The Jets are becoming those relatives you don’t really like but are forced to see because of the holidays. So let’s make this as painless as possible, especially for Jets fans in the wake of the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. The Joe Namaths are a “teardown project,” and anyone who tells you differently is delusional. Here is what needs to change if the Jets are to win their next game against the Cardinals.
Take Advantage of Ryan Lindley
Lindley can’t throw anything over 10 yards outside the numbers and is bound to do better than his opening night. (His first game starting, last week against St. Louis, he threw four interceptions, of which two were pick-sixes.) He’s a rookie quarterback so he is going to have his struggles, but he also has no offensive line protection and a ghastly running game. (The Cardinals are 30th in rushing and have conceded the most sacks in the NFL.)
Beanie Wells returning is an improvement despite his miserable 2.8 yards a carry against St. Louis, so conceivably they could build a game plan around Wells carrying the offense and Lindley avoiding mistakes. Lindley threw 52 times last game, which is inexcusable given how close the game was in the first half. Thrown into his new role, Lindley looked uncomfortable, which could largely be due to having two rookies at left tackle and right tackle, and right tackle Bobby Massie having allowed 13 sacks and 36 QB hurries, per ProFootballFocus. So a very conservative strategy built around low-risk throws and a pounding running game is the only way the Cardinals can steal today’s contest.
In charge of stopping the Cardinals’ offense will be Muhammad Wilkerson. He has been the Jets’ best defender since Darrelle Revis went down but, in his last game, even he was outmatched by New England’s offensive line.
Somehow, Someway, Manufacture Some Offense
Will the Jets’ offense be able to withstand Daryl Washington, who is a beast? The Cardinals’ inside linebacker recorded his ninth sack of the season against the Rams. With Larry Fitzgerald being neutralized due to the poor quarterback play, Washington stands as Arizona’s biggest impact player.
Last game the Jets could not hold onto the ball, and if they hope to have success they need to prioritize ball security. Mark Sanchez has been completing passes at a much higher clip his past two games, but Arizona has a good pass defense so good decision-making and high-percentage throws will be at a premium.
Pray the Run Game Shows Up
The Rams ran for 173 yards against the Cardinals last Sunday so, despite Washington having a knack for disruption in the pass and run game, Arizona is still vulnerable. All season the Jets have maintained they are a power running attack. In their four wins, they have seen Shonn Greene contribute positively, or Greene and Bilal Powell combine for a dually effective rushing effort. The Cardinals like to pressure the quarterback. Because Sanchez can’t handle any disruption in the pocket, finding balance from the ground game is crucial. If not, this game could be won on defensive touchdowns.
The Jets are an absolute mess, but I have seen too much of the Cardinals to pick them. Lindley is this year’s version of Caleb Hanie.
Jets 16, Cardinals 6