Now that the New York Jets know that Sunday’s Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals is still on, the matchup still represents an uphill climb back to respectability.
The Cardinals delayed their trip to the east coast for the game when they heard the report that a Jets player had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. That turned out to be a false positive, and the Cardinals boarded their flight, albeit later than originally planned.
“As now, it’s business as usual,” coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona media Friday after practice. “We’re heading out today and getting ready to play on Sunday until told otherwise.”
The Cardinals come into the game looking to snap a two-game losing streak. They started the season with two impressive victories, and the proverbial thought was that they were turning the corner in their own rebuilding process.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Cardinals tackle D.J. Humphries told Arizona reporters Friday. “We still have to play a game, so we’re preparing for the game to go on Sunday. If it changes, it changes. But if not, we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
The Cardinals echo the Jets in the last few weeks in their players’ own criticism of practices. After the Jets lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, Bradley McDougald and Avery Williamson criticized the Jets practice techniques, although they both said they were focused on the intensity of their teammates.
Arizona had similar complaints after they lost their last two games to the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.
“Some of it has to do with focus throughout the week during practice,” tight end Dan Arnold said this week. “I think all of us know it, it’s been addressed. I think if we have a little bit more focus during the week in practice, really dive into what we need to do to be successful on Sunday, I think it will come.”
Another similarity in the way both teams have been playing. The Jets have been criticized for a conservative offensive approach where Sam Darnold doesn’t throw the ball downfield. Darnold is missing this game with a shoulder injury and veteran quarterback Joe Flacco is starting.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray completed 24 passes against Carolina but amassed only 133 yards.
“We didn’t have a good enough plan in place to make the plays down the field that we would have liked to, and that falls on me,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve got to call better plays when they’re taking certain things away.”
Still, Jets head coach Adam Gase knows Murray can air it out as well.
“It’s not an easy assignment for sure,” Gase said Thursday. “When you have a guy that can move the way he can move, and he can throw the ball away he can throw. He sees a lot when he gets outside the pocket or when he steps up and gets flushed out there. He can either take off if nobody comes up to try to put pressure on him and really create explosive plays on his own. But at the same time, when you do close the cushion, he can get the ball off and he’ll find the open guy. He has really good vision, he can see a lot, especially when he’s on the move. And then he’s got a couple pretty good guys to throw to as well.”
The Cardinals only had their flight to New Jersey delayed, while the Jets lost a whole day of on-field practice. The Jets had virtual meetings while the Cardinals had a full practice before the flight.