By Glenn Naughton
Following their season-opening 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium, the Jets travel to Indianapolis to take on a far more formidable opponent in Andrew Luck and the Colts. JetNation.com takes a look at some key battles to watch when the two teams clash in prime time on Monday Night Football.
NT Damon Harrison vs. Colts OC Khaled Holmes- While the Jets defensive line should be able to take advantage of a questionable Colts offensive line, a key to keeping Andrew Luck on the move will be pressure up the middle. Last week against the Buffalo Bills, center Khaled Holmes struggled against the Buffalo pass-rush and surrendered a sack and four hurries according to PFF.com. While Holmes was struggling in his opener, Jets NT Damon Harrison had an outstanding performance against all-world center Alex Mack. If Harrison carries that over to this week, Andrew Luck should be feeling pressure up the middle on a regular basis.
ILB Demario Davis vs. Colts OG’s- Continuing with the above theme, should Harrison play as well as expected, look for Todd Bowles to blitz both A-gaps to create big plays on defense and keep Andrew Luck off balance. The speedy Demario Davis may see some opportunities to penetrate and get after Luck. Even while coping with an injured Antonio Cromartie, a loaded Jets secondary should be able to blanket the Colts receivers meaning Davis and/or David Harris may be called upon to stay “at home” and watch for the speedy Luck who will look to take off when his targets are covered.
CB Darius Butler vs. Jets WR’s- Chan Gailey used his receivers in multiple roles during the opener and that’s something we should see throughout the season. After being beaten several times by the speedy Percy Harvin in week one, Colts cornerback Darius Butler is a player the Jets should look to target. During an interview with JetNation.com, IndyStar.com writer Gregg Doyel discussed Butler and said that while he is a fan of Butler, he’s better suited for slot duty and matching him up against top receivers would give the Jets a clear advantage in that match-up.
Jets interior OL vs. Indy D-Line- Even with his receivers banged up as TY Hilton is not expected to play, Andrew Luck is still one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Look for the Jets line to get a strong push between the tackles and for running back Chris Ivory to take full advantage. Coming off of a strong opener in which Ivory and back-up Bilal Powell ran for a combined 153 yards and two touchdowns, look for a lot of the same this week, especially if Gang Green clamps down on the Colts offense and jumps out to an early lead like the Bills did in getting out to a 24-0 advantage in a hurry.
FS Marcus Gilchrist vs. TE Colby Fleener- Luck and Fleener know each other well from their days together at Stanford and now being teammates with the Colts for what is their fourth pro season together. Fleener’s targets may be limited if the Colts opt to keep him in as an extra blocker against what will likely be heavy pressure, but look for Luck and Fleener to test Jets free safety Marcus Gilchrist when they need to make a play.
The Jets and Colts get under way on Monday night at 8:30 in Indianapolis.