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B. Smith on Returns: We’ll Do What We Do

Posted by Eric Allen on January 5, 2011 – 1:45 pm

You have to wonder if the Colts are going to play with fire and kick off to red-hot Brad Smith on Saturday night. The Jets’ No. 1 kickoff man returned two for scores this season, was the NFL’s second-leading returner (28.6-yard average), returned five kickoffs for 139 yards against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game and raced for a 106-yard score at Indy in Week 16 of the 2009 season.

“The biggest thing is we’re just going to do what we do, try to execute our assignments, find a hole and hit it,” Smith said this week. “Hopefully we can do it well enough to break one and to get good field position for our offense. Every opponent, it’s all about what we do and hopefully they’ll have to adjust to us.”

Punter Pat McAfee handles kickoff chores for the Horseshoes and he totaled 16 touchbacks during the regular season.

“Their kicker is like ninth in the league in touchbacks,” said the versatile Smith. “They do a good job of covering it because they do a good job of covering when they have to. It’s just a solid all-around group. They play their responsibilities well. We just have to try to find something to take advantage of.”

But a number of Indy injuries have forced major realignments across the board and that has affected their coverage units. After surrendering a 78-yard punt-return TD to the Jags’ Mike Thomas in Week 15, the Colts allowed a 99-yard KR TD to the Raiders’ Jacoby Ford in Week 16 and then dangerous Titans return man Marc Mariani had a 47-yarder last week at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We approach it the same. We want to score each and every time we get our hands on the ball, on kickoff returns, punt returns,” said Smith. “It’s not a different approach — it’s a consistent approach of trying to make a play when we’re out there.”

The Colts defense will also have to prepare to see No. 16 on offense. He rushed for a career-high 299 yards in 2010, averaging a healthy 7.9 yards a carry, and he also completed a long 45-yard toss to Jerricho Cotchery in last year’s conference championship.

“We haven’t talked about revenge too much. They came out, played a game and beat us,” said the friendly yet deadly assassin. “They played better than us the last game. It’s just a matter of coming out and trying to do what we need to win. Just saying revenge is not going to do anything because it’s just a word. It’s about going on the field and playing hard, playing passionate and playing well.”

Colts in a Zone

While the Colts dramatically improved their rush defense late in the season, you don’t hear much talk about their retooled secondary. They ranked 13th in yards allowed (214.6 per game) despite losing three regulars — S Bob Sanders, S Melvin Bullitt and CB Jerraud Powers — to injured reserve.

“They’re pretty much a zone defense, but they’re fast-flow,” said WR Jerricho Cotchery. “Those guys [DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis] get after the quarterback, so you don’t have very long to work your guy on the outside to get open. They do play zone, but you don’t have much time.”

The Colts actually ranked just tied for 23rd in sacks, amassing 30 in 16 regular-season contests. Freeney, who had 10, will match up with D’Brickashaw Ferguson while Mathis, who racked up 11, will draw either Damien Woody or Wayne Hunter.

“You see a little bit of man sometimes when you pressure,” said Cotchery, “but they really don’t have to bring extra guys in to pressure when you have Freeney and Mathis on the edge.”

The Colts list Kelvin Hayden and Jacob Lacey as their starting LCB and RCB respectively while Aaron Francisco and Antoine Bethea man the safety spots.

“They have a great system over there where they say, ‘Next man up.’ They expect the next man up to step up and play up to the standards of what they expect. I see the same guys flying around. I see Bethea making plays. You have Freeney and Mathis still and [Gary] Brackett, so you see some of the same guys,” Cotchery said. “And once you have those guys on defense, the other guys that they plug in, they have to step their game up a notch because those guys are expecting it from them.”

Work for Revis

It is no surprise that Darrelle Revis will draw the assignment of Reggie Wayne. The Colts’ 10-year vet had a fantastic year with 111 receptions, 1,355 yards and six touchdowns. And while Peyton Manning, working with a shuffled deck, respects the league’s No. 1 corner, he’s not going to completely avoid Revis.

“He threw at me a couple of times last year,” Revis said. “You have to expect that you’re on the hot seat all the time when you’re out there covering Reggie Wayne, Garçon and those guys. Peyton is going to read the defense and whatever his best 1-on-1 matchup or his best matchup, he’s going to throw the ball no matter what.”

Wayne caught three balls in the championship game for 55 yards after hauling in three catches for 33 yards back in Week 16.

