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There aren't many teams that the Jets stack up with very well these days.
Their flaws -- offensive ineptitude, poor run defense -- are pretty easily exploited by most of the teams around the league and their strong pass defense is negated by the route to victory mapped out by those flaws. The Colts appear to be an exception.
Andrew Luck has made quite a splash in his first four NFL games, but the Jets should be able to put up strong resistance to his ability to move the ball through the air. Antonio Cromartie was outstanding against Andre Johnson on Monday night, which bodes well for his matchup with Reggie Wayne while leaving the rest of the pass defense to focus on the secondary options on the Colts offense.
Thanks to a generally weak offensive line and the absence of running back Donald Brown because of knee surgery this week, the Jets' inability to stop the run should be less of a problem than it has been over the last two weeks. That will make it easier to slow down Luck and it should provide the Jets with an opportunity to control the ball for long stretches.
After watching the Jets this season, it's hard to feel too confident about their ability to pull that off. You don't even getting into the fallacy that is the passing game right now to feel that way, although in must be noted that the absence of Robert Mathis from the Colts defense should make it easier to keep the pass rush at bay and at least give the Jets a shot at throwing the ball effectively.
Controlling the ball and the pace of the game is going to take a running game that has yet to show its face this season. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano thinks that is about to change.
"We're really close," Sparano said. "I think the players can see the film and they know how close we are to getting some of these out of there. When they start to come, I have no question they’ll start to come big and this thing will open up more."
While we've long ago ceased to believe anything out of the mouths of the Jets, this would be the week for such a thing to happen. The Colts give up almost five yards per carry, by far the most of any non-Bills Jets opponent to this point this season, and particularly struggle when they are playing in their base defense.
So it would be a good weekend for the Jets to live up to their boasts of being a Ground and Pound offense and send the whole shabang at the Colts. Run Shonn Greene in hopes of seeing some sign of the No. 1 back the Jets claim he is, run Bilal Powell to see if maybe he's a closer fit for that role and run Joe McKnight in hopes that his speed can allow him to make plays in space.
And run Tim Tebow when you need to pick up a few yards for a first down or a touchdown because that's something he does well and the team needs to either embrace him or just stop using him altogether. Run until the Colts show some sign that they'll stop you and then use that run to set up the play-action passing that has long been the strongest part of Sanchez's game.
The Jets have lacked any kind of cohesive offensive identity this season. This weekend gives them a chance to change that while winning a game that they really need to have if they want to make the second half of this season about something other than perusing mock drafts.
While the Jets have a somewhat easier schedule going forward, there are still two games against the Patriots and trips to Seattle and newly frisky St. Louis in the future. Dropping to 2-4 would leave the Jets with very little chance of turning things around enough to wind up in the playoffs.
That may be a long shot at 3-3, but at least there's still reason to hope. That reason will be even more compelling if the Jets get there by actually playing like the team they claim to be.