Boy Green went “Behind Enemy Lines” to chat with Mark Lane of The Texans Wire to learn more about Houston before their New York Jets matchup.
To get a better understanding of what he’ll be walking into, Boy Green sat down with Mark Lane of The Texans Wire to answer five burning questions on this matchup. You can hear our full conversation on the latest episode of “The Jets Zone” below:
1. To put it bluntly, how did the Houston Texans start 0-3, then win nine straight and be on the cusp of the playoffs?
They rested a lot of their starters throughout the preseason and they weren’t in sync for the first three to four games. Also, there were injuries at the receiver position that forced the Texans to play more of Sammie Coates, Bruce Ellington and undrafted rookie receiver Vyncint Smith than they wanted to.
Also, quarterback Deshaun Watson was growing into his role as a game manager. The first six games of the season he threw seven interceptions and in the last seven, he has only thrown two. When Watson manages the game like that, it tilts to the field to where opposing offenses, if they can’t get going, eventually slide into the maw of the Texans’ ferocious defense. Also during their schedule, they were playing teams that hadn’t yet put it together (Dallas), were falling apart (Jacksonville, Washington), or played rookie quarterbacks (Buffalo, Cleveland).
2. How has Deshaun Watson specifically looked coming off of that devastating knee injury last season and is he back in full form?
Watson is definitely back to full form. His only problem now is dodging the pass rush because of the Texans’ porous offensive line. He has taken 46 sacks this season, the second-most in the NFL. But he has been remarkably efficient. His 2.2 interception percentage is the 14th-lowest in the NFL and his 100.9 passer rating is the ninth-best in the NFL. He is able to evade the pressure most times, and his 410 rushing yards are the fourth-most by a quarterback this season. Watson has taken 46 sacks this season and so far he only sustained a broken rib and a collapsed lung from it. He has been durable.
#HOUvsNYJ full game preview: @BoyGreen25 spoke w/ @TheTexansWire @therealmarklane to talk @deshaunwatson growth + is @DeAndreHopkins the best WR in NFL + a miraculous return to form for @JJWatt in 2018 + your #Jets #Texans fan mail answered! #JetUphttps://t.co/ZB29JVBloL
— The Jets Zone (@TheJets_Zone) December 12, 2018
3. What about the defense? It seems like J.J. Watt is finally healthy, what about the rest of the unit? Who has stood out and is this a championship level defense?
Watt won’t declare that he is back to form, and he may never return to the golden years of the mid-2010s just because he is 29 years old and the odds are that he will slide off more as the seasons go by. But in terms of turning the page on the disastrous 2016-17 seasons that robbed him of his talent, he most certainly has recovered from that. The rest of the defense is good at stopping the run, but the pass rush has failed to get home with only two sacks the past two games, and the back end giving up a combined 760 passing yards the past six quarters.
I would say it’s a championship level defense, but with Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton torching them for nine catches for 199 yards, I can’t yet give them that designation. Third-round safety Justin Reid has been a pleasant surprise. As the 68th overall pick, and the Texans’ first of the draft, he has played at a first-round level and is in the running for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
4. Is DeAndre Hopkins the best wide receiver in the NFL and what has his development been like through a treasure trove of quarterbacks over the years and finally he has his guy in Watson now.
He has to be the best receiver in the league based on the fact he’s posted 1,000-yard seasons with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Tom Savage, and T.J. Yates throwing him the ball. Antonio Brown has had the benefit of Ben Roethlisberger the whole way. Show me who is better than Hopkins, and I’ll show you his Pro Bowl quarterback. That’s why Hopkins is better is because he has controlled what he could control to be a better receiver. Combine that with a potential franchise quarterback in Watson, and that’s why Hopkins has posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard season since 2014-15 and could post his first 10-plus touchdown consecutive season streak of his career.
5. Finally a prediction for this Saturday affair, how do you see this one playing out?
Watson has been great at playing a brand of football called “complementary football,” as we’ve discussed. The Texans defense has respect for Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and his athleticism, but I think his inexperience and having Watt rushing him and safety Tyrann Mathieu defending his targets could lead to some turnovers on his part, which will be the difference in the game. Odds-makers have the point total set at 41.5, and I’ll take the under. Give me 24-17 Texans.