Questions about how Andrew Luck’s surgically repaired shoulder would hold up were answered during a four-day stretch when he threw 121 passes in two games. Luck came out of it just fine.
The Colts’ quarterback has had 10 days to rest and reload his arm and shoulder for Sunday’s game. The Jets know to win they have to limit Luck.
“He’s shown he’s still one of the top quarterbacks in the league,” said Jets lineman Henry Anderson, a teammate of Luck’s at Stanford and with the Colts. “I don’t think he’s throwing down the field as often as he’s used to but he’s showing that he’s still got that arm strength. He’s shown that he’s still very accurate. He’s still gone out and put up good numbers. He’s played well so far and he’s getting better every week.”
Anderson ran into Luck a few times in the offseason at Stanford, and has texted with him recently to tell him that he’s glad he’s playing again. Anderson said it was tough on Luck, who missed all of last season. But he’s come back with a vengeance.
Luck leads the NFL in pass completions (163) and attempts (245) and is tied for third in touchdowns (12). He’s connecting on 66.5 percent of his passes — which would be a career-high.
Making it more impressive is Luck is doing it behind a make-shift O-line — the Colts will run out their fifth different combination Sunday — and without some weapons. Tight end Jack Doyle will miss his fourth straight game and T.Y. Hilton his second.
“He looks like the same player,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Not to play that long and to come back and play the way he’s been playing is remarkable.”
The Jets will be short-handed in secondary against Luck. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson, listed as doubtful with a quad injury, likely will miss his second straight game. Corner Buster Skrine has been ruled out with a concussion.
It’s not ideal, but the Jets hope to apply pressure on Luck to keep him from putting up big numbers. They have done better than expected in getting to opposing quarterbacks. The Jets sacked Case Keenum four times last week, and are tied for 10th in the NFL with 14 this season.
The What-If game
If the Jets hadn’t made the Draft-day deal with the Colts, odds are Sam Darnold would not have been their quarterback.
It might have been Josh Rosen. Who knows if he would have started in Week 1 the way Darnold did? Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater could be starting now.
The Jets sent the Colts the No. 6 pick, two 2018 second-round choices and a 2019 second-rounder for the No. 3 selection. It was a steep price, but it will all be worth it if Darnold grows into a championship-caliber quarterback.
Early indications are the trade was good for both teams.
The Colts turned those three 2018 selections into three starters: offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith and linebacker Darius Leonard, who leads the team in tackles (58) and sacks (4.0) despite not playing last week with an ankle injury. Leonard is expected to play Sunday.
“It’s good for the league when it works out good on both ends,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We’re incredibly excited about Braden and then the extra picks that we got, to get the guys that we got with those picks…It provides us an opportunity to get difference makers in the building and really develop those guys into great players.”
A rushing advantage
The Jets established their run game last week, racking up 323 yards with Isaiah Crowell rushing for a team-record 219 against Denver. The Colts will try to do the same Sunday.
The Colts haven’t run the ball well at all. They’ve rushed for 49 yards more all season than the Jets did last week. The Colts are fourth from the bottom, averaging 74.4 yards per game and just one rushing touchdown. They should have Marlon Mack back from injury, which should boost their running game.
But Indianapolis has been down early in some of their games and abandoned the run, putting it on Luck to try and get them back in the game.
“We all know we need to run the ball a little more effective to give ourselves a consistent chance to win ball games,” Luck said.
Inside the numbers
4: Robby Anderson’s touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards since the start of the 2017 season. Only Tyreek Hill has more.
23.1: Average yards for Andre Roberts on punt returns, which leads the NFL
24: Touchbacks by kicker Jason Myers, tied for the league lead.
78: Luck’s completions the last two games
50.8: Colts’ NFL-leading third-down conversion rate.
The Colts placed former Jet guard Matt Slauson on injured reserve after he suffered two broken vertebrae in the third quarter of last week’s loss to the Patriots. Slauson risked even more serious by playing through it and finishing the game.
"I'm mad at myself, looking back at it, because I continued to play after getting injured," Slauson said. "I didn't miss a snap. … It was the dumbest thing I've ever done. I just wanted to be out there for my teammates."
“I get very upset at myself when I watch the film, just thinking about what could have been.’’
With Slauson out and Anthony Castonzo expected to play, Luck will be throwing behind his fifth different offensive line combination in six games.
“Certainly, it’s not ideal,” Luck said. “But it is the situation that we are in so we will roll with it.”
The Jets will host Lupus Awareness Day Sunday. To raise funds for research for the autoimmune disease, the Jets 50/50 Raffle will benefit the Lupus Research Alliance. One fan will split the jackpot with Lupus Research Alliance. For rules and more information go to nyjets.com/5050raffle
The Jets are banged up in the secondary with two corners likely out. Darryl Roberts, rookie Parry Nickerson and Rashard Robinson, in his first game back from suspension, will fill in for Johnson and Skrine. The Colts may be down weapons but they still have Luck. Roberts is expected to start at corner for Johnson. Bowles thought Roberts did well last week when he played a season-high 73 snaps.