Jets vs. Cardinals: 5 Quick Hits
By Bob Montgomery
It looks as if the Mark Sanchez era may have come to a close in New York. In the third quarter Rex Ryan answered the crowds pleas for second year quarterback Greg McElroy, relegating Sanchez to holding a clip board as the team marched down the field for the game winning score following the replacement. Sanchez threw three first half interceptions and continued to struggle through the third quarter, his turnovers and wild inaccuracy led to the replacement. McElroy came in off the bench and led a 10 play scoring drive that ended with a one yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. In his limited playing time this afternoon McElroy was 5 for 7 passing for 29 yards and a touchdown. Rex proved he felt the heat, possibly attempted to protect his job by appeasing the fans while not allowing him to go down with the rapidly sinking Sanchez ship. While I’m not certain McElroy is someone many Jets fans view as the long term solution at quarterback, the team certainly showed a spark with him under center, providing short term hope as the Jets head into the following week.
The New York Jets defense took advantage of a struggling rookie quarterback today as they simply dominated the Arizona Cardinals offense. The Ryan Lindley and was held to 72 yard passing and displayed what may of been the worst passing performance in recent memory. Overall the Jets defense allowed only a ridiculous 153 yard as no receiver amassed more than 23 yards. While much of this success is due to the limited quarterback play, the Jets defense rarely left receivers open, and provided pressure in the backfield with increased consistency. This was a much needed performance for a squad that has underperformed throughout most of the season.
Jeremy Kerley displayed solid hands and surprising leaping ability with a few nice grabs throughout the game. While his numbers aren’t staggering, Kerley has continued to be a consistent target that can make plays when the ball is in his hands. His route adjustments and body control are greatly improved from the beginning of the season and Kerley is proving to be a solid contributor with big upside. Not the only receiver to impress, Stephan Hill had 5 catches for 40 yards today, proving a big target outside the numbers. Although Hill is a raw talent, his route running was adequate enough to allow him to get open and come down with the football, even making some tough catches in the process.
The Special Teams unit continued their struggles with today with missed field goals and a fake punt. Nick Folk banked two consecutive field goals off of the uprights as the Jets failed to score in the first half. Folks struggle was surprising as he has been a bright spot this season, connecting on 15 of 18 this season. Adding to the Mike Westoff fury was a 40 yard fake punt that caught the return unit napping. The Jets loaded one side and the Arizona up back audibled to run it the other way for a 40 yard gain into field goal territory. The struggles of the Jets special teams units is surprising, and they must get it figured out as the Jets look to win their next four games to finish out the season 5-0.
What will come from this afternoons change at quarter back. Tim Tebow must really be wondering what he has done to deserve his treatment this season. Tebow has sat on the bench quietly, watching Sanchez struggle for the entirety of the season without creating controversy or drama. The dynamic changed today when Rex Ryan choose the one week Tebow was inactive to replace Sanchez with recently activated 2nd year pro out of Alabama, Greg McElroy. McElroy then proceeded to march down the field to throw the game winning score, creating an awkward three quarterback controversy as New York prepares for the Jaguars in Jacksonville Florida. It seems likely Rex will stick with McElroy, which may also allow Tony Sparano to utilize more of Tim Tebow without the worry of further worrying his starter. It’s a tricky situation the Jets are facing, quarterback issues late in the season are never a good sign, but hopefully Rex Ryan and the Jets can move forward.