New York Jets: 10 Players to Watch in Week 13
The Jets' last game was a thoroughly embarrassing performance against the rival New England Patriots on Thanksgiving, and a home matchup against quarterback Ryan Lindley and the Cardinals is a game that Gang Green should be able to win comfortably.
There are many Jets players whose jobs will be at risk this offseason, and an underwhelming performance against Arizona could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Yet again this season, Mark Sanchez finds himself in need of a strong game to cement his status as the team's quarterback of the future. The organization does not seem to consider Tim Tebow a legitimate alternative at the position, but fans' patience has grown thin with the "Sanchize" nonetheless.
Sanchez had decent numbers against New England, but those numbers were essentially irrelevant in light of the fact that his two early turnovers gave the Patriots a commanding lead that they would never relinquish.
The Jets can beat Arizona with Sanchez acting as a game manager, as their defense will likely make Ryan Lindley's life pretty difficult. Sanchez will need to make key throws on third down and, as usual, cannot afford to turn the ball over.
With Shonn Greene's contract expiring at the end of this season, it is time for the Jets to look at Bilal Powell as a potential starter at the running back position.
Powell is a more complete back than Greene, as he is much more comfortable in the passing game. The backup has been eating into Greene's touches lately, though it is unclear whether or not that is just a result of the lopsided nature of the Jets' last four games.
The Jets will likely run the ball a lot this week, so look for Powell to at least see his fair share of touches.
Jeremy Kerley has essentially disappeared since his big performance in the first Jets-Patriots game. But he remains the active receiver most likely to play a big role in the New York offense in future years.
It isn't fully clear why Kerley has seen his role diminish, as players like Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens have eaten into his snaps. He is the Jets' most dynamic receiving threat and is a tough matchup in the slot.
Whatever issues the coaching staff has with Kerley, it is on him to correct his mistakes and give Sanchez the third-down option he needs.
The Jets' season has been primarily defined by injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, but this has been a lost season for Dustin Keller as well.
Keller's garbage-time touchdown against the Patriots last week only served as a reminder of how large a role he used to play in the New York offense. He does not seem to be back to his old self yet after recovering from hamstring injury, and Sanchez has not fared well without his go-to receiver.
The Jets can only help that Keller undergoes a full recovery this offseason. If not, the tight end will likely never get the long-term contract offer he has been seeking.
Matt Slauson has received more of the spotlight than a left guard usually receives this week, as Jets offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo told the media that he does not support the platoon between Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse.
DeGuglielmo showered Slauson with praise, citing his hard-nosed attitude.
The Jets have not consistently opened holes for their running backs this season, so clearly there is room for improvement.
Clearly, people in the organization (namely Mike Tannenbaum) like Ducasse's athleticism and potential. Slauson will need to play well down the stretch to keep his job.
Coming into the season, Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson were supposed to the Jets' two dominant defensive ends going forward, providing an injection of youth into New York's front seven.
After a somewhat pedestrian start to the season, Wilkerson has turned on the afterburners and emerged as one of the best defensive linemen in the league. Meanwhile, Coples is lagging behind and has not quite developed as expected.
Coples is clearly capable of explosive plays, but the consistency required from an every-down player is not there yet. He remains a big part of the Jets' future, but Gang Green does not know exactly what they have in Coples going forward.
Bart Scott ruffled a lot of feathers with his criticism of Jets fans this week, and while Rex Ryan continues to vouch for his player, organizational patience with the embattled linebacker must be growing thin.
Scott has been more active during the last few weeks, but he has been a liability in pass coverage for much of the year and looks like a player who has lost a step. The Jets' linebacking core has come under scrutiny due to running backs' success at the second level of the New York defense, and Scott's lack of speed is certainly a factor here.
Rookie Demario Davis has started to eat into Scott's playing time, and linebacker is likely a position the Jets will look to address in the draft. Scott needs to finish the season strong.
Much of the commentary on Scott could also be said about Bryan Thomas, though he has maintained a much more positive relationship with the fans and the media.
But Thomas' long and successful career is on his last legs, and many of the Jets' issues rushing the quarterback and preventing outside runs can directly be linked to weakness at the linebacker position—the outside linebacker in particular.
Thomas is a very well-respected player, but the Jets need to get younger and quicker at linebacker, and it is not yet clear how Thomas meshes with that plan.
For Jets fans looking to watch something a little more uplifting this weekend, the matchup between Antonio Cromartie and Larry Fitzgerald should be a fun watch.
Statistics may not do Fitzgerald justice, and he remains one of the elite wide receivers in the game.
Cromartie's aggressive nature should fare well against an inexperienced and indecisive quarterback like Lindley, who was a mess last week against the Rams.
Cromartie has taken a step forward this season, and Jets fans should be excited about pairing Revis with the improved Cromartie next season.
With the Jets boasting a pretty strong secondary and facing a lot of other holes, it will be interesting to see how Gang Green approaches the safety position this offseason.
Laron Landry, who is a free agent at the end of the season, has displayed his playmaking and hitting abilities this season, but the Jets' secondary has given up too many big plays. He also has not helped solidify the second level of the New York run defense.
It is a very good sign that Landry has stayed healthy all season, and he fits well in Rex Ryan's defense. But the Jets should not be sold on putting in a big bid for his services just yet.