“He’s one of the best at putting balls where defensive backs can’t get it,” Revis said of Manning. “So I think that’s the toughest part. You might be on a guy with good coverage, but Peyton finds a way to back-shoulder you on a fade route or put the ball where it needs to be where only the receiver can get it.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “B. Smith on Returns: We’ll Do What We Do”

  1. By IRA on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    Revis and AC will be tested by Manning. I can’t see him being afraid to throw their way. Maybe Revis can get a couple of picks this week.
    EA, Good point about the Colts KO coverage unit. They were ranked 31st in yds per return. Lets hope they don’t KO too many times.
    I have to re-think those FG attempts. back in 01 when the Jets beat the Colts in Indy 29-28 Hall did kick 5 FG’s of 47,48,46,24 and 22 and Becht caught a TD pass very late to win that game.

  2. By Tom Spicer on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    I read in the paper that Eric Smith will be play this week & will reclaim his starting spot. I dont like it I think he is a good run stuffer but is very weak in coverage. Lowery has done well so far as our starting saftey & is a former corner with better cover skills than Smith I think we need to keep our best cover guys & best pass rushers on the field at all times if it hurts us in the run game I am fine with that. Taylor & Pace have to be on the fielld at all times sorry Miek Devito I love you but take a seat this game. Eric Smith it will be good to have you on special teams again & you can sub in on some plays but I dont want to see him getting burnt all day by White & Tamme while the better cover guy in Lowery is on the sideline.

  3. By IRA on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    Tom, I too like Lowery and he has come up with 2 picks playing safety. Smith though is better in run support and maybe thats part of the reason the Jets gave up so many yds rushing to the Steelers and Bears. Rex is going to have to use both players so i am glad Smith is back.

  4. By Frankie on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with using Smith and Lowery depending on what we think Manning is going to do. I also would use Cole in the Nickel over Wilson. Lets go Jets!!!!!!

  5. By 37 year fan on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    I think we’re going to win this game . I think we would have won last year too , but we had too many people beat up , this year we’re comin’ in strong ….

  6. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    I have to admit it crossed my mind the other day that Lowery is playing better overall at S than Smith was, though the increased pass rush in the games that Lowery started is a factor, too. Maybe I’m just replaying the tape of the 2nd NE game in my head, but I think if we don’t come out aggressive on O and score some real points in the 1st quarter, it could be a long day. The best secondaries in the league have trouble with Manning, especially with him averaging so many passes per game, and we only have about half the best secondary, DR and AC. By the way, I read a WR free agent report listing SH, BE, and BS as 3 of the most wanted, of course. I say we keep them all and maybe trading J-Co and promising BS his slot job is a way to do that.

  7. By viveca on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    Too many times teams have beaten us by going down the middle. Wonder what Rex’s formula will be to prevent Manning from doing that? I like Lowrey better than Smith. Hopefully Mc Knight will get some touches. He looks explosive!
    We must be able to generate some kind of pass rush, without that it will be a long night. I’m optimistic though. We have yet to play a complete game this season. This will be the perfect time! Go Jets!!

  8. By coat on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    well said 37 year fan

  9. By dave on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    Brad Smith is the reason we win this game. He is the X-Factor! We must keep him at all costs if he will stay.

  10. By Mike Jet Vet on Jan 5, 2011 | Reply

    I expect Rex to play the guys he played last week they stepped in and played with confidence and a conviction for winning that game like no other game this year..Well at least rotate them they earned it I’d like to see that enthusiasm carry over into the playoffs..Now Rex schotty and fans know Coles Cook Coleman and Smith can get after it run or pass ..Cook will take Diggs place rushing Manning if hes out and yes Lowery has earned his stripes this year .Still not hearing B-Smiths name being thrown about come on guys he deserves more love then most on this team he brings his lunch makes plays shuts his mouth never does you know Sharpie diaper cell phone popcorn stand on stars antics my MVP of the NFL GO JETS

  11. By IRA on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

    37 year fan, Thats right if Greene and Strickland never went down last year and if Scott was healthy the Jets would’ve won. But thats in the past and the bitter taste of losing in Indy and ending their season i hope is with the players that were there. Its sure tastes bad to me and i want this game REAL BAD. Besides i want another shot at the Pats.
    GO JETS!!!!

  12. By Mike on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

    I’m looking for Jason Taylor to have a big impact this game. He’s been coming on and seems just inches away from making big plays. Of course with Manning that could be feet instead of inches. But I have a feeling he’s going come up with a big play or two this weekend. After all the years of hating him, we’re going to have a reason to love him this weekend. GO JETS!

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