23 observations from Texans vs. Jets

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Short week; how can the Texans rebound from a physical game in just six days to face a team that had ten days to prepare?

The Jets have the number one rush defense in the NFL; how will the Texans run the ball?

Backup QB starting...again; how is the offense going to do ANYTHING?

The defense can't do it again against an offense with Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, right?

We heard/read all of the reasons why the Texans couldn't/wouldn't succeed heading into this matchup with the New York Jets. Yet, when the clock hit zeroes, the Texans had another convincing win over an AFC foe in NRG Stadium. As I did last week, I'll let my wife have the first observation because you know the type of guy/husband I am.

  1. "You know, there were just so many guys doing good things today. It wasn't just one guy." Bingo. It was truly a team win and, again, players one through 46 all made contributions to the win.
  1. I was about ten to 15 feet away from DeAndre Hopkins one-handed grab in the second quarter. He made that look so easy, yet that's so incredibly hard to do. I saw Darrelle Revis just shake his head after Hop made that catch. The best part about that was that a ton of receivers would come back and gestured for a first down or found Revis to whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Nope, not Hop. He just walked over to the ref, gave him the ball and went back to the huddle.
  1. Hop's 61-yard touchdown over Revis was a similar play concept to the one that Nate Washington caught in the win over Tennessee. This was the one matchup we all wanted to see and many asked me if the Texans would throw at Revis. I said absolutely and wasn't surprised at all that the Texans went after him early. In fact, the Texans should've gotten off to a 7-0 lead had quarterback T.J. Yates not overshot Hopkins after the wide receiver double moved Revis in the first quarter.
  1. On that play, Hop ran an out and up, stutter and go. It was more like a triple move, than a double move. Most importantly, though, he ran well past Revis. A touchdown there and the building would've come down.
  1. Before I forget, the Texans have won games with three different starting quarterbacks this season, which matched the number last year. In fact, Bill O'Brien's 14 wins have come from five different quarterbacks over two seasons - Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer and today's starter T.J. Yates. Amazing to think about, honestly.
  1. The unique offensive "stuff" was fun to see. Now, I've followed college football for a long time, so I'm used to seeing teams run zone read and Wildcat sort of stuff. Just not the Texans. It looked like Jonathan Grimes was very comfortable getting the ball that deep in the backfield and he was decisive to and through the holes. There's no question that the Texans don't have a bell cow like Arian Foster, but Alfred Blue and Grimes are finding ways to impact the offense in Foster's absence.
  1. In the first quarter, when Yates motioned out of the backfield and left Grimes in the Wildcat, the Jets were really confused. They didn't see that coming. The interesting thing, though, was the buzz in the NRG Stadium crowd. The fans in the building realized it was something unlike they'd seen in a while, so when Grimes blasted behind tight end C.J Fiedorowicz and tackle Kendall Lamm, the crescendo grew louder and louder. That duo knocked Jets linebacker Calvin Pace five yards downfield and Grimes ran right past for a first down.
  1. The addition and re-insertion of Xavier Su'a-Filo has solidified the quintet up front and it seemed to have given the offensive line a continuity it's seemingly lacked.
  1. One of the key offensive looks the Texans gave the Jets was aligning Lamm as a nasty slot. Lamm aligned between either of the tackles Derek Newton or Duane Brown off the ball and Fiedorowicz, who aligned on the line of scrimmage. The Jets weren't exactly sure how to align to that look in the first half.
  1. And, I know it's coming, so let me put this to rest - Su'a-Filo played his tail off. He had a tremendous blitz pickup on a first down catch by DeAndre Hopkins in the first quarter on the Texans only field goal drive. He picked up a few twists perfectly and there was only once I can remember him struggling on pass protection. But, Yates threw the ball before XSF's man could get the sack or the pressure.
  1. I wrote about special teams in my Football 101 last week and one guy that I pointed out on kickoff coverage was Brian Peters. I honed in on him as he ran down the field on a kickoff in the first half. He did a similar thing to what he did against Cincinnati - he ran through two different blockers to make a tackle. He also had a tackle on Jeremy Kerley in the open field on the first punt of the game. He's made a HUGE contribution to this team with his play on special teams.
  1. Rookie safety Kurtis Drummond had a tremendous tackle in the open field on punt coverage. The coverage units gave up a few yards today but nothing that gave the Jets a field position advantage at any point.
  1. The Jets did everything in their power to bully the Texans. They were talking a TON of trash. Tackle Breno Giacomini shoved J.J. Watt from behind a couple of times just after the whistle. He then hit Watt over the top of the pile and that set Watt off. I've seen him mad on the field before but Watt was livid when the Jets offensive line hit him late and no flag was thrown.
