With the first quarter of the 2012 NFL regular season in the books, the New York Jets stand at 2-2 atop the AFC East. However, anyone following this team knows that, with the way the Jets have played since week 2, there is little to no security in that position. Sure, New York is .500 and in first place in their division, but the reality of the matter is, with their 2 best players out, Mark Sanchez seemingly going in the tank, and the defense giving up yardage like it is going out of style, the Jets season seems all but lost already.
The Jets face yet another daunting task this Monday night as they host the undefeated Houston Texans, deemed by many as the best team in the league this season. Can the Jets beat Houston at home? Sure, this is the NFL where upsets happen all the time. However, this is also a team that is seemingly becoming all too familiar with losing.
The Jets are desperate for a convincing win, something they’ve had very few of over the past calendar year. Although a win will be extremely difficult to come by this Monday, New York can certainly take a step in the right direction with competitive play in which they show desire, drive, and confidence, while the offense displays ball security and the defense shows the ability to stop the run and get off the field on third downs. Still, an extrememly difficut task against a team like Houston.
So, how will the Jets fare? Is this the end of the Mark Sanchez era in New York as we know it? Will Rex Ryan’s defense get back to its old ways of dominance, or is that just a mirage at this point? And will Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity with this roster prove to be the ultimate demise of this team? Find out all you need to know about this week’s game in our latest edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.
Houston will sack Mark Sanchez multiple times. Fact. While the Jets offensive line has been improved in pass protection over these first four games, Houston’s defense has 13 sacks in that same time span, averaging just over 3 per game. Defensive End J.J. Watt is putting together one of the greatest performances by a defensive lineman in recent memory, leading the NFL with 7.5 sacks. While San Francisco’s pass rush was certainly the best the Jets had seen up until that point last week, Houston has an abundance of pass rushers at every position. The Jets will likely slide a lot of protection toward Watt leaving players like Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed, two players who also have a history of getting to the quarterback, for single blocking.
Texans’ Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will certainly get very creative with his blitz packages and rush schemes, something he has become notorious for since joining Houston last season. New York will do their best to keep Sanchez upright, however expect Watt, Cushing, and Reed to all combine for anywhere between 3-4 sacks.
The Jets will finally run the ball effectively. Fact. This is a very bold prediction here, considering how poor New York’s rushing offense has been. Houston’s run defense ranks 11th in the NFL, allowing just over 90 yards per contest. However, the Texans gave up 144 yards on the ground last week to Chris Johnson, who up until that point, was the only starting running back in the league averaging less YPC than Shonn Greene with 1.4. Against the Texans, however, Johnson posted a season high 5.6 YPC.
Yes, Johnson is much more physically gifted than Greene, and unlike the Jets starter, runs with some form of identity. However, if Johnson can make somewhat of a revival, there is no reason the Jets entire rushing attack cannot as well. The key for Tony Sparano will be to identify the holes and weaknesses in Houston’s front seven, something that will certainly be no walk in the park. However, with the right amount of Greene, complemented with Bilal Powell and possibly Joe McKnight, coupled with a coherent Tim Tebow game plan, there is no reason the Jets cannot at least make some sort of improvement in the run game this week. Will it need to be done with gimmick plays and creative formations? Absolutely. But, with the personnel left on this offense, that will likely be the only way to get things materialized from here on out.
Aarian Foster will run for 100+ Yards. False. Yes, another bold prediction considering how bad the Jets run defense has looked recently. However, with Sione Pouha likely out this week, Kenrick Ellis will be receiving most of the reps at Nose Tackle, which will prove to be a blessing in disguise for this defense. Ellis has been the best defensive lineman for the Jets thus far this season. His ability to take on double teams, and occupy two blockers, is head and shoulders above what Pouha’s is right now. This will allow for less free shots at the linebackers, who will be more free to roam the field and make plays. Quinton Coples will likely see more reps as an every down player, as his workload has been increasing each week, and that will give the Jets much more athleticism and explosion up front. While Houston will likely rack up over 100 yards on the ground collectively, it will likely be through a committee effort. Plus, the Jets couldn’t possibly miss 17 tackles again…right?
The Jets pass rush will finally show some signs of life this week. Fact. By now, you’ve realized this piece is full of bold predictions. However, considering how dead the Jets pass rush has been throughout the first 4 games, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits would be considered a revival. Throughout our film breakdowns, it has become extremely apparent that the Jets’ pass rushing problems stem, not from lack of effort or technique, but mostly lack of speed from the starters. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, despite each recording a sack last week, are simply too slow to get to the quarterback at this point in their careers. DeMario Davis and Quinton Coples are beginning to see extended reps in passing situations, something that will prove to be brilliant as the season progresses. Each has tremendous speed, and Coples is undoubtedly the most talented lineman on the team, just still a bit raw. Kenrick Ellis gets an excellent push up the middle in his pass rush, which will ultimately help flush Matt Schaub out of the pocket, hopefully into an edge player. If Aaron Maybin can somehow develop a few pass rush moves, the Jets’ rush may not be as dormant anymore.
Houston’s Brian Cushing will have an excellent performance in his Homecoming game on Monday Night Football. Fact. Former AP Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing makes his return home to North Jersey this Monday night. A graduate of Bergen Catholic High School, Cushing won a state championship in the very same complex, at the old Giant Stadium, as a high school senior. Now, Cushing comes back to the Meadowlands as Houston’s 2012 leading tackler.
While he will surely be fired up for this game, in which he takes on former college teammate Mark Sanchez, Cushing is physically a mismatch for the Jets offense. Possessing great speed, athleticism, and tenacity from the inside, Cushing’s versatility makes him a dangerous weapon for Wade Phillips. As previously noted, New York will likely pay a lot of attention to J.J. Watt, leaving Cushing to roam the field, and make plays, exactly what he does best. Expect a stat line close to 10 tackles, 1 sack, and a tackle for loss for the former BC Crusader.
This will be Mark Sanchez’s last game as the starting Quarterback of the New York Jets. False. While the clock certainly seems to be ticking on Sanchez, as many are convinced it is not a matter of if but when he will be replaced by Tim Tebow, don’t expect a decision to come after this game. Even if Sanchez plays poorly again, something that could very well happen against this defense, New York is simply not ready for a change, because they know like everyone else, once they go to Tebow, there is no turning back.
Regardless of his performance, Sanchez will be given amnesty due to the fact that he has had to face arguably the two best defenses in the NFL in consecutive weeks. However, if his poor play continues into the Colts game, not only will the fans and Woody Johnson call for Tebow to take the reigns, Rex Ryan and the coaching staff likely will as well.