The New York Jets will bully the Indianapolis Colts on the ground in Week 6.
The New York Jets are built to run the football and the Indianapolis Colts aren’t built to stop it. It’s a combination spelling trouble for the Colts when they visit MetLife Stadium in Week 6.
A lightweight Indy defensive front is set to be pounded by a Jets rushing attack averaging 135 yards per game. The Jets are coming off a 323-yard rushing bonanza against the Denver Broncos last week.
Those numbers came against a defensive line lacking intimidating size. The Colts have the same problem after switching to a 4-3 on the watch of first-year coordinator Matt Eberflus for this season.
Eberflus is running a speed-based, Tampa 2-style 4-3 much like the one he learned as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. The scheme is dependant on swarming pursuit and quickly shooting gaps to get behind the line of scrimmage.
These principles demand lighter, more active players up front. The Colts have them in the form of D-tackles Denico Autry and Margus Hunt.
Both are converted ends who don’t break the 300-pound bracket. Al Woods and Stewart Grover can add beef, but neither sees the field often in a scheme designed more for stopping the pass than snuffing out the run.
The Jets can expose the lack of mite in tights along the interior of Indy’s D-line. Each of New York’s five starters along the offensive line tip the scales at over 300 pounds.
There is formidable strength along the interior thanks to left guard James Carpenter, 6’5″, 321 and right guard Brian Winters, 6’4″, 320. The latter is becoming a favorite convoy for leading rusher Isaiah Crowell:
He helped himself to 219 yards against the Broncos, and Crowell is set for another big day provided he’s healthy. The former Cleveland Browns starter is trying to fend off an ankle problem, per NJ.com’s Darryl Slater (h/t RotoWire and CBSSports.com)
Even if Crowell is out, versatile Bilali Powell will be too much for the Colts to handle. Powell put 99 yards on the Broncos, and his speed through holes can lead to big plays on the ground.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter much who runs the ball behind a line among the best in the league at getting to and staying on defenders:
The Colts will have trouble getting off blocks if their linebackers can’t stay clean. Rookie Darius Leonard is a budding star, but he’s also a relatively slender 234 pounds.
Letting linebackers run freely to the ball is difficult for a front seven struggling to set hard edges. Ends like 253-pound rookie Kemoko Turay and veteran Jabaal Sheard don’t have the size or hard-nosed style to stand up blockers or effectively two-gap.
Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates would be smart to keep the ball out of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s hands as much as possible. Instead, Bates can load up with tight ends and extra blockers in run-heavy formations and keep Colts QB Andrew Luck off the field.
The Jets can simply trample all over a front seven ill-equipped to take a pounding in the trenches.