A year ago, the Denver Broncos came into the Meadowlands Thanksgiving weekend and blew the lid off the Jets' vaunted rush defense with their zone blocking scheme. New York's rush defense was never as effective the rest of the season. Gary Kubiak ran the same zone system as Denver's offensive coordinator before becoming the head coach of the Texans. Kyle Shanahan, Houston's offensive coordinator, is the son of former Broncos head man Mike Shannahan.
A prevailing theme from the national media during the first few years of Texans history was how poor their offensive line play was. The anchor was supposed to be Tony Boselli, Jacksonville's cornerstone left tackle. He was the first pick of the expansion draft, but injuries prevented him from playing a game with the franchise.
It looks like the Texans finally have a solid offensive line. Alex Gibbs, the founder of the zone blocking scheme, took over as offensive line coach a year ago. The results were obvious. While the Texans might not have as good of a line as the Jets do, it's finally an asset, not a liability. They have all important continuity as all five started every game last season.
The biggest edge the Jets will have will be in the middle. Kris Jenkins if fully healthy will have a huge edge against Chris Myers. Early last season, Jenkins was a one man wrecking crew for opposition running games. Jenkins will need to have a big performance with Shaun Ellis suspended and Mike Devito to see more snaps than usual. Devito will be at a disadvantage against Eric Winston. The Jets will want Devito to be on the field, but if Houston has enough success running right, they will force Gang Green to use more Howard Green and Sione Pouha than they want. Marques Douglas against Duane Brown will be a strength against strength matchup on the other side.
It will also be interesting to see the role Kerry Rhodes plays. This new defense frees Kerry up to move more over the field. I'm guessing we'll hear his name a lot in run support.
I like the way the Jets can match up against this scheme. The idea is to use speed and technique over power. It's tough to beat Jenkins off the line, though. Even if they do and get to the second level, Bart Scott and David Harris are excellent at getting off blocks.
If the Jets tackle well, they should be able to slow down Houston's speedy back, Steve Slaton. Since I think the Jets match up well in their blocking schemes, the Texans will probably work to get Slaton the ball in space. What scares me is the thought Gang Green will bottle Slaton up but get beaten by a big play or two by the homerun hitter.