Week 2 of the NFL regular season is underway and for the Indianapolis Colts it’s their home opener on Monday Night Football on ESPN. The game will be similar to last week’s opponent the Buffalo Bills, so the Colts will have their hands full with the New York Jets. Indianapolis came into last week’s opener with huge expectations, but unfortunately they came out and laid the proverbial egg. Some analysts, fans, and those who fall somewhere in between wrote the loss off as a “bad match-up” or a team facing a “buzzsaw”. Although those arguments have some merit, the team has much to do to get ready for the return of “Revis Island” to the Jets as Indy has much to fix from the opener. Here are some keys to the game that hopefully will lead the team to a victory.
Andrew Luck has to find a way to bounce back from what has to be a disappointment for him in terms of usual stellar play. Luck was unable to find his groove that he normally does in a game, but rather seemed to be extremely bothered by the Bills pressure. Luck is normally able to side-step the pressure or move to a location when blocking breaks down. Last week he seemed to be throwing off his back foot causing some errant passes. Sure he was under duress, but that is often the nature of the league and he normally finds a way to adjust for this type of attack. Luck, to a fault, often stays in the pocket too long. Last week he had some opportunities to pick up some yards with his feet when the play broke down. The other side of the coin is he also has to know when a play is just dead and take the sack or the minimal loss. Sure there is some upside to always keeping the play alive, but it also he opens himself up to some sort of injury in the process.
The Offensive Line has to continue to improve their performance versus a team that is similar in scheme to the Bills. Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort played well blocking the Bills’ edge rushers, but the interior of the line proved to be problematic for the Colts. Khaled Holmes has continued to not live up to his play from last year’s playoffs. Hopefully his play improves or it might be time to give Jonotthan Harrison a shot at center again. Lance Louis simply is not very good and the team should look at other options or this might be a continued problematic area the entire season.
The Offense also need to develop a rhythm or maybe a better way to put it is to establish an identity. We all know that they want to emphasize the running game with Frank Gore, but spotting a good defensive team 24 points before your offense answers is never a good way to win games. If the Colts truly want to pound the rock I’m not sure last week’s game plan was the best method to do that. Clearly yards were going to be a premium and the line wasn’t particularly helpful facilitating the running game, yet the team didn’t seem to make any major adjustments to their game plan. Further compounding the issue was the injury sustained to T.Y. Hilton. The rest of the receiving corp seemed to look pedestrian, especially Andre Johnson who suddenly looked like maybe he lost several steps to his game. I’m not ready to write off Johnson as he is still adjusting to a new scheme and quarterback. Sure, he didn’t look sharp last week, but he has a chance to correct that in front of his new home crowd. Donte Moncrief shouldn’t be lumped in as he played really well and showed some promise despite a general malaise by most of the others on offense.
The Defensive Line/pass rush needs to get going against the Jets. The Bills were able to run at will against the Colts after some early stops by the defense. Chris Ivory will present a challenge as he has paired nicely with the Jets’ offensive line, which has proved to be a huge issue for the boys in blue. The team is extremely inexperienced on the defensive line and have been largely ineffective creating any type of pressure. Someone will have to step up in Robert Mathis‘ absence to pressure the quarterback in order to be successful. The Colts secondary continues to be their strength and this could be the great equalizer against the Jets receivers: Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, but Greg Toler remains a question mark for the game.
The team understands that last week’s game against the Bills was a complete disaster and that this week’s opponent provide an opportunity to correct those issues against a similar foe. The Jets come in with new coach Todd Bowles, yet they retain much of what Rex Ryan brought to “Gang Green”. Head Coach Chuck Pagano knows that the performance wasn’t acceptable and Andrew Luck knows it more than anyone. I don’t expect a blowout and I would think this game will be much closer than some are predicting.
NY Jets 17