By Steve Silverman
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Ooh, the Jets are facing the Houston Texans this Sunday, and that means there will be trouble.
Especially after watching the Texans shut down Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. The Texans handed the Bengals their first loss of the season and held a high-scoring team to six points.
So what is the recently operated on Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory going to do? If the Texans could shut down Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovanni Bernard, they are certainly going to punish the Jets, right?
That’s the way a lot of people think, especially those whose memory goes back exactly one week — and no further. The truth of the matter is that the Texans happened to play a great defensive game on national television, and that’s about it.
The Texans are a bunch of underachievers who often go through the motions and rarely play to their considerable ability.
Look at the players they throw out onto the field every week. J.J. Watt is a monster who can turn the corner like few others and also dominate against the run. He is the reigning defensive MVP, and he is basically unstoppable when he wants to be.
Watt has plenty of company. Linebacker Brian Cushing is one of the most talented at his position and he has the persona of a wild man once he gets turned on. He has the speed to go sideline-to-sideline to make knockout hits. He wants to turn every game into a brawl, and he has the nastiness to come out on top.
Then there’s former No. 1 draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, who is supposed to dominate when his motor gets turned on and he comes after the quarterback. Nine games into the season, Clowney has one sack.
Most teams would be thrilled to have one defensive player with the talent level of Watt, Cushing or Clowney. The Texans have three, and they are no better than middle-of-the-pack defensively.
They came through with a brilliant effort against Cincinnati, but there is no reason to believe they will be able to start stringing great games together and show off their dominance.
Overall, the Texans rank ninth in yards allowed, which is not awful. However, considering their individual talent level, this team should easily rank in the top five.
But their run defense has been abominable. They rank 22nd, as opponents have rushed for 1,063 yards and are averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
That should be music to the ears of Ivory (544 yards and six TDs), who has earned a reputation around the league as one of the top finishers. Todd Bowles has seen Ivory run with a kind of mean edge that all coaches want to see from their No. 1 running back. He may not be the biggest or the fastest back, but Ivory will not go down after first contact. Once he gets to the hole, he is going to deliver the blow and he is going to finish the run.
He is the type of back who can take advantage of the soft Texans, who will still probably be patting themselves on their collective backs for their performance against the Bengals when they take the field at NRG Stadium on Sunday.
With all their talent, the Texans are 4-5 and they have allowed 44 points or more on two occasions. Once this team finds itself trailing, it does not necessarily have the pride to turn things around.
Watt may be a brilliant player who has 9 1/2 sacks, 42 tackles and five passes batted down, but his performance does not rub off on his teammates. Cushing leads the team with 76 combined tackles and he hustles all over the field, but his full-speed motor means he will also overrun some plays and find himself out of position to finish the tackle on cutback runs.
Clowney is a huge disappointment with 21 tackles and one forced fumble in addition to his lone sack.
The Houston brain trust has to be held accountable. Head coach Bill O’Brien still carries a positive reputation for the work he did at Penn State following the end of the Joe Paterno era and he also appeared to do a reasonable job with the Texans last year when they finished 9-7.
However, he has been skittish with many of his decisions this year, including pulling No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer in the season opener after he had won the starting job in training camp.
The other problem is defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. The former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs who had spent significant time with the Giants and Jets is simply not getting the most out of his talented team.
The Texans should be dominating most weeks, but they have been getting pushed around.
That’s just what the Jets should be able to do to them. Ivory has to play the role of hammer and pound away at a defense that is likely to lose interest if it gets worked over early.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy