New York Jets Find Coal in Playoff Stocking, Get Rematch with Indianapolis Colts
When the New York Jets got word that the Kansas City Chiefs were getting upended by the Oakland Raiders, 31-10, they couldn't be very happy.
Rex Ryan said during his press conference that the Jets had been preparing for a Saturday night game, his way of saying boastfully that the Jets were expecting the Indianapolis Colts the entire time. Sure Rex.
Ryan then added, "I think we are the best team in the playoffs."
Good luck trying to do that against the Colts, Patriots and Steelers, three teams that have been to eight Super Bowls in the last 10 years, winning six of them.
Lets face it, the Jets didn't want to face the Colts in the first round.
The Kansas City Chiefs, for as good as their offense is (ninth in the NFL, with the No. 1 rushing attack), have next to zero playoff experience from the head coach, Todd Haley, down to the players.
A team as young as the Chiefs could be ripe for the picking.
Instead, the Jets have to face the same Colts team that beat them in the AFC title game a year ago.
Is this assignment nearly impossible?
No. The Colts are not the nearly as unstoppable as they were in years past.
The old Colts teams used to rip defenses apart with Manning throwing to a plethora of wide receivers from Reggie Wayne to Dallas Clark and Austin Collie, and Marvin Harrison before that.
However, this year's Colts are beaten up.
Twelve starters have missed time on the Colts roster, and their receiving corps is decimated. Collie has missed most of the year due to concussions. Early in the season Collie was developing in a nice security blanket for Manning hauling in 27 receptions for 359 yards and four touchdowns.
Once he was gone, Manning had to look toward rookie Blair White, who had a pretty uneven year at the slot receiver.
The biggest lose for Indy, has to be Dallas Clark. Clark went on injured reserved after week six due to a wrist injury. Clark has built a reputation as Manning's second target after Reggie Wayne. Last year, Clark caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards; without him, the Colts passing game has hurt a bit this year.
However, as the Jets come into this game, it will extremely difficult for them to win.
Manning has ripped up Rex Ryan coached defenses in his career, throwing for 597 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career against a Rex Ryan defense. Plus, Manning is 2-0 against Ryan.
Manning is known for figuring out defenses and carving them up as the game wears on. Last year in the AFC Title game, Manning was beaten up by the Jets in the first half, who sacked him twice en route to a 17-6 lead. However, in the second half, Manning threw three second half touchdowns, as the Colts won 30-17.
Who Will Win Saturday Night?
Keep in mind that was against a Jets defense that was ranked No. 1 in the NFL last year. This year, the Jets defense is not as good.
Forget about the Jets 38-7 thrashing of the Bills on Sunday, that was against a third string quarterback for Buffalo, and the Jets didn't play many of their starters.
Coming into their week 17 finale, the Jets defense had given up 300 yards per game and 19.8 points per game, and have surrendered 24 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions.
They have struggled in pressuring opposing quarterbacks all season.
Just look back to their losses to the Bears and Patriots.
Jay Cutler had all day to throw on the Jets defense, and even admitted afterwards that the Jets defense was easy to figure out in the second half. Cutler threw three long touchdown passes as the Bears erased a 24-10 deficit to beat the Jets 38-34.
As for the Patriots, what can one say. Tom Brady ate up the Jets secondary, throwing for 326 yards and four touchdowns and only got sacked when the game was completely out of reach in the Patriots 45-3 victory.
Even in games the Jets came back and won against Cleveland and Houston, Matt Schuab and Colt McCoy had all day to pick apart the Jets defense, bringing their teams back to either tie or take the lead on the Jets.
The big problem is that the Jets lack a solid edge pass rush. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas led the team with six sacks each, but neither player was a real threat to get to the quarterback, and as the season wore on Sean Ellis and Jason Taylor virtually disappeared.
For as good as combo Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie can be, the fact that nobody throws in Revis' direction, and the fact that Revis has been hobbled by a hamstring injury for much of the year has allowed opposing quarterbacks to check down on the Jets defense and tear them up on slants and crossing patterns all season long.
Expect Manning to take advantage of the Jets porous defense. Outside of Revis and Cromartie, the Jets linebackers have shown they can't cover anybody, and with the loss of Jim Leonhard to a broken leg, there is no solid safety's to punish the small slot receivers.
Finally the offense.
Rex Ryan claimed after the Bills game that Sanchez got into a rhythm against Buffalo. Nice try Rex, it's hard to imagine his young quarterback getting into much of a rhythm when he didn't throw a single pass Sunday.
Sanchez has been bothered by a sore shoulder since the Pittsburgh Steelers game. He was able to lead the Jets to a victory in Pittsburgh, and was excellent against the Bears defense in Chicago, but he has admitted that his shoulder was "very sore," even after the Bills game, and according to Neil Best of Newsday, the Jets doctors and Sanchez are mulling the idea of offseason surgery.
Not only will Sanchez have to deal with the sore shoulder, as well as the blitzes of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on Saturday, he will have to overcome his disturbing reputation to play poorly after a long layoff.
Even though he took eight snaps on Sunday, it was not enough to count it as anything more than a bye week.
Remember in Week 1, Sanchez looked sloppy, throwing for only 74 yards against the Ravens; then after a bye week, he threw two picks in a 9-0 loss to the Packers.
The Jets offense as a whole has really struggled coming off long layoffs, and the Buffalo game was a virtual bye week. The only Jets that are going into the Colts game on a head of steam would be Mark Brunell and Joe McKnight, and neither will play in Indy.
Not to forget, that the offense has been a Jekyll and Hyde all year. Fans have complained about the Jets lack of a running game. The Jets averaged 4.1 yards per game between LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, but have been seldom utilized in crucial situations this year.
Then there are the horrible games Sanchez had against New England and Miami, as the quarterback threw four picks and only 380 yards in those two games, as Gang Green went eight quarters without scoring a single offensive touchdown.
Can the Jets take advantage of the Colts defense? Absolutely. They are not a great defense, and with both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, the Jets should eat up chunks of yards, and will put points on the board to keep the Jets in this game, that is if Brian Scottenheimer is willing to challenge the Colts.
Sure the Jets can win, but Gang Green's disturbing reputation this year to blow big leads (i.e. Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Houston), fail to pressure the quarterback, poor tackling in the secondary, and inconsistent play from the offense makes it extremely difficult to envision the Jets coming away with the win.
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