INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts took care of business against an inferior opponent and will try to carry that momentum into a Week 3 home matchup against the New York Jets on Sunday.
After dropping their opener to the AFC East Division rival Buffalo Bills, the Jets’ messiness continued in a 31-13 home loss to San Francisco. The Colts (1-1) are coming off a 28-11 home win over Minnesota.
Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium is at 4:05 p.m., EDT (CBS-4 TV).
Let’s look at the Jets.
The Jets were banged up before facing the 49ers. Starting wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring) missed the game, and there was already plenty of talent on injured reserve in starting running back Le’Veon Bell (hamstring), starting linebacker Blake Cashman (groin), and rookies in offensive tackle Cameron Clark (knee), receiver Denzel Mims (hamstring), and edge defender Jabari Zuniga (quad).
The 49ers controlled the game on the ground and used it to supplement the passing game in a 31-13 rout at MetLife Stadium. The Jets didn’t score a touchdown until just over a minute remained.
Quarterback Sam Darnold completed 21-of-32 passes (65.6%) for 179 yards (5.6 YPA), one TD, no INTs, and he was sacked once for a passer rating of 90.5.
Without Crowder, Darnold leaned heavily on Chris Hogan (six catches, 75 yards) and Braxton Berrios (six catches, 59 yards, one TD). Outside of the pair, no other receiver exceeded 16 receiving yards.
With Bell on the mend, the Jets are relying on a familiar face in former Colts rusher Frank Gore, who is now the oldest running back to start an NFL game at age 37. Gore rushed 21 times for 63 yards (3.0 avg.).
Rookie La’Mical Perine and fellow young backs Josh Adams and Kalen Ballage combined for 22 yards on five carries (4.4 avg.). The Jets had 29 carries for 104 yards (3.6 avg.).
Jets Passing Defense
49ers quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens had an efficient day, completing 22-of-27 passes (81.5%) for 202 yards (7.5 YPA), two TDs, one INT, and were sacked three times for a quarterback rating of 96.1.
Defensively, Jets slot defender Brian Poole (79.1, one pass breakup), and a pair of linebackers in Neville Hewitt (78.2) and Jordan Jenkins (71.7, 2.0 sack) all had quality grades in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Second-year defensive lineman Quinnen Williams also had a huge breakout game, racking up seven tackles (four for loss), 2.0 sacks and two quarterback hits.
Jets Rushing Defense
49ers running back Raheem Mostert took the opening play of the game 80 yards for a touchdown. He then did it again near the end of the first quarter from 67 yards out, but the play was called back due to a penalty. Fellow running back Jerick McKinnon had another huge gain of 55 yards.
Mostert and McKinnon combined for 169 rushing yards and two TDs on just 11 carries (15.4 avg.). The Jets allowed 182 rushing yards on 29 carries (6.3 avg.) and two TDs.
As you can imagine, PFF didn’t point out many winners in the Jets run defense. Defensive lineman Kyle Phillips earned a grade of 78.6, but Williams was next up with a 71.7.
You can’t talk about the Jets without acknowledging all of the former Colts on their roster — Henry Anderson, Josh Andrews, Tarell Basham, Pierre Desir, Matthias Farley, Frank Gore, Nate Hairston, Thomas Hennessy, Arthur Maulet, Donte Moncrief, Ross Travis, and Quincy Wilson. Former Colts vice president of player personnel Rex Hogan is the Jets’ assistant general manager.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has the seventh-most passing yards (577) as well as an impressive 8.1 yards per pass attempt.
The Colts have been forced to plan on a passing game without slot receiver Parris Campbell (knee) and tight end Jack Doyle (ankle/knee), but rookie receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and tight end Mo Alie-Cox have stepped up. Pittman caught four passes for 37 yards while Alie-Cox had a huge, breakout performance with five catches for 111 yards last week.
The Colts will also throw to receivers T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal as well as running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
The Colts should be plenty capable of having another productive passing game against the Jets. They move their receivers around, which has been an issue for the Jets so far. In Week 1, Buffalo Bills receivers John Brown and Stefon Diggs — both of whom play outside and in the slot — combined for 14 catches, 156 yards, one TD. Last week, 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne (inside and outside) caught four balls for 67 yards.
Alie-Cox could also have another big day, as 49ers tight end Jordan Reed caught seven passes for 50 yards and two TDs against the Jets.
