The Jets will face a mobile quarterback for the third straight week, but Deshaun Watson is the toughest to contain of the three.
Watson is more athletic than Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota and Buffalo’s Josh Allen, both of whom had different degrees of success against the Jets. But Watson also has more weapons — DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and running back Lamar Miller — making the second-year quarterback more of a threat.
After tearing his ACL last year, Watson has returned to throw 22 touchdowns and run for 410 yards and two more scores for the 9-4 Texans.
“He can beat you in the pocket and out of the pocket,” Todd Bowles said. “He’s a gamer. You speed him up, he’s going to hurt you with his legs, and he can hurt you running out of the pocket. If you don’t speed him up, he’s going to sit in the pocket and throw dimes on you.”
The Jets allowed one long run at the end of the game to Mariota before he threw the go-ahead touchdown two weeks ago. Allen ran for 101 yards and a touchdown last week, but the Jets limited him to just 14 rushing yards in the second half. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said the Jets assigned a faster man to Allen.
Watson has thrown for 4,997 yards, 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and rushed for 679 yards and four touchdowns in 20 NFL games. He often runs only out of necessity because he would rather throw than run. Watson has been sacked 46 times this year, second-most in the league behind Dak Prescott (48).
Jets linebacker and ex-Titan Avery Williamson faced Watson last year. Watson, then a rookie, threw for four touchdowns and ran for one in a 57-14 bashing of Tennessee.
“He’s not the type of quarterback that wants to take off running," Williamson said. "He’s not like Josh Allen. He wants to sit in the pocket and try to complete a pass.
“He’s a strong kid and he can make stuff happen.”
D up DeAndre
Trumaine Johnson hasn’t had the type of season he’s wanted, but the Jets’ big free-agent signing said he would finish strong. Johnson has had three interceptions in the last two games, and now he will be tasked with trying to limit Hopkins.
Johnson, who missed five games with a quad injury, may not be entirely healthy. He was limited with a sore foot and officially is questionable. Cornerback Morris Claiborne also could see time on Hopkins, who has 84 catches for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns.
Tried for Ty
Jamal Adams did his part in trying to recruit 2015 All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu when the Cardinals waived him last year. Mathieu, an LSU product like Adams, ultimately signed with the Texans.
“I tried to text him and call him at the time,” Adams said. “I guess he was getting hit up by everybody. I tried to get him here. I knew it was going to be tough.”
The Jets' special teams unit has exceeded expectations, and it's why coordinator Brant Boyer is one of the only Jets coaches who hasn’t come under fire.
The Jets rank No. 1 in kickoff return yards and average yards on punt returns. Boyer could survive if there’s a coaching change, but that would be up to the next coach.
“He’s a good coach,” returner Andre Roberts said. “He has a great scheme. When guys do the right things, it obviously works.”
Roberts could earn a Pro Bowl berth for his return work under Boyer. Roberts leads the NFL with 841 kickoff return yards. He has six punt and kickoff returns of 50-plus yards and eight of 40 or more. One of the eight was a 78-yard punt return touchdown in Week 1, and the other seven led to three touchdowns and three field goals.
34.5: Average number of points the Jets have allowed in their last four home games.
The Jets offensive line will have its hands full trying to keep J.J. Watt (12 1/2 sacks), Jadeveon Clowney (seven sacks) and the Texans defensive line away from Sam Darnold on a day in which he could pass more with the backfield banged up. Brandon Shell on Watt will be the matchup to watch.