Jets vs. Texans: Talking to the Opponent

First a few updates: 

1. A big congratulations to Derek Jeter for breaking the all-time Yankees hit record.

Jets vs. Texans: Talking to the Opponent

I exchanged questions with Texans writer Mike Kerns from (http://dontmesswithtexans.com/) here is our conversation about the Jets/Texans match-up:

MK: With the apparent “QB battle” over and Mark Sanchez winning the starting job (was there really any doubt?), what does the team plan to do with Kellen Clemens. Does he become the primary backup? Or does Rex Ryan plan to see if Clemons can garner any interest on the trade market? Also, is he okay with just being a backup?

JC: Clemens will be the Jets backup this season because none of the quarterbacks on the roster have any experience but this will be his last season in green and white since his contract expires and the Jets like the long term potential of Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell. I’m sure Clemens isn’t okay with being a backup, but he had enough chances to be a starter and never took advantage.

MK: A lot of Texans fans were all about trading down in the 2006 draft and taking D’brickshaw Ferguson with their first pick. Now that the fallout from the Mario Williams pick has cleared (and most are now declaring him the right pick for #1 overall) you don’t hear much about Brick in Houston anymore. With this being the first match up between the two high draft picks, who do you give the edge to?
JC: I would give the edge to Williams, who has been a pro-bowl caliber player the past couple of seasons. D’Brick has been pretty good but not great since the Jets drafted him, although he is predicting a pro-bowl appearance for himself this season. It will be fun to watch those two battle on Sunday though, since they two of the more athletic people at their positions in the NFL.
MK: Is the new stories about Brett Favre calling out Jets officials about making him play injured last season as big of a story around the team as ESPN is making it out to be?
JC: I think Favre is just making excuses for his poor play down the stretch. Mike Tannenbaum admitted today that he should have listed Favre as probable, but it remains to be seen if the NFL will take any disciplinary action against the Jets
MK: Derrelle Revis and Andre Johnson. All-Pro vs. All-Pro. This is the one that seems to be getting the most attention on Texans fan sites. Last season, only Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders was able to keep Andre Johnson in check. Revis isn’t exactly a slouch though. What’s your gut telling you the outcome will be in this match up?
JC: Andre Johnson will get his catches, but I think Revis will be able to prevent him from killing the Jets with the big play. He usually rises up against the elite receivers in the league. I can see Johnson having something like 5 catches for 59 yards, but he won’t go off for one of his 8 catch, 130 yard, 2 TD’s performance.
MK: With the Jets strong running attack being matched up against Houston’s weakness (Run Defense), what kind of day are you expecting from Thomas Jones and Leon Washington?
JC: I am expecting Jones and Washington to combine for 40 touches on Sunday. I think TJ will get 22-25 carries and be right around 100 yards. Washington should be in the 10-12 carry range, along with a few receptions and should be good for a couple of big plays as usual.
 
JC: My prediction for the game:  Jets- 23, Texans – 20
JC: Expectations have never been higher for the Texans, do you think they will finally get over the hump and challenge the Colts for the divisional title or at least a wild card spot?
 
MK: Well, I am kind of on the fence about that one. The Texans were a trendy sleeper pick last year, as well. But I think either way it goes, it wouldn’t surprise me. We have gotten so used to things going wrong here that we have gotten used to it. We expect bad things to happen and expectations to come up short. I don’t necessarily think it is pessimism. Just realism. But to answer your question, it all depends on Matt Schaub. If he can stay on the field for a full season, I think Houston reaches double digits in wins for the first time in franchise history. The defense only needs to be middle of the pack with the high power offense. And it all starts, and ends, with Matt Schaub.
JC: How healthy is Matt Schaub and if he gets knocked out of the game, will Dan Orlovsky or Rex Grossman come into the game?
 
MK: Matt Schaub declared himself ready to go for the game Sunday. When asked if he was 100%, he replied “in this league, you are never 100%.” But I really think the ankle sprain he suffered against Minnesota has really only been made a big issue because of his durability problems in the past. The team is just being overly cautious. As they should be.
 
With his strong showing in the preseason finale, Rex Grossman won the backup job. But I have to believe he will have a very short leash, especially since the Texans gave Dan Orlovsky a 3 year/9 Million dollar contract this offseason.
JC: How concerned are you about the secondary and the Texans defense overall?
 
MK: I thank the lord above that Dunta Robinson ended his holdout. He immediately became the Texans best CB simply by walking back through the door. Jacques Reeves is still out with a broken fibula, so Fred Bennett will start opposite Robinson on Sunday. Aside from Dunta, I am very concerned about the secondary. As I have been for the past few seasons.
 