— QB Philip Rivers: 77.5% completions, 577 yards, 8.1 YPA, 2 TD, 3 INT, 2 sacks
— WR T.Y. Hilton: 7 catches (14 targets), 81 yards (11.6 avg.)
— WR Parris Campbell: 6 catches (9 targets), 71 yards (11.8 avg.)
— RB Nyheim Hines: 9 catches (9 targets), 49 yards (5.4 avg.), 1 TD
— TE Mo Alie-Cox: 7 catches (8 targets), 131 yards (18.7 avg.)
If the Jets’ putrid performance against the 49ers is any indicator, Taylor and the Colts backfield could be in for another big performance.
Many people questioned why Colts running back Nyheim Hines was barely used offensively last week after having a great game and scoring twice the week before. This looks like a game where he could be heavily involved again.
In last week’s Jets game on Mostert’s 80-yard TD run, his 67-yard TD that was called back, and McKinnon’s 55-yard run, the 49ers used a toss to the runner on the right-side perimeter with their outside-zone running scheme. The Colts have a very diverse blocking and rushing attack in which they will occasionally use runs of this nature. Both Taylor and Hines have the kind of speed that guys like Mostert and McKinnon bring, so the smart money is the Colts try and pick up some yardage on the outside.
The Jets can stuff the run up the middle, as evidenced by the Bills’ lack of success in Week 1 and Coleman gaining just 12 yards on 14 carries last week.
— RB Jonathan Taylor: 35 carries, 123 yards (3.5 avg.), 1 TD
— RB Jordan Wilkins: 9 carries, 40 yards (4.4 avg.)
— RB Nyheim Hines: 7 carries, 28 yards (4.0 avg.), 1 TD
— QB Philip Rivers: 5 carries, 6 yards (1.2 avg.)
The Jets passing attack isn’t a gaudy one, but if the Colts rely more on zone coverage than man coverage, they will need to swarm to the ball to avoid having soft spots being exposed. Darnold throws a lot of quick throws outside the hashes, which accounts for 37.1% of his pass attempts. Overall, 72.6% of his throws are within 10 yards, so limiting yards after the catch will be important.
Darnold has also got the playmaker gene and will try to keep plays alive, but it doesn’t always work out in his favor. He will force throws off balance when under duress or being brought down, and he has a tendency to short-arm passes, which limits their velocity and allows them to hang there for defenders.
According to PFF, Darnold has an awful passing grade under pressure (39.4), so we may see the Colts bring extra pressure to rattle him. The Colts are tied for third with seven sacks, so this should be a major advantage.
— QB Sam Darnold: 62.7% completions, 394 yards, 5.9 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 4 sacks
— WR Jamison Crowder: 7 catches (13 targets), 115 yards (16.4 avg.), 1 TD
— WR Chris Hogan: 7 receptions (12 targets), 75 yards (10.7 avg.)
— TE Chris Herndon: 7 receptions (11 targets), 42 yards (6.0 avg.)
— WR Braxton Berrios: 6 catches (8 targets), 59 yards (9.8 avg.), 1 TD
The Jets basically have one speed right now, and that’s Gore running up the middle for a few yards.
The Colts currently are tied for the fourth-fewest rushing yards allowed at 85.5 per game, and the Jets are second-to-last in rushing at 78.0 yards per game.
— RB Frank Gore: 27 carries, 87 yards (3.2 avg.)
— RB Le’Veon Bell: 6 carries, 14 yards (2.3 avg.)
— RB La’Mical Perine: 3 carries, 17 yards (5.7 avg.)
— RB Josh Adams: 3 attempts, 8 yards (2.7 avg.), 1 TD
Jets 2020 Key Stats
— 28th in third down conversions (36.0%)
— 28th in rush attempts (22.0 avg.)
— 29th in yards per carry (3.5 avg.)
— 30th in passing (187.5 YPG)
— 31st in scoring (15.0 PPG)
— 31st in rushing (78.0 YPG)
— 32nd in offense (265.5 YPG)
— Tied-5th in sacks (6)
— Tied-7th in takeaways (3)
— 24th in scoring (29.0 PPG)
— 25th in rushing (140.0 YPG)
— 28th in third down conversions (51.9%)
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(Jake Arthur has covered the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for nearly a decade and is a contributor for the team’s official website, Colts.com. He’s on Twitter and Facebook @JakeArthurNFL, and his email is [email protected].)