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NY Jets: Facing Yates

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What to expect when you're expecting Yates.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Texans will be starting T.J. Yates at quarterback against the Jets this afternoon.  That probably is not a good thing for Houston.

Yates is a 28 year old career backup who has started all of five games in the NFL, all in his rookie year of 2011.  His only extended playing time came as a rookie in 2011, and he didn't do all that poorly for a rookie QB, posting a decent passer rating of 80.  Those limited results apparently failed to impress Houston, because Yates never started another NFL game... until now.  So what should we expect out of Yates?

A few items stand out.  First is that although he has started five games and played in 15 games, he has only thrown more than 25 passes in a game twice in his career.  He's only thrown more than 17 passes in three games in his career.  Having not started a game since 2011, it is probably safe to say the Texans will try to limit his throwing as much as possible.  Look for an extremely conservative, run heavy game plan, along with safe passes to the backs.  If Houston takes a decent sized lead I would expect them to almost completely shut down the passing game and try to let their very good defense win it for them.

Next up: sack rates.  They're sky high with Yates.  He has gotten sacked nearly 10% of the time he has dropped back to pass in his career, a shockingly high number, and those numbers haven't really come down much in his limited action as his career has progressed.  To put that rate into perspective, if Yates were on one of the more prolific passing attacks in the NFL, like the Patriots or the Colts, he would be sacked upwards of 60 times a season. Yikes!  If Yates is forced to throw, he will get sacked, often.  If the Jets can manage to take a decent sized lead, look for the Jets' defensive line to put up some of their best pressure numbers of the season today.  Making Yates throw the ball should result in lots of hits on the quarterback.

Finally, Yates gets intercepted quite a bit.  His first year he was pretty decent at protecting the ball, with just three interceptions in 134 passing attempts.  However, in the 3+ subsequent seasons, when he has played, he has been intercepted.  He has thrown 47 passes since his rookie year, and had 4 interceptions.  That's really, really bad.

This brings us to the Revis/Hopkins matchup.  The Texans target Hopkins a ridiculous amount.  He has been targeted at least 11 times in every game this season, and has been targeted nearly as much as the next three Texans targets combined.  If the Texans are throwing, there's a very good chance it's going to Hopkins.  Hopkins, of course, has responded with a year as good as any receiver in the NFL is having.  As a receiver Hopkins has almost the complete package. Great route runner, excellent in and out of his breaks, outstanding at contested balls, very good hands, good after the catch.  Almost the complete package.  The one thing he lacks is dominant straight line speed.  He's not slow by any means, but he's not a real burner.  This tilts the intriguing matchup between Revis and Hopkins in Revis' favor.  The biggest thing Revis is no longer great at is staying with explosively fast opponents.  He has to cheat on routes against speedsters to avoid getting beat deep.  That should not be much of a problem with Hopkins, whose longest catch this season went for only 34 yards.  Hopkins is great, but he doesn't have elite speed.  That should allow Revis to play a little more aggressively in coverage.  And that, combined with Yates excessive generosity to opponents with the football, and the enormous number of targets Hopkins gets, should provide Revis with some opportunities to take the ball away. If the Jets can grab a decent lead and force the Texans to pass, look for Revis to come up with a big interception late to seal the victory.