By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
The New York Jets are trying to repeat what they did in 2009 and 2006 by making an epic late-season run that would put them in an unlikely position to make the playoffs. Working in their favor is how easy the schedule is, with the lowly Arizona Cardinals as their first test.
The Cardinals are coming off their seventh-straight loss and are juggling the quarterback position. It appears as if the Jets will face Ryan Lindley, who threw a handful of interceptions in last week’s loss to the Rams.
Here is what the Jets must do to secure the victory:
No turnovers: As the Jets and Cardinals learned last week, turning the ball over an inordinate amount of times puts any game out of reach. The Jets defense should dominate the Cardinals offense, but the Jets offense will have a tough time moving the ball on a stout Cardinals defense.
The Cardinals defense is great at creating turnovers with a glut of talented players in their secondary. If the Jets are going to lose this game, it will be because they turned the ball over on offense and special teams.
Run: The Cardinals run defense is actually less than impressive, coming in ranked 23rd in the NFL. This could be a result of them being on the field for so long and being worn down by the end of the game.
The Jets need to capitalize on the wear and tear on the Cards defenders and keep the ball on the ground. Running the ball will also help limit turnovers.
Confuse Ryan Lindley: In Lindley’s debut, he looked solid out of the gate, but struggled once the defense started to give him different looks. Rex Ryan, a masterful defensive mind, should have no problem confusing the rookie to help create more turnovers of their own.
Stop the Run: With Lindley struggling in his debut and Beanie Wells back in the lineup, the Cardinals are going to want to run the ball as much as possible. The Jets run defense numbers are porous this season, but they have been better against run-first teams like St. Louis and their numbers were bad against the Patriots because they played with a lot of “light” personnel.
Tackling and technique will be of the utmost importance when trying to shut down the Cardinals rushing attack.
Cromartie wins vs. Larry Fitzgerald: Larry Fitzgerald has not had a great season numbers-wise, but all of that can be blamed on the horrendous quarterback play in Arizona this year. Fitzgerald still is one of the best receivers in the game and will be a handful for Cromartie to keep in check, although Cromartie matches up well with the tall Fitzgerald from a physical standpoint.
A young quarterback like Lindley is going to look to his favorite target on just about every play, and Cro and the Jets have to be ready for it.