PREVIEW: Texans (4-0) @ NY Jets (2-2)

It was only 2009 when Mark Sanchez stood up from taking a knee, pumped his fist and walked away with the game ball after receiving his first NFL win in his first NFL game in Houston.

Those were the days, huh?

The Jets look to get back on the saddle after being exposed in every which way last Sunday against the San Francisco 49er’s.

The road to recovery doesn’t get easier as the Jets take on the undefeated Houston Texans on Monday night.

Houston has defensively dominated all of their opponents so far.  Let’s look into some of their league rankings:  First in total defense, second in passing defense, tied for fifth in sacks and first in scoring defense.

Rex Ryan and the rest of the coaches have to put their players in situations where they can succeed.

Mark Sanchez spoke about the Texans’ defense saying, “They’re tough. J.J. Watt looks great. (Brian) Cushing, former roommate and good friend of mine, looks good. In the secondary, a really improved group with (Johnathan) Joseph and (Kareem) Jackson, so it’s a heck of a group. We’re going to have our work cut out for us, just like every week. We’re excited about the challenge.”

Their offense has kept pace, ranking second in the NFL in scoring and supplying what is widely regarded as the best rushing attack in the league in Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

“When you look at (Arian) Foster, I don’t know what his average is, carries and all that stuff, but I don’t know how many guys are on pace to run the ball more than he is, and I’m talking about ever, in this league.  They just give it to him, he’s a work horse,” said Rex Ryan on the Texans’ star.

The Jets are in the bottom half of the league in rush defense and anyone who has watched the team can tell this is not Rex Ryan’s best group of tacklers.  This week the Jets also received the unfortunate news of Santonio Holmes missing the rest of the season with a foot injury.

If you had a bad feeling last week, there’s a chance it could look worse on Monday.

But the Jets understand they have to play with what they have.  This is the roster until the end.  No excuses, buckle up, because it will be a grind.

“I know how resilient this group is and really, quite honestly, how tough this group is.  Sure we wish that those two guys were still here, Darrelle and Santonio still playing. But for us, it’s, ‘Hey, who’s up next? We’re going to go on.’  We’re all about our team.  It’s about the decal on the side of the helmet.  You’re a New York Jet.  We expect certain things from you and here we go.  Did it go our way this past game? Absolutely not, but I’m eager to get back out there on Monday,” said Ryan.

Sanchez reiterated what his head coach preached, “I think it’s just another opportunity. Nobody expects it to work. Nobody expects it to go right. Nobody expects us to win, and that’s fine. I’ve been in situations like that before. I’m confident I can handle it, and there’s only one way in my mind to go about it, and that’s really attack it.”

It will take a complete team effort for the Jets to take down the NFL’s best team at the quarter mark.

WHEN: Monday, October 8, 2012 @ 8:30 pm EST (Can be seen on ESPN or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: East Rutherford, NJ / MetLife Stadium (capacity: 82,500)

SERIES HISTORY: Jets lead 5-0

LAST MEETING: Jets 30 — Texans  27

NOTABLE: Matt Schaub is 8-0 in his last eight starts dating back to last season (missed playoffs due to injury).

HEAD COACHES:

  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / 34-24 (including postseason).
  • Texans – Gary Kubiak / Seventh Season with Texans / 52-50 (including postseason).

INJURY REPORT:

  • JETS — OUT – CB Darrelle Revis (knee). QUESTIONABLE – RB John Conner (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), S LaRon Landry (heel), RB Joe McKnight (illness), DT Sione Pouha (back), CB Aaron Berry (ribs), LB Bart Scott (toe), S Eric Smith (hip, knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).
  • Texans — QUESTIONABLE – S Quintin Demps (thumb, forearm), WR Lestar Jean (knee), G Wade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (toe), G Antoine Caldwell (ankle, knee), DT Shaun Cody (back), TE Owen Daniels (thigh), WR Andre Johnson (groin), S Shiloh Keo (neck), DE Antonio Smith (ankle).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets Coaching Staff vs. Jets Roster – The biggest question the Jets coaching staff has to answer at this point in the season this: What can they do to put the players they have in the best possible position to be most effective?  The talent level on the roster may not be at the level people have been accustomed to in comparison to the past few years, but it isn’t as awful as the way they’ve been recently portrayed.  The coaches gave the players Monday and Tuesday off, partly to regroup as a staff and create a plan that will be more effective.  Monday against the Texans is the first step of seeing where the team is headed for the rest of the season.
  • Secondary blitzes vs. Texans O-line — If the Texans have a weakness, it is their depth at wide receiver.  After Andre Johnson, there aren’t many threats that require special attention.  Kevin Walter is a nice player and Owen Daniels is a favorite target of Schaub’s just like any other tight end-quarterback combo, but the wide receivers beyond Walter are: Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, Lestar Jean and Trindon Holliday.  There is a reason you never heard of these players, even in the world of fantasy football.  This may be a way Ryan can get creative and create pressure or even send secondary blitzes to help with their powerful run attack.

X-FACTORS:

  • Chaz Schilens, WR, Jets — The Jets have to lean on someone to extend drives on third down or pick up a big play when called upon.  After proving to be the most successful wide receiver in the offense against San Francisco, let’s see if he can keep continuing to improve with Sanchez and the rest of the offense.  The Jets are waiting around for someone to (trying not to use the most overused term in sports, step up) mesh with Sanchez with Holmes gone, maybe Schilens can be that guy.
  • Jets Linebackers vs. Texans rush attack — There really hasn’t been a game where the Jets linebackers have dominated a game, or even played well enough to dictate the game.  This group will have a consistent rushing attack thrown right towards them and they can either dictate the game flow or allow the Texans to play to their liking which is use the run to open up play-action.

THE PICK: Professional athletes have too much pride to just roll over when things aren’t going their way.  I know the difference in talent level is visible, but after being called out for ‘quitting’ against the 49er’s, I think the Jets reach down deep and pull out an effort that at the very least will have fans feeling positive.  Texans 21 – JETS 17.

Last Words: If the Jets lose, there is no reason to pile up to say how bad of a season this will be.  When everyone looked at the schedule before the season started, wasn’t this a possibility from almost any reasonable thinker?

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