First Impressions – Jets @ Texans

| August 16, 2011

While both offenses showed sign of life, the No.1′s combined for just three points and the first two drives of the game ended with unblocked sacks on third down. The Texans were committed to the run despite a hobbled backfield, and when they passed, Matt Schaub’s connection with his receivers seemed a bit off. The Jets’ offense made it down the field for a field goal but penalties derailed their second drive.
.
Each team had a fair number of players missing which made it a bit less exciting to track, but each also made a number of changes this offseason and that bumped the interest back up.
.

.

Texans – Three Things of Note
.

● The Texans are making the transition to the 3-4 defense, and they stuck with that on the first two drives and beyond. The Jets were very vanilla in their offensive formations, which gave Houston little reason to come out of it. Their outside linebackers stayed very close to the line, appearing ready to rush rather than deal with the run. Mario Williams made his debut as a full-time outside linebacker, but wasn’t much of a factor. He played more on the left side than right, but wasn’t anchored solely on that side. Although it wasn’t Williams with the pressure, the Texans were still able to get to Sanchez on sacks twice coming from the inside.
.
● While the pass rush did a fine job, the Texans failed to play well on the few times the Jets decided to run the ball up the middle. On New York’s second offensive play, they opened a hole for a nice 5-yard run. In the second drive, Shonn Greene ran twice more up the middle for 19 and 7 yards. As a defensive tackle, Shaun Cody had negative ratings in both run defense and pass rushing in each of the last three years, and doesn’t seem ready to make the transition to nose tackle. The Texans’ front seven could be elite if Cody can adapt, but right now it looks like a big weakness.
.
● On offense, the only major change the Texans are going through is the loss of Vonta Leach to free agency. In this game they were also without their stars Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. The Texans went with a number of formations with three tight ends, or with James Casey at fullback and two tight ends. Derrick Ward looked good on a 6-yard run and an 11-yard catch with most of those yards coming after he hauled in the pass, but then went out with what looked to be a minor injury. The run game on the second drive wasn’t very successful, just getting a few yards at a time as fifth-string halfback Chris Ogbonnaya did little to impress. While Houston’s offensive line against the Jets’ run defense would normally be an amazing matchup to watch, it wasn’t the same without Foster.
.

Jets – Three Things of Note
.

● The Jets’ plans on offense were clear: a quick passing game, and they ran it very effectively. Mark Sanchez threw the ball seven times, resulting in six completions and one pass dropped by backup tight end Matthew Mulligan. While most of the passes I would expected any quarterback to be able to make, a few were more impressive and better than I’m used to seeing from Sanchez. The Jets also made it a point to get Derrick Mason involved, and on three passes Mason had 21 yards. It’s worth noting this success was against a Texans secondary that was one of the worst in the league last season and without free agent newcomer Johnathan Joseph. It’s also worth noting that the only completions the first team offense had were to Shonn Greene, Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason. No targets for any backup wide receivers or starting tight end Dustin Keller.
.
● The biggest change for the Jets’ defense coming into 2011 is the addition of first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson combined with the loss of Shaun Ellis. The Jets already have arguably the best 3-4 defensive line-mates in Mike Devito and Sione Pouha. On the six run plays against the first-team offense, the Jets limited the Texans to just 13 yards, with one of those ending with a tackle by the rookie and another stop coming from Devito. While the run defense looked as good as ever, the pass rush was an issue and could be during the 2011 season. Last year, by far the best pass rushers were Ellis and Trevor Pryce who is also gone now. Other than on the first drive where Josh Mauga came in unblocked, the Jets were not able to get to Schaub.
.
● The biggest weakness on the Jets offense could very well be it’s right tackle Wayne Hunter. I had thought we might see Mario Williams get the best of Hunter on a few plays. That didn’t happen, but this is likely just as much due to the Jets game plan as it was Williams’ play. Both center Nick Mangold and right guard Brandon Moore sat this one out, so the Jets offensive line had the potential to be gashed. In an effort to limit QB damage, they opted for quick passes for the most and kept Sanchez clean. It worked against the Texans, but going forward, they’ll surely need time to throw and Hunter could be exposed.
.

Once the backups came in, the game became more exciting, but that will happen with some of these players. With some elite offensive players missing, the game lacked the Monday Night Football power it could have had, but hey, that’s Week 1 of the preseason.

.
.

Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke and check out our main Twitter feed too: @ProFootbalFocus
.
.

.
.
.

  • uppercut

    I too was disappointed with Mario Williams (though, maybe I shouldn’t have such high expectations for his first game at that position). I thought against Ferguson he might struggle, but against Hunter (or whoever it was at RT) he still looked mediocre. From what I caught he was playing very high, little to no leverage (something he had more of just be design playing DE).