game. I hope this is a sign of things to come.
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