Ken Whisenhunt (AP Photo)
Following their first loss of the season, the Cardinals attempt to get back on track this week against the New York Jets. With the addition of several free agents, the Jets are still a work in progress. Arizona will look to capitalize on New York’s growing pains and pick up their second road win of the year. Brad Wilbricht checks in with his weekly scouting report and previews the Jets roster.
Despite his late arrival to training camp, QB Brett Favre has quickly become acquainted with his receiving corps. Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles and Chansi Stuckey all have over 10 catches each and have become favorite targets of the future Hall of Fame signal caller. Cotchery currently leads the team with 176 receiving yards while Stuckey has reeled in a team leading three touchdown grabs. Tight ends Chris Baker and Dustin Keller each have 5 catches for 60 yards and will become more involved with the offense in the coming weeks.
Although Favre has developed an outstanding rapport with his fellow teammates, his timing and consistency has been less than spectacular. None the less, Favre has managed to throw for 646 yards and six touchdowns in the team’s first three games. Furthermore, he’s completing 70 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of 98.7. While Favre has picked up right where he left off in Green Bay, the New York offense struggled last week against the San Diego Chargers. Favre and company could experience similar problems this week, facing another aggressive defensive scheme.
New York’s front office invested a healthy sum of money along the offensive line but has yet to reap the benefits. Pro Bowl guard Alana Faneca was supposed to help boast the Jets’ performance in the trenches and help with the development of third-year LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. However, RB Thomas Jones has been limited to 208 yards on the ground this season. As a team, New York is averaging only 86 rushing yards per game and just 3.1 yards per carry. Arizona’s defense will attempt to keep Jones in check again this week.
RB Thomas Jones
In addition to the newcomers on offense, the Jets obtained key free agents on the defensive side of the ball as well. Former Arizona LB Calvin Pace was brought in to help fortify the Jets linebacking unit. Pace has yet to make a big splash but he’s been sufficient totaling 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks with his new team. LB Bryan Thomas has demonstrated outstanding pass rushing skills and currently leads the team with three sacks. David Harris and Eric Barton patrol the inside linebacker positions and have combined to make 44 stops on the year.
The Cardinals' offensive line will need to keep a close eye on Thomas and the Jets’ pass rush in order to provide QB Kurt Warner with a clean pocket. Warner has already been sacked seven times on the year and if given time, he should be able to pick apart a suspect New York secondary. The Jets are allowing 211 yards per game through the air and seven yards per pass attempt. Cardinals’ wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald could be in store for a big day at the Meadowlands.
NT Kris Jenkins was acquired from the Carolina Panthers in the offseason to help anchor the team’s 3-4 defense. Jenkins has been a force in the middle and already has three tackles for a loss on the season. Jenkins is joined by defensive ends Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman, who the Jets are hoping to get more production from as the season progresses.
On special teams, the Cardinals must stay disciplined in order to limit the success of New York return specialist Leon Washington. Washington has been tremendous up to this point averaging 33 yards per kickoff return while racking up nearly 13 yards on punt returns. His season-long return of 94 yards came last week in San Diego.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com