We’ve traded questions and answers with Brian Bassett of the Jets Blog. My answers will go live at 9 AM EST
1. Ladainian Tomlinson came out the gates running this year, looking like an old version of himself. And then the tank ran out of gas. Shonn Greene has struggled and last week we saw Joe McKnight run over Buffalo for over 150 yards. What can we expect from the Jets run game come Saturday night?
Before last week, McKnight’s had only seen seven touches all season, so while I don’t see him being a big part of the gameplan, I do think that his speed and the turf could get him a handful of touches. As far as LT, while he’s definitely cooled off, he’s been a great checkdown for the young QB, something he didn’t have last year. As far as Greene, his stats haven’t made eyes pop, but they’ve been clutch yards to help get first downs or set up shorter throws, so even in the meantime And while his stats haven’t really wowed anyone, I would say that Shonn Greene has actually been more “clutch” than stats heavy over the past few weeks.
All in all, I think the Jets running game will be OK and should be able to move the ball well during the course of the game.
2. Dustin Keller also started the season on fire and then just seemed to fall off the grid. What led to his decline as the season went on and how do you think he factors into this match up against the Colts?
From what I’ve seen, I believe that Santonio Holmes’ return from suspension was a big part of it, but I also think it was a question of how the two were working together. They seemed to be getting back in synch against the Bears, and since Indiana is home for Keller, he might be extra focused this weekend.
3. After battling injuries all year, the Colts finally have a healthy stable of running backs in Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, and Dominic Rhodes. How concerned are you about the resurgent Indy ground game?
The Jets have been pretty good against the run all season, but I do think that the Manning factor is more what concerns me when it comes to the run. I know that Peyton will often take what the defense will give him, so I’m more concerned about when Manning decides it’s best to run the ball against the Jets. I think that was a big factor last year in the AFC Championship game (Addai ran for 80 yards), and could be again Saturday night.
4. I think Colts fans are well aware of Brad Smith and all that he does. With Mark Sanchez still banged up, how worried should Colts fan be about the Jets throwing in some trick plays or using the wildcat to get the ball in Smith’s hands?
The Jets try and give Smith about 3-5 option style plays a game. This season, the Jets have been experimenting more with an unbalanced formation. Meaning that their LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson will kick over to the TE spot on the right side. The Jets have enjoyed running this play, and then catching opponents with a back-breaking counter play after setting it up a time or two.
With Smith, while his runs are not all long gainers, when they are long … they’re REALLY long. Smith is at his absolute best when he’s in open space, and over the five years he’s been on the team, they’ve really learned how best to utilize him in that regard. While Freeney & Mathis are excellent blitzers, I do think that the Colts will have to pay attention to getting their DEs reeled in too far and thus allowing Smith more space to maneuver on the edges of the formation.
5. And lastly, Rex Ryan does a lot of talking. We all know this, and the Colts pretty much pay no attention to it at all. I know it’s part of his persona, and its part of motivating the team, but as a Jets fan (and blogger) at what point do you wish Ryan would quit talking and just have his team go out and win footbal games?
Well … I understand that most organizations flipflop from players coach to disciplinarian back and forth, but the Jets had a coach like that before this one, and it wasn’t really working. So just like anything in New York, winning covers a multitude of sins. And if a coach isn’t winning, at least the press is willing to overlook some of the losing if a coach is forthcoming. So far, Rex has gone to the playoffs two years in a row, so I’ll say that’s heading in the right direction. Beyond that, from what I hear on the beat, the players really and truly do love playing for him, which helps.