By Abraham Gutierrez
Those who thought the New York Jets’ dominant victory in the 2015 NFL season opener was a fluke better think again. Gang Green improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2011 with yet another stoic defensive effort, this time against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts (20-7), who dropped to 0-2 to start the new season.
First-year head coach Todd Bowles and his staff overwhelmed Chuck Pagano and his bunch, outcoaching them in seemingly every facet of the game. The end result was a 13-point victory on the road, as the J-E-T-S find themselves heading into Week 3 tied for first place atop the AFC East with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
“They’re starting to buy into the system,” Bowles said during his post-game presser. “They get to know what each other can do, and as a result they’re playing faster. We’re trying to make plays and get turnovers, and that’s the easiest way to win a game. We got some tonight and we’re very fortunate.”
The New York Jets defense put its stamp on this game right out of the gate, blitzing Luck seemingly on every down in the hopes of creating turnover opportunities. The result was five takeaways – three interceptions and a two fumble recoveries – as Pep Hamilton’s offensive unit simply had no answer for the pressure the Jets were generating.
“The name of the game is turnovers to keep their score down, regardless of what else happens,” Bowles explained. “They’ve got a good team, they’ve got a good receiver, [and] they’ve got a good quarterback. They’re going to make some plays and we made our plays. We made more than they did tonight.”
Six-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Darrelle Revis showed why he belongs among the NFL’s upper echelon at his position, recording a pair of loose-ball takeaways to go along with an interception. Also recording picks against Luck were safeties, Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor, helping New York win the always-crucial turnover battle, 5-1.
The Colts were limited to 17 first downs and 343 yards of total offense all game, out of which 93 came on the ground and 250 through the air. How dominant was the Jets’ defense Monday night? How about pitching a shutout until the 10:07-mark of the fourth quarter, setup by a dominant first half that included 4 first downs for the Colts, 0-for-6 on third down, and 107 yards of total offense (52 passing, 55 rushing) heading into the break.
While the Jets offense clearly has some things to iron out, Ryan Fitzpatrick & Co. did just enough to get the job done, especially when things got close in the fourth quarter. The journeyman signal-caller finished the game connecting on 65 percent of his passes, going 22-of-34 for 244 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a pick, for a quarterback rating of 93.3.
On a quarter-by-quarter basis, the way the Jets offense earned a letter grade of B- goes as follows: “A” in the first quarter following a TD drive to set the tone; “C” in the second and third stanzas after Fitzpatrick kept throwing into double coverage, which causing Mike Adams to pick him off; and “A” in the fourth quarter after responding to Indy’s first score with a TD of their own (Fitzpatrick throw to Brandon Marshall for a TD with 6:20 left in the game).
“I thought we got close there for a second,” Luck said in retrospect, “credit to them for pulling away. We’ll just keep our eyes down, keep trucking.”
Special Teams: A-
New York’s special teams unit played a rather clean game all-around as well. However, a letter grade of A+ went out of the window when kicker Nick Folk failed to convert on a 48-yard field goal attempt as the first-half clock expired. the 2007 Pro Bowler connected on a 35-yard field goal in the second half, and also help push the Jets lead to 10 with a 46-yard field goal with less than a minute to go in the game.
Coming as no surprise, the Jets coaching staff also deserves a letter grade of A+ for its effort on the road against the 2-time, reigning AFC South champions. As stated above, New York pitched a shutout until there were 10 minutes and seven seconds left in the game. From the opening whistle, Indy was severely outcoached, no one in the Colts’ staff had an answer for the elaborate blitz packages Bowles and his staff put together specifically for this game.
Next up for Bowles and the NY Jets is an interconference showdown with Chip Kelly’s (0-2) Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3. This intriguing contest is scheduled to take place Sunday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.