Spotlight Matchup: Mark Sanchez vs. the Colts’ Pass Defense

After a huge win agains the Packers this past Sunday, the Colts will take on the circus in New York on Sunday. 

The Jets have had their problems in 2012, being extremely disappointing after a blowout win against Buffalo in Week 1. 

A lot of the problems have stemmed from the Jets most visible problem: quarterback. Mark Sanchez continues to be a terrible excuse for an NFL quarterbak, completing less than 50% of his passes for the last four weeks and throwing five interceptions in the last three weeks. Eventually, the Jets will likley turn to backup quarterback Tim Tebow, as poor as his statistical record may be.

But, for this week, the Jets are sticking with Sanchez as their starter, and the Colts will certainly see more of him than they do Tebow. A big factor in who wins this game will be whether or not the Colts’ defensive backs can force Sanchez to five game streak of a passer rating of under 70. 

 A huge part of this matchup will be injuries. 

For the Colts, starting cornerback Vontae Davis sat out Wednesday’s practice once again, and is still questionable for Sunday’s game. 

The Jets are considerably thinner, as four receiving targets were limited or did not practice on Wednesday: TE Dustin Keller (has missed four games), WR Stephen Hill (has missed two games), WR Jeremy Kerley (illness), and WR Clyde Gates (injured in Monday night’s game).

The availability of these players will change things, but nevertheless, there are two things we know about the two rosters. 

A. The Colts have one of the thinnest cornerback groups in the league. While Cassius Vaughn and Josh Gordy played well on Sunday, neither has shown anything long-term that would give evidence that we should trust them yet. 

B. The Jets have one of the worst group of receivers in the league. It’s gotten to the point that even CB Antonio Cromartie is playing wide receiver at times.

With those points, let me clarify, I think the Colts cornerbacks, especially if Davis is healthy, should be able to succeed. Jerraud Powers, while having a poor game on Sunday, is still a solid cornerback, and with the Jets number one receiver, Santonio Holmes, out for the game, he’ll likely be facing the likes of Jeremy Kerley in this week’s matchup. I like Powers chances there, along with the rest of the backfield. Rookie WR Stephen Hill could give the Colts problems if they don’t keep a safety watching him, as he has the straight line speed to burn a defense deep. 

A bigger concern for the passing game, if he plays, is TE Dustin Keller. He’s shown he can be a reliable target, catching 65 passes last year for over 800 yards. Remember, that is with Sanchez throwing him the ball. 

The Colts linebackers have struggled in coverage at times this year, and covering Keller should be a bigger focus than taking care of any of the wide receivers. 

While this isn’t the only key matchup of the game, it’s one that I’m extremely interested in watching this weekend, and in my opinion, is a key one for the rest of this season. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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