INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday’s matchup is the Colts facing a team that has tons of familiar faces to them.
The rare 4:05 PM home game is here for the Colts in Week Three as they take on a team that many believe is the worst in the NFL.
Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (1-1) face the Jets (0-2):
1. Play To Your Standard
A common thread for Frank Reich teams has been they’ve played to their competition (that is a good thing, and a bad thing).
Well, that can’t happen this week.
The Colts have a defined standard, and no matter who the opponent is in a given week, they need to play to that level.
This should be a win. This shouldn’t be a close game. Play to your standard.
2. T.Y. Hilton Drops
Sun in his eyes or not, it’s been a disappointing start to a contract year for T.Y. Hilton, who turns 31 in November.
He’s got 7 catches for 81 yards, with 3 drops—the same number he had all of last year. His lack of typical production dates back to 2018, as Hilton has now gone 15 straight games without having 100 receiving yards.
The positive from Hilton’s quiet start is that he looks to be just fine in creating separation. It’s the finishing of plays that’s been the issue.
3. All The Familiar Faces
No team in the NFL comes close to having as many familiar faces to the Colts as the Jets.
Assistant GM Rex Hogan has helped acquire around 10 former Colts, with almost the entire list being guys that Chris Ballard was perfectly content seeing leave.
Do we see motivation from the Colts castoffs? Or will we see why Ballard felt enough was enough for those guys in Indianapolis?
4. New Starting Safety
The loss of Malik Hooker for the season means the future is starting now at safety.
Julian Blackmon’s NFL debut had so many positive signs, and it looks like he’ll get the starting nod alongside Khari Willis.
Blackmon’s 34-snap performance turned some heads. Now, the rookie will be asked to do that in more snaps and do it week-in-week-out, as long as the Colts feel comfortable increasing his rep count so soon after his ACL surgery.
5. Finishing Drives
Easily the biggest offensive issue for the Colts through the first two weeks has been the red zone inefficiency.
The Colts are currently 28th in the NFL in red zone conversions (44.4 percent). You could toss in 3rd down as another issue to clean up, as the Colts rank 31st there (30.4 percent).
But it’s the red zone that is really frustrating Frank Reich right now, knowing the Colts cannot continue to play with fire in settling for field goals.
6. Making Up For Parris Campbell
Losing Parris Campbell really, really hurts this offense.
The Colts know how unique of a weapon Campbell is for that unit.
It’s going to have to be a by committee approach in making up for all the areas Campbell was used offensively, with Reich’s ability to scheme some things up—no matter the personnel—needed here.
7. Continued Defensive Playmaking
What a difference a week made for the Colts defense.
From the opening series on, things were much more difficult for Kirk Cousins than Gardner Minshew.
The Colts need to maintain aggression in their coverage, and keep the stickier coverage we saw in Week Two. It led to a tremendous day of playmaking when the pass defense was tested.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts 27-10. Again, play to your standard. Whether it was the loss to the Jaguars in 2018 or the Dolphins last season, the Colts have had some woeful performances when being heavily favored. Look at the Jets roster (and their injury list), they are not a good football team. I think the Week 1 wake-up call for the Colts will have them much more locked in this Sunday. The Colts will rattle Sam Darnold enough to stymie a weak skill group. Offensively, expect the Colts to find more balance and see T.Y. Hilton get into the end zone. This should be the easiest win of the season for the Colts.