There might be an element of surprise coming from the Jets Monday night that has nothing to do with the Wildcat or exotic blitz packages. It has everything to do with the fact that the Texans know very little about the Jets’ key personnel on offense.
This will be the first game the Jets will be without the services of wide receiver Santonio Holmes, gone for the rest of the season with a foot injury. It’s a blow to a passing offense that mustered just 103 yards last week in a loss to the 49ers. It leaves the Texans wondering about who will step-up.
“We just have to get a feel for what they’re going to do during the game as far as their receivers,” Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “Certainly Holmes is a really good receiver so we wanted to play against their best, but we’re not going to be able to.”
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Tight end Dustin Keller, wide receiver Stephen Hill and fullback John Conner will all likely be sidelined due to injuries as well.
The Texans’ spin on things is that they went through the same scenario last year when they lost wide receiver Andre Johnson for 10 games due to a series of hamstring injuries. It forced their offense, already one of the best in the league in rushing, to become even more balanced.
“It’s kind of like what we went through last year. We played 10 weeks without Andre and the ball’s got to go a little bit everywhere for you to be successful,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “Sometimes that is good offensively, I would say, because you’re not stressed trying to get this guy the ball or that guy the ball. You’re just going out there and running your offense and throwing it where it’s supposed to go.”
The problem is that the Jets offense right now is struggling under Mark Sanchez and was already thin at wide receiver before Holmes went down.
The brunt of the responsibility will fall on second-year wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and the injury-prone Chaz Schilens.
“I expect that they play at a high level. With that being said, watching them over the last several weeks, Kerley’s been here and Chaz has been here, now there’s been periods where they’ve been out and we’ve gotten them back, but Kerley is getting better and better. He’s getting stronger and stronger right now. Chaz is getting better and better out there every day. I think those players with more reps, they’re darn good football players,” offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said. “You don’t come into this league and play the way Chaz Schilens has played or the way that Kerley has played here, by mistake. They’re good players. They’re just getting different opportunities now. I think that’s part of this game. Part of this game is all about opportunity. I’ve watched some players along the way here make the most of those opportunities when their number is called. Here’s an opportunity for players to step up and that’s what we have to do.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.