With a new defensive coordinator, Frank Bush, I expect some big plays to be given up sometimes by the Texans defense (See Adrian Peterson). Amobi Okoye is in his third year and is teetering into the “bust” stereotype. DeMeco Ryans is 100% healthy this year and playing for a new contract, so I expect him to bring the pain even more that usual. Mario is Mario, so I’m not worried about him. But I want to see more than just these two guys making plays. Okoye and free agent acquisition Antonio Smith need to work at slowing down the run. I really do not know what to expect from first round draft choice Brian Cushing. He missed the entire preseason, yet he is starting on Sunday. Should be interesting.
JC: Do you think Houston will target Kevin Walter often, since it will be matched up on Lito Sheppard who has struggled this pre-season, or do you think they won’t shy away from throwing at Darrelle Revis because they have Andre Johnson?
 
MK: I don’t think they will go to Kevin Water that much since he will probably not play. He suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason and he didn’t even practice today. Andre Davis or David Anderson will probably step in. I’d like to see Jacoby Jones get some time simply for his playmaking abilities, but his immaturity keeps him strictly a punt returner and special teamer. But I think you will see TE Owen Daniels with a big game.
 
As much as I admire Darrelle Revis, Andre Johnson has simply looked unstoppable for a couple of years now. So I don’t see offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan letting Revis take away their greatest weapon on offense. And I am sure Andre will be up for the challenge as well. He was only thrown to one time against Nnamdi Asomugha last year and I hope they don’t do the same this year against Revis. 
JC: What is your prediction for the final score?
 
MK: I think either one of two things happen. Either Houston comes out and gets up by a couple of scores in the first quarter and forces the Jets to make Mark Sanchez feel like he has to air it out. This slowing down the powerful Jets running game. Or, what is more likely, Houston’s defense is slow to arrive and relies on the potent Texans offense to play catch up all game. So, I predict a Kris Brown field goal with under a minute left puts Houston up 24-20 with under a minute left and Mark Sanchez is unable to make the game winning drive in his first NFL start. So, Houston wins a tough one 24-20. But only because they’ve become so tough at home.

Jets vs. Texans: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode I

First a few updates:

1. Click on the video below to see the first episode of TOJ TV, with my Jets/Texans Prediction.

2. Also, Texans receiver Kevin Walter will be a game time decision with a hamstring injury. David Anderson or Andre Davis would fill in for him.

This Week’s Song: The Game f/ Li’l Wayne – RED Magic

Jets vs. Texans: Key Match-Ups

First a few updates:

1. The Jets first injury report today had Mike DeVito listed as limited, although he is still expected to play. There are some rumblings that Sione Pouha will start at defensive end and that DeVito will rotate in off the bench but that remains to be seen. Kellen Clemens, Bryan Thomas, Wallace Wright, and Shonn Grenne were also listed on the injury report but all participated in the full practice today.

2. The Sporting News came up with a list of the top 100 players in the NFL: three Jets made it on the list, with Alan Faneca coming in at #34, Kris Jenkins #69, and Darrelle Revis at #98. No, Nick Mangold? I was a little surprised by that.

3. Brett Favre said some garbage today about being hurt towards the end of last season and a belief that he probably should have sat because his arm hurt so much. Yea, I’m sure Favre was just begging to be taken out when the Jets were 8-4 or 8-5. I really hope Cleveland and Minnesota end up in a 0-0 tie this weekend, with Favre throwing 4 INT’s, I’m not really interested in seeing him or Mangini win.

4. A little heads up that I will be making an appearance on The Fantasy Buffet at www.fanball.com at 11:15 AM on Friday to preview the Jets/Texans game.

Jets vs. Texans: Key-Match Ups

Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Texans game and then again on Friday for my prediction, today I am going to focus on the key individual match-ups for this Sunday’s game.

Darrelle Revis vs. Andre Johnson: Everybody knows Andre Johnson is one of the three best receivers in the NFL, if not arguably the best overall one. Few people respect Darrelle Revis as one the league’s top 3-5 cornerbacks, but make no mistake, he is. Johnson is the type of player who can change a game on any given play, having the ability to score from any place on the field which only increases the pressure on Revis. With Rex Ryan’s aggressive style, I don’t know how much help Revis will have over the top. As long as he can keep Johnson in front of him and prevent him from killing the Jets with the big play, he will have done his job.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Damien Woody vs. Mario Williams – Ferguson and Williams is a battle of former top 5 picks in the 2006 draft, so it will grab more headlines but I am worried about Woody struggling with a speed rusher like Williams. Despite having a solid season in 2008, Woody is still a former interior lineman who sometimes struggles against the pass rush. I think Ferguson has the feet to handle Williams and will be able to protect Sanchez adequately. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets chip Williams occasionally with a back or tight end. The last thing they need is Sanchez getting pounded into the turf or running for his life all day on Sunday.

