This Sunday the Arian Foster and the Houston Texans will travel to face Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. The last time these two teams faced each other was the opening day of the 2009 season at Reliant Stadium, and the Jets shocked the nation by beating the Texans in a showing of strength and resolve.
If the Texans want to do the same thing to the Jets this Sunday it will take no less effort from a squad that is scrambling to fill holes exposed throughout the first nine games of the season. From a squad that has continued to be behind all season going into half time.
For the Texans to upset the Jets and get back to 500 they are going to have to want it more, and here are some areas that heart will have to manifest itself for the Texans to win.
The interior of the Texans defensive line is going to be tested by one of the best run games in the NFL.
Rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson has found the fountain of youth as well as a really good offensive line to run behind. Between Tomlinson and fellow running back Shonn Greene the Jets are averaging 150 yards per game on the ground.
Texans tackles Sean Cody, Amobi Okoye, and rookie Earl Mitchell are going to have to find a way to plug their gaps, free up the linebackers behind them, and stop the Jets methodical running attack.
They will face a larger stronger offensive line on Sunday, and the only way they will win the battle at the line of scrimmage is to come out wanting it more.
“The best defense is a great offence”, and vice versa. Sounds cliché, but in the Texans case it can’t be more applicable. The best chance this team has to beat the Jets on Sunday is to out muscle their defensive front seven and pound the ball down their throat.
Essentially beat them at their own game.
The Texans offensive line is going to have to drive open lanes for the league’s leading rusher Arian Foster to burst through against a very good defensive line.
The Texans head coach Gary Kubiak once said “as Vonta goes, so does the rest of the team” or something along those lines, if so Vanta needs to come out thumping on Sunday.
During the HBO sports program Hard Knocks this preseason the world was introduced to Jets full back John Conner from Kentucky, and his appropriate nickname “the Terminator”.
This Weekend veteran fullback Vonta Leach is going to have to give this kid a good old fashion schooling in the art of blowing up defensive ends and linebackers.
OK, its past the point of taking about how this secondary is going to have to cover the receivers to by time for the defensive ends to get to Jets quarter back Mark Sanchez. Who, by the way, is going to come out of the tunnel fired up about the chance for record breaking statistics. Suggest you don’t bench him on your fantasy team this weekend.
It’s time to tell the young Texan secondary to just go out and hit somebody. Don’t worry about fines, don’t worry about penalties, just go out and knock somebody down…. every single play.
On opening day sophomore cornerback Glover Quin leveled Colts receiver Austin Collie on a catch across the middle. Collie coughed up the ball, but Quin was flagged and subsequently fined $10,000. From that moment on the Texans secondary began to play a bit softer.
Without supernatural help in the coverage game the only real shot this secondary has against Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards is to mess up their rhythm by leveling them as they pass by.
This weekend if the Texans are going to have a prayer, this secondary is going to have to become what we were told they were selected for…physical.
Every time this season Schaub has felt pressure from defenses with elaborate blitz packages or dominant defensive ends, his timing has been dramatically affected.
This weekend the Jets are going to pressure Schaub. They are going to pin their ears back, and rush at him from all sides. Shcaub is going to have to maintain poise, become elusive, and improve his timing to keep the offence on the field.
Third down conversion are a must, and spreading the ball around the key. Schaub will have to go out and have fun, while picking apart a defense that is not used to being picked apart.
Schaub is going to have to flat out want it more, and make plays where plays are not there to be made. This is going to be tough seeing he is missing practice with a fluid sac issue in his knee.
Believe it or not the Texans have more wide receivers then just Andre Johnson. For the first time this season Kevin Walters showed up with 90 yards against Jacksonville last Sunday.
If the Texans are going to win they need Walters, and Jacoby Jones to show up this week as well. Jones has amazing playmaking ability once the ball is in his hands. Problem is, this year he can’t seem to real the catches in.
The receivers are also going to have to show up strong in the run game. Pass plays look good in the highlights, but run plays keep your struggling defense off the field. When Johnson and Walters block down field the Texans running game flat out works.
Finally, when the game is on the line, put the ball in the hands of wide receiver Andre Johnson, despite his drop against San Diego two weeks ago. He still is the biggest playmaker on this team. Give him a chance to show it.
For the first two games of the 2010 season defensive end Mario Williams was a game changer. Keeping both Payton Manning and Donovan McNabb on their backs and out of rhythm, and even still they both threw for about 400 yards.
The difference over the rest of the games this season is that opposing quarterbacks have not felt pressure from Williams. At what point in the season does super Mario relight the fire, and come ready to wreck havoc again.
Well if the Texans are going to win this weekend Williams is going to have to record more than just an assist in the tackle column. He is going to have to make his presence known with multiple pressures and sacks.
Williams will have to dig deep, grab hold of something, and use it to fuel an all out assault on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. When Sanchez is pressured he tends to turn the ball over, and Williams is the only one on the roster capable of applying that pressure.
Sophomore strong side linebacker Brian Cushing will be looking across the line of scrimmage at a familiar sight, his collage teammate quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Throughout the last few games there have been echoes and whispers about Cushing needing performance enhancing drugs to make an impact in a game. If ever there was a time to quash those murmurs this is the week to do it.
Cushing should be able to draw from his experience practicing against Sanchez to anticipate the quarterbacks decisions based on familiar body language. Any advantages available needs to be exploited.
The biggest thing fans need to see from Cushing the 2009 defensive rookie of the year is a big play. A stuff at the line of scrimmage, his first sack of the season, an unexpected interception, anything to show he is still capable of playing at the caliber he played in 2009.
So far this season he seems to suffer from the same ailment the rest of this team is struggling with, and that is a lack of the heart, desire, and intensity needed to take a game over and create plays when it matters most.
In close games field positions battles become increasingly important. In games where your team is considered a major underdog field position becomes vital for survival.
The Texans special teams units are going to have to step up and shine this weekend for this team to stand a chance against the Jets.
Punter Matt Turk is not going to be able to muff punts off to the side and give up field position. Kicker Neil Rackers is going to have to give his kickoff teams head hunters a chance to get down field and make the play as the kicker is preparing to field the ball.
Special teams are a great place to create turnovers with heavy hits, and this team needs to start seeing some of that kind of magic.
Finally nothing gives a slow starting team a jump like a kick off or punt return for a touchdown. It is high time Jacoby Jones gives this city some of those.
In short the Texans special teams has to want this win more than the Jets special teams does, and have the confidence to make it happen.
This is a tender subject for Texans fans this week. Most of the calls into local sports radio talk shows are demanding a new coaching régime. The mob is calling for their heads.
Truth is the Texans coaching staff is going to need to find ways to put players in the right spots to be successful. The Texans are going to need to set the Jets offensive and defensive lines on their heels by calling a game that keeps the Texans offence leaning toward the run, and the defense plowing toward pressure.
Defensive coordinator Frank Bush is definitely on the hot seat as far as fans are concerned.
If the Texans coaching staff can muster the aggression to win in the trenches this weekend, the Texans might finally turn the corner, and beat a good football team.
These coaches are going to have to find a way to fire up their team, and want to win more the Jets head coach Rex Ryan…