Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The Jets once-mighty rushing attack has really struggled this season.
As good as the Houston secondary is, the Jets' receivers could have some success if the running game could keep the defense guessing. But that's not likely to happen this weekend.
Houston's rushing defense is good (ninth overall at 136.5 yards per game), but more than that, the Jets rushing game has just been bad.
The Jets rank 24th in the league on the ground, averaging just 86.5 yards per game. Some of that can be chalked up to the murderous defenses they've had to face over the past two weeks (the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers rank first and sixth respectively against the run) and the fact that they've gotten down big early.
But a lot of the blame falls on the Jets themselves.
This year's squad is far removed from the rushing juggernaut that it used to be, and there's no easy fix in sight. Running back Joe McKnight told the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta:
We can be the best running team in the NFL. We just got to work at it.
That's a bold claim, but even if it is true, it's not going to happen overnight. And that spells trouble for the Jets' receivers.
The Texans aren't going to have to stack the box to stop the run this week. Their front four is just too good. They could often have seven or eight guys dropping back in coverage, which doesn't give the New York receivers many options.
Let's just say that Schilens, Kerley and crew are able to beat Houston's corners (a tough task in its own right). There still won't be many seams in the Texans' coverage. As mentioned earlier, going deep will be tough. And thanks to the Jets' woeful running game, the Houston linebackers will have the middle of the field locked down.
There won't be a lot of room for the Jets' receiving corps to work with against the Texans. Unless New York can come up big with the running game, catches will be rare, and long catches will be even rarer.
Maybe the Jets' ground game can turn it around this week, but it's highly unlikely. That makes the receivers' already difficult job even harder.