Leon Washington vs. DeMeco Ryans – Ryans is a lethal combination of speed and talent at the middle linebacker position, while Leon Washington is one of the hardest people to tackle in the NFL in the open field. When the Jets drop off a screen to Washington or send him on a wheel route out of the backfield, it will be up to Ryans to prevent him from creating a big play.

Lito Sheppard vs. Kevin Walter – The Texans aren’t going to stop throwing to Andre Johnson because Darrelle Revis is on him but they will certainly be throwing a ton of balls to Walter, an 8 touchdown 900 yard receiver, against Sheppard who struggled all pre-season. Lito is in desperate need of a strong performance to calm everybody’s nerves about him opposite Revis. Walter has good size and is frequently targeted around the red-zone, Sheppard has good hands and can make big plays but also has been a penalty machine this pre-season and been beat often.

We Never Get Enough Leon Washington here at TurnOnTheJets.com

Jets Defense in Trouble?

First a few updates:

1. The Jets began to make their roster cuts yesterday releasing quarterback Chris Pizzotti, receiver Huey Whittaker, safety Nate Ness, and linebacker Craig Kobel…no surprises there.

2. Apparently the Jets have no interest in adding Reggie Brown if he gets cut by Philly, according to Dave Hutchinson. The Jets may be satisfied with their group of receivers this late into pre-season. It will be a committee approach that will rely on different players to step up each week.

3. Oh boy, it’s Jets-Eagles pre-season week…there is nothing worse than week four of the pre-season. Thank god tomorrow is September, a month that will hopefully be filled up with the Yankees winning the AL East, the Jets getting off to a strong start, and my fantasy team going undefeated.

Jets Defense in Trouble?

The Jets defense has looked pretty good this pre-season. The first unit is stopping the run, getting to the quarterback, and created two turnovers on Saturday against the Giants. However, there is a growing list of concerns about the unit that could affect their early season play. In their first four games, the Jets play three of the best offenses in football. The Texans have a dangerous collection of weapons, including receiver Andre Johnson, running back Steve Slaton, and tight end Owen Daniels and the Patriots and Saints success speaks for itself. Will the Jets be equipped to handle these high caliber units, despite these problems:

1. No Calvin Pace, Big ProblemPace has been exceptional this pre-season when he has been on the field but unfortunately the Jets will be without him the first four weeks. Vernon Gholston finally showed some signs of life last week as his replacement but only as a pass rusher. The Giants ran the ball right at Gholston, who couldn’t get off his blocks, with a high degree of success. Teams will be targeting Gholston early in the year and the Jets will struggle to stop the run unless he can quickly improve. Jamaal Westerman could begin to see an increase in reps if Gholston doesn’t play well against the Eagles and then in week one against the Texans.

2. D-Line Depth Issues – The Jets already had some serious questions about their defensive line depth coming into the season and now they will be without Shaun Ellis in week one because of a suspension. Making matters worse is now his backup, Mike DeVito, has a pulled hamstring and could also miss some early season action. This will put serious pressure on highly inexperienced players like Ropati Pitoitua and Zach Potter to step up give quality reps. It also increases pressure on newly acquired Marques Douglas to have a strong start to the year and provide some stability to the defensive end position. Also, don’t be surprised if you see Howard Green slide over from defensive tackle to take some reps or Vernon Gholston put his hand in the dirt, while somebody like Westerman steps in at linebacker.

3. Picked On Corners – First it was Dwight Lowery against the Rams, then it was Drew Coleman and Marquis Cole getting beat deep against the Ravens, then it was Lito Sheppard having a rough night against the Giants…the Jets may have some issues opposite Darrelle Revis. Teams aren’t going to target #24 all that often, so Sheppard and Lowery are going to need to step up and be ready to handle a ton of balls coming their way. Yes, the Jets have Revis to counter Andre Johnson but Kevin Walter is a good player opposite him, the Saints have a group of speedy receivers across from Marques Colston, and the Patriots obviously have Wes Welker and Joey Galloway to with Randy Moss.

The pressure is on players like Vernon Gholston, Ropati Pitoitua, Marques Douglas, Dwight Lowery, and Lito Sheppard to improve their play and complement the rest of the talented Jets defense. It doesn’t matter how good Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, and David Harris are, in football you are only as good as your weakest link.

Mark Sanchez Pre-Season Highlights

Jets vs. Giants Highlights, A Day Late (Also Added to the Game Highlights Section)