The New York Jets have been saddled with one of the most challenging early season schedules in recent memory. Six of their first nine games were scheduled to play on the road, and five of the first six pitted Gang Green against 2015 playoff teams.
In context, the Jets’ 1-4 start makes sense. It won’t make anyone who cared about the team feel any better, either.
Although their Monday Night Football opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, are just 2-3 this season after reaching the NFC Championship Game, there’s a strong chance the Jets will head home from University of Phoenix Stadium with another tough loss.
But, if the Jets are going to end their three-game slide Monday night, here are three players who must step up.
The quarterback was worlds better in last week’s 31-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a combined nine interceptions the previous two weeks, Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass and was not picked off while completing 65.8% of his passes.
Fitzpatrick would be wise to lean more heavily on new tight end Austin Saferian-Jenkins to ease attention on receivers Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa. If someone in addition to Marshall steps up this week, the QB’s job will be much easier.
Also vital to the pass attack the lead running back. After snagging five catches for 59 yards in Week 1, he’s caught two each game for a total of 31 yards.
Forte’s rush attempts are down, but that’s understandable given Gang Green has been playing from behind for three weeks.
Forte, 30, has ceded playing time on passing downs to Bilal Powell, but the former made his name as a receiving threat. More opportunities couldn’t hurt.
After missing Week 1 due to suspension, Richardson has not been effective enough. His 0.5 sacks through four games are his fewest total to start a season since the Jets drafted him in the first round four years ago.
It’s time for someone on the defensive line to help Leonard Williams (5.0 sacks) make quarterbacks uncomfortable, and a breakthrough game by Richardson against Arizona passer Carson Palmer is just what the Jets need to get back on track.