AFC Championship: COLTS vs JETS

The AFC Title game- Jets vs Colts.  Questions and Answers with Wonder and ’18 to 88′ Colts blog.

Wonder- the NFL guru and Jets expert who is featured here on UltimateNYG regularly throughout the season.
DZ- blogger for the Indianapolis Colts at Bloguin.
The two faced off in a Q&A about this weekend’s AFC Championship.  DZ’s answers to Wonder’s questions are below.  You can find Wonder’s answers to DZ’s questions on the Colts site, 18 to 88.

Defense:

Q1) How are the Colts going to handle the Jets bread and butter (Power Inside Trap with Faneca pulling)?  This was the play on 4th and 1, everyone knew it was coming, could not stop it, got 3 yards.  They won’t.  If I’m the Jets, I run on every third and fourth and short.  Indy has been better in recent weeks at stopping short runs, but I would take it right at the center of the Indy defense.  The Colts are built to stop third and long, not third and short.  That being said, the Jets will have to run better on first and second down than they did against the Chargers on Sunday in order to set up those short yardage plays.

Q2) How are the Colts going to handle Nick Mangold, as he controls half the line of scrimmage?  Again, they probably won’t.  Indy will be content to force 4.5 yards a carry and give the Jets ground yardage. Their goal is to force a team to take 10-15 plays to score, knowing that most teams will commit a penalty, turnover, or other mistake first. Mangold will manhandle whoever he blocks, but Colts DTs are mostly there to take up space so the LBs can make plays.

Q3) How do you see the Colts handling the Tiger Cat formation with Brad Smith?  If the Jets use Tiger Cat to smash the ball up the middle like Miami did, it will be effective.  From what I’ve seen, they try to run more outside that way, and that will fail miserably.  The Colts defense is insanely fast so runs wide aren’t successful against them.  If I’m the Jets I stow the trick play nonsense and just smash the ball up the middle.
Q4) Do you believe the Colts safeties can tackle Shonn Greene when/if he breaks through the first line of defense?  Yes.  Both safeties are excellent players.  Indy’s D is built to stop the long run, the big play.  Chris Johnson and Ray Rice couldn’t break off big runs against the Indy safeties, so we have little fear of Shonn Greene. 
Q5) What exotic coverage schemes do you see the Colts using to confuse Sanchez into making a critical error?  Indy’s coverage over the top is pretty straight forward.  They will go after Sanchez with pressure from the front four.  Their favorite trick is to fake the blitz with Brackett or Session, but have them peel off into coverage to take away the TE or RB.  That has led to many turnovers this year, as the QB focuses in on the LB that does blitz, and misses that one of them didn’t rush.  The Colts don’t try to out-scheme teams.  They are built on out-executing teams.
Offense: 
Q1) Do you feel that IND needs to run the ball at all effectively to help Peyton Manning maintain the balance to drive the ball down the field?  No.  Indy rushed for 100 yards as a team just 6 times in their recent 23 game winning streak.  They dominated Baltimore despite just 42 yards rushing for about 2 yards a carry.  Rushing the football is sort of irrelevant.
Q2) Do you believe the Jets disguised blitzing schemes will at all hurt or confuse Manning?  In the first game, Manning threw no picks, was not sacked, and was only hit once.  He has played a Rex Ryan D (all ranked in the top 5) each of the past five years.  He has 9 TDs, 2 picks and a rating 106 against him.  Ryan has yet to confuse Manning at all, so I don’t expect him to this week either.
Q3) The Jets rate to lock Revis on Wayne.  Do you believe Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon can get the job done vs Shepherd, Strickland and Lowery?  I don’t think it’s a given that Revis locks down Wayne.  Wayne had three catches and an interference penalty against him in the first game, and Manning missed him when he was open three other times.  Aside from that, yes Collie and Garcon will be effective.  Garcon could be deadly…if he hangs on to the ball.  He has a problem with drops, so watch for that. 
Q4) Do you believe that Kerry Rhodes or Jim Leonhard can “contain” Dallas Clark?  No, not even a little bit.  Clark had 4 for 57 in the first game, so the Jets had better figure out a different way to defend him. 
Q5) How many points do you feel the Colts will put up against the Jets defense and is that predicated on a certain number of Jets turnovers?  24 if the Jets don’t turn the ball over.  That would roughly match their projected output from the first game had the starters played the whole game.   If the Jets do turn it over early (which I don’t expect), it could be a lot more.
Q6) What turnover differential do you need for the Colts to win?  (ie even, +1, -1, etc..)   As long as Indy does no worse than -1, I don’t think the Jets can win the game.  If the margin is even or in Indy’s favor, it could get ugly.
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