So the Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan era finally began this past Sunday and it did not disappoint. The Jets went down to Houston and totally dominated a Texans team that many have said are ready to have a break out season. New York's defense was as good as advertised on Sunday and the Jets walked out of Reliant Stadium with a very impressive 24-7 win.
Mark Sanchez seemed to be the real deal on Sunday. The rookie quarterback looked like a seasoned vet with all the poise he showed. On the afternoon, Sanchez was 18-31 for 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception. A very solid performance for the rookie quarterback. But the most impressive stat were his third down numbers. On third down, Sanchez was 12-18 for 191 yards. The Jets offensive line also did a great job as Sanchez was not sacked in the game. The rookie looked very comfortable in the pocket too, not letting the pressure get to him.
Thomas Jones picked up right where he left off last season, where he led the AFC in rushing. Jones racked up 107 yards on 20 carries. He also added 2 touchdowns to his stat line. And after the Texans pulled to within 17-7, Jones broke off a 38 yard touchdown run to put the game away with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The running game started off slow, but really came on in the second half. Leon Washington also added 60 yards on 15 carries. Rex Ryan has been saying since he became the head coach that he wanted to get Leon more touches per game. He did that by having him run the ball 15 times as opposed to last season where he ran the ball about 5 times per game. If the Jets want to win, they need to get Washington the ball at least 12 times per game. Sunday was a good start.
The Jets, who flirted with the idea of acquiring Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall, showed that their receivers will be just fine on their own. Jerricho Cotchery led the team with 6 receptions on Sunday for a total of 90 yards. Chansi Stuckey also added 4 receptions of his own for 64 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a key moment of the game as Sanchez hit Stuckey on 3rd down for a 30 yard touchdown reception. Dustin Keller, who is becoming one of the best young tight ends in the NFL, continued his growth with 4 receptions for 94 yards. His 40 yard reception in the 4th quarter set up Thomas Jones' 38 yard touchdown run. Keller will be relied upon to be a top target for Sanchez and seemed up to the task in this game.
Rex Ryan proved that his defense is not all talk after the game in Houston. The defense, led by Bart Scott and Kris Jenkins, totally shut down the Texans offense. Steve Slaton was held to just 17 yards on 9 carries. Slaton was coming off a rookie season that saw him gain almost 1300 yards, could not get it going against the Jets defensive line. Kris Jenkins was a beast on Sunday. He would not allow Slaton to get anything going and basically had his way with the Texans offensive line. Linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris had constant pressure on Houston's quarterback Matt Schaub. The Jets defense may have only had two sacks on the day, but they were constantly in Schaub's face.
New York's secondary took a big step forward compared to last years unit. They shut down pro bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, allowing him only 35 yards on four catches. Johnson was primarily matched up with Darrelle Revis most of the day. Revis continued his pro bowl form by shutting down Johnson. Playing opposite Revis was the Jets new acquisition, Lito Sheppard. Sheppard had a solid game himself and capped off his Jets debut with an interception.
There were two key stats in this game that led to a Jets win. The first was the time of possession. The Jets had the ball for over 38 minutes while the Texans only had it for 21 minutes. The other key stat, and it was the big one, was the Jets out-gaining the Texans 462 to 183. That was one heck of a performance by a revamped Jets team. All in all it was a good game for Gang Green. They dominated the Texans on both sides of the ball. Sanchez looked very good in his first start. Hopefully a sign of good things to come. The defense was as good as advertised, totally shutting down the Texans big three of Shaub, Johnson and Slaton. It was a good win on Sunday, but now the focus switches to a familiar foe in the New England Patriots. They will be visiting New York in week 2. The Jets looked good in Houston, but now its time for a real test on how good the Jets may be this season.