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INDIANAPOLIS – In a way, the Jets can thank the Colts for apparently finding their franchise quarterback.
Chris Ballard’s willingness to wheel and deal back in March allowed for the Jets to climb to the No. 3 draft position and select USC’s Sam Darnold.
The Jets have started Darnold since the opener—the only rookie quarterback to do that in 2018.
There have been the normal rookie ups and downs for Darnold, with the Jets winning their opener, then losing three in a row, before finding another win last weekend.
Sunday’s win over the Broncos came thanks to one of the most dominant rushing performances that franchise has ever seen.
The Jets had 38 rushes for 323 yards in their 34-16 win over the Broncos. Starting back Isaiah Crowell ripped off 219 yards on 15 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown. Fellow running back Bilal Powell chipped in 99 yards on 20 carries.
Even before Sunday, the Jets were leaning more on the run game. That will test the Colts this weekend in facing their first true committed rushing approach, with proven results, since Washington in Week Two.
Where the Jets and Darnold have really struggled is in finishing off drives, ranking 32nd in red-zone offense.
Defensively, the Jets have some talented pieces at all three levels.
Former Colt Henry Anderson has been a productive player along their 3-4 front.
Sunday will mark the Colts’ fourth road trip in the first six weeks of the season.
After Sunday, the Colts will only have one road game until the month of December.
They will also face back-to-back games against rookie quarterbacks, with Josh Allen and the Bills coming to Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday.
2018 Record: 2-3, tied for 3rd place in the AFC East.
Head Coach: Todd Bowles, head coach (4th season as the head coach of the Jets, 22-31 overall in regular season, 0-0 in the postseason).
2018 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 26th (333.8); Rushing, 6th (135.0); Passing, 26th (198.8). Defense – Overall, 19th (371.6); Rushing, 15th (105.0); Passing, 17th (266.6).
2018 Leading Quarterback: Sam Darnold (83-of-149 comp., 1,066 yards, 55.7 pct., 7 TDs, 6 INTs, 77.2 rating).
2018 Leading Running Back: Isaiah Crowell (57 carries, 390 yards, 5 TDs).
2018 Leading Receiver: Quincy Enunwa (21 receptions, 278 yards, 1 TD).
2018 Leading Sacker: Leonard Williams (3.0).
2018 Turnover Breakdown: Plus 1 (tied for 10th in the NFL).
2018 NFL Draft Results: The Jets finally said enough was enough in handling their quarterback situation. They traded up with the Colts, from the 6th overall spot, to take USC’s Sam Darnold. Losing out on both of their 2018 second-round selections (and a 2019 second-round pick) meant the Jets had quite the wait until they picked again. In Round 3, they chose Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. With just one more selection until the 6th round, the Jets drafted Miami tight end Chris Herndon in Round Four.
2017 Review: A promising start to the 2017 season quickly fizzled out for the Jets. Todd Bowles’ third season at the helm saw his team get off to a 3-2 start. But a stretch of 7 straight one-possession games saw the Jets go 2-5 in those close contests. They ended the season with 4 consecutive losses, for a 5-11 record. Despite missing the playoffs for a 7th straight year (2nd for Bowlers), the Jets decided to retain the defensive-minded head coach.
Last time in Playoffs: 2010 season. Lost the AFC Championship, 24-19, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last time in Super Bowl: 1968 season. Won Super Bowl III, 16-7, over the Baltimore Colts.
Super Bowl Championships: One. 1968 season (III).
2017 Pro Bowl Selections: None.