  1. Speaking of Watt, he was flat outstanding. He stuffed the stat sheet, yet again and came up with one big play after the other. On the first drive of the game, the Jets strung together a few first downs and had passed into Texans territory. On the first down of the next series of downs, Watt split the block of Giacomini and tight end Kellen Davis and chased down running back Stevan Ridley on the counter play away from him. For the first time all game, the Jets were behind the chain and after a Brian Cushing tackle for a loss, the Texans got off the field with no damage done.
  1. Speaking of Cushing, he and Benardrick McKinney have played outstanding football together the past few weeks. They've complimented each other extremely well, combining for ten tackles and that Cushing tackle for a loss. McKinney nearly caused a fumble on a tackle on Chris Ivory in the third quarter.
  1. Jadeveon Clowney took a little while to get heated up, but when the Jets were forced to throw much of the second half, he made his presence known. He shared a sack with John Simon, knocked down a pass and got a hit on the quarterback. He was oh so close a few other times to racking up another couple of sacks too. He worked games and stunts with Whitney Mercilus and Watt throughout the game and it gave the Jets fits.
  1. Eddie Pleasant picked off the first pass of his career, playing under a corner route on fourth down late in the game. In the fourth quarter, he had a pass breakup down the seam on third down and then another one in the end zone on Eric Decker when he was in man coverage. He's been the perfect fit at dime linebacker/dime safety, whatever you want to call it, since his insertion into that spot the past few weeks.
  1. Andre Hal has three interceptions the last five games and he was inches away from having a fourth one versus Cincinnati last Monday night. He also got his hands on a pass in the third quarter too. In fact, the Texans had their hands on a number of passes that could've really broken the game wide open if the secondary could've grabbed a few of those earlier in the game. As it was, the Texans came up with two massive picks in the fourth quarter.
  1. One thing I've noticed about the secondary was the communication. The past three games, in particular, it seemed as though the back four/five/six were in constant communication. On the third down after the Blue TD catch, the Jets motioned to a tight trips look. When the WR got into position, just prior to the snap, rookie corner Kevin Johnson gave a hand signal to nickel back Charles James. The Hard Knocks star then adjusted his position and it was clear he changed his technique based on what Johnson signaled to him. It must have worked because Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had nowhere to throw the ball and Watt sacked him.
  1. I was curious to see how the Texans would respond after the Jets tied the game at 10. At first glance, as in the first two plays, it didn't appear as if they would respond at all. Then, the Cecil Shorts III drive started. He caught a third down catch for 15 yards. Yates then looked for him on the speed out toward the Jets sideline. He made the catch as Antonio Cromartie went for the pick, then turned it up the field for a 35 yard gain. He then lined up at quarterback and ran zone read for five yards. One play after Alfred Blue's first down run, he caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage and lofted one for Blue down the opposite sideline for a touchdown to make it 17-10. On that drive, Shorts III had two catches for 51 yards, ran once for five yards and threw a 21 yard touchdown pass. It was an 80 yard drive and Shorts accounted for 78 of those yards...and it couldn't have come at a better time.
  1. Akeem Hunt got moved up to the 53-man roster late Saturday afternoon, in large part because Chris Polk's hamstring held him back for this matchup. He got a couple of carries and it's clear he's got some speed. But, his 3rd and one run for a first down was a key play in the third quarter. He can thank his Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown for the help too. Revis made a clean stick on Hunt, but when Hunt got spun around, Brown was right there. He sort of caught Hunt in his arms and tossed him forward, just far enough for a first down. The hit sidelined Revis for the rest of the game and two plays later, Hopkins beat former Texan Marcus Williams, Revis' replacement, for a touchdown that gave the Texans a two touchdown lead.
  1. At the end of the third quarter, the Texans had 252 more yards total offense than the Jets. They had 351 through the first 45 minutes of the game, while the Jets had mustered only 99. In the fourth quarter, though, the Texans generated only 13 yards, while the Jets ended up with 159.
  1. Max Bullough could've and should've had a blocked punt for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Bullough lined up on the left side of the formation but burst through the A gap on the other side of the formation completely unblocked. I don't know how he didn't block that punt, other than the fact that because the Jets punter was a right footed punter, Bullough couldn't gather himself to take the ball off his right foot. He got his hand on it, but he almost could've just taken it right out of his hands and ran for a TD.

I'll end it there. On a short week, against that defense and with the weapons in the Jets' stable, it didn't look great...on paper. But, this team has found itself and right on time. Y'all have a great Thanksgiving holiday and we'll see you next Sunday when the New Orleans Saints come to NRG Stadium.

Check out some of the best action shots from Sunday's game against the Jets.

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