There are some non-AFC South teams that we see almost every season. The Patriots are going to be on our schedule every single year, sometimes twice a year (2012 & 2016). The Chiefs have been regulars on our schedule for the most part, minus 2021. The Bengals? Yep. One team, though, that we haven't seen much of over the past six years is the New York Jets. We've seen the Jets just twice since a Monday Night Football victory over the Jets in 2012. The Texans won a barnburner in 2018 on a Saturday afternoon in New Jersey and beat the Jets by seven in the Jets last trip to NRG Stadium in 2015. In fact, the Texans have a three game winning streak against the Jets, after losing the first five in a row.
Given the last time these two teams faced one another was three years ago, there is just one Jet (Nathan Shepherd) on the roster in 2021 that played in that 2018 game. One. In fact, there are three Texans that were Jets in that 2018 game (Neville Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins and Kevin Pierre-Louis). Jenkins is dealing with an injury, but the fact that there are more former Jets on the Texans than there are Jets still on the Jets roster shows how much has changed heading into this matchup on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Jets' QB situation complicates matters as well for Gang Green. Joe Flacoo and Mike White were both placed on the COVID 19 Reserve list on Tuesday, leaving rookie QB Zach Wilson, who has been injured and out of the lineup since week seven, and former Texans QB Josh Johnson as the two signal callers on the Jets roster. On the other sideline, there's Texans QB Tyrod Taylor who led the Texans to a win over Tennessee in a Sunday monsoon last week. Taylor has started six times against the Jets, having helped lead his team to four wins. Here's hoping that the fifth win happens this Sunday.
As such, let's get to know this year's version of the New York Jets in preparation for the first meeting between these two teams at NRG Stadium since 2015.
2021 Schedule (2-8)
Week 1 - L @ Carolina Panthers 19-14
Week 2 - L New England Patriots 25-6
Week 3 - L @ Denver Broncos 26-0
Week 4 - W Tennessee Titans 27-24
Week 5 - L @ Atlanta Falcons 27-20
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 - L @ New England Patriots 54-13
Week 8 - W Cincinnati Bengals 34-31
Week 9 - L @ Indianapolis Colts 45-30
Week 10 - L Buffalo Bills 45-17
Week 11 - Miami Dolphins 24-17
Week 12 - @ Houston Texans
Week 13 - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 14 - New Orleans Saints
Week 15 - @ Miami Dolphins
Week 16 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 17 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 18 - @ Buffalo Bills
Jets OFFENSE (in 2021 regular season)
Rushing Yards Per game - 78.9 ypg (29th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 258.8 ypg (9th)
Total offense per game - 337.7 ypg (21st)
Turnovers lost - 23 (5 Fumbles lost, 18 INT)
Expected Jets starting offense for Week 12
QB - ZACH WILSON
RB - TEVIN COLEMAN
WR - ELIJAH MOORE
WR - COREY DAVIS
WR - Jamison Crowder
TE - Ryan Griffin
LT - GEORGE FANT
LG - ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER
C - Connor McGovern
RG - Greg Van Roten
RT - MORGAN MOSES
Key Offensive Non-Starters
WR - KEELAN COLE
WR - Braxton Berrios
RB - Ty Johnson
TE - Trevon Wesco
B - NICK BAWDEN_
Italics_ - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New to team in 2021
Keys to winning v. the Jets Offense
- More of Moore - The Jets made former Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore the third pick of the second round in the 2021 NFL Draft. Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Jets weren't getting a full and complete return on their investment. Then, in week eight, the season changed for Moore. How much did it change? In the first four games of the season, Moore was targeted just 26 times (6.5 targets per game), while in the last five games, he was targeted 37 times (7.4 targets per game). In those first four weeks, he caught nine passes total. Last week against the Dolphins, alone, Moore had eight catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. He's gone from nine catches for 79 yards and no touchdowns in the first four games to 25 catches for 336 yards and four touchdowns. The delineation at week seven coincides with Zach Wilson's injury. When Wilson went out, Moore's involvement in the offense went to a different level. Does Moore's production fall off as Wilson returns to the lineup? Glad you asked.
- Wilson's Return - The Jets QB situation has been turned upside down. Again. 2021 number two overall pick Zach Wilson stepped into the starting role as soon as he arrived in New Jersey but he went down with an injury in week seven. Enter Mike White and a performance for the ages against Cincinnati in a 34-31 win over the Bengals. Then, in the second quarter of the Jets next game, White was injured. Enter Josh Johnson. After Johnson helped put 30 points up on the board against the Colts, GM Joe Douglas went out and signed Joe Flacco who he had spent years with in Baltimore. Flacco started against Miami but two days after the game, he and White were placed on the COVID 19 Reserve list. And, that was just in time for Wilson to return from injury. There's no telling how Wilson will respond from injury but he's got some gunslinging toughness and a whip for an arm. But, does he have any help, as in a capable run game?
