Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
By John Mullin
The buffoonery of Jets coach Rex Ryan may make for interesting sound bites and copy but for playoff purpose, it is much sound and fury and signifies nothing.
What it has done is divert attention from Indianapolis in a way that rarely happens this time of year to a team that turns on Peyton Manning. The Colts legend has won five of six meetings with defenses coached by Ryan, who is capable of confounding most offenses and quarterbacks with his blitzes and general scheming.
A shock of the 2010 season has been the turnovers from Manning, who has had to improvise as much with personnel as he has with play calling at the line. Losing tight end Dallas Clark and wideout Austin Collie put pressure on Manning and he uncharacteristically threw enough interceptions (17) for his team to have negative turnover ratio.
The fact that the Colts did not have their customary dominant season a team that has started 13-0 had to win its last four in a row to make the postseason -- has obscured that they were a Super Bowl team just 12 months ago.
No one is talking about the Colts, said Herman Edwards, ESPN analyst and former NFL player and coach. With Peyton Manning, youre going to have to knock this guy out. This is a team thats been in this situation before and they always seem to rise to the occasion when people count them out. If you keep it within a score, good luck. If you keep it within a scores length and theyve got the ball, good luck trying to stop Peyton Manning.
But that in fact may be the route for the Jets to follow. The Jets are 6-3 in games decided by one score, with one of the losses coming in Chicago to the Bears. So they can function in tight scoreboard spaces.
Its definitely tough on the ticker, thats for sure, Ryan said. But were finding ways to win and I think thats the mark of a good football team.
The problem here is that Indianapolis won three of those last four by 2, 5 and 3 points and out-rushed their opponents in three of the four, a departure from traditional Manning-based offenses.
The Jets moved through the 2009 postseason with a rookie quarterback and as long as Mark Sanchez avoids meltdown plays or series, the Jets have a chance in a road game with the Colts favored by less than a field goal.
Sanchez cant go into this game thinking Im going to out-duel Peyton Manning, Edwards said. He cant do that. He can not do that.
Two teams proficient in close games will play one on Sunday.
Indianapolis 27 New York 24