Despite a disappointing season to this point, the Jets begin the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. The Jets will not play a team that currently has a record of .500 or better and their opponents are a combined 17-33 beginning with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals have started three different quarterbacks this year including rookie Ryan Lindley who threw four interceptions last week. Lindley has a Total QBR of 10.4 in two games, the worst rating of any player with at least 25 snaps at quarterback.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has not been able to produce as a result because he has been under or overthrown on the highest percentage of targets among qualified NFL players.
Highest % of Over/Underthrown Targets
Arizona enters this game in a tailspin, losing their last seven games after beginning the season a perfect 4-0.
Let’s analyze three keys to this Sunday matchup in New York:
1. Ryan Lindley has gotten in trouble by forcing throws downfield with an average pass length of 9.5 yards. Among quarterbacks with at least 50 total attempts, that is the second longest average in the NFC.
On throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer in the air, Lindley has a completion percentage of 68.8 percent, which is better than the NFL average. However, on throws that travel 11 yards or more, Lindley has completed 29.2 percent which is the worst rate of any player with as many attempts.
While it may sound surprising, since losing Darrelle Revis the Jets rank fifth among NFL defenses in lowest completion percentage and Total QBR allowed on passes thrown 11 yards or more.
2. Despite a struggling offense, the bread and butter for the Cardinals has been their defense which ranks second in lowest Total QBR allowed among NFC teams. The Birds have been disruptive near the line of scrimmage with the most interceptions and the lowest completion percentage allowed of any NFC defense on throws that traveled 14 air yards or less.
As a result, if Mark Sanchez needs time to let deep receivers get open, the big men up front will be a problem where the Cardinals lead the conference in fewest opponent dropbacks between sacks.
Fewest Dropbacks per Sack, NFC Defenses
3. The Cardinals are particularly effective with their aggressive pass rush which uses five or more defenders on 39.7 percent of dropbacks, the second-highest rate among NFC defenses, and if there's any player in the NFL prone to added pressure, it's Mark Sanchez who has faced it on 38.2 percent of dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL.
The Arizona secondary has helped the front seven create pressure by clamping down with the third-most defended passes in the league on such plays. That's compared to 32nd in defended passes when sending four defenders or fewer.
The Jets may need to keep an extra blocker in the backfield to protect Sanchez against the inevitable blitz since he ranks 31st out of 34 qualified passers in Total QBR against it.