Jets grades: Defense to the head of the class

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, center in

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, center in red, is tackled by a host of Jets players during the first half. (Dec. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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OFFENSE C- It was a tale of two offenses. Mark Sanchez looked wretched from the start, throwing an interception on the Jets' first play from scrimmage to former teammate Kerry Rhodes. The afternoon continued to spiral downward for the Jets' starter, whose 21.4 passer rating (10-for-21, 97 yards) forced coach Rex Ryan's hand. The insertion of third-stringer Greg McElroy energized the home crowd and the offense, which eventually scored its only touchdown of the game with 14:55 left. The Jets outrushed Arizona, 177-81, thanks to Shonn Greene's 104 yards.


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DEFENSE A Granted, the Cardinals' offense is pretty bad. But the Jets' defense took care of business nonetheless. Arizona finished 0-for-15 on third downs and the Jets held the Cardinals to 41 rushing yards (excluding Rashad Johnson's 40-yard run on a fake punt). The unit sacked rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley twice -- once by Bart Scott and another on a combined effort from David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson. Plus, LaRon Landry intercepted a pass shortly after Sanchez was picked off for a third time.


SPECIAL TEAMS D- Mike Westhoff's unit still needs work. Kicker Nick Folk clanked two first-half field goals off the uprights and the coverage team didn't anticipate a fake punt late in the first half that resulted in a 40-yard gain by Johnson to set up the Cardinals' first field goal.


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COACHING B Give Ryan credit. He finally did "what's best for the team" and made the difficult call to change quarterbacks. The move paid off, as McElroy expertly assumed the role of game manager, something Sanchez couldn't do. As for Westhoff, the special teams coordinator needs to figure out how to curtail these gaffes that are becoming a trend.

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