Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles became only the fourth first-year head coach in franchise history to start off the season 2-0 or better when the Jets walked out of Indianapolis with a 20-7 win on Monday night.
Pete Carroll started the Jets off to a 2-0 start in 1994, while Al Groh started the 2000 season 4-0. In 2009, Rex Ryan was the last first-year Jets head coach to start the season off to a 3-0 start. Ryan was the only one of the three to lead the Jets to the postseason.
This was a statement win for the Jets, as they walked in and beat a Colts team that made the AFC Championship Game last season and is a Super Bowl favorite this season.
On if he is surprised the Jets are 2-0, Bowles said on Tuesday, “No, I’m not surprised. I don’t want to be 0-2. I’m not surprised. We’ve been working hard and we’ve been grinding and as the team comes together, like I said, it’s a process to get to where we want to be. We’re not there yet, but we’re making great strides and nobody is going to be good coming right off the top. We’re just going to keep building and keep going. That’s what we’re doing.”
Bowles said of possibly having to temper the players’ enthusiasm and remind them it is a long season, “No, you don’t temper enthusiasm. They know how long of a season it is and this (win) just tells us we can be 2-14 right now. They understand that too, but I’m not going to temper them from being excited.”
The Jets hired Bowles because he was one of the most accomplished defensive coordinators in the NFL. Bowles’ defense held one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Andrew Luck, to just seven points and intercepted him three times on Monday night.
The Jets are playing some of the best defense they have since their playoff runs in 2009 and 2010. Coincidentally, they brought back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to anchor the defense as they did those seasons.
Revis stepped up big time on Monday night. He registered a single-game career high three takeaways, when he recovered two fumbles and intercepted a QB Andrew Luck pass. Revis ended two straight Colts third quarter drives with takeaways, when he recovered a RB Frank Gore fumble in the Jets end zone, and then ended their next drive with an interception at the Jets 31-yard line. His two recoveries in the game mark a single-game high, while his three recoveries on the season mark a single-season career high.
On Monday night, the Jets defense forced five takeaways. They intercepted Andrew Luck three times and got two fumble recoveries. The Jets now have ten takeaways in the first two games of the season, the most by any Jets team in history since 1969. Last season, the Jets defense forced 13 total turnovers, the fewest in the league. The team has converted those ten takeaways into 31 points this season, besting their 2014 total, when the team scored just 20 points off turnovers.
On if the amount of takeaways are due to an emphasis on them in game preparation, Bowles said, “Some of them are an emphasis, some of them are luck, some of them fall in your lap, some of them you cause. You don’t explain how you get them, you just get them. But we try to emphasis it but I’m not going to sit here and say everything we got we earned. They give you some when they make mistakes too.”
Second-year safety Calvin Pryor recorded the first interception of his career when he caught a tipped pass from Colts QB Andrew Luck on the Colts’ first drive of the game. Pryor returned the ball 29-yards to IND nine-yard line. The Jets scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to take a 7-0 lead. The takeaway was the Jets sixth of the season and the score gave the team 28 points off of turnovers for the year.
Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson missed a good amount of training camp with a pulled hamstring and has recovered to be a big part of the Jets’ first two wins. Bowles said of being impressed by Wilkerson’s play in the first two games, “Mo’s been great the first two games. He got in there, him, Leonard (Williams) and (Leger) Douzable put a lot of pressure on them yesterday and it allowed those guys to make some plays on the back end.”
On if Williams’ play and containment of his excitement was better this game, Bowles said, “Yes, I thought he was very good. We had a long talk and he and Pepper (Johnson) had a long talk and he understands he has to keep his emotions under wraps before the game in order for him to not get fatigued.”