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New York Jets vs. Houston Texans Q&A with BattleRedBlog


William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

We had a chance to speak with Brett Kollman of Battle Red Blog about the upcoming matchup between the New York Jets and the Houston Texans, and here's what he had to say:

1. The Texans struggled to start the season but have looked much better the past two weeks. What, if anything, has changed?

Accountability, mostly. Established starters that were either longtime members of the team (Garrett Graham) or well-paid free agents (Rahim Moore) were benched for poor play, and Bill O'Brien finally calmed down the locker room about the quarterback situation by releasing Ryan Mallett and admitting to his players in a team meeting that he made a big mistake in benching Brian Hoyer. It takes guts for a head coach to strip off that "infallible authority figure" mystique in front of his own guys, but it worked.

As soon as the locker room - both coaches and players - started taking accountability for their own screw ups (cough cough missed tackles cough cough), the team seemed to instantly come together. The offense is still shaky without the engine that is Arian Foster, but the defense...oh boy the defense came alive! I never expected the same unit that gave up 40 first half points to the Dolphins to almost shutout the red hot Bengals on the road in primetime, and yet that is exactly what happened.

Houston has not surrendered a touchdown in 10 straight quarters. I do not know if they can keep that streak going against a Jets offense that is stacked with weapons, but it should be loads of fun to watch them try.

2. Brian Hoyer is out, and T.J. Yates is in. What should Jets fans expect from Yates? How do you think he’ll fare against the Jets?

Yates is pretty much the definition of a backup quarterback. He isn't physically special, he still makes terrible mistakes from time to time, and a franchise would likely never consider leaning on him as a long term starter, but he can still spot you a game or two if you are in a bind. With Brian Hoyer on the bench from a concussion, this qualifies as "in a bind". As for what Jets fans should expect...probably not much. New York is still brimming with defensive talent at every position group despite having some off games here and there, so I do not anticipate Yates being able to chuck it all over the field like Derek Carr a few weeks back. If you came from the future and told me this game would end 13-10 with the only touchdowns coming from each team's defense, I would believe it.

3. What is the best and worst position group on the Texans?

Best? Probably cornerback, assuming everyone is healthy. Kevin Johnson has been spectacular as far as rookie corners go, and the usual starting combo of Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson can still make some big plays from time to time. One of the backup corners, Darryl Morris, is also someone I'm really high on going forward. He will make a good nickel back in the future once Joseph retires.

The worst position group, at least now that Arian Foster is out, is running back. Alfred Blue is basically the reincarnation of Shonn Greene (except worse), Chris Polk's only solution to every single problem is attempting to run over people, and Jonathan Grimes - the best receiving back still on the team - simply never gets enough touches to do anything significant. This problem is precisely why Melvin Gordon was such a likely target for the Texans in the 2015 Draft if the Charger didn't already snatch him one pick before. Without Foster, this team has nothing in the backfield.

4. How would you game plan against the Texans?

Pressure, pressure, and more pressure. T.J. Yates is a backup quarterback who was on the street a few weeks ago and is still getting reacquainted with calling protections in this offense. Blitz him until his head spins, and then blitz him again. Eventually someone will get through and make a money is on Wilkerson.

5. Predictions for the game and the rest of the season?

If the Texans can beat the Jets - and that's a HUGE "if" - then this season might just end in an AFC South division title for Houston. This kind of win will also pay dividends down the line when it comes to Wildcard tie breakers, so this Sunday has potentially massive implications for January football. Either way, with Andrew Luck now sidelined for another 3-5 weeks and the Texans proving they can compete with the elite teams of the AFC, I would say they have at least a 50% chance of making the postseason as this point. Considering everything this club has been through in the last month or so, that is a truly remarkable development.

(disclosure: the hilarious subtitle here is shamelessly stolen from our comment section)