Indianapolis Colts: 5 Players to Watch on Sunday
Indianapolis Colts: 5 Guys to Watch on Sunday
The Indianapolis Colts are coming off of one of the most emotional wins in franchise history. They were saying all week they wanted to win the game for their ailing head coach and deliver a game ball to his hospital room after the game.
The Colts did just that in their 30-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers and did it in epic fashion. They trailed by 18 points entering the second half and came back to win the game with a four yard Reggie Wayne touchdown with just under 20-seconds left to give the Colts the three point win.
Now, they will try and keep the momentum going and win their first road game under the new era. They’re banged up right now, but if they’re going to be banged up at any point of the season it’s during this stretch.
The New York Jets are struggling mightily and coming into this game the exact opposite as the Colts. The Colts are pumped up emotionally and have tons of motivation going forward. The Jets are losers of three of the last four games and struggling to put points on the board.
The Jets are also banged up in losing most of their playmakers for not just this game but for a lot of games going forward. They have no playmakers on offense and have to rely on their pass defense. Their rush defense ranks 31st out of 32 teams so that’s a problem as well.
If the Colts are going to win on Sunday they need to bury the Jets early and rely on these five players.
The rookie quarterback keeps getting better and better by the week. This week he needs to do exactly what he did against the Packers. Luck doesn’t need to force throws or put the ball in bad situations. The Jets are good in coverage and will exploit mistakes. If Luck serves up bad passes they will capitalize.
Luck just needs to be a game manager on Sunday and not get into trouble. If he’s not given much a punt is okay and rely on the defense to stop the horrid Jets offense. If he can limit his turnovers and maximize the Colts’ possessions I have no doubt in my mind the Colts will win.
Where Luck can make his presence known is scrambling. The Jets give up room for a quarterback to roam and there’s not another quarterback in the AFC that’s better than Luck right now in escaping the pocket. Luck has an AFC high 104 yards on the ground on 16 attempts. If the pocket breaks down then expect Luck to gain some big yards.
Another good thing about escaping out of the pocket is it breaks down coverage in the secondary. The Jets use a lot of single coverage and if Luck gets someone to help he will have wide open targets downfield.
I think the game starts with how well Luck can manage it.
The rookie is getting his first crack at an NFL start. He only has 21 carries for 42 yards this year and will be thrown into the spotlight Sunday. Ballard is filling in for the injured Donald Brown who is out 2-3 weeks. The coaching staff said the job is Ballard’s but if he struggles they will lean on second year man Delone Carter.
Ballard needs to gain big yardage early. The Jets rank 31st and if he can break a couple of runs early that will set the running game and play action up the rest of the day. That will keep the Jets on their toes and allow the Colts to do whatever they need to do.
New York gives up 172 yards per game on the ground and the Colts need to utilize that weakness on their opponent. The Colts have an opportunity of gaining over 100 yards on the ground for the third straight game and honestly should do that.
Ballard is going to be the biggest key of this game. If he can get going then the Colts will win. If not, it’s going to be a slugfest all day.
If you would have told me before the season started that the Colts are going to be hanging their hat on defense in Week 6 on an undrafted free agent that’s 26 years old and has no NFL experience I would have called you crazy. But, that’s exactly what the Colts are doing.
The Colts are going to be without linebackers Robert Mathis and Pat Angerer this week and Dwight Freeney is still hobbled. It’s up to Freeman to anchor the defense this week.
Freeman has led the Colts in tackles in every game this season and is up to the task. He not only needs to be a ball hawk, but he needs to get pressure on Mark Sanchez.
The defense in leaning on Freeman to keep the streak going of leading the team in tackles and he needs to lead this defense to shutting down the Jets. Ballard is the key on the offense and Freeman is the key on defense. Who would have thought?
The rookie receiver has came up huge so far this season. He has eight receptions for 165 yards with one touchdown. He’s usually a deep threat for Luck to find and gets big yardage.
Hilton needs to do this again on Sunday.
Reggie Wayne is clearly Luck’s go to target, but he’s going to be blanketed all day by Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie is the only shutdown corner on the Jets roster and you can be they’re going to be paying attention to Wayne.
That leaves the rest of the receivers single covered being defended on guys that aren’t usually playing. The Jets are without Eric Smith in the secondary and Darrelle Revis on the corner spot so they’re going to be real thin.
Hilton is tough to defend in that he’s so fast and should get free quite a bit. He needs to keep up what he’s been doing if not step it up a little more for the passing game to be effective.
Many thought the biggest tight end target for Andrew Luck this season would be his fellow rookie and college teammate Coby Fleener. So far though Dwayne Allen has been the big play target.
Fleener has more receptions 13-10, but Allen has reached the end zone twice while Fleener has yet to score. Both need to come up big, but Allen is going to play a bigger role.
Allen is not only a great receiving option but he’s an even better blocker. He’s going to be big in leading the running charge as the Colts are surely going to not only rush a lot but try and run stretch plays to the outside. When they run to the outside it’s usually on Allen’s side.
Allen could be the key to seal off inside rushers and allow Ballard and the other backs to gain yardage to put them close to first downs. That gives the Colts great opportunities to extend possessions and have better percentages on first downs.
With Allen’s blocking abilities it’s going to set him up to single coverage when he does run routes. It’s also quite likely going to make him wide open on play action as guys are going to have to respect his blocking ability and not drop in coverage.
Allen needs to come up big again on Sunday.