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Arizona Cardinals Opponent Preview: New York Jets

The Arizona Cardinals get to see Todd Bowles in his second season as head coach, what will they be dealing with?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals will host Todd Bowles in a reunion of the beginning of the Bruce Arians coaching tree.

Bowles first season was very similar to Arians first season in Arizona, now he is looking to get the New York Jets into the playoffs, but does he have the horses on offense?

Thank you to the tireless workers over at Gang Green Nation for their preview.

After months of drama, the Jets finally managed to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick. Do you think he’ll pick up where he left off or will he revert back to the inconsistent journeyman he was before last year?

There are plenty of reasons to think the clock will strike midnight. The Jets rode a soft schedule to their 10-6 record last season, and adjusted interception metrics suggest Fitzpatrick should have thrown many more interceptions. On the other hand, Fitzpatrick’s success wasn’t that far off from what he has done since 2010 once you factor in the great receiver play he had. He really started to come into his own late in the season as Bilal Powell emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Jets re-signed Powell, but they also signed one of the great pass catching backs of a generation in Matt Forte to help bring the offense along. Quincy Enunwa started to flash near the end of the year, and Jace Amaro is back after missing last year due to injury. The opponents might be tougher, but Fitzpatrick has better reinforcements than he did a year ago so replicating things isn’t impossible.

Is it playoffs-or-bust for the Jets this season?

It would be easy to say yes when you consider how old many of their contributors are. From a big picture perspective, it probably isn’t, though. This is the second year of a new regime. The general idea is the Jets spent to bring in talent as a stopgap. Over the next two to three years, the hope is young, homegrown talent will replace these older contributors who will be on their way out. The bigger question is whether the Jets can grow that young talent and sustain the foundation of success they started to build last year. Against what will presumably be a more difficult slate of opponents, 9-7 would be a success if some the young guys started to carry the load, even if it meant no Playoffs.

It’s hard not to be excited about seeing Matt Forte in a Chan Gailey offense, but Forte just hit the dreaded age of 30 and was slowed by injuries last year. How much can we reasonably expect out of him this year?

Nobody should expect the prime version of Forte from Chicago, but the Jets don’t need him to be that. In some ways, it is almost better to think of Forte as more of a number three receiver than a number one back. The Jets seemed to be thinking about Forte’s age and the need to reduce his workload as they re-signed Powell and then brought in Khiry Robinson from New Orleans. Given how little cap space the team had, it was striking how much was used at running back. Whenever there is a guy who is used to carrying the entire load, there is some concern as to whether he can adjust to a lesser role. Chris Johnson did not buy in at all to a timeshare in the backfield with Chris Ivory. From what we know about Forte, he seems like the type of guy who will be more receptive to splitting carries. The Jets will use their other backs to maximize Forte’s effectiveness.

Brandon Marshall is coming off one of his best seasons ever, but he’s 32 now. Will Marshall continue drinking from the fountain of youth in 2016 or will he start to decline?

Marshall probably won’t put up numbers quite as prolific, but he has been pretty consistent aside from a 2014 where he was hampered by injuries. He will likely put up big numbers, but just as importantly open things up for other guys from the attention he commands. Todd Bowles had Marshall drop his weight down to 225 in the offseason in part to get him in shape to counter for his age.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s retirement left a sudden hole at LT, one the Jets attempted to fill by acquiring Ryan Clady from the Broncos. Do the Jets have any contingency plan if Clady gets hurt again?

The Jets have little proven offensive line depth. None of their slated backups have any extensive playing experience in the NFL. Former Colts second round pick Ben Ijalana would likely be the first guy up in the event of a Clady injury. It would be a cause for real concern for the Jets.

Muhammad Wilkerson is coming off a 12-sack season -- and a broken leg. Will he pick up where he left off?

The broken leg is not expected to have any sort of long-term impact so there is every reason to expect Wilkerson to come back and play great. He can line up anywhere along the line and dominate. He is also in his prime at 26. His sack totals might go down. His role doesn’t always lead itself to a ton of sacks (although sometimes it does). Just as often, he is doing the dirty work to make life easy for other guys.

Who's the fan favorite player, the cult hero [think how John Kuhn used to be in Green Bay] and why?

Nick Mangold is now the longest tenured Jet. He has been with the team for ten years. He started from day one and has been one of the top centers in football ever since. How many homegrown guys dominate for a decade?

How does the first month of the season go for the Jets? The last month of the season? What's the final record going to be?

Not just the first month, but the first six games seem like a gauntlet for the Jets on paper. Five of their first six opponents made the playoffs last year. The only one that didn’t was the Bills, a team that swept the Jets in 2015 and knocked them out of the Playoffs in the last game of the season. That Buffalo game also happens to be a road game on a short week.

The last month has the Jets hosting the Colts, traveling to San Francisco, hosting Miami, going to New England, and hosting Buffalo.

The early stretch of the season could break the Jets, while surviving it sets the team up. I think the Jets weather the early storm. They seem to be fairly well-coached, and one or two of those early opponents won’t be as good as people expect. That’s the way it always goes. After weathering the storm, I say the Jets end up in the 9 to 10 win range.