The Jets come into the game 0-4, as whispers about coach Adam Gase’s job security have made way to screams. To make matters worse, they will not have starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who is out with a shoulder injury.
The Jets are expected to have star running back Le’Veon Bell on the field against the Cardinals following a three-week absence because of a hamstring injury. New York is also not turning to an unproven backup quarterback, as longtime Ravens starter Joe Flacco will be under center.
“We’re very aware that Joe Flacco is a real guy,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He’s been a starting quarterback in this league for a long time and won a lot of games.”
The Cardinals won’t have outside linebacker Devon Kennard (calf) on defense, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (illness) is questionable, but Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker returns after a one-week absence.
The Cardinals’ offense is in good health, but struggled in Week 4 as Murray averaged just 4.3 yards per pass attempt. Kingsbury would like to improve the vertical passing game and a rushing attack that has been inconsistent this season outside of Murray’s dazzling exploits.
The team is also hoping to avoid a slow start like in Carolina, where it faced an early 14-0 hole.
“We have to come out and play at a high level from the get-go,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We can’t come out feeling out the New York Jets. We have to come out playing with our hair on fire.”
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald called this a “must-win” matchup, and it certainly seems like a pivotal game on the calendar.
The Jets are winless and bereft of talent in several places. The Cardinals seemed on a fantastic trajectory through two games, only to dip greatly since then.
A loss would be painful. An easy win would restore confidence.
“We still haven’t played nearly where we should,” Peterson said. “This is a great opportunity for us to go on the road, showcase our talents and get this thing back on a roll.”