There was a plethora of things that went wrong on Sunday afternoon.
You don’t lose 35-9 against a team with serious issues becuause of a few lucky breaks. The Colts lost because they have multiple issues on both sides of the ball, in coaching, and they had a few unlucky bounces.
One of the most noticable issues the Colts had against the Jets was their complete inability to get anything going in the ground game. The Colts should have had a chance to get something going on Sunday, but they never did.
First, the Colts should have been able to run at least a little bit this week.
Before this game, the Jets were allowing 4.9 yards per game and over 170 yards per game in the rushing column. Football Outsiders gave the Jets a 0.1% run defense DVOA, 22nd in the league.
Last week, against a Green Bay defense that has been statistically better than the Jets against the run all year, the Colts had their best running game all year, as Donald Brown was able to run 17 times for 84 yards, and Luck added another 24 yards on six carries.
Everything pointed to the Colts’ ground game starting to get on track.
This week though, the Colts never established a rhythm running the ball, and thus got stuck with no support for Andrew Luck in the pass game.
Vick Ballard, Delone Carter, and Mewelde Moore shared the load on Sunday, getting 8, 4, and 3 carries for a total of 43 yards for a less than 3 yard per carry average.
Against a team that has struggled so mightily against the runs, it was astonishing how little the Colts tested the New York defense in the run game. In the entire first half, the Colts never attempted more than two traditional runs on the same drive. Vick Ballard gained five and four yards on his first two carries, and then ran the ball just two more times in the half (3 and 1 yard gains). In the second half it was a little different, as the Colts were down so much they needed some quick scores, but the first half remains a mystery.
Yes, the Colts missed Donald Brown. None of the other three backs have his speed or ability to bounce a run outside for ten yards, something he did with ease against the Packers. With the other three running backs on Sunday, the Colts did not run for a single first down on Sunday, after running for eight against the Packers.
Even with the drop in talent from Brown to the other backs, the Colts coaches complete lack of commitment to the run was embarrassing, handing off to the running backs just seven times in the first half, compared to dropping back to pass on 19 plays. There is no semblance of balance there, and there is no threat for the other team to bite on play action.
For a team that struggles to get its wide receivers open, play action is a must. For play action to work, you have to at least pretend to try and run the ball.
The Colts didn’t do that on Sunday, and it didn’t help their chances at winning. Not one bit.