Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Colts-Jets Preview

Associated Press

No matter how many outsiders call for Tim Tebow to take over as the New York Jets' starting quarterback, coach Rex Ryan is standing behind Mark Sanchez.

Andrew Luck showed last week why the Indianapolis Colts have plenty of confidence in him to guide the franchise's rebuilding.

Sanchez and the foundering Jets look to get on track Sunday when they host the Colts, who will eclipse their win total of last season with another victory.

Ryan made clear there will be no change at quarterback despite the embattled Sanchez struggling again in a 23-17 loss to Houston on Monday.

"Yeah, no question," Ryan said when asked if Sanchez will start Sunday.

Sanchez went 14 of 31 with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Texans, completing less than 50 percent of his passes for the fourth straight game.

His 48.4 completion percentage ranks last in the league, prompting more calls for Tebow to take over. The Jets (2-3) rank 30th in the NFL with 293.4 yards per game.

Ryan refused to discuss a potential quarterback change for Sunday's game, again maintaining Sanchez is the starter.

"I'm not going to get into the what-ifs and all that," Ryan said. "We're not preparing to lose, that's for sure. We're thinking we're going to win, starting this week."

The Colts (2-2) have no such uncertainty under center, as Luck continues to impress in his rookie season. The No. 1 overall pick set career bests with 31 completions, 55 attempts and 362 yards while throwing two touchdowns in a 30-27 victory over Green Bay on Sunday.

Luck led a 13-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds remaining, completing a comeback from a 21-3 halftime deficit.

"That is what you're looking for in a quarterback. That grit. That will to win," interim coach Bruce Arians told the team's official website. "A rookie, I don't put statistically in the categories with (Tom) Brady and those guys. His passer rating is not going to be as high as theirs, but he's playing at a level that far exceeds where he should be at this time."

While Luck leads the youth movement for the rebuilding Colts, the veteran Wayne, who turns 35 next month, continues to prove he's far from finished. He caught 13 passes for a career-high 212 yards against the Packers, and his 506 yards rank third in the NFL.

"You realize those were a lot of big situations that he comes up in," Luck said. "It's not that hard to throw the ball in the vicinity of a receiver and he goes out and makes an amazing catch. He made everybody look good."

Wayne said his performance was inspired by the absence of coach Chuck Pagano, who missed the first of an indefinite amount of games while undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Pagano wrote a letter to the team prior to Sunday's contest demanding the players focus on football rather than him.

"Chuck's instilled a lot in us," Wayne said. "His whole motto since day one, the first meeting, has been team, team, team, team. Nothing else. So we've wanted to do it every week as a team. That's all we practice, that's all we preach."

Wayne has only one 100-yard game and hasn't caught a touchdown pass in seven career contests versus the Jets. Indianapolis may be wise to emphasize the running game against a New York defense that ranks second to last with 172.0 rushing yards allowed per game, though top back Donald Brown won't play after having surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee.

Rookie Vick Ballard will get the start in place of Brown, who apparently suffered the injury on his two-point conversation run following Wayne's touchdown Sunday.

In addition to their problems throwing the ball, the Jets haven't been able to get much going on the ground. Shonn Greene's TD run in New York's Week 1 victory over Buffalo is its only rushing score, and the Jets' 3.2 yards-per-carry average is tied for 31st in the league.

"We have to get the run game going," Ryan said. "If we can run the ball, it'll open up a lot of things in the passing game. We have to be more efficient running the football."

Wayne caught one pass for one yard while Sanchez went 18 of 31 for 189 yards and an interception in the Jets' 17-16 wild-card victory Jan. 8, 2011, the teams' most recent meeting.

The Colts will be without four-time Pro Bowl selection Robert Mathis for two to three weeks because of a left knee injury suffered last Sunday.