Indianapolis Colts Recap: Week 3, vs. New York Jets

A stranded jet.


This fall, the magazine will recap each week of the Colts’ strange, pandemic-hobbled season. This week: editor-in-chief Michael Rubino and digital editor Derek Robertson are joined by very special guest Derek Schultz to discuss the Colts’ second straight dominating win over a very, very bad team.

Derek Robertson: Alright everyone, at the risk of hubris I’m going to kick this thing off as Jacoby Brissett gets ready to make his triumphant return to the field during a most garbage of times. Against an absolutely putrid Jets squad the majority of the Colts’ points were scored once again by non-offensive means, as two pick sixes, a safety, and the (mostly) reliable toe of Rodrigo Blankenship carried the day. Still, the Colts executed exactly according to their game plan, with Philip Rivers putting together his sharpest game of the young season and scampering past Fran Tarkenton up the all-time passing leaderboard. The O-line was dominant, Jonathan Taylor continued his impressive rookie campaign, and Xavier Rhodes looked like an ace DB for the first time in more than a year. The question I pose to you both: how much of this reveals the makings of a playoff contender, and how much of it simply reveals the extent to which the Jets should be a candidate for relocation?

Michael Rubino: I like the way the Colts played today, but—BREAKING—the Jets are not good. This was the kind of game that already in the second quarter I was already wondering if the Jets would be better off sucking all the way into a Trevor Lawrence pick. But, it’s way too soon to issue any kind of verdict (I think Sam Darnold hasn’t played enough football yet), just as it’s too soon in the season to determine if the Colts are a playoff team. I mean, I think they are from the standpoint that they do the kind of things—control both lines of scrimmage, run the ball well, and have what appears to be a good-to-great defense—that playoff teams have historically done. Speaking of history,  Frank Gore has been playing professional football since Kanye West told us that George W. Bush doesn’t like Black people in 2005. That’s insane. But not quite as crazy as Philip Rivers becoming the sixth player in league history to throw 400 career TD passes and the sixth to top 60,000 yards. He’s a Hall of Famer, right? (Sorry, asking that question in the first round of a game recap is like Michael Scott turning everything into a gun during his improv classes.)

Derek Schultz: To answer the two most important questions posed so far: What does this start reveal about the Colts? It’s difficult to say because the three corpses they’ve faced so far have varied from barely lukewarm (Jaguars) to decayed beyond recognition (Jets), but I’m a believer that good teams dominate bad teams and the Colts absolutely desecrated and buried the Vikings and Jets (Sorry, we put up Halloween decorations today so I’ve got cemeteries and zombies on the mind). In all seriousness, I’m especially encouraged by this defense, which not only has been insanely effective in limiting yards (No. 1 through three weeks) and points, but is also making plays. The two-pick sixes on Sunday equal their pick-six total from the last four seasons combined and they tacked on a safety for the second straight week.

As for the second question: is Philip Rivers a Hall of Famer? Yes. He doesn’t have the rings, but I firmly believe he is/was a better player than Eli Manning overall, and I believe Eli will get in on the strength of two supremely fluky Super Bowl runs (his last name and playing in New York help, too). Rivers has been very good for a long time without ever being elite, while compiling a bunch of “HE RANKS WHERE ALL-TIME???!!” career numbers. Basically he’s the Frank Gore of quarterbacks. By the way, where would you guys rank the Jets among miserable fan existences? I grew up out East, know many diehard Jets fans, and they’re angry ALL THE TIME.

MR: This is where I reprise the role of Jake Query and tell everyone that Weeb Ewbank was born in Richmond, Indiana.

DS: Nothing against Weeb (R.I.P.), but I was specifically promised there would be *NO* Jake Query references in these recaps.

MR: Yes, please forgive me. Other Derek, being a Jets fan sounds A LOT like being a fan of your Lions, no?

DR: The comparison to the Lions here is instructive. When a team faces the Detroit Professional Football Team, one that’s lost a historical number of double-digit-fourth-quarter-seemingly-insurmountable leads, a win says more about the laws of nature than it does about the puny human forces with which they interact. A game-winning Lions TD will be called back on a holding penalty; Sam Darnold will throw a pick-six at the absolute last moment in which the Jets stand a chance to muster a comeback; this is the circle of life.

DS: I think there’s a difference between franchises that are just hopeless (the Browns, for example) and ones that occasionally give you hope, only to ultimately rip your still-beating-heart out of your chest, Temple of Doom style. It doesn’t pertain to this year, obviously, but the Jets are the latter. I think the Falcons might qualify for this, too, but unlike the Jets, they’ve actually been to a Super Bowl (two!) since the Lyndon Johnson administration.

DR: I’m not sure we learned a whole lot about this Colts team today. Except, maybe, that they’re disciplined. Zero turnovers (!), a respectable four-for-forty-yards in the penalty column, and a commanding lead in first downs despite the two defensive TDs all speak well to how Frank Reich has game-planned this old-school team to compete in today’s NFL. I have to say, Michael, that I’m starting to come around to your enthusiasm about them, although they may not face a real challenge until the week 9 home game against Baltimore. Is there anything you’ve seen from them that makes you think they might stand a chance when the competition stiffens in comparison to the Vikings and Jets of the world?

MR: The biggest thing we learned in Week 3 is that the Colts learned their Week 1 lesson. They controlled—if not dominated—a clearly inferior opponent that everyone knew was clearly inferior heading into the contest. When you take that kind of approach, you’re going to be competitive in every game you play. So, yes, they can certainly compete with Baltimore or Green Bay in what looks to be a very forgiving schedule.

DR: On that note we’ll see you readers next week up I-65 at Soldier Field, against a Bears team that has somehow gone 3-0 despite benching its starting quarterback. Somehow I’m pessimistic we’ll see a change of pace in that game regarding the relative lack of offensive fireworks so far this season, but hey, I’m a Lions fan—I’m always pessimistic, and when I’m not, I’m just plain wrong.