Texans to Watch: Jets Edition
The Houston Texans march into MetLife Stadium with an AFC leading 4-0 record to take on the Green & White aka New York Jets. The game will be the first of several upcoming prime time games for the Texans. The Jets are coming off an embarrassing 34-0 performance against the San Francisco 49ers, while the Texans have essentially rolled through their first four games.
Part of the Jets’ woes are due to their lack of running attack. They have averaged 3.2 yards on the ground but their starting running back Shonn Greene is below that with 2.8 yards per carry clip. Meanwhile, Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez is completing less than half of his passes (49.2%) and has an abysmal 69.6 passer rating. Fortunately for Sanchez, he has only been sacked 6 times. After last week, Sanchez will attempt to improve without his top receiver, Santonio Holmes (20 receptions for 272 yards and 1 touchdown). Holmes was injured last week and placed on the injured reserve.
And with the ruckus in the off season about Tim Tebow being traded to the Jets, he has only attempted and completed one pass for 4 yards. He does, however, have 9 rushes for 38 yards with a long of 22 yards.
Bottom line, the Jets are not very good offensively – and surprisingly their defense has been equally as bad, especially against the run. The Jets defense is giving up next to last numbers on the ground at a whopping 172.8 yards per game. Not surprisingly, in the last two games they have given up a combined 430 yards to Miami (185) and San Francisco (245). To make matters worse, they lost their best defensive player – cornerback Darrelle Revis to a season ending injury.
When Jets’ coach Rex Ryan was asked about his two best players being injured he said, “Well, we’re going to find out. Losing Santonio Holmes for the season obviously is a huge loss to our football team, our offense, obviously because he’s a guy that if you play Cover 1, he’s going to beat you, no matter who is playing corner. Then losing (Darrelle) Revis for us; let’s face it, Andre Johnson is as good as it gets in this league as a receiver. But we would actually put Revis out there by himself and not saying not to worry about it, but a lot of straight man-coverage against him and bet you we’re the only team in the league that would do that. We have lost two really good players but it’s not an excuse for our team. We still think we can be effective. Kyle Wilson is the young man that steps up; former first-round pick and he’s a good player in his own right. He will replace Revis and then it’s kind of a receiver-by-committee, whether it’s Jeremy Kerley, whether it’s Chaz Schilens. Stephen Hill, our number two pick this year in the draft, is with a hamstring (injury). We’ll see what happens there. Clearly, nobody can replace those two guys but that loss has to be picked by our entire football team and each guy has to get a little better.”
Texans to Watch: Offense
Once again, the Texans will look to establish the running game and will see if the Jets were able to fix their run defense problems. The offensive players to watch will be the entire offensive line. Can they respond to not only their own issues last week versus the Titans but also to the Jets’ adjustments (assuming the Jets make adjustments)? The running game fired on all cylinders versus the Jaguars after a bad showing against the Dolphins, so can fans expect the Texans’ running game to bounce back?
It all starts with the guys up front. If Foster and Tate (or Forsett because Tate is nursing a toe injury) have a big game, it will be because of Duane Brown,Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Antoine Caldwell/Ben Jones and Derek Newton/Ryan Harris leading the way. This group will need to make sure they can maintain their block on Jets’ middle linebacker David Harris. He leads the Jets with 37 total tackles. If the Texans can produce 245 yards on the ground like the 49ers did, this will be another 20+ point win for the Texans.
However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Kubiak come out throwing to loosen up this Jets’ defense and to take advantage of Revis being out. Pick your poison Jets. In his career prime time games (8 total), Andre Johnson has been exceptional averaging 6.4 catches and 98.9 yards.
Texans to Watch: Defense
The Texans’ defense will be licking their chops to face Mark Sanchez and the anemic Jets’ offense on the Monday Night Football prime time stage. Hopefully, Phillips is preparing for more Tim Tebow a la wildcat offense this week. The Jets won’t want to get embarrassed Monday night in front of the entire country and may turn to Tebow to save them.
Regardless, the Texans to watch on defense this week will be the linebackers: Brian Cushing, Bradie James, Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. If the Jets plan to play the Texans straight up (no wildcat trick plays), then they will lose. They just don’t have enough fire power offensively. The Jets need something to spark their offense and may turn to wildcat trickery. The linebackers will need to set the edge – stay disciplined, not over pursue, and not miss tackles. Cushing and James both had good games statistically last week and appear to be playing better together.
Texans to Watch: Special Teams
With the addition of a healthy Bryan Braman, the Texans’ special teams has improved significantly as a unit. Back-up inside linebacker Tim Dobbins is tied for the NFL lead with 6 special teams tackles, and linebacker Jessie Nading is right behind Dobbins with 5 special teams tackles – also a top 10 in the league. Braman was able to get 3 tackles in one game last week so you should expect him to break into the top 10 soon. This week’s Texans to Watch during special teams will be these 3 players collectively: Tim Dobbins, Jessie Nading and Bryan Braman. Making the Jets’ offense work 80+ yards for a score should result in a win for the Texans, just like it did against the Titans.
The Jets know they are up against arguably the best team in the AFC this week. In fact, after the humiliating defeat last week versus the 49ers, Jets’ veteran linebacker Bart Scott said, “We have to continue to keep improving. We have to stick together. We have to take accountability, watch the film and move forward and get better, because it doesn’t get easy in this league. Last week we played the best team in the NFC. This week we’re probably playing arguably the best team in the AFC. So it doesn’t get easy in this league. Every game is going to be a challenge.”
The problem with the Jets isn’t the “x’s and o’s” – it’s that they don’t have very good players. Look for the Texans to advance to 5-0.