An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Texans Week 12 matchup at MetLife Stadium:
Texans QB Tyrod Taylor vs. Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich
The Texans are going through a major rebuild, and starting quarterback Deshaun Watson has not to play for the team all year, amid a collection of off-field legal troubles. That has left a roster without much firepower, but Taylor, the veteran quarterback, has been able to push Houston to two wins. The Texans are 0-6 without Taylor and 2-2 with him, including last week when he ran for two touchdowns in the upset of the Titans.
The Jets defense played much better last week against the Dolphins after giving up 175 points in its previous four games. The Texans have the worst offense in football. If the Jets can stop Taylor, they can stop the Texans.
“I don’t know if I’ve beat Tyrod,” Ulbrich said. “He is an absolute pain in the ass because obviously he’s got speed and athleticism, but he’s got a competitiveness to him. He embodies the be at your best when your best is required. He’s a guy that when he needs to move the sticks, he moves the sticks. It’s obviously we got to be great on the backend. … Arm is definitely a threat. Legs are just as much of a threat. So, he’s the true dual-threat type of guy.”
This is not exactly a clash of the titans. This game has more meaning for next spring’s draft than the current standings. The Jets will play good defense against Tyrod Taylor, and Zach Wilson will do just enough to win this game.
Jets 14, Texans 13
Air raid: The Jets offense has come alive over the past month, particularly the passing game. They have done it with three different quarterbacks and now will try to do it with a fourth — Zach Wilson.
They have averaged 346.5 passing yards per game in their past four games, the most in the league by more than 60 yards per game in that span. Since Week 8, the Jets rank in the top half of nearly every passing category and lead the league in passing yards per game, passing touchdowns and passing first downs.
Coach Robert Saleh said he is not concerned about the offense slowing down with Wilson now at the controls.
“I think there’s also an understanding, in terms with Zach, just getting better, just keep the main thing the main thing, and understanding how to play quarterback in this league,” Saleh said.
Showing Moore: The potential Jets rookie WR Elijah Moore showed in training camp has begun to translate into production over the past month. Moore has broken out in the past four games. In his first five games of the season, Moore had nine receptions for 79 yards and no receiving touchdowns (he did have one rushing TD). Over the past four, he has 24 receptions for 336 yards and four touchdowns.
Moore racked up against the Dolphins last week with eight catches for 141 yards and a long touchdown.
“The production is a result of the fact that Elijah has been getting better,” Saleh said. “And I think Elijah will be the first person to tell you that his alignment has been a lot better, his get off has been a lot better, his route running has been a lot better, his understanding of zone and man and separation has been a lot better.”
Hall monitor: The Jets had a lot of question marks at cornerback entering this season. But second-year corner Bryce Hall has answered the questions about him. He has played well and looks like he should be a long-term starter for them. Pro Football Focus has Hall rated as the No. 31 cornerback out of 118 they have graded. Last week, Hall finished with a 90.4 grade from PFF, an extremely high mark.
“He’s a guy that just because of the lack of experience, you didn’t know necessarily what you completely had in, although we were all excited about the player, the athleticism that he has, the length that he possesses, the student, the worker, the guts,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “He’s committed to this game as much as any human in this building, or coach. And so, we were excited but, it was still this unknown entity, in a lot of ways, and he’s like, I told him this the other day, he’s become a real corner in this league.”
Texans takeaway: Veteran coach Lovie Smith is the Houston defensive coordinator, and he has his unit taking the ball away. The Texans are tied for fourth in the NFL with 19 takeaways. The Texans had five in last week’s upset of the Titans, including four interceptions of Ryan Tannehill.
The Jets have the most giveaways in the NFL with 23, so this is a critical part of the game. Wilson has yet to play full game without an interception. Will he protect the football better in his return from injury? The game could be decided by a turnover.
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