Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has been cleared from the concussion protocol and has returned to practice, meaning the Jets will be facing yet another elite signal caller.
It’s staggering to think what was once a position of strength – Gang Green’s secondary – has now arguably become its biggest detriment. Traditionally, the Jets’ strength was the defense – particularly when Darrelle Revis dons the green and white. But this season has featured some tough sledding for the Jets (1-4) against top-flight passers, and that’s even been with Revis primarily in the lineup.
And as for the future Hall of Famer who is battling a hamstring issue, head coach Todd Bowles said Revis is “progressing right now,” but won’t know his actual status for Monday night’s game until “at least late Saturday.”
Regardless whether Revis plays or not, the Jets’ inability to slow down opposing passing attacks is striking. The list of opposing signal callers’ passer ratings is disconcerting. The Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton got the trend started in the season opener when he had a 114 rating. That was followed by Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills (112.8), Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs (105.2), Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks (133.5), and finally Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers (124.4), last week. Overall, the Jets have allowed an opposing passer rating of 118.6, highest in the league. They’ve also allowed 12 passing touchdowns after five games, which ranks them tied for 28th overall.
Palmer has struggled this season (six touchdowns, five interceptions, and 1,150 passing yards) and hasn’t been anywhere near the level he played last season when he was a runner-up in the MVP voting after tossing a franchise record 4,671 yards with 35 touchdowns. But the Jets could be just what Palmer needs to get back on track – and get the Cardinals (2-3) back in the NFC West divisional race.
The Cardinals have multiple options in the passing game, led by future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. And all can run after the catch, meaning tackling in the secondary will be key for the Jets. Fitzgerald has made a living off catching the short pass and turning it into longer gains. And his sidekicks, the speedy John Brown and the physical Michael Floyd, are also able to break tackles and burn secondaries.
Bowles noted the pressing need to shore up tackling and keeping guys in front of them.
“You have to limit the run after catch [because] then they’ll hurt you with short passes,” Bowles said. “You have to tackle the ball carrier when he catches the ball, and we have to be in better position [to] make tackles.”
New York has allowed more than an average of 300 passing yards a game, which is the second-worst number in the league. And the big plays against them keep on coming each week, with 19 receptions of at least 20 yards – good for fifth most in the league.
Arizona won’t make it any easier for New York with a studly running game balancing out the passing attack, as running back David Johnson has emerged as one of the best all-purpose backs in the league. He is coming off a Thursday night performance where he ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns and was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. He’s the first Cardinals running back in 20 years to be bestowed that honor – with the last time being LeShon Johnson in Week 4 of 1996. Play-action passing could be a boon for Arizona.
With Johnson now being an elite runner – and receiver out of the backfield (17 receptions for 238 yards) -- and a healthy Palmer having a full arsenal of wideouts, the Cardinals’ offense could light up the Jets.
And if the aforementioned trends continue, it should be Palmer’s best game of the season, and further sink the Jets into despair.
Gang Green notes:
- The Jets announced wideout Eric Decker (labrum tear) will be placed on injured reserve, as he’s likely to have season-ending surgery.
- The team also signed cornerback Nick Marshall, who went undrafted in 2015 following a career at Auburn where he played quarterback. Marshall previously played for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Wideout Jeremy Ross was released to make room for waiver-claim pick-up Jeremy Butler, a former wideout on the Buffalo Bills.
- The Jets worked out fullback Marcel Reece, tight end Mitchell Henry, and linebacker Randell Johnson on Tuesday. None were immediately signed.