Although the Colts ranked 25th against the run during the regular season, they closed the year impressively. The last three weeks, they held Maurice Jones-Drew to a 3.1 average per rush, Darren McFadden to 4.1 (a whole yard under his average), and Chris Johnson to 1.9.
While the numbers over the entire year were not very good, this shows what they are capable of doing against the run. They are not very big up front. Their starting linebackers average under 240 pounds. Their starting defensive line averages just over 280 pounds. The Jets average over 305 on the line and 255 at linebacker. The teams run different scheme and find success different ways, though. The Colts are not big, but they are fast. Their guys fly to the football. Part of Johnson's trouble yesterday is that he tried to cut too much to the outside and make guys miss. A defense like this sends multiple guys at fast speeds to redirect the runner to another guy flying into the play if not tackle the runner. If you do not go forward, multiple guys will get to you quickly. They also get safety help. Antoine Bethea was their leading tackler this year in no small part because of the way he quickly moves to give help in run support.
It is obvious to anybody with eyes that Shonn Greene looks more dangerous carrying the ball than LaDainian Tomlinson at this point of the year. In this game, it is even more imperative than usual to feed Shonn the ball regularly. The way to beat the Colts on the ground is to punch them in the mouth with a power north and south running game. Wear down the small front with constant pounding. They are too fast to consistently go east and west.
I got a feeling of dread when Greene left the AFC Championship Game hurt last year. Using his physical style to wear the Colts down, control the clock, and keep the ball away from Peyton Manning was the path to victory. I am still haunted by memories of Thomas Jones dancing in the backfield to give the Colts time to use their speed and get to him instead of grinding forward. Jones' performance that day might be the biggest reason the team decided to cut ties in the offseason.
This is a game where the run attack should be about power. Greene is the man to deliver the hammer.