For the third time this season, the Jets got major contributions from all three phases of the game, leading to a 42-34 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Let’s take a look at Gang Green’s report card:
Darnold played his best game as a pro, completing 80% of his passes while throwing a pair of touchdowns and just one interception. The INT is what stops this from being an A+, but that’s splitting hairs at this point. For the first time in the lives of many Jets fans, this team has a franchise quarterback.
Running Backs: C
Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell combined for 99 yards on 29 carries. Nowhere near as good as last week, but it was enough to keep the Colts defense honest.
Wide Receivers: B
Jermaine Kearse had his best game of the season as he became Darnold’s primary target once Quincy Enunwa left the game with an ankle injury following a fumble. Kearse would finish with 9 receptions for 94 yards. Robby Anderson also dropped what would have been a gorgeous TD pass from Darnold. Terrelle Pryor picked up another TD grab as part of his 5 catches for 57 yards.
Tight Ends: A
It’s time for this group to start getting the credit they deserve in the blocking game. Jeremy Bates has used tons of 2 and 3 TE sets to give Sam Darnold added protection and it’s paid off big time. Chris Herndon made an acrobatic catch with Malik Hooker in his hip pocket while also hauling in his first TD as a pro. Herndon is going to be a good one.
Offensive Line: B+
No, they didn’t pave the way for over 300 yards on the ground, but as mentioned above, they did enough to keep the Colts defense honest in the run game. In the passing game, Darnold consistently had time to set up in the pocket and deliver the ball on time. The unit allowed just two sacks. Not a bad day at all.
Defensive Line: C
Leonard Williams appeared to have a quiet day on the stat sheet, but the film will show otherwise as he made some key plays, specifically putting an offensive lineman in Andrew Luck’s lap on what led to a Darron Lee interception. Henry Anderson looked to have some pressures and Steve McClendon made some quality plays. Failure to get to the QB and the Colts having stretches in which they seemed to run the ball at will make this a “C”.
Interceptions for Avery Williamson and Darron Lee were huge as the duo continue to impact the game from the middle of the defense. Lee also led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo). Not much from the outside ‘backers today but Brandon Copeland made a couple of big plays while Jeremiah Attaouchu looked to get some good push in the pocket on several plays.
Colts tight ends got open to make some big plays, but Jamal Adams had a pair of tipped passes, one of which led to Morris Claiborne’s interception and return for a score to get things going for the Jets. Adams would also force a fumble and knock Colts running back Robert Turbin out of the game on the same play. Marcus Maye left the game with an injury to his right hand and will have X-rays on Monday.
Claiborne’s touchdown helps this group’s grade immensely, but as much fun as the win was, it’s a bit worrisome that the Jets secondary allowed Andrew Luck to throw for 301 yards and 4 touchdowns with no proven receivers to throw to. It was a rough day for Parry Nickerson who was beaten several times, including a 34-yard touchdown early on in which he appeared to be expecting safety help that wasn’t there.
Special Teams: A+
Jason Myers set a franchise record with seven filed goals. If that doesn’t carry the unit to a top grade, nothing will.
Even with a pair of corners down in Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine, the leaky secondary that allowed over 300 yards was a bit worrisome. That aside however, the Jets wisely stuck to the run in the second half to chew up clock and keep the Colts offense off the field. Jeremy Bates hasn’t exactly abandoned the rollout calls, but we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in recent weeks, giving Darnold a larger field, meaning more viable targets. The defense was stellar in the red zone and had a couple of huge stops early on that ended up paying huge dividends when all was said and done.