Meet the Jets,
Step right up and greet the Jets.
The 2010 season continues as your Houston Texans head to the northeast to face the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday.
I like to consider myself the optimist of the staff here, but it's been a trying week on the optimism. Between the gut-wrenching loss on Sunday and the impending visit to New Jersey, I have doubts about Houston's chances this weekend.
No, it's not because I think New York is an elite team because there are no elite teams this season. However, I think the Jets find a way to win close games whereas Houston is inventing new, unthinkable finishes to blow it at the end.
I mean, I could (and will) do a statistical breakdown of the Jets below, but I could just state the following and be fine. The Jets will jump out to a two-score lead in the first half while Houston fans clamor for more runs and/or passes. The Texans will come back like a desperate team to trail by a score or tie the game. The Texans will have a chance to take the lead in the 4th quarter when Matt Schaub will throw to Arian Foster. The ball will bounce off Foster's hands, off Rex Ryan's stomach, and into a waiting Bart Scott's hands. Scott will take off towards the end zone, but Andre Johnson will run him down and punch the ball out...only for Antonio Cromartie, flanked by six of his children, to pick the ball up and run it in for a game-sealing/winning touchdown. Yup, that's new enough, right?
However, let's find the holes in the New York Jets that way we know what to yell at Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison, and Frank Bush for on Sunday. Maybe, just maybe, the coaching staff will design a gameplan to exploit the weaknesses in the Jets.
Statistically, the pass defense is worse than last season, but that, to a degree, is related to Darrelle Revis missing some early season games. However, teams can find some success through the air with Revis out there. The Jets are 14th in YPG (217.1 with 13 TDs allowed) and 16th in pass defense DVOA (+10.6%). Revis will blanket Andre Johnson which will leave the passing game in the hands of Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, and David Anderson. The Jets rank 27th against #2s and 25th against 3s and 4s. The Jets rate among the better defenders of the tight end, but this post at Gang Green Nation suggests that the fans consider slot receivers/tight ends/attacking the middle of the field and safeties are the weakness of this defense. As far as pass-rushing goes, the Jets sit 17th in sacks with 17, so Matt Schaub will find himself seeing normal amounts of pressure if his line can pick up the blitz.
Offensively, the Jets are balanced (297 rushes vs. 300 passes) but struggling. While their rush offense is 4th in YPG (150.7 with 4.6 YPC) and 5th in DVOA (+8.6%), LaDainian Tomlinson has slowed up over the past few weeks with three straight games below 60 YPG and 4 YPC. Yes, they also have Shonn Greene, but he's only produced one game over 57 rushing yards and one TD. When New York runs, Football Outsiders shows that 52% of the time it's behind the guards and center. Tomlinson, despite slowing down in the running game, co-leads the Jets with 30 receptions.
The New York passing offense is ranked 20th in YPG (211.3 with 13 TDs) and 20th in DVOA (+15.2%). Mark Sanchez will be the lowest-rated (80.5) and least-accurate (54.7%) quarterback that Houston has faced this season. Will facing the Houston secondary provide the relief New York fans are looking for or vice-versa? The primary New York targets are TE Dustin Keller (who leads the Jets with 30 receptions, 5 TDs, and 21 1st downs), WR Braylon Edwards (leads the Jets with 453 yards and 5 TDs), and WR Santonio Holmes (who leads the Jets in YPG with 61.3). The Jets are among the league's better pass-protectors, allowing only 14 sacks, but it would go a long way if Mario Williams and company could fluster the youngster into more inaccurate throws and bad decisions.
Special teams wise, the Jets rank 9th in DVOA (+2.8%). The only negatives come in field goals, where they are 18-of-24, and coverage where they give up 22 yards per kick return - one spot ahead of 11th-ranked Houston - and allow an eighth-worst 11.6 yards per punt return. The Jets have pinned opponents inside the 20 on 44% of their punts, are 2nd in the league in YPKR with 27.4, and 11th in punt returns with 10.3 YPPR.
I know a lot of this sounds bleak, so I'll leave you with some positives that can't be found in the statistics. Five of the nine New York games have been decided by eight points or less. Both New York losses have come at home, in New Meadowlands Stadium, where they average 12 fewer points than on the road. Speaking of the road, New York returns home after back-to-back road overtime wins over Detroit and Cleveland - an NFL first. The Jets will continue to work overtime as they'll immediately turn around and play Cincinnati on Thursday night after facing Houston.
In a nutshell, or for those who think "too long, summarize," the Texans should be very glad to be facing the Jets in New Jersey after two overtime games and right before a Thursday game. Houston needs to spread out the Jets and find "the other guys" specifically along the seam and in the middle of the field. Defensively, stack the box to choke out the run and put pressure on Sanchez (hell, they may as well blitz cause the secondary ain't stopping no one). On special teams, watch out for their kick returns and hope Jacoby Jones makes some noise as a punt returner.
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