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Jets' Defense Using Colts Catastrophe as Fuel For Matchup With Eagles

The New York Jets hope to use their loss to the Indianapolis Colts as a learning experience leading to their challenging matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.

One month ago, the Jets were embarrassed on the national stage, allowing 260 rushing yards to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football. 

Now, with the best rushing team in the NFL coming to town this week, New York is bracing for another battle in the trenches.

The Eagles are averaging 157.9 rushing yards per game this season, eclipsing the 200-yard mark in four of their last five games. It's the type of team that can dominate on the ground all game long, using a slew of talented backs to pound the rock and put points on the board.

That's a different approach than the Colts—who have one leading rusher in MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor—but that doesn't mean Philadelphia won't use similar tactics (and likely similar plays) to bully Gang Green on Sunday.

"Indy is for all intents and purposes Philly, from a schematic standpoint," Ulbrich told reporters on Thursday. "Same school of coaches so you got to imagine they’re not going to go very far to find the blueprint of how to attack us. Which from our standpoint, coaches, players alike, you don’t get very many opportunities to do a do-over. This game is that. It was embarrassing, that game was, from a defensive perspective."

Ulbrich, like many members of New York's defensive unit, have lost sleep over the Jets' putrid performance in that game against the Colts. Taylor scampered for 172 rushing yards with two scores while Nyheim Hines added 74 yards on the ground and a touchdown of his own.

In a way, the Eagles present even more of a challenge with their dominant offensive line, a mobile quarterback (in Jalen Hurts) and their variety of weapons coming out of the backfield.

"It's dynamic," defensive end Sheldon Rankins explained. "They can attack you in a multitude of ways. Some different schemes, some intricate things they're able to do because their quarterback is a talented runner himself. And then they have the ability to hand it off to talented runners as well. And then receivers that they can get the ball to in space that can extend the run game as well."

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Challenges aside, Ulbrich wants New York's defense to look within this week, remembering the loss to Indianapolis and using it as fuel.

"Collectively, we know that’s not who we are," he said. "But we put it on tape, so until we prove otherwise, that is who we are. So, I look forward to these guys getting an opportunity to go out there and really show themselves who they can be."

New York has flashed signs of improvement since that 45-30 loss in Indy. Most recently, they allowed only 202 total yards in last week's win over the Texans—although Houston isn't exactly a powerhouse on offense.

This added motivation to prove the calamity against the Colts was a fluke should help this unit clip the Eagles' wings. It won't be easy, though. 

"You see an unbelievable offensive line. A lot of creativity from the coordinator. Quarterback is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he’s always a threat to run," head coach Robert Saleh said. "He does a great job scrambling and creating an off schedule. They found an identity of the last five weeks and he’s really sticking to it and even last week, they still rushed for over 200 yards on a team that was doing everything they could to stop them from running. So, they’re good. Their offensive line is physical, they’re very talented, just overall, and their backs, it’s just a talented group."

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