- Who runs it?- The Jets invested in their offense through the first few rounds of the 2021 Draft. They drafted Wilson at number two overall, traded up in the first round to nab future star OG Alijah Vera-Tucker and then took RB/Weapon X Michael Carter in the fourth round to bolster the run game. Through the first ten games of the season, Carter strung together solid performances on the ground, including a nine carry/63 yard performance against Miami before he sprained his ankle. He'll miss the game on Sunday, so who runs the rock for the green and white? No back has more than Ty Johnson's 144 rushing yards. Tevin Coleman has breakaway juice, but he averages under four yards per carry. Those two should see plenty of the action on Sunday. If the Texans front gives them seams, they have home run hitting ability and could embarrass the Texans defense. But, if the Texans D is sound in its gap responsibilities, there's going to be a huge burden on QB Wilson to carry the offense through the air.
- Can they stop it? - I mentioned OG Alijah Vera-Tucker earlier and he's going to be a superstar in this league. But, the remaining pieces around him on the offensive line have struggled to provide running lanes and have a bit of difficulty keeping pressure off the quarterback. Through Wilson's first six games, he was pressured on 30.7% of his dropbacks. The Texans have been chasing quarterbacks with ferocity lately and will look to get in Wilson's grill more than that 30.7%. The Jets won't have hulking LT Mekhi Becton which takes away from the protection that much more. The Texans have shown a few more, uh, let's call them tricks lately and when the Titans were forced to throw last week, Lovie Smith's crew put Titans QB Ryan Tannehill on full notice. They need to do the same to the rookie QB this week at home.
Jets DEFENSE (in 2021 regular season)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 132.0 ypg (28th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 282.2 ypg (32nd)
Total offense Allowed per game - 414.2 ypg (32nd)
Turnovers generated - 8 (3 INT, 5 Fumble recoveries - Jets are -15 (!!) in TO margin)
Expected Jets starting defense for Week 12
DE - John Franklin-Myers
DT - Folorunso Fatukasi
DT - Quinnen Williams
DE - SHAQ LAWSON
ILB - C.J. Mosley
ILB - Quincy Williams
Nickel - ISAIAH DUNN
CB - MICHAEL CARTER II
S - Ashtyn Davis
S - ELIJAH RILEY
CB - Bryce Hall
Key Defensive Non-Starters
DT - SHELDON RANKINS
DT - Nathan Shepherd
DE - RONALD BLAIR
S - SHARROD NEASMAN
CB - _JASON PINNOCK _
LB - HAMSAH NASIRILDEEN
Italics - Rookie
ALL CAPS - New to team in 2021
Keys to winning v. the Jets Defense
- The Front can be a problem - Robert Saleh's Jets are a definite work in progress but the Jets' defensive front can be a handful for any offensive line. The Texans OL won't have an easy time facing John Franklin-Myers, Folo Fatukasi and Quinnen Williams all day long. Williams is the most talented of the bunch, but JF-M has taken his game to new heights each and every year he's been in the league. The Stephen F. Austin product makes the local Battle of the Piney Woods fans very proud. This is also the deepest unit in green and white. They can go seven or eight deep up front and that presents issues in a similar way to how the depth on the Texans' defensive front has created problems for opposing offenses.
- Secondary roundabout - The antithesis of the Jets' defensive front is what's going on in the secondary for the Jets. Star S Marcus Maye is on IR, along with a pair of other defensive backs. They've been forced to start rookie Michael Carter II, not to be confused with RB Michael Carter. The results of so many moving parts are seen in one number - 282.2. That's 282.2 passing yards per game allowed. Teams are having their way with the Jets pass coverage and here's hoping that doesn't change this weekend.
- Moving the pocket - If that Jets front does get some pressure on Texans QB Tyrod Taylor, I won't be surprised to see the Texans do something similar to what they did last week against Tennessee - move the pocket, put Taylor on the move. The Texans don't ask Taylor to drop straight back because moving the QB is already baked into their offensive scheme. That philosophy helped them tremendously against the Titans outstanding defensive front. The Jets contain players will need to be more cognizant of corralling Taylor, instead of sacking him. If that slows them just enough for Tyrod to throw the ball from a clean pocket or clean vision, I'll take it.
- "Run" the ball - I bristle at people when they say "The Texans CAN'T run the ball." Now, the numbers show that the traditional run game is not putting up good numbers. The Texans have had just one 100+ yard rusher the past two seasons so yes, the run game production has struggled. But, there are different ways to "run" the ball. Last week, WR Chris Moore caught a push pass that was essentially a modified toss sweep for a nine yard gain. Effective screens can be extensions of the run game and QB Tyrod Taylor can be a factor on scrambles and designed QB runs. How creative can the Texans get at "running the ball" in non-traditional methods to aid the offense? I'm all for innovation.
The Texan will host the Jets on Sunday at NRG Stadium on CBS and SportsRadio 610. Kickoff is set for noon CT.Click here for tickets.