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Arizona Cardinals vs. Jets: A View From Fifth Down

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I recently had to opportunity to exchange some questions with John Woods of the New York Times, in an effort to preview this Sunday's game between the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. Woods is the editor of their 'Fifth Down' blog, a blog that covers both the New York Giants and Jets. He should post my preview of the game sometime tomorrow and I'll post a link when I have one. I should also have some questions coming from John B of Gang Green Nation, our NY Jets blog, later today. Here's what Mr Woods had to say about the Jets:

CG - Favre has decent stats so far this year but the team is just 1-2 and the offense has averaged less than 20 points a game. After seeing the legend up close for three games, how would you grade his performance and how far can he actually take this team?

The thing a Packers fan would tell you, not that I am one or know many, but the thing they would tell you is, I told you so. Live by the Favre, they would say, and die by the Favre. That sentiment seems a bit childish to me, and one that comes from someone with a short memory, but I would be among the first to say that Favre's value to the Jets has been vastly overstated. Of course, if the Jets were in a tight spot, trailing by 4 in the final minutes of a game, I think it's clear that Favre gives them a substantial edge over what they alternatives would have been, Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemens. But the truth is, those moments do not happen very often. And they won't happen very often to the Jets this season, not with their leaky defense. The first thing Favre needs to do is get his head around the Jets' offense, which he clearly has not. The second thing he needs to do is play within his diminishing skills. When that happens, and if it happens soon, I think the Jets' offense will prop this team up and get them to about 9-7 or 10-6. Which this year, should take the Jets to the playoffs -- but probably no farther.

 

CG - The Jets were the most active team in the off season moving players out and signing and trading to restock both sides of the ball. How have the additions gelled together so far this season?

It's probably too early to tell, and definitely hard to say from the comfort of my living-room couch. It's true that the Jets spent $140 million in the off-season. It's arguable that they improved their offensive line. And you can maybe say the changes they made on defense have not worked out so far. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Jets weren't a Super Bowl contender who added playmakers to put them over the edge. They were a 4-12 team last year. It's not quite lipstick on a pig -- sorry, Sara, honey -- but it is a little baffling. All these personnel moves feel like they are coming from an aggressive, win-now front office. But I don't think the Jets are complete enough to compete seriously for the Super Bowl. Instead, you have to view these moves in the context of luring new season-ticket holders to the Jets' new stadium. The best seats require a $25,000 seat license. Maybe that is easier to sell if you can say that a Hall of Fame quarterback will be there for the first season -- which he won't, by the way. ...I was struck by a commenter on our site who defended Favre, in part, by saying that he had only just arrived and was not up to speed on the Jets' system. Favre is 39. Do you really think he is going to be around so long that you can flush games down the toilet until he figures out the playbook?   

CG - Leon Washington is a dynamic force in the return game but he doesn't have a huge role in the offense. Would it be accurate to compare him to Darren Sproles and is he just too small to get regular carries?

Washington always seems to do his best when you forget about him. The Jets had him on the field a lot two seasons ago, using him as a second running back, and as a result, last season, they cut his work load about in half. I think his role suits him.   

CG - Any team that plays the Cardinals has to come up with some kind of gameplan to contain Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald but the Jets have a very young and talented secondary.  How should Darrelle Revis, Dwight Lowery and Kerry Rhodes match up in the Cardinals passing game? Also, what's the story with Justin Miller, he listed as the starter but hasn't played in a game?

I am no expert, but this does not look like a good matchup. Boldin and Fitzgerald are experienced receivers with serious All-Pro talent. Revis and Lowery are talented, but not experienced. Unless Jets Coach Eric Mangini can scheme some advantages for them, and unless Favre can give the Jets a lead, I think the Cardinals will make the corners look foolish. ...Far as I know, Miller is still a little dinged up. He hurt his ankle in the preseason game against the Giants.

CG - Any Cardinals/Jets questions wouldn't be complete without at least mentioning Calvin Pace. He's gone out of his way in the past couple of weeks to say how relieved he is to be out of Arizona. Do you get the feeling that he got cross-ways with some in the organization or was he just tired of losing? Has he played up to his contract in the minds of Jets fans so far?

Our Man Greg Bishop, did a piece on Pace this week. From that, and what I can read on the Web, it sounds like Pace didn't expect to get picked by Arizona, didn't want to get picked by Arizona and then was a big baby about playing in a stadium that wasn't packed to the rafters. (I get the same way when bartenders don't notice my pint glass is empty.) ...I don't know what Jets fans think, but I would say he has not been earning his money. His 17 tackles are not too bad for an outside linebacker in the 3-4, but he needs to be a pass-rushing force and Pace has no sacks so far.  

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First, I think Woods got mixed up somehow because Pace actually has 1.5 sacks so far, but he did get his tackle total correct. Other than that, what do you guys think? I didn't expect him to sound so down on the addition of Brett Favre and I wonder if that's how a real fan, instead of a beat writer, feels about Favre. Thoughts?