From now until the Jets’ next loss every game will be labeled as a must-win. The Cardinals come to town and two teams with identical 4-7 records and similar struggles on offense meet in what could be an ugly affair.
Three things to watch for ...
1. The return of Rhodes
Former Jets safety Kerry Rhodes was a rising star with the team, but a clash with head coach Rex Ryan in 2009 led him to being shipped to Arizona that offseason. He had a strong 2010 with the Cardinals, then struggled with injuries last year, but has come back with a solid season this year, including 42 tackles and two interceptions.
“Kerry is doing a good job for us. He’s been a good starter, has made a number of good plays for us,” Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He’s had a couple of injuries, but nothing [like] over the last two years, which have kept him out. He’s played well for us.”
Rhodes took the high road this week when addressing his former team, but anyone who knows him knows he’d love to stick it to his old team. Watch for him to jaw a little with Ryan when the two are within shouting distance of each other.
2. The turnover battle
Two Jets turnovers in the second quarter of last Thursday night’s game contributed to the Patriots scoring 21 points in 52 seconds in what became a blowout loss. Simply, the Jets need to cut back on turnovers and being careless with the ball. Through 11 games, the Jets have a -3 turnover ratio and the Cardinals are +4. This week, the Jets are emphasizing this by showing videos of how their players on offense carry the football and they are trying to make corrections to avoid more turnovers.
“We’re doing it basically as a self-scout, how we’re carrying the football,” Ryan said. “We have it there for our players to see. Is there something that they see specifically? We have notes, we have all that type of stuff, but we want them to see it with their own eyes as well.”
3. Patrick the Great
While the aforementioned Rhodes has been solid in the secondary for the Cardinals this year, it has been another step forward for second-year cornerback Patrick Peterson. The No. 5 pick last year is solid in his coverage but he reads and breaks on the ball well, a major reason why he’s tied for fourth in the league with four interceptions.
“What a talent. You look at him, and he has four interceptions I think this year, but the athlete he is, whatever we do, don’t throw a pick over there. Somebody is going to have to tackle him and it isn’t going to be easy,” Ryan said.
He’s also a threat on punt returns as a season ago he took four back for touchdowns.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.