New York Jets 2020 Opponents – Arizona Cardinals

Michael Meegan breaks down the New York Jets week 5 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals

In 2019 the Arizona Cardinals got bold and replaced first year HC Steve Wilks and 2018 top ten pick Josh Rosen with former college head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Heisman trophy winner Kyler Murray. 

While Arizona was deemed dysfunctional for hiring a college coach with a career losing record and going all in on a QB who is shorter than six feet, it turned out to be a masterstroke.  Murray won Offensive Rookie of the Year and Kingsbury with limited personnel helped orchestrate the second best rushing attack in the NFL.  In 2020 Arizona looked poised to build on the momentum built with Kingsbury and Murray in 2019 and looked to be one of the most exciting offenses going forward as they make their way to MetLife in week 5.

Coaching Kliff Kingsbury was always noted as an Air Raid coach so when he got the job many expected an offense with a lot of four WR sets and a Madden offense constantly running four verticals. While it started like that, Arizona did not have the personnel to run it successively so mid-season Kingsbury did something that Jets fans in 2019 did not know was possible, he adapted to his personnel and orchestrated an offense that was best suited to strengths of his players. 

To make up for their lack of offensive line talent Kingsbury ran a lot of 12 and 13 personnel and Kenyan Drake turned into one of the most effective running backs in the NFL after he came over to the Cards from Miami.  Vance Joseph the former HC of the Denver Broncos is someone Adam Gase knows quite well as he was Gase’s DC his first year in Miami.  It was rumored Joseph is who Gase wanted to bring in as his DC instead of Gregg Williams which likely would have had a very different impact on the Jets 2019 season.  Joseph’s defense in 2019 was not good outside of Chandler Jones and he does not have a great track record of putting together great defenses and the Jets should be primed to attack this unit in their matchup.

Personnel – Second year QB Kyler Murray is the focal point of the Cardinals offense as he looks primed to take a big leap in his second year.  Murray has already proven to be one of the best deep ball passers in the NFL and will be quite the test for a Jets secondary that went over went a massive overhaul this offseason.  The Cardinals pulled off one of the biggest trade coups of the offseason by getting All-Pro WR Deandre Hopkins for pennies on the dollar.  Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald are three talented WRs whose skill-sets r complement each other well and will prove to be a handful for an opposing defense. 

Kenyan Drake after his trade averaged over 5 yards a carry in his 8 games with Arizona as well adding 8 TDs. With a full season in Kingsbury’s offense Drake looks poised to be a dark horse contender for the rushing title in 2020.

The Cardinals defense has some nice names but as an overall unit leaves a lot to be desired.  Chandler Jones has a real claim as the best edge rusher in all of football as the four years he’s been in Arizona he has 60 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, and 67 TFL’s. 

Patrick Peterson long one of the best corners in the NFL took a step back last year after his suspension. It remains to be seen if Petersen can regain his previous form now in his 30s and the Cardinals will be relying on young players like Buddha Baker and Byron Murphy to help stabilize a unit that was towards the bottom of the NFL last year.  They took hybrid linebacker Isiah Simmons in the first round.  Simmons is an incredible athlete but it is unknown what the best position for him going forward is and with the abbreviated offseason it remains to be seen how effective he can be as a rookie.  

Potential Weaknesses Arizona has massive issues on its offensive line and did not really take many big steps to fixing it.  Kyler Murray masked these deficiencies with his athleticism in a very similar way that Russell Wilson has been doing with the Seahawks for years.  Gregg Williams loves to dial up blitzes especially against young QB’s and this unit will struggle matching up against the depth of the Jets D-Line.  The Cardinals also do not have a strong D-Line of their own as it is a unit that is going to struggle to stop the run and force a lot of interior pressure.  The Jets face a lot of formidable front 7’s in the first four weeks and Arizona is the first one they really matchup well with on paper.

Matchup with the Jets The Jets defense is one of the best run defenses in football and should approve to be effective against Arizona.  The problem with this is it will cause Arizona to pass more and I think the Jets secondary will struggle mightily to slow down Murray and the receivers.  Due to a lack of a proper pass rush Williams will have to blitz more and leaving this corners one on one with Deandre Hopkins and Christian Kirk are going to make the Jets defense susceptible to big plays. 

Good news for the Jets is Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell should have big days against Arizona.  Arizona’s secondary has massive question marks and Vance Joseph’s defenses are noted for being terrible against defending Tight ends which should poise Chris Herndon to have a big day. In a battle of young QBs this week 5 matchup is poised to be a shootout and could very well come down to which offense gets the ball last.