Jets-Texans Preview: Getting you ready for Week One

The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.

Training camp is in the rearview mirror, the rosters are set, and there’s nothing left to do but strap it on for real.

It’s Week One of the NFL season, which sees your New York Jets travel to the Lone Star State to take on the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon.  Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM, and you can catch the action on CBS.

Despite a sore ankle, Texans QB Matt Schaub says he will play against the Jets on Sunday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Despite a sore ankle, Texans QB Matt Schaub says he will play against the Jets on Sunday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

It’s a day of new beginnings for a team loaded with young talent, and for a new coach who feels both he and his squad have something to prove.  The club has handed the reigns to a rookie quarterback, and he will lead them into one of the most hostile environments in the game in his first start as a pro.  A new defensive scheme will be tested by one of the elite offenses in the league.  And a fanbase will tune in to see just how far this new regime has come, and how far it still needs to go.

With such an intriguing game just days away, here’s five burning questions that will get you ready for the action.

-How will Mark Sanchez fare in his first start? This one’s straight out of the “no-brainer” category, but the topic will be broached every week until he’s no longer an inexperienced player.   The Texans posess a solid pass rush lead by Pro-Bowler Mario Williams, so if the rookie’s internal clock isn’t in tune, he could be in for a long day on the Reliant Stadium turf.

He’s a cool customer on the field, so don’t expect the atmosphere to rattle him.  He has the poise, mental toughness and confidence to succeed in any environment: the question at this point is how quickly he can put it all together, not whether or not he will.

-How will the Jets offense handle the crowd noise with a rookie behind center? It will be interesting to see how the Jets offense copes with the crowd noise Sunday, and how well Sanchez can direct his troops while barely being able to hear himself think.  Houston’s crowd is routinely one of the loudest in the game, so it will be imperative for the quarterback and his lineman to be on the same page from the opening snap.  The line is an extremely talented, veteran unit that has played together consistently for quite a while, so it shouldn’t be anything the group, and Sanchez, can’t handle.  If they can limit the false start penalties, and strike early to keep the crowd at bay, things will be a whole lot easier.

-How will Rex Ryan handle his first game as a head coach? We know Rex is going to call the defensive plays.  But aside from that, we really don’t have much of a sample size to determine his tendencies as a head coach in regards to the strategic aspect.  Plenty of assistant coaches have had trouble in the early going of their head coaching careers with the coaching of a game from the head spot; when to use timeouts, playing field position, and other nuts-and-bolts aspects of the game you don’t deal with as a coordinator.

Rex is an intelligent football mind that is brilliant on the defensive side of the football, but you can’t master something until you’ve done it at least once.  The preseason is a good way to practice the process, but there’s nothing like the real thing.  He may not have many decisions that drastically effect the outcome of the game, but it will be interesting to see if he’s second-guessed in the papers Monday morning.

-Will the new-look defense be able to get to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub? A new defensive scheme and high-caliber additions to the last two levels of the unit make this Jets defense one of the most impressive to put on the Green and White in quite some time.  A Rex Ryan defense will get to the quarterback, but the question will be how many times they can knock down the relatively immoble Schaub.  If they can disrupt his timing and force him to move in the pocket, they will make the job much easier for the secondary, and limit the amount of big play opportunities that plagued the group throughout the preseason.

- Will Lito Sheppard be able to contain Kevin Walter? We know Darrelle Revis will be matched up against Andre Johnson, probably with safety help over the top.  Johnson is one of the handful of wideouts who commands a doubleteam any time he steps on the field, so Sheppard will have to contend with Walter, one of the more underrated receivers in the league.  Sheppard will be in single coverage most of the season, and with Revis ascending to the upper echelon of the league’s corners, he has to know teams will be throwing his way…a lot.

If Sheppard and new safety Jim Leonhard can play to their potential, the Jets’ secondary becomes one of the best in the league, with Revis and standout safety Kerry Rhodes.  Walter will be a great test for Sheppard, and we will find out if he is up to the task.  It could be a precursor for the rest of the season.

INJURIES

Official Injury Reports from both teams (as of Thursday):

New York Jets
Date Pos Player Injury Fantasy News
09/10/09 QB Kellen Clemens Right elbow   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 DE Mike DeVito Hamstring   Limited practice. Questionable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 RB Shonn Greene Ribs   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 LB Bryan Thomas Ankle   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 WR Wallace Wright Knee   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/05/09 DL Shaun Ellis Suspension   Suspended. Eligible to return Week 2 vs. New England
09/05/09 LB Calvin Pace Suspension   Suspended. Eligible to return Week 5 at Miami
Houston Texans
Date Pos Player Injury Fantasy News
09/10/09 CB Jacques Reeves Fibula   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 DT DelJuan Robinson Calf   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 QB Matt Schaub Left ankle   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 WR Kevin Walter Hamstring   Did not practice. Questionable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 S Eugene Wilson Knee   Did not practice. Questionable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets

Prediction: Prognosticators have been sleeping on Gang Green since the first “expert” predictions came out.  So, you could say a good start would come as a surprise.

Well, not to this guy.  They may have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach.  But that rookie quarterback is going to be special, and that rookie coach has a defensive scheme that can make any team better.  They have young talent at virtually every position, and if  a wide receiver can step in to the number two slot and have a breakout season, this team could be a force from Week One.

People are sleeping on these New York Jets, but they won’t be sleeping for long.  Mark Sanchez wins his first start as a pro on the road in Houston with the defense battering Matt Schaub for 60 minutes, sending a wake-up call to the rest of the league, and setting the stage for a showdown in Week Two with the New England Patriots.

Final Score: Jets: 20    Texans: 17

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