These are not the Rex Ryan Jets anymore.
Nope, these New York Jets are indeed Todd Bowles' team, and if Monday night in Indianapolis was any indication, then these "new" Jets are going to be a handful for the rest of the AFC this season.
To be fair, the Indianapolis Colts are not looking as good as they hype. They have injuries on defense; their offensive line is a total mess; they have no real ground game as Frank Gore looks old, and Andre Johnson is virtually a non factor. Not to mention, the Colts offensive line issues are killing Andrew Luck right now.
That being said, none of those worts would be visible if it weren't for the efforts of the Jets on Monday. The dominated the Colts with their defense from start to finish. As former Ravens linebacker/turned ESPN analyst Ray Lewis said after the game the Jets are winning by playing "ugly football" that reminded him of his best Ravens' teams back in the early 2000's.
The Jets manhandled the Colts offensive line, and Luck was totally under siege. For three-plus quarters, New York shutout Indianapolis, while forcing the Colts into five turnovers in the contest. Four of those turnovers were from Andrew Luck.
Early in the contest, Luck tried to force one to Johnson down the sideline, only to have it picked off by Calvin Pryor who brought it back 29 yards to the Colts 9 yard line. Four plays later the Jets were in the end zone when Ryan Fitzpatrick found Eric Decker on a six-yard slant to make it 7-0.
Meanwhile the Colts continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Adam Vinateri missed a field goal, and Luck fumbled before the half with the Jets up 10-0. Then at the beginning of the third quarter, Indianapolis looked poised to score and cut into the Jets 10-point lead. An 18-play 74-yard drive found Indy at the Jets goal line, but Colts running back Frank Gore bobbled the snap and Darrelle Revis recovered the fumble for New York. This was easily the turning point of the game, as it kept New York up 10-0.
It was a pretty big night for Revis. The corner had two fumble recoveries and a pick of Luck. Even Marcus Gilchrist got into the action, picking off Luck after a Jets touchdown, with Gang Green up 17-7.
Not only was Luck running for his life from the Jets ferocious front seven, but the secondary was huge. In addition to the turnovers, nickel corner Buster Skrine had a big night recording eight tackles, and even hit Luck on a play that led to a pick.
Meanwhile, the Jets offense did just enough to win. They weren't spectacular, but they were efficient. Ryan Fitzpatrick was precise with his throws, and converted big passes when he needed to. With the Jets holding onto a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick orchestrated a seven play 80-yard drive that culminated in a Brandon Marshall touchdown, as the wide receiver carried three defenders across the goal line for the 17-7 lead.
Fitzpatrick finished 22-of-34 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He was accurate, and more importantly didn't make any mistakes. He also utilized the Jets two big receivers in Marshall and Decker, both of whom had big nights; Marshall had 101 yards receiving, and Decker had 97 yards receiving.
While it is only two games there is a noticeable difference with this team. 1) The Jets have a complete defense. They have three solid corners in Revis, Cromartie and Skrine. Not to mention the addition of Gilchrist at safety adds a huge ball hawk and hitter. This secondary helps the front seven get even more pressure on the quarterback, leading to hits and sacks. Last night was a great example, as Luck had almost no throwing lanes to go to.
2) Fitzpatrick is a perfect game manager. Usually a game manager is knock on a quarterback, but in the case of Fitzpatrick, it's a complement. He isn't making mistakes, and is a smart, veteran quarterback who can lead the Jets throughout the year, if they let him.
3) Todd Bowles presence. Maybe it's his poker face on the sideline, or his calm demeanor in press conferences, but one can tell that this is truly Bowles' team. They believe in the coaches message of focus and discipline and controlled chaos from the defensive standpoint. Under Rex Ryan, the Jets were a fiasco. They got too hyped up in their own publicity that talking trash in the papers was more important than football. With Bowles, it's all football all the time. No distractions. No questions. No circus.
Yes, these are the "new" New York Jets.