It's been three years since the Texans faced the New York Jets and six years since these two battled at Met Life Stadium. Not much remains the same since that Texans 24-17 win over the Jets three years ago. There are only a handful of starters that'll take the field on Saturday that played in that 2015 matchup. In fact, only two Jets starters remain from that November afternoon (seven starters from the Texans).
Suffice to say, things have changed and it starts at the top for the Jets with Sam Darnold. Affectionately nicknamed Sam the Savior earlier in the season, Darnold has struggled since he led the Jets to a win over the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year. He's completed just 55.9 percent of his passes for 2,104 yards and has a 12 TD to 15 INT ratio. He's started 10 games for the Jets this year and has thrown an interception in all but two games. In those two games (Bears and Jaguars), he completed just 48.3 and 50.0 percent of his throws for just 319 total passing yards. But, he found a way last week to beat the Bills in Buffalo so he's not ready to pack it in just yet.
Now he gets to go home, so to speak, to the Meadowlands and a lot has been made about the weather. Now, it's not as if Darnold played in a ton of rain while he was the starting quarterback at USC. So, weather could be a factor in this one for both sides. Either way, the Jets hope desperately to ride his right arm, and legs, to a win while the Texans defense looks to make a rookie quarterback pay for his mistakes. The Texans beat Josh Allen (Buffalo) and Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) already this year, so stopping Darnold would go a long way toward being 3-0 against starting rookie quarterbacks in 2018.
Without further ado, let's get to Know Saturday's foe - the 2018 New York Jets.
Schedule - Record (4-9)
W, 47-13 @ Detroit Lions
L, 20-12 v. Miami Dolphins
L, 21-17 @ Cleveland Browns
L, 31-12 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
W, 34-16 v. Denver Broncos
W, 42-34 v. Indianapolis Colts
L, 37-17 v. Minnesota Vikings
L, 24-10 @ Chicago Bears
L, 13-6 @ Miami Dolphins
L, 41-10 v. Buffalo Bills
L, 27-13 v. New England Patriots
L, 26-22 @ Tennessee Titans
W, 27-23 @ Buffalo Bills
Rushing Yards per game - 106.2 ypg (21st in the NFL)
Passing Yards per game - 190.7 ypg (30th)
Total offense per game - 296.9 ypg (30th)
Turnovers lost - 26 (19 INT, 7 fumbles lost) - Jets are -7 in turnover margin (26th in the NFL)
Jets starting offense last Sunday v. Buffalo:
QB - SAM DARNOLD (rookie)
RB - ISAIAH CROWELL
WR - Quincy Enunwa
WR - Jermaine Kearse
TE - Eric Tomlinson
TE - CHRIS HERNDON (rookie)
LT - Kelvin Beachum
LG - SPENCER LONG
C - Jonotthan Harrison
RG - Brian Winters
RT - Brandon Shell
Other key offensive pieces:
TE - Robby Anderson (leading receiver in yardage and touchdowns)
RB - Elijah McGuire
RB - TRENTON CANNON (rookie)
WR - Andre Roberts (more as a return specialist - WOW, he's dynamic)
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to stopping the Jets offense:
1. Put Robby Anderson in quick sand. He's the Jets version of Will Fuller and cannot beat this team deep.
2. Make Darnold do it from the well. Once he's out of the pocket, it's trouble (see touchdown pass vs. Buffalo last week on his long jaunt through western New York).
3. Rush and coverage MUST work better together.
4. Back seven or even eight MUST know where their help is at all times, where their leverage is at all times and where they can assist at all times.
5. Jets screen game could be huge. Darnold needs completions to get some confidence and the easiest way is with some screens - receiver or slip screens to running backs.
6. Special teams. Don't give the Jets the opportunity to return kicks. Andre Roberts returned five kicks against the Bills. He piled up 176 yards and a long of 86 yards. On the last four, he returned the ball to the Buffalo 46-yard line (field goal drive), Buffalo 8-yard line (touchdown drive - one play actually), Jets 35-yard line (INT) and Jets 39-yard line (touchdown drive). As such, make them go 75 yards every time to beat you.
Rushing Yards Allowed per game - 132.0 ypg (27th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed per game - 243.8 ypg (16th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 375.8 ypg (23rd)
Turnovers generated - 19 (13 INT, 6 Fumbles recovered)
Jets starting defense last Sunday vs. Buffalo:
DE - Leonard Williams
NT - Steve McLendon
DE - Mike Pennel
OLB - NEVILLE HEWITT
MLB - AVERY WILLIAMSON
OLB - Jordan Jenkins
Nickel - Buster Skrine
CB - TRUMAINE JOHNSON
S - Jamal Adams
S - Darryl Roberts
CB - Morris Claiborne
Other key defensive pieces:
DE - HENRY ANDERSON
OLB - Brandon Copeland
NT - NATHAN SHEPHERD (rookie)
ILB - KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to winning vs. the Jets defense:
1. Play action, play action, play action - Jets linebackers get lost looking for backs and then turning and finding receivers, especially over the middle of the field.
2. Find Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams on every single play. He's the defensive straw stirring the drink to say the least and must be accounted for no matter where he aligns.
3. The nickel/star blitz is coming. It's coming a lot, too, if the Texans don't handle it better than they did against the Colts and Browns.
4. Take the profit when the Jets play zone. The Bills had all kinds of receivers open down field when the Jets were in zone. Not always deep shots, but they were open for chunks of yards in the passing game.
5. The Jets didn't account for Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the running game, either on scrambles or designed runs. There will be yards there for Deshaun Watson in selective opportunities.
6. Eliminate the push and penetration up the field in the run game. The Colts penetration, mainly from defensive lineman Margus Hunt, created some problems for the Texans running backs and kept them from seeing any available running room.