Ellis gives it a go, the most important matchup in Sunday’s big game, and a trip down memory lane.
We’re just days away from the Jets taking on the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Championship game nobody outside those who reside in the Jets’ locker room had in their preseason pool.
When you’re in a game of this magnitude, if you’ve got a pulse and won’t end your career by playing, you’re suiting up and giving it a go. That’s exactly what defensive lineman Shaun Ellis will do Sunday, as #92 will be lining up against the Colts with a broken hand.
He took his first step towards the field Thursday, as he was upgraded to a limited participant in the late morning workout. Ellis’ importance in Sunday’s matchup cannot be measured, due to the caliber of quarterback the Jets defense will be lining up against.
PEYTON VS. REX
Peyton Manning will be across the line of scrimmage Sunday, the reigning two-time MVP and master of orchestrating surgeon-like performances on the best defenses the NFL has to offer. So how will the Jets disrupt #18? As you might expect, head coach Rex Ryan plans on throwing the kitchen sink at the future Hall of Famer.
“He’s really good at recognizing what you’re in,” Ryan said. “You can just change your back end. You’ve got to change your front as well. There are things that he’ll see with your defensive front and he’ll figure out what you’re in coverage-wise, not just by the back end but by the front as well. That is something I really noticed him doing in this last game.”
The chess match between Ryan’s defense and Manning will be the single most important battle in Sunday’s contest, without question. If the Jets want to stay in the game and have a chance to win it, they’ve got to keep the Colts off the scoreboard as much as they can. The way to make Manning turn in a subpar performance is to get him to the ground. The Chargers were able to show that in the AFC playoffs a season ago. When you’re dealing with a player of Manning’s caliber, the only way you can truly take him out of the game is to make sure he’s got his back on the turf.
But if you can’t knock him down, you’ve got to at least make him feel your footsteps. If the Jets’ rabid defense can’t sack Manning, they can still disrupt his timing and his reads by pressuring him, and collapsing the pocket he has to throw in. Even when he is hurried, he’s not the same quarterback. So for a defense that loves to create pressure, their ability to hurry and knock the Colts’ franchise signal-caller around will be the biggest indicator of whether or not they can pull off the upset and head to the Super Bowl.
A New York team is regarded as the biggest long shot in the playoffs, but they’ve got a great defense, the number one running game in the NFL, and a quarterback who’s not making mistakes. And they’ve pulled off two road upsets in the playoffs, including a shocking one against one of the top seeds in the Division Round. Any of this ringing a bell?
The comparisons between these New York Jets and the Super Bowl winning Giants of two seasons ago cannot be ignored. We are witnessing a magical run that is beyond conventional wisdom, and fans are just along for the unbelievable ride. Who knows how long it will last, but the Jets are just 60 minutes from the Super Bowl, facing a media darling quarterback (remember the Giants NFC Championship Game against Brett Favre?) who is looking to capture his second Super Bowl and move into the conversation of All-Time Best at his position.
We’ll know just how much these two teams are linked in football history in just a few short days, but as long as they stick to what’s got them here, they’ll have more than a puncher’s chance to replicate their fellow New Yorkers over these next three weeks.
The Jets will be at virtually full strength heading into Sunday, with Ellis the only notable injury. Bart Scott and Kerry Rhodes were limited with ankle and knee injuries, and David Harris was also limited with an ankle injury. All are expected to be ready to go for Sunday.
The team returns to the practice field Friday for a morning workout in their final preparations for the big game. Be sure to check out JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.
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