With starting nose tackle Sione Po’uha nursing a lower back problem and backup Kenrick Ellis out for the next four to six weeks with a knee injury, Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine faces a tricky situation trying to get a pass rush on rookie Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on Sunday.
“Luck is ahead of the rookie learning curve,” Pettine said. “It was an NFL-style offense he ran in college. And he’s one of those rare Peyton Manning-, Tom Brady-types that only come along so often. He’s the kind of guy that, even though he’s a rookie, you can’t treat him like one.
“You have to give him unconventional coverages and change the looks and make sure you self-scout going into the game to make sure he can’t draw a bead on where you are. If you present him with an easy look, he knows exactly where to go with the ball.”
Through five games, the Jets have managed to generate only five sacks. Pettine said the numbers can be misleading at times because QB hits and pressures also are important, but he admitted, “We’d like it to be better.”
That usually requires a big push up the middle to help free outside pass-rushers. Pettine said outside linebacker Calvin Pace has improved in that area. If Po’uha can’t play or struggles with his injury, the Jets would be down to rookie Damon Harrison or free-agent pickup Daniel Muir, who signed on Tuesday and started practicing the next day.
“Daniel Muir jumped off the tape when we looked at his Green Bay tape in the preseason,” Pettine said. “Here was a guy that plays hard, plays with good technique and has a high motor. We were surprised when we looked at the tape to see he was available.
“We’ll keep his menu pretty simple. The guys he’s in there with will know he’s new to the system and help him out. At the same time, here’s a guy that’s played. There’s no substitute for real game experience. It was great that we could get somebody like that to complement the youthfulness of Damon.”
Muir is looking forward to a matchup against Indianapolis, where he played from 2008-2011, but his head is spinning after a two-day crash course in how the Jets play defense. “All I’m trying to do is learn this gameplan and learn these plays,” Muir said on Thursday. “I’m getting them for the most part. I want to play fast. I don’t know what they’ll do on Sunday, but I’m preparing like I’m going to play each snap. I know that’s not the case, but I want to make sure I’m ready.”