Jets vs Cardinals: Top 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball past New York Jets linebacker David Harris (52) during the first half of their game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball past New York Jets linebacker David Harris (52) during the first half of their game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into the Jets vs Cardinals Week 6 matchup, both teams need a win to put their season in the right direction. Here are the top three keys for Gang Green to leave this game victorious.

jets vs cardinals
jets vs cardinals /

Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs the ball past New York Jets linebacker David Harris (52) during the first half of their game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

In the Jets vs Cardinals Week 6 matchup, the New York Jets will travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals in a primetime showdown that means a lot for both teams. Bruce Arians‘ group somehow sits at 2-3 after a tremendous campaign in which they reached the NFC Championship Game. Gang Green, on the other hand, is 1-4 and things seem to be collapsing very quickly. A loss here could be detrimental.

Related Story: Offensive line of Jets will get major test against Cardinals

The Steelers took it to them in Week 5 dropping 31 points effortlessly. In each outing thus far, Todd Bowles has chosen to keep the safeties in the box or in man to man coverage. With no help over the top, the corners are left hung out to dry early and often. As a result, New York has allowed five touchdowns of over 40 yards and the Cardinals certainly have the capability of increasing that number. The Jets are in trouble.

Arizona has all the momentum heading into this matchup.

Carson Palmer is back and the playmakers on both sides of the football have been feasting. A bad loss at home to their division rival Los Angeles Rams put them on the ropes, although they rebounded in a big way on the road in San Francisco. They found ways to score even with Drew Stanton under center, so you’d have to assume that Palmer’s return will only make things easier for the Birds.

This is actually the first time the Jets will visit the University of Phoenix Stadium. They were slated to play there in 2012, but they played in the Meadowlands for lessened travel purposes instead. For once, the NFL cut them a break with their schedule. The exact opposite happened in 2016 as we all can clearly see. Without further ado, here the top three things New York must do to overcome this brutal stretch and get a victory.

Next: 3. Establish a ground game

3. Establish a ground game

The Jets rushing attack has underachieved mightily since Week 2’s offensive explosion in Buffalo. Gang Green rushed the ball for 123 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 37-31 win. In Week 1, they rushed for just152 yards as well. Matt Forte accounted for 196 of those 275 yards, however, he has just 145 over the last three contests. It’s time to get back to the gameplan of Weeks 1 and 2 before it’s too late.

Teams have run the football well against the Cardinals through the first five weeks, so the opportunity is there.

Carlos Hyde found success on the ground as did LeSean McCoy. What’s crazy is that neither the San Francisco 49ers or the Buffalo Bills have an intimidating offensive line. The Jets have much more talent and toughness in the trenches. Ryan Clady, James Carpenter, and Nick Mangold lead the underrated unit with Brian Winters emerging as one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking guards.

The bottom line is that New York would be hard pressed not to run the football right off the bat. It’s been done vs. Arizona twice already this season and Forte is comparable to the two who did it. He’s turning into a between the tackles guy nowadays, but he has enough speed to kick it outside on stretch and toss plays. Bilal Powell over the years has also proven he can move the chains consistently. Chewing the clock and pounding the rock is how you win on the road in the NFL.

Next: 2. Contain David Johnson

October 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 33-21. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2. Contain David Johnson

David Johnson is nothing short of a beast who came out of nowhere. He had 1,038 rushing/receiving yards with 12 touchdowns in 2015. He’s off to a fast start in the new season rushing for 457 yards with five touchdowns and receiving for another 238. His worst game of the year came vs. Los Angeles where he still managed to gain 83 yards on 17 carries. He additionally had four receptions for 41 yards, although a lost fumble hurt the Cardinals’ chances.

Gang Green gave up plenty of yards against Christine Michael and Le’Veon Bell in the past two weeks predominately in the passing game. Bell had 20 carries for 66 yards and 9 catches for 88 yards. If Johnson were to be compared to someone, it’d probably be him. The 2015 third-rounder can make the same kind of impact and hurt defenses in a similar way. The Jets linebackers need to zone in and prevent the check down in response.

Due to the deep threat of the Arizona wideouts, the safeties should be nowhere near the line of scrimmage.

This will put pressure on the linebackers to close out and make tackles on Johnson. If David Harris cannot suit up, you can expect Darron Lee and Erin Henderson to play a significant number of snaps. Harris’ absence will, of course, hurt, however, it might help New York in pass coverage because of how slow he is. Containing Johnson must be the defense’s main goal.

Next: 1. Get creative

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey on the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

1. Get creative

It’s safe to say that changes need to be made in all three phases for the Jets. We have yet to see big special teams play, the defense has underperformed and the offense isn’t the same without Eric Decker. Given all the offseason hype, Chan Gailey’s offense has to be the biggest letdown so far. Ryan Fitzpatrick is showing he isn’t worth the $12M he was signed for and the backfield hasn’t made noise since Week 2.

With that being said, Gailey must open the playbook and get creative.

New York has several veterans on that side of the football to where they can find new ways to get points on the board. Flea flickers, running back passes, wildcat and jet sweeps can all be executed by this group. We have to be seeing calls like these because what Gailey is running right now isn’t working by any means. A combined 33 points over the last three outings is putrid.

Must Read: Jets vs Cardinals: All about the running game for Gang Green

Bowles isn’t off the hook either. If the pass rush continues to play like this, he has to dial up different blitzes that can disrupt the quarterback. Using a 300 lb. defensive end in Sheldon Richardson at outside linebacker won’t cut it. He’s playing out of position and his talent is being wasted. Overall, the Jets and their coaching staff have been incredibly lazy. It’s time to get clever and get production. A 1-5 start for this team would be unacceptable.