The Jets face a very winnable game on Sunday against the 2-2 Colts, who are coming off an emotional win last week. The Colts were playing for head coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia in early October and still continues to break down film from the hospital.
Can the Colts maintain their high from last week’s game?
Three things to watch for …
1. It is Wayne’s world
Remember when all the pundits said Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was washed up? Well, the soon to be 34-year-old Wayne is having the last laugh. Wayne had 13 catches for 212 yards as well as a touchdown in a shocking win over the Packers last Sunday. That’s bad news for the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, who might be wishing he was the team’s No.2 wide receiver this Sunday and not on defense.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Reggie. He’ll probably get challenged from Antonio Cromartie, who has played very well against him in the past. Now his position has changed. Reggie is in the slot now and we move him around a lot more so that he can’t just be focused on a wide receiver playing bump and run all the time,” Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians said. “If that’s the matchup they want to play, then he’ll have to follow him and run all over the field in a different position than he’s normally used to.”
In his 12th year in the NFL, Wayne has 36 catches for 506 yards, which would put him on pace for career highs in both categories.
2. Establishing the run
The Jets talked about being a “ground and pound” team all offseason. So far this year, that hasn’t been the case. The Jets are the No. 22 rushing offense, averaging just 83 yards per game on the ground and just 3.2 yards per carry. The Colts are still expecting that the Jets team they faced in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 that liked to run the ball will try to do the same thing this Sunday.
“First and foremost, is they try to establish the run to create the chance to throw the ball down the field [with] a little sprinkle of [Tim] Tebow,” Colts defensive end Cory Redding said. “That’s pretty much what we are expecting. We will see what the game kind of predicts on Sunday.”
3. A better passing offense
It wasn’t a great performance on Monday night against the Texans, but Mark Sanchez and the passing offense was better than in Week 4 against the 49ers. Tight end Dustin Keller will return and wide receiver Stephen Hill is a possibility, giving Sanchez two legitimate targets. Keller in particular is a favorite of Sanchez and the nagging hamstring injury that has kept him off the field since Week 1 greatly impacted the offense.
“It’s huge. That’s great news,” Sanchez said. “Any of those guys we can get back is always a plus.”
Last year, Keller had a career-high 65 catches for 815 yards and tied a career mark with five touchdowns. His presence on the field should help the Jets move the ball more effectively.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.