March 21, 2018

Know Your Opponent : With @SportsGeek33

Steamrolling into Week Five of the NFL Season, the Houston Texans force their formidable presence into MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets for a Monday Night Football matchup. What surprises are in store? What can be expected from an unpredictable Jets group? Who will step up with the loss of two of the Jets best players Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis? And what do the Jets faithful feel about the apparent tumult inside the New York Jets’ organization? State of the Texans talks with Stephen Hunter of the SportsGeek33 blog, who provides some much needed insight into the mystery and volatility that the Texans face in the New York Jets.

We actively solicit inquiries from the Twitter audience each week to ensure the questions YOU want answered are addressed. You can ask your questions for future weeks with the hashtag #KYO, addressed to @TheClaireBear23. We will select the best questions week to week. 


@jtv_3:  Aside from Tebow, what options do the Jets have for improving offensive production?

The Jets need TE Dustin Keller to return to fitness as quickly as possible. Since he re-injured his hamstring against the Bills in Week One the Gang Green offense has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion. Keller’s value lies in his ability to read defenses and “go hot” against the blitz thereby picking up critical yardage over the middle. QB Mark Sanchez has struggled horribly when under pressure, and with the recent injury to star wide receiver Santonio Holmes his options at wide receiver are looking more miserable than ever. The expected Ground & Pound onslaught has failed to materialize, and it’s likely that Rex Ryan will look to increase RB Bilal Powell’s workload as Shonn Greene continues to disappoint.


@JDittyTheTexan: Will the Jets use the Wildcat (or some derivative) formation frequently Monday night given the Texans supposed struggles with run defense?

The Jets use of the Wildcat has been widely misreported and exaggerated by a New York press that seems more concerned with snappy headlines than accuracy. In fact, the number of times that Tim Tebow and Sanchez have lined up in the same formation do not even amount to double figures. Generally Tebow has operated a read-option offense that has misfired every bit as badly as the conventional Sanchez-led offense. That’s partially down to a sub-par running game but Tebow has also been responsible for making some pretty appalling reads. Generally speaking the Wildcat and the read-option have both appeared in the Jets early scripted plays but, although they’ll no doubt feature, any heavy usage could easily be misinterpreted as a vote of no confidence in the under-fire Sanchez, and coach Rex Ryan has always tended to protect him in the past.


@txbobbumman: Who, besides Jeremy Kerley, are the Jets hoping can step in to fill the void from Santonio Holmes?

Former Oakland wideout Chaz Schilens has shown promise since returning from injury, and he’s likely to step up and fill the WR1 slot in Holmes’s absence. The midweek signing of free agent Jason Hill speaks of desperation rather than intent, and so rookie Stephen Hill will probably start opposite Schilens. The 6’4″ Hill has already proven to be a handful for defenders, but if he is to make any significant contribution to filling the void left by Holmes, he will have to improve his catching ability.
What do you believe the Jets defense does to stop the Texans running game?

Tackle. It’s a sad reflection that against the 49ers MLB David Harris missed more tackles (5) than colleague Bart Scott actually managed to make (4). Wrapping up the ball-carrier has been a real issue throughout the season, as has getting into a position to make a stop in the first place. Arian Foster could have a hey-day unless Jets defenders suddenly remember how to get off their blocks. Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry provide excellent support from safety, but their help has been required on far too many occasions.


What offensive and defensive matchups do you think the Jets can exploit against the Texans?

It’s hard to see how the Jets have any chance of making serious yardage against a tough Texans defense. If they do have any significant advantage it’s probably on the right side of the offensive line, where Brandon Moore and Austin Howard have both looked good on run blocking assignments. Keller, if he plays, will look to get the upper-hand on OLB Connor Barwin, and Jeremy Kerley could capitalize on Brice McCain’s suspect man-to-man coverage skills.

Defensively the Jets will look to exploit the Texans’ weaknesses in their front five, and a lot of heat could well be directed towards RT Derek Newton and RG Antoine Caldwell. So far this season the once-feared Gang Green pass rush has been on the pathetic side of poor, and with Matt Schaub not being the most mobile of QBs, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar will be looking for the likes of Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples to disrupt the pocket and re-establish some credibility.


The Jets defense was threatening to be lethal at the start of the season. What changed? Was it just the Revis injury?

The injury to Revis certainly hasn’t helped or, more to the point, the fact that he’s been replaced by former first-round bust Kyle Wilson hasn’t. As if his coverage skills aren’t laughable enough, Wilson also took to trash-talking 49ers WR Michael Crabtree last week – a sight that would have been far less embarrassing if the bemused wideout hadn’t constantly torched him throughout the match-up.

Another factor is that the Jets have faced three QBs who aren’t afraid to step out of the pocket in Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, and Ryan Tannehill, and so their defensive mindset has been focused on containment rather than attack. That could change this week, however, and if the likes of Wilkerson, Coples, Pace and Maybin are given the green light to be more aggressive against the Texans we might see an improved all-round performance.

The final point to consider here is that Sanchez’s inability to get the job done on third down has caused the defense to see much more playing time than they would care to, and this has severely limited their ability to deliver the high-octane, heavy-impact style that Coach Ryan demands. The combination of linemen being stood up and bullied while behind them players struggle to shed blocks has really hurt the Jets this year, and a little more rest between appearances may be just the tonic that they need.
What players on offense and defense will Texans fans not know about who we should keep an eye out for this Monday night?

Bilal Powell is slowly beginning to assert himself in the backfield, and many observers feel that his cutback ability makes him a far more attractive proposal than front-side banger Shonn Greene. Defensively the Jets are pretty much a known quantity, although injury to DT Sione Pou’ha may give Kenrick Ellis the opportunity to convince his critics that he can perform consistently.
Rex Ryan says the team did not quit on Sunday, how do fans perceive the performance and what can be done to stop the bleeding?

The general feeling is that Jets fans are beginning to entertain the possibility that this present roster is just totally inadequate in terms of making any serious tilt at playoff contention. Moreover, an air of cynicism is descending over the New York public’s relationship with Ryan as his previous comments suggesting that this is the best group of players that he’s ever worked with seem to be the words of a lovable yet frankly delusional optimist. At press conferences he has repeatedly rolled out the phrase “we need to get better”, and essentially that is the bottom line here because, as things stand, this Jets team is just nowhere near good enough.

It remains to be seen how – or indeed if – the many problems can be solved, but many New Yorkers fear the worst and are now preparing themselves for a season of biting down on some pretty ugly results. Sanchez’s ability to lead the team back into postseason play is being widely questioned, and some fans have already begun discussing whether they would prefer Geno Smith, Matt Barkley or Tyler Bray as his replacement. Supporters of the fledgling campaign to “Blow For Geno” may see their vision take a step closer towards becoming a reality against the Texans on Monday night.


State of the Texans is thrilled with the insight Stephen provided, helping Houston Texans fans understand the New York Jets through the eyes of a very well-informed fan. Get some live updates as gameday gets closer. Follow Stephen Hunter on Twitter here and check out the SportsGeek33 blog right here. Huge thanks to Steve for his answers, thanks to you for reading and we’ll see y’all next week as we prep for Texans versus Green Bay!

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  1. […] Claire talked Jets football to the Sports Geek  in our “Know Your Opponent” segment.  […]

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